PART TEN: 24th to 25th September 2004
Chapter Seven: In The Eye of the Storm 2
At this time of night the hallway outside their apartment was completely deserted.
Buffy still looked both ways before asking, "Okay, any ideas how we're gonna get in without keys?"
"Just one," Faith said, and slammed her shoulder into the wooden door.
It sprang open all too easily.
"Way to be subtle!"
Buffy followed her in and shut the door behind them. It didn't click properly. She tried a couple of times and then gave up. At least it gave a good impression of being closed.
"Nothing followed us here, B."
"We think." Buffy gently slapped Faith's hand away from the light switch before she could flip it. "Just in case."
The small size of the windows in the apartment meant that it was left very dark, but that didn't matter because it wasn't like the apartment was big enough to get lost in or that there was that much furniture to trip over. She spoke to soon, she realized, as she heard more than saw Faith fall over the inflatable armchair.
She tried not to laugh at Faith's muffled complaints and the loud squeaks her naked body made sprawled against the plastic. Just enough street light came in to illuminate the curve of one buttock and, unable to resist, she smacked it on her way to the bedroom.
"Just a taster," Buffy teased.
The bedroom was better lit, the moon shining directly onto the bed once Buffy pulled down the t-shirt-curtain. The camp bed, small and single as it was, looked so inviting. She'd have gladly flopped down on it right away, but the restricting leather bodice had to go first. If only she could figure the way out of it.
"Hang on." Faith was leaning in the doorway as Buffy looked up. "Don't take it off yet."
"Because I like it."
She stopped pulling at the multitude of zippers - that weren't making any difference anyway - and looked at Faith.
"Only if you take the mask off."
Faith touched her leather cheek. "You don't think it's hot?"
Buffy laughed. "Not really."
Faith pulled the bondage mask off. Her cheeks looked really pink even in the faint light. She shook her head, shaking her hair out before running a hand through it.
"Better?" she asked.
"Muchly." Buffy beckoned her into the room with a curled finger. "And you can appreciate my leather-clad hotness more if you come closer."
Faith looked down at her filthy feet, dirt-streaked legs and sweaty, grimy tummy and chest. "I should probably take a shower. All this running the streets naked isn't just the good kinda dirty, ya know."
"No, not yet. If you take a shower, I have to take a shower and I'm scared the leather will shrink under water."
"Before you hit the spray I'll let ya take it off."
Buffy looked down at it, pulling on a random silver zipper. "I really don't think I can."
Faith came deeper into the room, looking around the edges of the bed. "Pretty sure we left that baby oil in here somewhere last time we were fooling around. Maybe I can pour some in and, like, squeeze you out."
Buffy laughed at the idea, pulling Faith over to her. "And if it doesn't work I have to walk around all slippery."
"Guess I'll just have to live with you wearing it forever then."
Buffy smiled, sliding her arms around Faith's neck. "Forever?"
"That's what you wanted, right?"
"Yeah, that's what I want." Pulling Faith closer, she sealed it with a kiss.
Faith indulged her but quickly pulled back with mock wariness. "Wait, maybe you should keep your hands to yourself this time. I'm too beat to run anymore tonight."
"That works out well then, 'cause I'm way too beat for anymore sex tonight." Letting go of Faith, she flopped down onto the cot, actually groaning in appreciation when her sore, bare feet left the floor. "Foot rub please?"
"Yeah, right." Faith hopped onto the bed, straddling her waist expectantly.
Buffy wriggled around a little on her back, getting as comfortable as possible on the thin mattress. She'd been awake over forty-eight hours now and most of those hours had been very strenuous. Her body ached all over and now they had a moment of calm, exhaustion was trying to draw the blinds down over her eyes.
"I was joking." Faith leaned down to kiss her. "You better not keep your hands to yourself."
"I won't. My hands are all yours. Just..." Buffy's eyes slipped closed. "... hump quietly, okay?"
Faith laughed. "B."
She felt one eye pried open and then Faith's face was an inch from it. "Mmm?"
"Okay... make love to me then."
That started her giggling, which at least woke her up a little. "That sounds as weird coming out of your mouth as 'fuck me' probably does coming out of mine."
Faith lightly pinched her side and slid to the cot next to her. "I'm trying here."
"Yes, trying to get laid." Her eyes closed again as she pulled Faith's arm over her and snuggled into her shoulder.
"No way." Faith pulled her arm back. "No sex, no snuggling."
"No snuggling, no sex."
"No sex, no sleeping." Faith started bouncing about on the mattress.
"Okay, okay!" Giggling again, she tugged on her arm until Faith was lying on top of her. "Okay," she said again, pulling her down for a long, lazy kiss.
