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Damned If I Don't, Damned If I Do
Part Three of The Damned Series


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PART ELEVEN: 2nd to 5th October 2004
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Chapter Three: You're Leaving Me Hanging

Something had disturbed Buffy's sleep but not enough to actually make her open her eyes or anything so strenuous. In fact, she could sort of still hear herself snoring, which would have been embarrassing if she couldn't hear Toni snoring gently alongside her.

The bedroom was cool for once, meaning it was still early-ish in morning. She snuggled deeper into the warmth of her girlfriend's body and sighed contentedly when Toni shifted in her slumber to nuzzle her hair and curl an arm around her back. Tucking her head under Toni's chin, Buffy groped blindly for the sheet that had fallen down around their hips during the night, planning to pull it up and cocoon them beneath it for a few more hours of sleep.

Just as the sheet floated slowly over their heads, an elephant or two stampeded into the bedroom, trampling the door under their big, stupid elephant feet.

Buffy jolted completely awake, catching Toni under the jaw with the top of her head, unintentionally smacking her awake too.

She swore in Italian and rolled away, clutching her chin.

Buffy patted her tummy in an apologetic but absent-minded way as she peeked out of the sheet just enough to focus one eye on the trampled door. It wasn't trampled, it was wide open though.

"Couldn't you have knocked?" she asked sternly.

"I did knock!" Faith grumbled. "I knocked out there and in here. Dawnie got so sick of hearing the sound of me knocking she left already."

"Left for where?"

"Breakfast."

"Oh. Well, thanks for coming and asking, but we're gonna eat in here this morning."

Leaving Faith standing there, she rolled over and pulled the sheet over their heads again. It was only when she heard Toni giggle that she realized what she had said.

Blushing, she stuck her head out from beneath the sheet again. "I didn't mean right here." She meant to point at the bed, but ended up pointing at Toni's lower half. She cringed and retracted her finger. "Or right there. I meant we have Froot Loops and coffee in the kitchen, alright?!"

She dived back beneath the covers and buried her burning face in Toni's neck. Toni was still giggling.

"Fine! No need to bark the invite at me, B. Tone, you wanna cup?"

Buffy and Toni looked at each other quizzically under the light sheet. Toni mouthed 'Invite?' Buffy just shrugged, not understanding either. When Toni started looking a little suspicious, Buffy mouthed, 'Oh, come on!' She had hardly planned this! She'd still been asleep two minutes ago.

In unspoken agreement, Toni popped her head up this time. "Scusi?"

Buffy heard Faith say, "Coffee!" like Toni was stupid. "Obviously you two ain't gonna get up and make it."

"You're making us breakfast in bed, Effie?" she called out, not bothering to hide the laughter in her voice.

Faith hesitated. "Uh..." she sounded like she didn't know how this had happened now.

"I like my coffee black la mattina, per favore. And just a little milk on my cereal," Toni told her before scooting back under the sheet with a big grin on her face.

Biting her lip so as not to giggle, Buffy scolded her silently with a finger waggled in front of her nose.

"Fine," Faith eventually muttered and they heard her walking away.

"Shut the door!" Buffy called after her. The door stayed open. "Oh well." She brushed some hair back behind Toni's ear. "At least we're getting breakfast."

"I had hoped it would just be the two of us."

"Well, that was the plan. We'll have some alone time later this afternoon though, before the dinner," she grazed her fingertips over the side of Toni's neck and then down, along her collarbone.

"I am already looking forward to it," Toni murmured.

"Me too," Buffy promised, tugging her closer by her shoulder for a long, lazy good-morning kiss.

Above them, but unnoticed right away, the sheet was grabbed and then pulled down to their knees. Buffy's first clue was the cool air on her naked body. Embarrassed at being so unceremoniously exposed more than anything, she pulled away to snap "Hey!" and choked on a sudden shower of Froot Loops. Beside her Toni squealed in surprise as half a carton of milk nearly drowned her, the downpour so heavy it hit her face before splashing white droplets over Buffy as well.

"There's your breakfast in bed. Sorry if I used too much milk, Tone. I'll try and get it right next time." Faith turned on her heel to leave the room and slammed the door behind her.

Buffy and Toni sat up together, dry hoops of cereal falling from Buffy's head and milk surging down the valley between Toni's breasts like a flash-flood before running in rivulets down her tummy and sides, and just stared at each other, stunned.

Buffy ran her fingers under Toni's chin, catching the milk drips still dribbling down her face and then sucked them off the side of her finger. Toni picked a small green ring from where it had stuck to Buffy's chest and popped it in her mouth.

She crunched it up and then stuck her tongue out, trying to lick her own cheek to get some milk to wash it down with but it didn't quite reach. She nodded thoughtfully.

"From now on we eat breakfast alone."

Making a face, Buffy pulled out a Froot Loop that had lodged in her ear. "I was just thinking that."

*****

By the time Buffy was showered, dressed and ready to go Faith was standing by the window hole in the living room with a cup of coffee. There were two other cups steaming gently on the dining room table. She picked them both up, handing the black one to Toni who was just following her out of the bathroom.

Without acknowledging Faith, Buffy took a few sips of hers. "So you're cool taking the others shopping in a cab if we take the car?"

"It will be cheaper than taking a cab all the way to the airport. Besides, you need the big car to be able to fit all of the flowers in. Your friends and I will be fine. You are meeting us for lunch?"

"Uh huh, at that place opposite the supermarket. We'll bring the flowers back here first because... hey, where am I gonna get enough ice to keep them fresh anyway?"

"I will ask at the reception office for you and let you know. Are you free after lunch?"

"Nope. Gotta go to the temple to do some introductions and then I think we're meeting Benedetta at..."

"No, that is tomorrow morning."

"Is it? What else do I have to do this afternoon then?"

Toni thought for a moment. "Ah, for tomorrow night, you must go and meet with the owner."

"Oh yeah. Ooh, I have to stop at the horse place too. They are not getting away with giving us those donkeys."

From behind her, Faith asked, "Do you guys even need me here for this wedding?"

Buffy ignored her. "But I'll make sure I'm back a couple of hours before we have to leave for the dinner, okay?"

Toni nodded. "Bene."

"Right. We should go." Buffy set her coffee down and gave Toni a quick kiss goodbye. "See you later. Are you coming?" she called back to Faith as she left the villa without her.

As they walked side by side down the shady walkways to where the rental car was parked, Buffy deliberately avoided looking at Faith. She could feel Faith shooting her the occasional glance but ignored them, keeping her lips pursed.

As they neared the vehicle, she reached into her brand new handbag - there were some perks to relocating every few months without luggage! - and tossed the keys to Faith.

"You can drive."

Faith caught them, surprised. "Really?"

"I am so over driving to the airport and back."

Faith accepted that happily and jumped into the drivers' seat of the big car. Buffy waited until they were pulling out of the parking lot before she just couldn't hold it any longer.

She burst out laughing. Loud, gasping laughs that soon had tears pouring down her cheeks. She had to lean forward, one arm wrapped around her stomach as she started to get a stitch. Faith glanced at her warily.

"I can't... believe you did that!" she managed to get out. "With the... the... the cereal was one thing but the... the..." She was overcome with howls of laughter again but was just able to wheeze out, "...Milk!"

She had to bend over some more, her laughter refusing to subside. She took a deep breath, trying to compose herself, and wiped her arm over her eyes but then she pictured it all again and the giggles reasserted their strength, robbing her breath and making her cheeks ache.

"Oh God...I don't think Toni will ever be able to face breakfast again!"

Faith smirked but kept her eyes on the road. "The real comedy is you thinking I'd make breakfast for the two of ya in the first place."

