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 Four: Freak Out and Let It Go

Thankfully it wasn't a long drive back from the to the resort but Buffy was happy to let Faith take the wheel again, which she did after flipping all the backseats upright so Willow had somewhere to sit. In the passenger seat, Buffy had turned so that she could talk to Willow through the gap between the seats, but her attention was mostly focused on watching Faith's face in the dashboard lights. Faith hadn't said much, keeping her eyes on the road, tension obvious in the stiffness of her neck and shoulders.

"Everyone is pretty much ready to go since we thought we'd be leaving earlier than this," Willow was saying.

"I thought you looked a little dressy just for slayage."

Buffy unclipped her seatbelt as they pulled onto the quieter roads of the resort itself so she could lean forward and admire Willow's outfit. She put her hand out to steady herself as they went around a bend, accidentally pressing it against Faith's leg.

She tried to withdraw it immediately, but feeling the knuckles against her thigh, Faith got the wrong idea and took one hand off the steering wheel to scoop up and loosely hold Buffy's in the darkness.

Buffy looked at her in surprise - weren't they arguing? - but she wasn't about to say anything to jinx this unexpected show of affection. Unfortunately Willow was the observant type and had no such qualms about shattering the moment.

"So, Toni was really really worried," she began in what was not the most subtle attempt to inspire guilt. "She was about to try and hitch-hike to you until I told her it would be quicker for me to teleport."

It worked; Buffy tried to pull her hand away. Faith wouldn't let her.

Either seeing this or deciding that she might have better luck with Faith, Willow switched tactics.

"So, Faith, your wedding rehearsal dinner is at your villa?"

"Yeah. The back doors open out onto this big terrace which overlooks the town. It's alright. We figured we'd already paid out the big bucks to get the villa in the first place; we might at least get our money's worth out of it." Faith spoke with enthusiasm but didn't once slacken her grip on Buffy's hand. "We're having the wedding reception there too. Just saves everyone having to traipse down to some hotel in town, ya know?"

Buffy cringed inside at the quick succession of 'we's' that rolled from Faith's tongue, like despite everything her and Troy's couplyness was just second nature now. She tried to pull her hand away again but Faith still wouldn't let her.

She tried a different tactic herself. "How mad is Toni about lunch?"

Willow took a deep breath, not a good sign! "She was pretty upset when you didn't meet us. I mean, she didn't say anything, but you know that thing where you can tell more from what a person doesn't actually say? And then when you didn't come home on time this evening like you promised... If it makes you feel any better though..." and Willow clearly didn't think it should "... she kinda forgot she was angry when she realized you were in trouble. It was so sweet how concerned she was..."

"Okay, Will, I get it!" Buffy snapped, wrenching her hand back from Faith's hard enough to give the other slayer no choice but to let go. ""I should call her; tell her we're on our way." She reached into her pocket for her cell phone and found it not there. "Shoot! It's still in that paddock. I dropped it when Swift Wind knocked me flying."

"Do you want me to turn around?" Faith asked already looking for the best place to do so.

"No, we're running really late as it is and we probably wouldn't find it in the dark. We'll have time to head out there in the morning. S'not like anyone is going to steal it."

"Horse might eat it though," Faith said with a laugh.

"Great." If a horse ate it... well, even if she got it back she wouldn't exactly want it. All those sexy photos of Toni potentially gone not to mention more than a few of Faith from when they were just hanging out in Rome. "Damn!"

"Well, we're here," Faith pulled the car up into the dark shadows of the shrubbery at the end of the villa's sloping driveway.

"Wow!" Willow was staring up at the front of the brilliantly lit building.

"So are a lot of other people." Buffy saw people getting out of cars and heading up the steps already. "I thought tonight was just the wedding party and these guys," she added, pointing a thumb back towards Willow.

"So did I." Faith turned from staring up at the entrance, looking nervous.

"You'll be fine," Buffy promised.

"Always am." Faith didn't sound as confident as she wanted to. "So I'll see you back here in a little while?"

"Yep. Quick shower and some clothes that don't smell like horse and we'll head straight here."

"Sweet." Faith opened the car door.

"Faith, wait." It was Willow who stopped her from sliding from the car. "I, uh, know you guys obviously, ahh, have some, um..."

"Red, spit it out or save it for later."

"I think you know you need to stop," Willow went on bravely under Faith's semi-glare. "But I understand that addictions like this can be..."

"You think we're an addiction?" Buffy blurted out on a half-laugh.

"I think you're addicted to each other, yes, and if you were actually going to make a life together maybe it wouldn't be a big deal, but you've already decided you're not..."

"It wasn't exactly a mutual decision," Buffy muttered, noticing Faith was refusing to look at her all of the sudden.