It got lazier the longer it went on. Her lips grew less adventurous, her tongue less boisterous, the already slow strokes of her hands over Faith's body more sluggish.
She was only vaguely aware when Faith raised her head. "Are you sleep-kissing me?"
Buffy swallowed, breathing deeply through her nose, and shook her head. "Right here with you, Toni."
It was the body stiffening on top of her that gave Buffy the jolt she needed. "Not Toni! No Toni! Just Faith! All Faith all the time..." she winced. "Oh God."
Faith slipped onto her side again. "Well played, B. You just officially killed my mood."
"Yay me," Buffy muttered, not daring to look at her yet. "Sorry."
The guilt was better than a double espresso at waking her up. She was suddenly so alert again she was thrumming inside.
"I'll make it up to you," she promised, reaching for Faith's arm again.
"Hell no." Faith pushed her hand away and pointed at herself. "You're not getting near any of this now."
Faith didn't sound anywhere near as mad as Buffy would have in her situation, so she risked a pout.
"No way. Keep to your own side of the bed."
The fact that the bed was so narrow they could each hang off the edge and still be practically touching, that wasn't much of a threat on its own. She tried putting her arm around Faith instead, but Faith kept pushing it away.
"It was an accident! I was half asleep! I said I'm sorry," Buffy whined plaintively.
Faith eyed her for a moment, judging her sincerity, and then relaxed enough to let the arm land around her waist.
"Fine. Bet you called her my name a whole bunch of times anyway, right?"
Buffy bit her lip before saying. "Sure." It wasn't supposed to lilt up at the end.
Faith's eyes narrowed and she plucked the arm from her body and dropped it back on Buffy's 'side' of the bed.
"Oh, come on, Faith."
Faith rolled onto her back. Buffy lay there for a minute, just looking at her, waiting for the icy exterior to crack. It was like waiting for spring in Yellowstone Park. She edged her head along the pillow - they only had one - so she could whisper into Faith's ear.
"I'll let you play with my crotch zipper."
Faith's lips twitched almost to smirk level but she managed to keep her voice impassive. "Not interested."
"It's a zipper that leads directly to my genitals. It's a... a Buffy-pussy-surprise. That's like two of your favorite things in the whole world. How can you not be interested?"
Faith was clearly finding it hard to keep a straight face - her dimples were appearing and disappearing in the moonlight - but she was still determined not to show it.
"What can I say, B? I've already seen the surprise. Maybe you should let someone else have a go next time. A fucked-up, jealous, psychotic Italian bi-atch perhaps."
Buffy pulled back to glare at her a little.
Faith raised an eyebrow. "Gonna defend her now?"
Buffy wanted to, and she felt bad that she wasn't going to, but doing so would be relationship suicide. And she'd chosen Faith, right? That's what they were doing here with the running away, well not so much running right now as lying down, but the point was they were doing it together... that's what they'd both - finally - chosen. Right?
So... "No. Are you gonna shut up about her now?"
"I'm not the one who brought her up."
Buffy spoke through gritted teeth. "I said I was sorry."
Faith shrugged. "Doesn't cut it."
"You wanna punish me properly, is that it?" Half joking and half prepared to let her if that's what it took; Buffy turned around on the bed and got to her knees. With her breasts pushing into the mattress her ass was in the air. She wiggled it as she looked over her shoulder to see Faith's reaction. "Go on then."
It was a short sharp laugh. "Yeah, give you what you want. That's really punishing you."
Buffy blushed and started to straighten up again. "It's not what I want. I just thought..."
She received the slap she'd been waiting for... but not waiting for because she wanted it or anything - boy, life with Faith was gonna be awkward at times... but instead of connecting with a buttock it shoved at her hip.
"Hey!" Luckily the cot was only a foot high, but the hardwood floor had come up to meet her and she hadn't been ready for it. "Ow."
"Consider yourself punished." Faith was laying back on the cot, her hands behind her head and a satisfied smirk on her lips when Buffy sat up, rubbing at her elbows. "Don't do it again."
"I didn't mean to do it the first time," Buffy griped, crawling back onto the cot still rubbing at an elbow. "You didn't have to push me off the bed. A stern telling off would have worked just as well, ya know, for future reference."
"Did I hurt you?" Faith asked, almost sounding sincere as she sat up all concerned. "Here, let me spank it better for you."
Grinning despite herself, Buffy pushed her away. "I just know you're never gonna let me live that down."
"Probably not, but I promise..." Faith caught her hands and held them in her lap. "...always be our secret."