"In hindsight it was na´ve," Buffy agreed, wiping her eyes again and trying to force herself to calm down before she split something. "There's a little rest stop before we get on the National Road, uh... just up here. Can you pull in there for just a sec?"

Faith saw the turning and started signalling. "Did you forget something?"

"No. Just remembered something."

Buffy unclipped her seatbelt as Faith pulled off the road and as soon the car was in park she swung her legs into the gap between the seats. With one hand gripping the drivers' headrest and the other on Faith's thigh, she leaned awkwardly across to kiss her.

It turned out more chaste than she had been aiming for. She'd taken Faith by surprise and Faith's lips were still closed in a tight smirk. As Buffy's were kinda open and wantonly wanting it was a little embarrassing. She kept them pressed there for a few seconds more though, giving Faith's thigh a gentle squeeze as she pulled back.

"Morning," she said in explanation as she sat back in the passenger seat again.

"Morning," Faith said, dazed, and then her wits came back and she lunged across the seats to Buffy.

Or tried to; her seatbelt stopped her from getting very far. As she struggled with it, cursing its existence, Buffy felt her giggles come back.

"Leave it on. We don't have time anyway."

"To hell with that!"

"No, really! We're already going to be late as it is and if we're not at customs when the flowers arrive we might never find them."

"I never wanted flowers anyway."

"No, but Troy does," Buffy reminded her, impressed that she was able to keep all sarcasm and evilness out of her voice.

Faith deflated at the mention of his name. "But..."

"We'll have time later," Buffy promised as she re-buckled her seatbelt and, grumbling about her being a tease, Faith pulled back out onto the busy main road.

*****

It was too hot for manual labour. Buffy could see the blue, white and orange flowers wilting through the clear plastic panels as she stacked the wide flat boxes in the back of the car and she knew exactly how they felt.

Straightening up for a second to take a break, she said, "You could help."

Faith turned to the driver of the little luggage train. "I think she's talking to you."

He looked up from his newspaper, scratched his moustache and then shrugged to indicate he didn't understand.

"I was talking to you," Buffy said pointedly.

Faith was just lounging against the side of the airport vehicle, occasionally chucking her one of the large boxes when she felt like it.

"We made a deal. I put all the back seats down and you load up the flowers."

"I made that deal before I realized how much harder my bit was going to be than yours," Buffy griped, shoving another box into the super-enlarged trunk.

Truthfully she hadn't expected Faith to figure out how to put all of the seats down so fast, not when she hadn't been able to figure it out all week.

Faith chuckled. "Too bad, B."

Faith tipped the driver as Buffy finished up, bent over the bumper with one hand on the carpeted interior of the car for balance as she pushed all of the boxes to the sides in as neat a stacks as possible so they could still see out of the rear view mirror driving home.

As soon as the luggage train was rumbling away across the parking lot, Faith was behind her. Right behind her. Palms rubbing enticingly over her a hips a few times.

Buffy didn't stop what she was doing. "Not here."

Faith didn't stop either. "I know not here, I'm not an idiot. Where?"

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it," she lied. She had been thinking about it, all the way to the airport, but she really didn't know where. "Besides we need to get the flowers back to the villas first."

"You gotta be kidding me!"

"No. They must be dying inside all that sweaty polythene wrapper stuff."

She let Faith pull her up from behind her, turn her around and then push her back down again. She sat there just inside the trunk, eyeing Faith. Leaning back against the boxes she crossed her arms, and even though her legs were dangling suggestively out of the car, she did her best to stay professional.

"Not that I know what we're going to do with them when we get there. I should call Toni, see if she..." As soon as she took her phone out of her pocket Faith took it from her and pushed it back in. "Faith!"

"You're on Maid of Honor time now," Faith explained, pushing her until Buffy had no choice but to squeeze back into the narrow gap between the boxes. "That means your chief job is to keep the Bride happy, right?"

Buffy rolled her eyes, smiling despite herself. "I guess."

"Good."

That apparently sealed the deal. Faith tapped her legs to get her to pull them in and then climbed into the trunk too, pulling the hatch down after her. Buffy took a look through all the windows as Faith did - there was nothing but empty cars all around - but then she got distracted by the scenery inside the car as Faith pulled off her own shirt. Gulping, Buffy let herself be pressed down into the tight space between the buckets, hands already hooked behind Faith's neck to make sure she didn't go alone.

They squirmed about a bit as they kissed, trying to force more room with their elbows and knees but the boxes on either side of them were unyielding. It was uncomfortable but it didn't make it any less fun. Faith managed to shuck Buffy's top up over her breasts as Buffy lightly dragged her nails down her back, making Faith shiver on top of her.

Soon after that her phone started ringing. "That's Toni," she mumbled against Faith's lips.

"Ignore it."

"Okay."

When the ringing stopped it was followed by two sharp beeps, signaling a voicemail. Buffy wondered what the message would be. Toni would know there was only one reason why she wouldn't be answering her phone this morning. She tried to block out that knowledge and concentrate on the softness of Faith's lips and the hand awkwardly trying to push between them.

Faith finally realized the confined space didn't allow for more than kissing and awkward fumbling. Frustrated by it, she groaned, "This is going nowhere!"

"Well, duh, you're getting married in two days."

"No, I meant this, right here, now!" Faith tried to wave her hand around to show what she meant and banged her elbow on a box. "All we can do is kiss!"

"Oh. Is that a problem?" Buffy gazed up at her.

"Well, ye..." Buffy hitched one eyebrow upwards. "... no, 'course not."

Buffy smirked at her quick change of direction. Smiling slightly, Faith shook her head and then aggressively kissed her smirk away.

Buffy melted into it. It was a few minutes later that she realized that actually, no, she was just plain melting.

"Okay, it's too hot in here."

"You don't normally complain about my hotness."

"Not what I meant, ego-girl." Buffy shifted a little beneath her. "And now I'm getting a cramp."

"Just move your leg."

"Where?" Buffy reluctantly pushed at her shoulders. "Come on, we have to move anyway or we'll miss lunch."

Groaning again, Faith raised her head to look around and then sat up and pulled her top back on. She clambered over Buffy and then a few boxes to hop into the drivers' seat.

"Get the air-con on before we both bake."

Buffy rearranged her own top before following Faith into the front. She opened all the air vents before retrieving the message from her phone. It was short, just asking Buffy to call, and Toni's voice was very neutral. Not giving herself time to dwell on what it might mean - she knew what it meant! - she just hit the right speed dial button while Faith tried to figure out how to exit the airport.

"Sorry," she said as soon as Toni picked up. "I didn't hear my phone." It was a little white lie that she knew Toni would appreciate more than the truth. She pointed Faith in the right direction while she spoke. "We got the flowers... They're okay...a little wilted perhaps. Any ideas what we can do with them yet... Really? ... Well, that's better than having them all at our place but - do I have to go? ... No, okay, it's no big deal."

She sighed. It was a big deal. It was a whole deal she didn't want to have to deal with until she had no other choice. Which apparently was now.

"No, we're just leaving now ... Maybe put lunch back an hour just to be on the safe side? ... How's shopping going?" She chuckled at Toni's answer. "Yeah, you really shouldn't have let Andrew go with you ... Yeah, okay ... Yeah..." she glanced sideways at Faith. "... Love you too. See you soon."

She closed her phone and put it away.

Faith's eyes were firmly fixed on the road. "How can you tell her you love her after what we just..."

Buffy cut her off. "How can you get marr...?"

"Okay, new subject."

She chuckled even though deep down it wasn't funny. There wasn't any time for deep down though with just two days. Or any room for it either with the other two people in their relationship.