"... So you have to, uh, break the habit. Give each other up, or, you know, just quit."

Faith shook her head and jumped out of the car. She went to slam the door shut but changed her mind at the last minute and swung it open again, poking her head into the back to see Willow.

"How?"

Willow shrank back against the seat. "What?"

"You seem to think you have all the answers, Willow, so tell us how to do it."

"You want to quit me?" Buffy was surprised that she sounded surprised.

"Don't you?" Faith shot back at her, climbing half into the car again so they were level with each other.

"Does it look like I do?"

"Yeah, kinda."

"You quit first!"

Buffy held Faith's glare for a moment before they both turned their angry eyes on Willow, who somehow managed to sink even further into the bench seat. Any more and she was going to melt right through the back of it.

"Well?" Faith demanded.

"Oh boy. Well, when I was suffering from my addiction," she stopped to awkwardly clear her throat. "Having my friends help me..."

"If you tell anyone about us, Red!"

"I thought you didn't care," Buffy reminded her scornfully.

"I don't!" Faith groaned, wiping a hand down her face. "I do. I have to, you know that."

"I won't tell anyone." Willow sat forward excitedly, drawing Buffy's attention again. "But I bet I can come up with a few ways to keep you sober. I can make sure you don't touch a drop of each other until the wedding."

"I don't like the sound of this."

Truthfully she just didn't like the idea of Willow trying to stop them if she and Faith managed to find five minutes alone later. It was going to be a hard enough task as it was without their sponsor constantly looking over their shoulders.

"Come on, Buffy, it'll be fun!" Willow beamed until the look she received made her rethink it. "Okay, fun might be pushing it."

Faith shrugged. "Tell ya what, do your worst. Think you're gonna need a lot more than luck to pull this off, though."

"Oh, I have more than luck," Willow said and Buffy's eyes widened as she saw a green spark leap from one of her index fingers to the other. "I can be very persuasive, Faith."

"She's going to use magick!"

"Who cares? We need to do something."

"But... but...?"

Faith hopped back out of the car and started to walk up the driveway. Buffy watched her until she disappeared into the villa, a soft, loved-up if slightly exasperated sigh accidentally escaping her.

"Oh, you have it bad," Willow muttered, and Buffy could feel her watching her face.

"This is news?"

Willow rubbed her hands together like she was preparing to get to work.

"No!" Buffy said firmly as she slipped into the drivers' seat.

Willow just chuckled and squeezed through the gap between the seats to take her place.

"I mean it!" She pulled the big car away from the curb as smoothly as she could and took what she hoped was the right way to their own villas on the other side of the resort.

"It's for your own good, Buff."

"Yeah, it might not be so good for you though."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean it might not be all that healthy for someone to come between, say, a Slayer and her addiction."

Willow grinned at her. "Your idle threats don't scare me."

"No, and mine shouldn't; you know I'd never do anything to hurt you, no matter how irritating and annoying you get. But can you really be so sure about Faith?"

"She hasn't threatened me."

"You haven't come between her and what she wants yet."

Willow sat back in the passenger seat, suddenly very interested in the empty road ahead.

"You could always call your big plan off," Buffy coaxed as she swung the car into the parking lot. "Forget all about saving us from ourselves. It's only one more day after all. And we're doing just fine without you anyway. We can handle this!"

Willow was already out of the car, grinning back at her as she walked across the lot. "You're forgetting who you're talking to Buffy. I've done the whole self-denial thing."

"I'm not in denial! I'm admitting I have a problem. I just don't have a problem with having a problem."

"It's not Faith and I!" Willow wailed dramatically, hand clasping her chest. "It's everyone else who's got it wrong!"

"Exactly!" That was a pretty accurate description as far as she was concerned. Her best friend was nearly at the bush-lined walkway to the villas and she wasn't slowing down. "Willow!"

Completely exasperated, Buffy locked the car and ran after her.

After threatening to slay her in many colorfully painful ways, all of which didn't make Willow blink an eye or lose her grin, Buffy promised to be ready as quickly as possible and then stopped outside her own front door for a few deep preparatory breaths and some speedy straightening out of her clothes. She found a couple of strands of straw in her hair and spent a second combing it through with her fingers for more, but eventually she couldn't put it off any longer.

Toni was on her almost before she'd cleared the doorway. "Buffy, you are back! Are you... you...?"

"Yeah, I'm fi---um, okay!" Her arms were pulled out to the sides; her chin was raised and then ducked by a firm hand on the back of her head, more as if Toni was checking for lice than wounds. Then she was hugged, tightly. "It was scary for a while but we just picked up a few bumps and bruises, nothing major."