Buffy nodded, not completely sure she could believe her, but too eager for the reconciliation kiss Faith was leaning in to dish out. Mid-smooch Faith pulled her back down beside her on the cot and by the time their lips slowly parted, their arms were around each other, legs comfortably entwined.
"Are you more awake now?"
"Mmmhmm." The murmur vibrated against Faith's throat as Buffy started to suck slowly down towards her collarbone.
"Good, 'cause we need to talk."
Smiling against her skin, Buffy asked, "Talk? Really?"
"Okay, no talking," Faith whispered huskily. "You know I'd much rather screw you anyway, Troy."
Slowly, Buffy looked up through her lashes to see Faith with her eyebrow up in challenge. She held really still, trying not to look bothered, trying to keep her smile, trying to rise above it and not let it get to her the way Faith had. She lasted a whole ten seconds before admitting defeat.
"Okay, you're right." She dropped her head onto Faith's shoulder - maybe a tiny bit harder than necessary. "We're not having sex for days, are we?"
She felt Faith grin against her brow. "We got the rest of forever to make up for it."
"True." Buffy smiled, still loving the sound of that. "Although, that Gigantes finds out where we are, forever might not be as long as it sounds."
Faith raised her head just enough to listen better. All Buffy could hear from the pillow was the occasional car on the street outside. It had to be so late now even traffic was at its lowest ebb of the night.
"Thunder, a ways off though."
"Giant footsteps thunder or the regular kind?"
"Regular, I think." Faith settled down next to her again. "So what are we going to do?"
"I guess it can't hurt to catch a few hours, but..." Fingertips under her chin pulled Buffy's gaze up. "...I meant after we've had some shut eye. What do we do next?"
'Find a good family planning clinic.' Buffy placed a palm over Faith's toned, but most importantly, flat belly. Would it stay like this or was there something in there? Was now the right time to tell her there might be? In this peaceful cocoon of a moment. Would it make a difference if she waited just a little longer?
After all, they couldn't find anything out for sure while they were running for their lives across Rome. Maybe they'd always be running for their lives from now on, but going to the pregnancy clinic where they'd had their scans a few weeks ago was just going to be a big flashing green arrow to where they were.
Besides it was too early to tell anything. It would be a couple of weeks before Faith's pee could turn a stick pink or blue reliably. They'd hopefully be long gone from Italy by then, so there was no need to scare Faith until they were back home in Cleveland.
Buffy knew she wasn't just worried about scaring Faith. She was just as scared herself. Since she'd learned that Troy was going to be the father she had put every ounce of thought and effort into making sure the prophecy didn't have a chance to come true. The idea that she might fail had naturally crossed her mind, but then the worst scenario had been Faith and Troy happily married and raising a child together while she watched miserably from the outside.
'But,' she thought, 'for anyone just joining us, Faith chose me! She chose to live happily ever after with me. And I'm too young to be an evil step-mother!'
Buffy's hand rubbed gently across Faith's belly... Troy had completed his ritual, they'd had the sex, and the blood sacrifice had been made. Unless Troy's little swimmers had been going around in circles, the prophecy was coming to pass right now and she didn't know what would happen next, but had a feeling being on the run was going to be the least stressful part of their relationship in the months to come.
"Hey, you still with me?" Faith brushed her fingers through some strands of Buffy's hair.
Buffy hesitated for a moment before bringing her palm up to Faith's cheek and leaning closer to kiss her softly on the lips. "Whatever happens next, I love you, okay?"
Faith chuckled. "You'd better do considering the shit I've done tonight."
"Yep, you've done the shit alright," she muttered wryly, and then changed the subject before Faith could follow her inquisitive look with a question. "Right, well, we still have the bag with the passports in and we both have clothes here. All we have to do now is figure out how to book the flights."
"There's gotta be some way of getting hold of Giles?"
Buffy nodded her head slightly on the pillow. "What is it though? I don't even know where my phone is."
"Mine was in my car. Probably in pieces by now." Faith frowned irritably. "I'm gonna kick Troy's ass for having my Mini turned into a bunch of spare parts."
"I'm with you on that, but let's make sure he can't turn us into spare parts first, okay?"
"There's a payphone on the corner." Faith started to sit up. "I'll go do it now if ya like."
Buffy reluctantly sat up too. "Not alone and not naked. The last thing we need now is for you to get arrested for standing on a street corner like that."
The dark curves of Faith's eyebrows danced in the moonlight. "Might be able to bulk up the runaway fund... a lot."
Buffy grinned. "And as tempting as selling your body for a packet of in-flight peanuts is... I don't fancy our chances of leaving the city if we're stuck in a police cell."
"Oh, so it's not that you want my body all to yourself or anything."