"Anyway. Speaking of your lesser half, Troy said we should take the flowers to your villa, though I don't know how you're going to look after them any better than we can."

"You haven't seen our villa."

Buffy looked at her quizzically but Faith was concentrating too hard on negotiating the Thessaloniki traffic to answer.

*****

As soon as Faith pulled the car up in front of the villa Buffy knew there was something different about it. Mostly thanks to her eyes! It was huge; you probably could have fit ten of theirs into it, not to mention it had a second storey. And instead of being a kind of dusty pale grey color it was dazzling white against the blue of the sky, practically sparkling in the sun.

Buffy tried to look unimpressed but it was too hard, so she settled for rolling her eyes when Faith grinned at her. Faith's grin just grew wider and she poked her in the side before jumping out of the car.

She followed her up some steps to the villa. Their villa didn't have steps! She really didn't want to be here. She didn't want to see Troy. She knew she would have to later that night at the dinner, but she would have her friends beside her then, and Toni. Now all she had was Faith, and with Faith being the reason they hated each other in the first place, that didn't bode well. They walked through the front door and she was hit by a wave of deliciously chilled air and it turned out this was exactly where she wanted to be after all. Their villa didn't have air-conditioning either!

She basked in it for a moment before following Faith down a quiet corridor.

Faith suddenly broke the silence by shouting, making her jump. "Anyone around?"

A Goran in full butler outfit appeared in front of them. "Ah, Miss-a Lehane."

Buffy rolled her eyes again. "Not you!"

"Miss-a Summers." Felacio gave her a formal little bow and then ignored her in favor of Faith. "Mr Athanasia is-a not-a here at-a present."

Well that was a relief, she supposed. Maybe she wouldn't have to bump into him until tonight after all.

"Did he tell you to expect some flowers?" Faith asked.

"Si, indeed."
"Then can you get your boys to get 'em outta the car?" Faith handed him the keys and he scurried away.

"And don't dismantle it!" Buffy called after him. "It's a rental!"

Faith laughed and beckoned her to follow. "Wanna snack?"

"No, we're going for lunch as soon as we leave here, remember?"

Faith shrugged and lowered her voice suggestively. "Sure you don't wanna skip it and just have lunch here?" She waggled her eyebrows a little.

Buffy looked around to make her point. "In your fiance's place?"

"We've done it before. More than once."

She blushed a little, remembering, but shook her head. "I don't want to let Toni down."

They were in a kitchen now. Kitchen, not kitchenette. Buffy had really booked the wrong villa for herself and Toni. She leant against one of the marble counters and Faith moved close to her, but not too close.

"Do you really care about that right now?"

"Yes!"

Faith backed off with her hands up. "Okay, fair enough." She looked away and when she looked back she was smiling again. "Wouldn't hurt to be just a little late though, right?"

Buffy sighed. Why was she fighting this when she knew she was only going to give in eventually? By fighting she was just making them later than they needed to be. So, she decided to cut to the chase.

"Okay, where? You wanna do it in your bed? Or that fridge looks big enough or..." she grabbed a handful of Faith's top and pulled her closer. "...right here?"

Faith laughed, brushed her hand off and walked away. "Come on," she said over her shoulder.

Dubious but intrigued and, okay, horny - she wondered if Toni could tell from wherever she was - she followed Faith across the kitchen, out of the back door and down some steep steps to the side. They were deep in shadow down here and Buffy figured this was where they would stay but Faith turned a corner and opened a wooden door.

"Hello?" she shouted, and when there was no answer she gestured Buffy to go in first, then closed the door behind them.

It was pitch black until Faith flicked a switch and then a single bare bulb burned dully in the middle of the ceiling.

Buffy looked around as Faith took her hand, led her a little deeper into the room and then pushed her back against a rack of dusty wine bottles.

"So, this is different." She was suddenly feeling nervous for some reason. "We've never done it in a wine cellar before."

"Are we really gonna waste time talking here?" Faith breathed as her hands slid around Buffy's waist and then up and down her back in long soothing strokes.

"I guess that would be..."

The familiar but never boring electricity of Faith's lips ended her sentence early but she didn't mind so much. She wrapped her arms around her, just relishing the feeling of holding her for a moment before letting her hands find Faith's hips and pulling her closer. Faith barely needed asking once before they were firmly pressed together.

This was good. This was always good; she still hated that this was always good. She ran her hands up Faith's back so that they could sink into her hair as Faith's hands pushed under her top. Making out in the back of the car earlier had been foreplay enough and the long drive back here hadn't put a dent in that, it seemed. She let one hand fall to Faith's ass as Faith eagerly groped her through her bra and willingly opened her legs as Faith pushed a thigh roughly between them.

"I guess naked isn't really an option down here," she gasped as they broke for air.

Faith grumbled "No." against her neck as she mouthed at it.

"Later then." She pressed hard against Faith's thigh and then shifted her own leg tighter between Faith's so she could do the same.

"For sure." She was grinding against Buffy's thigh as she moved her mouth down below the rucked up t-shirt. "Gonna have you naked and begging for it later, B."

She cupped the back of Faith's head, encouraging her to suck harder at her covered nipple. "I think you got that the wrong way around, F."

"No way." She bit down gently making Buffy push even harder into her. "I'm gonna own you!"

Still rocking firmly against Faith's thigh, she forced her hand between them until she could cup Faith's pussy through her cotton pants. Squeezing lightly and rubbing she caused Faith to buck into her hand and suck even harder.

Bending her head, she whispered into Faith's ear, "I already own you."

"Yeah," Faith mumbled, surprising her.

Straightening up, she kissed Buffy again, hot tongue sliding smoothly into her mouth. She gripped the back of Buffy's neck tight in one hand and the wine rack with her other as she pressed tight into Buffy's hand, confident enough to know her own thigh would be equally as effective for Buffy.

Buffy didn't question it. She was too deeply into the kiss to be more than vaguely aware of what the rest of their bodies were doing. As long as the goodness didn't stop, she didn't need to know how it was happening.

Just as it was all starting to happen really good there was a shout from above them. "Faith!"

"Fuck!" Buffy swore as Faith jumped back.

"Troy," she muttered, running a hand through her hair.

Buffy rolled her eyes, like she needed telling. "Can't you ignore him?"

"He's not on the phone, B!"

"Well, it's not like we can walk out of here together! We have to stay and hide down here anyway."

"What? And wait for him to find us down here?" Faith was already straightening her own clothes. "Tidy up!"

"For Christsake!" Buffy muttered but did as she was told.

Once they were both looking less disheveled, Faith flicked off the light and led the way back up to the kitchen. Troy was at the counter by the fridge, facing away from them as he prepared some food. Huh. She thought he had minions to do that. As Faith strode in happily - or at least looking it - Buffy followed her in more apprehensively.

Faith tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, babe, we were just looking for you."

Troy turned to her, smiling. His eyes grazed Buffy - her eyes grazed the big knife in his hand - before settling on Faith and kissing her hello.

"I have only just returned. I was fetching Benedetta and Nonni from the airport."

"You mean they didn't fly in on their broomsticks?" Faith asked cheekily, stealing a slice of the pastrami he was putting in his sandwich.

Troy tsked her but with a benevolent smile.

"Airport?" Buffy asked, suddenly worried he had been there at the same time and seen them.

He nodded as he turned back to his food. "In Athens."

"Oh, Athens." Did she sound too relieved? "Uh, we got the flowers."

"So I saw." He turned his head to give her a brief smile but his eyes still didn't meet hers. Was he as nervous as her? No, that didn't make any sense. This was just another game to put her on edge around him. That or he just didn't care enough to make eye contact anymore. "Thank you. They are indeed beautiful. They are in the green room if you wish to see them."

"Uh, I've already seen them." When she was lugging them from the luggage train to the car in eighty-five degree heat, thank you very much.

"Would you like a sandwich?" he asked next, making her blink.

Why was he being so amiable? It was weird, and wrong, and she didn't like it!

"Uh, no thanks. We're, uh, supposed to be meeting Toni and my friends for lunch at..." she looked at her watch. "In about three minutes."

"Ah, yes, your friends." Was there an undertone there? Not exactly icy but, actually not exactly anything now she thought about it. "I am very much looking forward to seeing them again."

There, that was it! She replayed the tone of the sentence in her head again for proof. Nope, she was imagining it again. God, this was annoying. Why couldn't he just come out and be the evil jerk she knew he was?

"Hey, B, before we head out, we might as well at least take a look at the flowers."

Since when was Faith interested in the flowers? Oh right. What? No, they couldn't!

"We'll come back through and say goodbye on our way out," Faith told Troy, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

As Faith nodded for her to follow down a different corridor, she caught up with her fast.

"Faith, we can't!" she hissed.

"Pussy."

"Don't dangle impossible treats in front of me!"

"I was calling you a pussy."

Buffy grinned. "I know, but that's still not gonna make me stupid enough to do it now ei..."

Faith pulled her sideways into a room full of flowers and shut the door behind them. Buffy looked around and mouthed 'wow'. They were all out of the boxes now and in the tall ceremonial vases that Buffy had picked up. If they looked this good in this slightly pea-green room they were going to look beautiful in the temple.

Whoever had arranged them hadn't done so very artistically though; they were still bunched together as they'd arrived. Buffy resisted the urge to sort them now; there would be plenty of time for that on the day. Hopefully. It was a job for the helper monkeys; she'd brief Dawn and Andrew at lunch.

Talking of lunch, she made a move to the door. Faith caught her and pinned her against it.

"Faith, I've seen the flowers. They're very nice. Now we have to go."

"We're not in here to look at the flowers." Faith kissed her quickly on the lips before moving to her neck.

Buffy sighed and tilted her head, until she realized just how determined the sucking was. Still nice, but...

"Don't!"

Faith took no notice.

"Faith, I mean it!" She tried to push her off.

She struggled some more until Faith caught her under the thigh, lifting it, putting her off balance so that she could slam her back against the door again.

"Faith, please?" she whined, but her resistance was waning as she felt the blood pound in her pulse beneath Faith's sucking lips. She was going to come just from this if Faith didn't stop soon.

That didn't quite happen but she was a quivering wreck by the time Faith bit gently at her neck before kissing her on the mouth again. They kissed messily for several minutes before Faith stepped back, grinning triumphantly.

Buffy sagged back against the door and gingerly fingered her neck. It even felt bruised. She shook her head, running a hand through her hair to get it off her face.

"So, we're staying here for lunch?" Faith asked cheerfully.

Ignoring her, Buffy walked to the large oval mirror on the opposite wall. She didn't even have to tilt her head to see the hickey, twice the size of a quarter, a few inches under her jaw line. It would be nothing more than a faint blemish in a few hours but right now it was bright red and extremely eye-catching... in a bad way.

She turned from the mirror and waved at her neck. "So I just sit and have lunch with your fiance, do I?"

Faith suddenly looked less sure of herself.

"Moron," Buffy snapped mildly.

Faith grinned sheepishly. "Go wait in the car. I'll tell Troy we've missed lunch and want some sandwiches to eat on the way to meet Toni."

Back in the car Buffy left the door open for some air and pulled the visor mirror down to look at her neck again. She couldn't help smiling, if a little grimly. Faith was such a... an ass sometimes - she touched the mark again and shivered - and why did Buffy have to like that so much! It should have been a turn off, not a major turn on.

She was still griping internally about it and gently stroking her neck when Faith came back out. She was swinging the car keys in one hand and holding two sandwiches in the other. Buffy's mouth watered for several reasons, not least being that her breakfast had mostly missed her mouth.

"So where do the kids like to kick the gear shift around here?"

"How would I know?" Buffy asked as she took the sandwiches from Faith.

"Thought you and Tone might have done some scouting around."

"Why? We have a nice big bed for having sex in."

"Not as big as mine and Troy's," Faith said, as she made the car peel out of the driveway.

"Really?" Buffy asked, pointing at her neck. "You're trying to make me jealous after this?"

Faith laughed. "Yeah."

Buffy grinned, and bit into her sandwich. "This is good."

"Troy made it."

Buffy pulled a face and spoke with her mouth full. "Well, it was good."

Yet despite her comment, she didn't leave any of it.

*****

They stopped in a lay-by so that Faith could eat her sandwich. While they were there Buffy texted Toni:

Sorry, running rly late. Troy made us lunch to save time. Meet you back at our place in a few hours. xxx

She felt too guilty about leaving her to lunch alone with her friends to actually call. Guilty enough that when Faith had brushed crumbs from her hands and leaned over to pick up where they had left off, Buffy pushed her resolutely away. She used the public location as an excuse, which was a valid one, and the fact that they still had a lot to do, which was also true; but they both knew it was about Toni.

"You mad at me?" Faith was looking over her shoulder as she pulled back onto the road.

"Yep, but I was already so..." she shrugged.

There was no use getting worked up about it, not at this point. She stared out of the passenger window as they headed onto the mountain road, giving Faith directions and subtly stealing glances at her cell phone screen every few seconds.

Toni hadn't texted back.

Not for the first time in the last twenty-four hours she wondered why she was risking everything good she had right now just for two more days with Faith, who was still as infuriating and difficult as she had been at any point in their relationship to date.

Toni still hadn't texted back.

"So where are we heading?" Faith disturbed her thoughts.

"If you pull into that clearing up ahead, you'll find out. We have to walk the rest of the way." Buffy looked at her neck again and grimaced. "I can't go like this."

She looked around the car for a moment until she had a moment of inspiration. Toni had left a pale blue gauzy shawl on the passenger seat. Buffy had shoved it into the glove compartment last night on the way to the airport. She pulled it out and tied it around her neck. It was a little bulky and far too warm but she didn't have anything else.

She turned to Faith. "How's that look?"

"Like you're trying to hide a hickey."

Buffy backhanded her hard across the arm, glaring.

Once they were out of the car, Buffy led the way up what was mostly just a rough mountain track. It was just as well that Faith and Troy had decided they hadn't wanted the wedding car to be a limo after all. No self-respecting driver would bring his expensive car up here.

"Sweet Jesus," Faith whistled when the building came into view around a bend.

"Yeah, they don't really go in for him much here," Buffy said. "But the priest is nice and he said he'd make an exception for you."

"How did they get something so big way up here?"

"According to Toni the Gods had it built especially. To attract the tourists... I mean, worshippers."

Faith stood on the top step between several rows of pillars and looked through the open ornate double doors, suddenly nervous.

"So... this is where I'm getting married."

"Yep."

"Right here."

"Well, inside, but yeah."

"In two days."

Buffy looked at her watch. "Uh huh, pretty much two days exactly."

"Two days exactly."

"Yes."

"I think I need you to forgive me after all."

Buffy smiled. "You're getting married, not dying."

"Oh yeah."

"You okay?"

"You know that thing you used to do?"

"What thing?"

Faith rolled her hand as if that would help her remember. "That thing! Where I'd freak out about the wedding and you'd..."

"Not make out with you?"

"Yeah, I need you to do it right now."

Buffy grinned. "I am doing it right now."

"Okay, thanks." Faith licked her lips. "It's not working. I'm gonna need you to do the other thing instead."