"I thought that part went without saying." Buffy swayed in and gave her a quick kiss. "Do you think it's safe to go out there yet?"
"Nothing seems to have followed us."
"Yeah, but..." She cast her eyes to the uncovered window; she may have just been paranoid but she had a feeling the shadows crossing the moon weren't witches or bats. "...that doesn't mean they've stopped looking. If we get spotted by the aerial monster brigade while we run to the phone we're going to lose this hiding place."
The metal springs squeaked as Faith slumped back down on the cot. "I really don't wanna get chased any more until I've had a nap and a shower!"
"Me either." Buffy's gaze remained on the window, trying to figure out what to do for the best. "We can't hide in here indefinitely though."
"Not indefinitely, but a couple of hours won't kill us."
"It'll probably be light by then. Might be safer. Do you think Troy will still have his minions chase us in broad daylight?"
Faith shrugged. "I didn't think he'd have them chase us in the dark."
The sudden tap tap tap of raindrops on the window made them both jump and then smile at each other, embarrassed by their nerviness. Although, if anyone had fair reason to be nervous around loud, unexpected noises the people who'd just had a building brought down around their heads had to be good candidates.
"Do you think the rain will make good cover if we dash for it now?" Buffy wondered.
"I think the rain will make us wet if we dash for it now and then we won't just die, we'll die soggy... in a dirty puddle."
Buffy grinned again. That was good enough for her. All options had been considered and snuggling up together in bed for a few hours was obviously the only right way to go. Besides, she was way past ready to let her body sink into the mattress again and just bask in lying close to Faith.
"Let's wait out the rain then." She lay down next to Faith again, sliding an arm around her waist as Faith turned on her side towards her. "I feel pretty safe here."
"Me too." Faith wriggled close enough that her breasts pressed against Buffy's leather bodice and pecked her on the lips. "In fact, we could probably stay the whole night. Long as we're safe we might as well get some decent rest. Who knows when we'll get the chance again?"
Buffy slid her face another inch across the pillow until they were nose to nose.
"I could easily not move from this spot for, oh, two days." From this angle all it took was the tiniest of head tilts to press her lips sweetly to Faith's.
"Let's not then." Faith shrugged against her, making her shiver pleasantly. "There's food and beer in the fridge. Maybe a day or two and things'll calm down out there anyway."
Buffy thought about it. "Yeah, or it will give Troy time to close the airports."
"So we'll steal a car. Drive out the country."
"He might close the borders too." Her fingertips tickled Faith's back as they played in her hair.
"Then we'll steal a boat. Take to the high seas." A little smiling kiss. "Become pirates."
"Then we just have to worry about the coastguard."
Faith sighed. "Fine. Spoil all my big plans."
"Sorry for not wanting to die before I've had some time to enjoy being your proper, official, un-secret girlfriend."
"I forgive you."
They lay in silence for a while, just looking at each, listening to the rain and the far off thunder in the cosy stillness. Even the bed felt more comfortable than it had before. Faith lazily fiddled with the zipper over one of her breasts, letting the metal tab slip from one finger to the next and back again. Buffy slid a leg between Faith's, fitting them more snugly together with only the slightest movement.
"You know," she said quietly. "If Toni can't calm Troy down, this might not be over just because we make it back to Cleveland."
"What do you mean?" Faith murmured.
"Well, it won't be the longest game of hide and seek ever if he can find us just by knocking on our very own front door."
"So you're saying we might be on the lam awhile?"
"Only until he dies."
"He's immortal, B."
"Maybe a little while then."
Faith chuckled tiredly. "Probably won't come to that but if it does we'll deal, find somewhere remote to settle down. Might not be easy to shake the dude at first, but he's not all seeing or nothing - once we're out of sight, we're really outta sight."
"That's something at least." Buffy licked her lips as Faith pulled open the zipper. Her nipple, already perky from the attention on the outside, poked through the parted silver teeth. "How remote, do you think?"
"You're the one who's been planning this for months. I only got on board a few hours ago."
"But you know him better than me."
Their noses brushed together as Faith shook her head. "Apparently not."
"Well, are you thinking 'Amazon rain forest' remote? Or... Idaho?"
"I don't know. Canada or Alaska maybe?" Faith nuzzled their noses together before giving her a sweet, little kiss. "We could go ice-fishing and get around on a dog sled."
Buffy smiled. Faith had put more thought into this than she was letting on. Still, ice-fishing and huskies and snowballs and warm, cosy fireside smoochies sounded romantic and all but she wasn't sure she'd want to settle there.
She wrinkled her nose. "Might be a little cold for me. I'm thinking more... tropical island remote."