Buffy gestured at the temple doors. "There's people around."

"Come on, just a kiss or something," Faith said, her voice bordering on desperate as she stepped into Buffy's personal space. "That old dude ain't gonna care."

Buffy smirked. "He might."

"Why?"

"He's the old dude who's marrying you."

Faith jumped away from her. "Shit!"

*****

They spent an hour at the temple and Faith had calmed down when she realized she didn't have any choice but to deal with it. The old priest had showed Faith around and then spoke to her in broken English about the service, which was going to be a possibly entertaining mix of a Catholic ceremony and an Ancient Greek matrimonial ritual. If there was anything about this wedding that Buffy could find amusing, it would be trying to see the priest pull that off.

After the temple they had stopped at the Purple Ouzo - a bar and restaurant also on the mountain and not far from their resort - so that Buffy could finalize music and menu plans with the owner for the following night. That had taken longer than Buffy had allowed for but they were finally back in the car and heading for their final task of the day.

All they had to do now was convince the greasy little horse man she had spoken to the week before that screwing over Troy Athanasia on his wedding day was a bad idea. As funny as she might find the idea of their fancy wedding carriage being drawn by donkeys instead of white stallions... she didn't think the happy couple would see it the same way.

She wrinkled her nose at the thought 'happy couple' and glanced over at Faith. Was she happy? She certainly looked it now as she handled the big car with comfortable ease, one hand constantly leaving the wheel to push her open-window-blown hair back out of her face, smiling and laughing as she badgered Buffy for details about her bachelorette party.

Buffy had made Faith wait in the car while she went inside, not wanting her to know everything in advance.

"Purple Ouzo. Its sounds like a strip club."

"It's not a strip club. There were kids outside!"

"So what? There used to be kids hanging around outside the strip clubs in Boston too."

Buffy's eyebrows went up. "You used to go to strip clubs in Boston?"

Faith pushed her hair back behind her ear to flash her a grin but didn't answer.

"You must have been, what, fourteen, fifteen?"

"Not according to my ID. So, that place wasn't a strip club?"

Buffy shook her head, still stunned by thoughts of Faith's past. At fourteen just looking at a cute boy with his clothes on had still been overwhelming enough and the only strip club she had ever been to had been the one in Rome and that had been an accident. And she hadn't looked!

"But you did get me a stripper, right?" Faith checked.

"Nope."

"But it's my bachelorette party!"

Buffy had been wondering if she'd made the right choice in not enquiring about strippers. At first when Toni had mentioned the idea she had just shot it down completely. She was organizing this thing because she had no choice and she only chose somewhere nice because she wanted her friends to enjoy the party, but at the time she hadn't given a damn if Faith actually enjoyed her big night too and she sure as hell had no intention of providing naked man-candy, or woman-candy, for Faith to take pleasure in.

Now the situation had changed and things were better between them again, she really did want Faith to enjoy the party, but she still had no intention of providing someone Faith could and no doubt would use to make her jealous as hell. Even if it was breaking some big, sacred bachelorette party rule.

"Sorry, but hey, maybe you can convince one of the waiters to give you a show. Some of them are major muffins."

Faith glared at her for so long they nearly missed the turning to the ranch.

"What?" Buffy asked, chuckling quietly. "You can choose this way. That's better than me hiring someone you might not find sexy, right?"

"You know exactly what I find sexy," Faith muttered, eyes back on the road.

"Yes, but unfortunately for the rest of the straight female population of the world, there aren't that many men around who look like Troy."

Faith grinned. "True."

Buffy rolled her eyes and checked her phone. Toni still hadn't texted back. She knew she had broken one of their conditions by not turning up to lunch, but it wasn't like Faith had left her a lot of choice. Surely Toni couldn't be that mad about it? And it wasn't like her and Faith had even done much fooling around, not with everything else that was happening, and their time alone together was nearly over for the day too.

It would be getting dark soon. She checked the time on her phone before slipping it back into her pocket. They had to leave for the rehearsal dinner in just over three hours and she had promised Toni they would spend a couple of hours together first. She frowned as she realized that left her next to no time with Faith, but she couldn't blow Toni off twice in one day.

They would have to deal with the horse man in uber-quick time so that she and Faith could have a quickie in the car before she went back to fulfil her promise to Toni. It disturbed her a little that she could think so casually about it, but it was a fact that she could. Whenever the guilt crept into her conscience she just repeated her mantra of Just two days, just two days and it wasn't as if she was going behind Toni's back...

"You coulda got me a chick," Faith said as she slowed the car to a stop in the stable yard.

Buffy had been completely lost in her own thoughts. "Huh, what?"

"Strippers, B! Jeez, can't you just focus on what's important for one second?" Faith grinned at her through the open doors as they both hopped from the car. "You know what kinda woman I like."

Buffy closed the door and leaned on the open window to look at her across the car. "Any that has a pulse?"

"Exactly." Faith winked before closing her door. Buffy narrowed her eyes as Faith walked around to meet her. "Any. Long as she has a pulse, long blonde hair, cute pouty lip..."

Buffy tried to tuck her lower lip back in line with her upper one but only actually succeeded when Faith softly pushed her into the side of the car, following to pin her against it with her body.

"...is about yay high..." she held her hand level with the top of Buffy's head. "... has green eyes..."

"They're hazel."

"Oh, in that case, forget about it." Faith started to step away but Buffy caught the front of her top and pulled her close again.

It was stupid being this friendly in public, but then the only members of the public she could see right now were of the equine persuasion. They could probably be trusted not to rat them out.

Laughing, Faith settled against her again. "...slays things for a living and, I don't know, has a name like... Sarah."

Buffy had been about to kiss her but at the last minute she pulled her head back and an eyebrow shot for the stars.

"Sarah?"

Faith laughed again, closing the distance herself for a kiss before pulling back enough to mumble. "Yeah, Sarah's short for Buffy, right?"

"You think that's funny?"

"I think the look on your face is funny," Faith admitted, still chuckling.

Buffy eyed her suspiciously. "So there's no Sarah?"

"Of course there's no Sarah." Faith shook her head as she leaned into kiss her again. "There's just you."

Buffy let herself be kissed until a thought occurred to her and she pulled away. "And Troy."

Faith nodded, mumbling, "And Troy," as she kissed her again.

After a few seconds Buffy pulled back enough to mumble. "And Toni."

Faith sighed, obviously wishing she hadn't ruined her own romantic gesture now. "And Toni."

Buffy nodded and initiated the kiss this time. It lasted longer; it lasted right up until someone with a strong Greek accent asked them:

"Can I help you with something?"

Buffy pulled back reluctantly. "And the horse-guy."

"And the horse-guy," Faith groaned. "Think he saw anything?"

"Probably just you and I kissing. And my hand on your ass... I should probably move that now."

Faith groaned again. "Great."

Buffy gave her a sympathetic look as Faith stepped away. "Hey, maybe he won't care what he saw. Or maybe Troy won't understand him if he does tell him."

"Yeah, Troy's Greek too." Faith ran a hand through her hair. "Don't think the language barrier is going to be our saviour."

"See, this is why I told Toni about our..."

Faith turned to snap at her before she had even finished. "You're not marrying fuckin' Toni in two days!"

"Hey, watch it! It was your idea to start sneaking around behind his back again!"

"Yeah and like you took a lot of persuading. This is perfect for you, ain't it, B? You got me and Tone fighting for your attention, both wrapped around your little fingers, both wanting to give you all the fucking you can handle while you stand back and lap it up like you're not doing a damn thing wrong."

Buffy stared back at her, trying to find something to say that wasn't either completely untrue or completely pathetic. In the end she settled for a lame but heartfelt, "Whatever!" as she shoulder-checked Faith out of the way and stormed up to the weasely horse-guy.

Faith could think what she wanted. She could lash out as much as she wanted. Faith's attitude would only be a problem if she let it get to her. She had Toni at home to be sweet and romantic and loving with. She was only with Faith for the goodbye sex and no one said that had to be friendly.

So, ignoring Faith completely when she came to stand behind her, Buffy spoke to the horse-guy and explained in as plain as English as possible exactly how he could help them.

The man was short and scrawny with thin receding dark hair that was greased back and tied into a silly little ponytail that hung down the back of his neck. He wore black jodhpurs and a flamboyantly red shirt that stank of horse. Buffy's nose twitched and she decided horse smell was definitely nicer with the horse attached. He had a gold medallion on a thick chain around his neck that made her eyebrow twitch as much as her nose.

She heard Faith mutter, "Bling? On this guy? Seriously?" behind her, and if Buffy had been speaking to her right now, she would have agreed.

Despite his physical shortcomings he still tried to put up one hell of an argument.

"I give you my best!" he shouted, sniffing derisively at them. "No better horses in the area."

"I know you have good horses, I've seen them," Buffy was glad she was angry right now. It was giving her negotiating skills a nice, sharp edge. "But the ones you put on the invoice aren't horses. It actually says here..." she tried to read the Greek word and couldn't so she thrust the invoice under his nose instead. "... I was told this means donkeys!"

"Pfft." He waved the paper away without reading it. "Your translator no good."

"She's very good. She's been speaking Greek longer that you!" He just looked at her funny. "Let me see the horses we're getting!"

"I cannot do that," said the shifty little man. "They are bedded for the night. It will make them restless."

"Bullshit," Faith said simply.

"Let us see them or you're not getting any more money."

"And we're taking back the deposit. By force if we have to, understand?" Luckily Faith was angry too and her tone of voice let that be known very clearly.

The man sniffed at them again, but whether it was the threat of losing money or losing limbs, he backed down. "Come this way."

As he turned on his heel and walked away, Faith looked at her, expecting to discuss their next move. Buffy didn't even spare her a glance before following the horse-guy towards the stables.

They went in through a normal sized door, walked halfway along a stable block with unoccupied stalls and then out through some wide double doors into an outdoor paddock dotted with big, white horses.

He turned around to face them. "These are my horses."

"Okay." Buffy looked around, there were no donkeys in sight. "So which ones are we, uh, renting?"

"You can have any which you like," he began genially, before adding in a more menacing tone, "Why don't you have all of them at once?"

"Huh?"

She noticed that his golden medallion was glowing bright yellow first. By the time she was able to pull her eyes away from it, he was three feet taller and waving his hands about in a highly suspicious manner.

"Whoa!" Buffy looked up at him. He was still kinda scrawny and greasy but now he was green and scaly too.

"Demon!" Faith said.

"Ya think?" Buffy sniped.

"Yeah, I think," Faith snapped back.

"You would dare to threaten the King of Scarthespolis!" The horse-guy... horse-demon roared at them.

"I don't know," Buffy shrugged. "Is he, like, important?"

"He is I!"

"Oh... then, yeah."

"You would dare to accuse the King of Scarthespolis of cheating on a deal?"

"You did try to cheat on our deal!"

"B, we got company."

Buffy looked behind her until hooves thundering on the grassy turf made her realize her mistake. Three horses... three horses... three... something wasn't right with this picture.

"What do they have on their heads?"

"I'm pretty sure they're horns."

Buffy's lips split into a wide, disbelieving grin. "No way!"

"B, move!" Faith tackled her out of the way just in the nick of time.

Three sets of hooves kicked mud and grass over them as they scrambled back to their feet, making the job harder as they pushed each other tetchily away.

"Are they really unicorns?" Buffy dodged another one while trying to stay close enough to get a good look.

"Do I look like a horseologist to you?" Faith shouted over her shoulder as she had to run a couple dozen feet before dodging to the side to stay ahead of a particular long and pointy horn.

Buffy glanced at her disdainfully. "Big word; doesn't mean anything, but still, points for aiming for more than two syllables."

"Ya know what? Fuck you!"

Buffy laughed at the sentence of single syllables as they both dived in opposite directions to avoid the unicorns again. There were five playing now. The demon was nearer the middle of the paddock and waving his arms around like a ringmaster with an invisible whip. She saw his medallion glow yellow again before another couple of the white horned horses started charging in their direction.

"Okay, now your awesome comeback has emotionally wounded me for life," she began sarcastically as she hopped to her feet again. "We need to get the demon's amulet. We get that I think the unicorns will stop trying to skewer us and then we can just concentrate on killing the demon."

'And finding a human horse owner who has actual white horses we can rent for the wedding. That should be easy in a day!' she thought as they continued to keep themselves barely un-skewered.

"Right, I'll get the amulet, you get the unicorns," Faith said.

"Fine... What? Get the unicorns? How am I supposed to get the unicorns, F? Do you have a big unicorn catching net in your pocket? You know, sometimes I really wonder how..."

"Distract them!" Faith growled in her face.

"Oh..." Buffy pushed her away hard. "You distract them! I'm getting the demon."

She did her best to run across the paddock but the unicorns had been programmed to block her at every turn and when you've got -- what, eleven now? -- big horses with sharp horns on their heads, you stay blocked, she realized. The only upside, and okay it was a very petty upside, was that Faith wasn't having any more luck than she was. They were both really good at distracting the unicorns, but neither of them was any good getting near the amulet.

"I'm really missing vampires right now," Faith griped from a few feet and a unicorn away.

Buffy could relate, although she had to admit, with the sun almost down the white coats of the horse-shaped beasts glowed brilliantly under the darkening sky, making them definitely prettier than vampires. Most vampires anyway.

From her pocket her phone started to ring. Damn, there was no doubt who that was. She could not afford to ignore this call.

Racing away from another three horned charge, she answered it breathlessly.

"Hey, baby, look I'm really sorry about lunch," she panted into the phone before Toni could even speak. "But I really can't talk right now."

Buffy could hardly hear the stream of angry Italian let alone understand any of it over the sounds of thumping hooves and Faith's loud, panted grunts as she tried her best to reach the demon.

Toni hung up and Buffy yelled, "Damn it!"

One guess what her girlfriend thought she was doing right now. She couldn't leave it like that, not if she still wanted to have a girlfriend when she got back to the villa. Running, dodging, tripping and then rolling out of the way of some hooves, Buffy pressed the buttons to call her back.

"B, what the hell are you doing?"

"Calling Toni!"

"For fucks sake! Does this look like a good time?"

Ignoring her, Buffy muttered, "Come on, come on, come on," under her breath while she waited for Toni to answer.

She was just about to give up when she heard a sharp, "What?"

"Toni, it isn't what you think... whoa!" She missed being gored by a few inches but was shoulder-checked by the snorting white beast hard enough to flip her over backwards. "Fuck!" She lay still for a minute wincing in pain before scrambling up before she was trampled, then ran away again. "Faith and I aren't doing anything except being chased by unicorns."

"That is a very pretty way to describe it, Buffy, but that..." Toni began coldly.

"I'm serious! We went to see the horse guy and he turned out to be a horse demon, except not a horse demon but a unicorn demon," she said in a rush. Toni was silent. "I'm telling you the truth!"

Toni sighed. "What kind of unicorns?"

"What kind? How many kinds are there? They're white with big pointy horns on their heads! The demon has an amulet. We think if we break it, the unicorns will stop attacking us, but we can't get anywhere near the demon to test our theory."