"We'll figure some place out." Faith's thumb finally brushed around her nipple. "Doesn't have to be right now."
Buffy lay quiet for a moment, just enjoying her sleepy touch. The rain still pattered against the window pane. It was getting harder as the storm settled over Rome. Forks of lightning occasionally lit up the room, but the thunder was still only a low, almost subdued rumble.
"We should head to Cleveland first anyway, if we can," she said at last. "Giles will be able to help us find an actual house once we choose somewhere. And Willow might be able to do some kind of cloaking thing to help us stay off of Troy's radar and Xander... well, it never hurts to have Xander around. He's like the ultimate go-to guy when it comes to executing tricky plans."
As another flash of lightning turned the darkness bright, she realized Faith was studying her more intently than before. Her eyes concerned as she frowned. It was gone in an instant, but she had definitely looked upset.
"What is it?"
"Going to Cleveland might be the right thing to do, but," Faith spoke hesitantly. "If we're really in as much life and death danger as you said... we can't take them with us."
Buffy chuckled. "I know that..."
"No, I'm serious, B. We go, they help us, we leave immediately. We're putting them in danger otherwise. And we can't contact them once we're settled in New York or Africa or Outer Mongolia because that'll put us in danger. Do you get what I'm saying? Once we go bye-bye, we're really going bye-bye. That'll be it for you and Scoobs until God knows when... no pun intended."
"It won't be that final."
"Won't it? I'm all for staying here or, even, heading back to Cleveland and then talking to Troy rationally when he's calmed down. You're the one who's convinced he won't calm down." Faith left her nipple alone, her thumb playing over Buffy's cheek instead. "Troy's a badass God, B. He's always been gentle as hell with me, but I've heard the stories about his past. I know what he's capable of if he gets pissed off enough. I don't know how safe the Scoobs are gonna be if he thinks he can use them to get to us."
Buffy stared up at the ceiling. She didn't want to think about this, actually she wasn't going to think about this, but she knew if she didn't at least pretend to, Faith wouldn't believe her answer.
After another flash of lightening, she murmured, "We've been friends since high school; never seeing each other again won't change that. It'll be okay..."
"B, it won't be..."
She didn't let Faith finish, her resolve too fragile to take any more probing. "Yes it will. They'll understand. They love me and they know I love you... Once they know you love me too, they'll understand."
Buffy leaned up and silenced her with a kiss.
When she let her head settle back on the pillow, she said, "Faith, I love them but I'm in love with you. I want to be with you and I think I've earned the right to put my heart first for a change. So unless you change your mind about being with me between now and us getting out of the country, I'm okay with saying goodbye to my friends in Cleveland."
Faith gazed down at her seriously. "I'm not gonna change my mind about wanting to be with you."
Buffy smiled. "Good then. So... kiss me goodnight?"
The next few minutes was filled mostly with tongues and gave her the promise that whatever came next, whatever sacrifices had to be made, it would all be worth it... and then some.
As they slowly broke apart, Faith went to roll to the side again. With arms firmly around her back, Buffy stopped her.
"Can you sleep like this?"
"Right now I could probably sleep standin' on my head."
Buffy thought she probably could too as the sandman sprinkled another layer of sleepy dust over her closing eyes.
"Stay like this then?" She ran a hand through Faith's hair before wrapping it around her back again.
Faith nodded, smiling, before laying her head on Buffy's shoulder.
The last sound - that she was only vaguely aware of - was one of Faith's happy sighs turning into a soft snore. Buffy smiled, hugging her a little tighter, and then she was fast asleep herself.
The storm continued to lie firmly over the city. Rain pounded the wings of the still searching gargoyles, lightning illuminated giants and gryphons and demonic armies in flashes too fast for the last few civilians still on the streets to believe their eyes and thunder woke everyone in their beds who wasn't a totally exhausted Vampire Slayer.
Twenty minutes later, the faint knock on the apartment door was hidden beneath one of these thunder claps. The slightly harder knock a few seconds later went unnoticed too. Buffy was completely oblivious to the swish of the front door swinging open and the swoosh as it was pushed to again. Even the sound of wet sneakers on the hardwood floor didn't disturb her, or the loud intake of breath that accompanied the sight of them sleeping in a blissed-out heap together.
In fact, the first Buffy knew of the intruder was Faith's yell when she was picked up by her hair and thrown against the wall.
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Part Ten Quick-Jump:
Chapter One ||
Chapter Two ||
Chapter Three ||
Chapter Four ||
Chapter Five ||
Chapter Six ||
Chapter Seven ||
Chapter Eight ||
Chapter Nine ||
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