"Find something silver and then ride one of the unicorns into him."

"Are you kidding? You want me to ride one of these crazy things?"

"Unicorns become docile in the presence of silver."

Buffy was charged from two different sides. She flipped forwards out of the way but the skinny cell phone slipped from her sweaty hand. She turned back to find it as soon as she landed on her feet but couldn't spot it anywhere. She had to jump back again suddenly and got all turned around.

"Damn it," she muttered, and then yelled. "Faith, do you have any silver on you?"

"Why?"

"Just answer the question!"

"Uh, rings, cross, St Christopher, key chain, ankle bracelet."

"Ankle bracelet... nice," Buffy smiled and then remembered she was mad at her. "I have some rings, a cross and my ear rings. Let's hope that's enough." Buffy made her way over to the other slayer, dodging gory death with every other step.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm taking you for a ride, baby."

"What?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Just jump when I jump and hope Toni wasn't messing with me because she thinks I'm out here boinking your brains out."

"Like you could."

"You know I could. Now!" Buffy grabbed a mane as one ran by and used the unicorn's momentum to throw herself up and over its back.

Faith used her mane and the back of her pants to do the same and it freaking hurt! She was so getting the hell beaten out of her when...

"Sorry," Faith muttered. "Was trying to grab for your shirt."

Well... okay then. The important thing was that they were on; the even more important thing was that Toni had screwed with them! The unicorn was still thundering across the paddock, if anything even more wild and angry now it had passengers.

"This is not docile!"

"What?"

"I think we made a mistake."

"I'm gonna kill that bitch!"

"You even go near her I'll..."

"Oh stop acting like you give a shit about her!"

"I do! This is all your fault. If it wasn't for you I'd be with her right now instead of riding on the back of a crazy, mystical creature that doesn't even really exist!"

"Ya could have said no, B. Wish you had fuckin' said no now! Last thing I need is getting dragged back into your lame-ass drama."

"My lame-ass drama? You're the drama queen around here. Oh, B, I still love you! I really need to say goodbye! Look what trying to say goodbye gets us, Faith! Chased by fucking unicorns, that's what!"

And then, just like that, with barely a tremor through the beast's muscles, the unicorn was suddenly under their control. It was still running at full-tilt but Buffy could just sense the shift in its attitude. The power in this creature was now theirs to utilize.

"Hang on," she yelled, and then with a sharp nudge of her knee and a tug on the mane she had the unicorn running towards the demon.

"Did ya say the magick word or something?" The demon jumped out of the way, but Buffy felt her shirt yanked hard to the side as Faith practically fell off the back to reach out and grab... "Got it!" she yelled triumphantly as the thick chain snapped and she righted herself behind Buffy.

Their unicorn, still running, ran out of paddock and had to circle around the outside. As they got closer, Faith threw the amulet with all her strength at the side of the stables to smash it.

It rebounded hard to land in the grass, intact. Both she and Faith said, "Shit!" as they saw the demon running towards it. A stampeding unicorn hoof landed on it before he could get there. There was a flash of yellow light and the demon fell to his knees.

"Huh?"

Their unicorn's horn had just disappeared. Looking around Buffy saw the others had lost theirs too. They were all horses again. Slowly they went from galloping to cantering to trotting to all being grouped in a far corner of the paddock harrumphing at each other.

"Come on," Faith shouted, leaping off the horse's back.

The demon was back on his feet and making a run for it. They caught up with him in the stables. He was potentially unarmed now but still three feet taller than them and, as it turned out, strong.

Buffy sank her fist into its chest. He kneed her in the head. It wasn't really a fair exchange. As she stumbled back, Faith caught her and pushed her to one side to make her own charge. That one was repelled too.

"I will become be famous in the underworld for ruining The Immortal One's wedding!" The demon growled, laughing.

They both got in several good kicks and punches but while it stopped him from getting away, it wasn't doing him a whole lot of damage and the both grew angrier and angrier. And they'd both been pretty angry to begin with.

"Perhaps I should carve out my legend in stone by killing his most precious of treasures, hm?"

The demon's claws swiped at Faith's midsection. It would have disembowelled her for sure if Buffy hadn't knocked her to the ground at exactly the right moment and then, with a shout of frustration, she grabbed a shovel from against the wall and brought it around in a wide arc that knocked his legs out from under him. On her hands and knees, Faith's fingers closed around some kinda short handle in the straw and she raised it high above her head before stabbing down with it. The hoof cleaner was imbedded deep into his right eye. The demon thrashed a little and then went limp; by the time Faith was back on her feet he had dissolved into a thin, yellow, horse-smelling mist.

Buffy stared down at the mist as it disappeared. Panting hard, she pushed her messy hair out of her eyes, swallowed and licked her lips.

"That was..."

"Yeah."

Slowly she looked over at Faith. Sensing the attention, Faith looked up. They stared at each other warily for a beat, panting, unsmiling, still angry...

Buffy pinned Faith against the wooden wall, kissing her hungrily, hands roughly pulling up her shirt. When it was under her arms Faith reached down her own back and pulled it the rest of the way up and over her head while her other hand on the back of Buffy's neck pulled their lips together the second the material was out of the way. She hooked an ankle behind Buffy's knees while pushing with her upper body. Buffy felt herself falling backwards; she had Faith's bra off before they hit the straw covered floor together.

Faith worked on her top and bra while she worked on Faith's breasts. It was possible she was being a little too rough; she really didn't give a crap if she was. She rolled them over as Faith smoothly pulled her clothes up and off of her arms. Then there were hands on her breasts and Buffy pulled her mouth away to suck in some air. Faith didn't care for gentle tonight either. Normally Buffy wouldn't like it so much, but right now she didn't give a crap about that either. This was, most definitely, not making love. Good. She didn't even wanna think about loving Faith right now. She just wanted what she knew Faith could give her: multiple mind-blowing orgasms.

Faith rolled them over again and nearly ripped her pants trying to get them undone. As soon as they and her panties were down as far as her thighs Buffy wriggled and kicked her legs until they were off along with her sandals.

"Okay, I'm naked, your turn," she panted when they took another quick oxygen break.

Faith nodded and got to her feet to urgently divest the rest of her clothes. As soon as she was back on her knees, Buffy pulled her down on top of her and gasped silently as their naked bodies came together for the first time in a couple of weeks. As she pressed her lips to Faith's, tongue sweeping in to claim its territory, she rolled them over again.

Faith seemed happy enough with that. Her hands swept up and down her back, over her ass to her thighs to awkwardly part them even further before heading back up to sink into her hair for a few seconds and then back down to repeat the process. With every time Buffy pressed a little harder, deeper between her legs.

The next time hands wound themselves into her hair, Faith pulled her head back. "Go down on me," she said breathlessly.

It wasn't a question and Buffy wasn't in the mood to take orders. "No." She grabbed one of Faith's hands and pushed and pulled it until it was low between them. "Fuck me."

As Faith gave an arousal-soaked groan, slipping her fingertips between her wet folds, Buffy hissed out a breath and kissed her again. She grunted into Faith's mouth and grabbed handfuls of straw as two fingers slid beautifully inside of her.

"Mmm, yeah," she mumbled, moving her hips in time with Faith's fingers. Faith's other hand left her hip, blindly groping the floor for one of Buffy's hands. Buffy got the message. She thought about selfishly ignoring it but the desire to touch Faith as she was being touched was too strong to hold out.

She moved a knee over Faith's thigh so that she could drag her hand down Faith's body and reach her pussy without any obstructions. Barely taking the time to test the waters she plunged two fingers deep into her. Faith's head fell back; her neck arching up and Buffy lowered her mouth quickly to suck at her throat.

"Don't leave a mark," Faith panted.

Buffy growled against her wet skin, "Screw you."

"Oh, fuck it, I don't care." Faith's hand cupped the back of her neck, keeping her mouth right where it was while she thrust harder and faster with her other.

Buffy felt herself start to unravel, starting with her brain and working downwards until every thought that mattered was coiled tight between her legs, ready to explode with a magnitude equal to the Big Bang. She was shaking, trembling, ready to let go. The only part of her that still had any control over itself was her hand, pumping her fingers in a steadily increasing rhythm into Faith, who was starting to buck beneath her a little with every thrust.

The light shimmered and the air quality changed and Buffy thought, 'Damn this is gonna be a good one...'

"Hey, I heard you guys needed some help... Gah!"

"Willow!" Buffy shot off of Faith, her orgasm coming and going just as quickly. "What the hell?"

Faith rolled over, grabbing handfuls of straw to cover herself. "It's not what it looks like!"

Buffy would have rolled her eyes if her own shock and dismay hadn't overshadowed Faith's ridiculous denial.

"Why are you always naked when I do that?" Willow demanded, sounding almost as upset as did. She had her back turned and her hands over her eyes.

"Why do you always do that when I'm naked?" Buffy shot back, scrambling around in the straw and pulling her clothes on as fast as possible. She was shaking with nerves and the need for a proper release.

Fully clothed again, she stood up slowly, her body only now taking note of all the bumps and scrapes she'd picked up while dodging unicorns.

"Okay, you can turn around now."

"No, wait a sec." Faith didn't have all her clothes on yet. Buffy kicked her top to her. She pulled it on and then sat with her head in her hand for a moment. Buffy saw something that looked suspiciously like a tear on her cheek before Faith scrubbed her hand down her face and jumped to her feet. "Okay, we're good."

"Good? Good!" Willow spun around, waving a finger at them. "This isn't even close to good!"

Great, she was freaking out more than they were.

"Hey, watch where you point that thing," Faith ducked away from her finger.

Willow waggled it in her direction all the more. "I should turn you into something. A...a rat! O...or a snake! Or a... cheetah!"

"Like a big cat?" Faith fell back against the wall of the stables, scraping a hand back through her hair. "Go for it, can't be a worse life than the one I got right now."

Buffy rounded on her. "Oh, like your life is so bad. You've got everything you want!"

"Have I, B? Really, have I? What would you know about it?"

"I thought you loved Troy," she drew out the word 'loved' sarcastically.

"I do, but... oh, just fuck off."

"Another stellar comeback!"

Faith pushed off the wall, ready to throw down.

"If you two are doing this for my benefit, because of what I saw..." Willow began.

"We're not!" they snapped at her together.

"Oh. Okay." Willow's nose scrunched in confusion. "Then why are you at each others throats now when you were all..." she blushed. "...nakedy together a minute ago?"

"It's no big deal, Will." Buffy turned to leave the stables but Willow stopped her.

"No, it is a big deal. Because you have a girlfriend and you have a fiance and your girlfriend is pacing around frantically right now because she thinks you're getting stabbed by unicorns and you're getting married in two days and really you've both been in here just... just... I can't even say it!"

"Good. Don't say it. Don't say a word to anyone." Faith stepped closer to her. "You get me?"

Buffy stepped closer too, ready to get between them if need be. "Don't you even..." she began, pointing her own finger at Faith.

Faith spun to her. "Jeez, I wasn't gonna... who do you think I am?"

Buffy crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow.

Faith made a drawn out 'Uhhh' sound as she took a step back, fists balling at her sides as she shook her head, a grin that had nothing to do with amusement quirking her lips.

"Nice, B, real nice." She started to walk out but stopped directly in front of Buffy, leaning in until their faces were really close together. "I love you too." She glanced at Willow. "Tell that to whoever the fuck you want."

She walked away. Buffy took a step after her. "Faith!" The main door slamming was her only answer.

Buffy sagged back against the wall now, rubbing a hand over her brow and trying to keep from crying.

"Buffy?"

"It's nothing, Will."

"That wasn't nothing. None of this was nothing!"

"What do you want me to say?" her last word broke over a sob.

Willow was there, comforting arms around her, pressing Buffy's face into her neck. "It's me, Buffy. Just talk to me."

So, with much snivelling, Buffy told her everything.

*****

The stables were completely dark now. Buffy and Willow sat side by side on the straw. Her tears had dried up, and she felt a lot lighter having been finally able to tell her best friend what she had been going through, but she still felt immeasurably sad about the whole thing.

"You know it's not right, don't you?" Willow said softly.

"It hasn't been right from the start."

"I know but what's done is done, as they say, but you can't keep it up. It's not fair on any of you."

"It's only one more day, Will," she said, knowing that wasn't really the point.

"But how do you think Toni feels about it?"

"She knows!"

"And that makes it okay?"

"No."

"If you really want a fresh start with her, Buffy..."

"I do!"

"Then do you think this is the best way to go about it?"

"No... but Willow it's... its Faith! I can't stop loving her. I've tried! And... I can't."

"But can't you see? This 'deal' of yours is tearing her up as much as it is you!"

"It was her idea!" She wiped fresh tears away with the palms of her hands.

"And since when do we think Faith has good ideas?" Willow asked dryly.

Buffy huffed out a laugh, cocking her head to the side. "She heard that."

"What?" Willow looked around worriedly.

"She said, 'I heard that'," Faith said from the darkness down by the door.

"Oh, shoot, sorry..."

"Don't sweat it," Faith's voice was coming closer. "You're not wrong. Been waiting by the car awhile," she said quietly. "Thought I'd better come and check you hadn't both been eaten by a stray unicorn."

Buffy chuckled as Willow asked, "There really were unicorns?"

"Anyways, rehearsal dinner starts in an hour and I dunno about you, B, but I really need a shower." She added quickly to Willow. "Because of the slayage not because of the... uh..."

Willow chuckled as Buffy helped her up. "Yeah, yeah."

Buffy let Willow go ahead of her up the short corridor. Halfway up, as Willow continued for the door, she stopped opposite Faith who was waiting for her. They shared an intense gaze in the soft light coming through the high windows. Buffy swung her hands at her sides, Faith took her hands out of her pockets, put them in again and then took them back out flexing her fingers like she was about to reach for a pair of six-shooters.

"She's right."

"I know," Buffy said softly.

They nodded at each other.

"So this is..." Faith began.

"...It? Yeah, I think so."

They nodded at each other again. At some point - and Buffy would probably never figure out how exactly - the nodding smoothly transitioned into kissing. Fast, deep, desperately clutching at one another's clothes kissing.

"Hey, no, you two stop it!" Willow had poked her head back in the door to see what was holding them up. "Don't make me get the hose!"

Buffy grinned against Faith's lips before giving her one last quick kiss and stepping back.

"We better get you back before Troy thinks we've run away together."

"Troy's knows I wouldn't do that. Tone, on the other hand, knows you would."

"No she doesn't," Buffy said as they joined Willow in the yard. "Or, I mean, no I wouldn't."

"Sure you would. I just gotta say the word and you'd run away with me like that!" She snapped her fingers.

"Guess you'll never know if you're right or not, what with you being too much of a pussy to ever say the damn word!"

They glared at each other all the way to the car.

"Yeah, this ain't it," Faith snapped as she jumped into the drivers' seat.

"So not it!" she agreed.

They angrily slammed their doors at the same time.

Outside, Willow tapped on Buffy's window to get her attention. "Uh, guys, can I come with?"

Buffy sighed; so much for the angry, side-of-the-road sex she'd been planning.


Chapter Four

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