"I was so worried. At first I thought, ahhh, you are a Slayer, you will be okay, but then your phone went dead and..." Toni's panic and relief had made her accent stronger. It was sexy.

Buffy smiled as she pulled back a little from the hug. "I dropped it and then when it was all over I didn't think to pick it up."

"Willow came to..."

"Yeah, she arrived just as we were..." She winced a little inside, but told herself she was only saying this to save time. "...leaving. She got a ride back with us."

Toni kissed her. One quick thankful kiss after another and Buffy pushed her guilt back down inside. Everything was okay.

Dawn came out of her bedroom. "You're back. Cool. Are you hurt? Wow, you're a mess."

Buffy avoided the next kiss to smile at her. "Thanks and I'm fine."

"Well, I've been ready for hours so I'm gonna go wait with the others."

As the door closed behind Dawn, Buffy grinned at Toni. "So where were we? Uh-oh."

"Indeed." The smiles were gone and it turned out it wasn't the relief making her accent all sexy after all. "Why did you not meet me for lunch?"

"Uh..." Toni gave her an irate push and caught off guard, Buffy staggered back against the door. The guilt rushing back, she stayed where she had been put. "I texted you! I explained! We got held up..."

"Do not lie to me, Buffy!"

"Fine! If you really want the truth, Faith got jealous and gave me a hickey."

"A hickey?"

"Yes. See?" She stepped closer, tilting her head back and pointing at the mark on her neck. "I wasn't going to embarrass you in front of my friends by turning up with this on my neck!"

Toni gave her a cursory look and then, frowning, made a closer inspection of the area. "There is nothing there! Do you think I love you so much I will imagine seeing something to make you feel better?" She gave her another push.

Typical, she knew there had to be a catch to the Slayer healing, but after eight years of only seeing the upside she'd put her doubts down to paranoia. She really could have done without its miraculous abilities this time.

"Okay, that's getting old!" she grunted as her back hit the door again.

"No, do you know what is getting old?" Toni asked, getting in Buffy's face as she continued without waiting for an answer. "My ridiculous acceptance of your infatuation with Faith!"

She turned to storm away but Buffy caught her arm, turning her back around and keeping her close. "The hickey story is true, Toni, and so is the fact that we really were running behind. She pounced on me, at Troy's villa, and what was I supposed to do?

"I am sure you hated it."

Buffy sighed. "I didn't love it. I wasn't asking for it. I had to sneak out the back while she went and grabbed us some sandwiches. I had to wear a scarf around my neck at the temple. I could have died from the heat! And I did hate not being able to meet you."

Now Toni sighed, some of her anger trickling away. "I asked only three things of you in return for my agreement, Buffy, and you have broken one of those in the first day. How much can I mean to you if..."

"I missed lunch, I screwed up. I'm sorry. It doesn't have anything to do with how much you mean to me though."

Toni just shook her head sadly.

"Look." Buffy placed a hand on her cheek, pulling her face close. "Let me show you."

Toni turned her face away to avoid the kiss and asked quietly. "And tonight? When we were supposed to spend time together?"

"Chased by unicorns!"

Toni smiled but asked insistently, "But that is all?"

Buffy debated with herself as quickly as she could. She didn't want to lie to Toni but how could telling the truth right now help either of them? Not to mention she should have been in the shower five minutes ago. If the guilt consumed her too much she could come clean after the rehearsal dinner and face the resulting shouting match then.

"That's all."

Toni allowed herself to be kissed now as Buffy tried to show exactly how much she meant to her and alleviate some of her own bad feelings at the same time. It was obviously working because Toni pressed her back against the door with the length of her body. The contact quickly reminded her of her misfired climax with Faith and, working on instinct, her hands edged up the front of Toni's body.

Toni pulled away, slightly breathless and chuckling. "You think I am going to have sex with you, now?"

"No, I just..." Buffy's head thunked back against the door in frustration. "I thought you were joking about holding out on me."

"I was." Toni gave her one last quick kiss before pushing herself away from Buffy and the door and walking into the bedroom.

"Then why not?"

"Come now, Buffy, you must get ready for tonight. Everyone is waiting."

Toni was pulling the clothes Buffy had bought for the night from their wardrobe. After pulling off her top and stretching her aching muscles, Buffy watched for a moment, finally having the time to appreciate her girlfriend's own outfit.

Toni was already dressed to go in a soft grey ankle length dress that accentuated her tall, gorgeous figure. She'd accessorized with just a simple small-linked silver chain necklace that Buffy associated more with a man's neck than with a girl's but it looked undeniably hot.

"You look nice. You don't wear dresses that often."

"I feel more comfortable in pantaloni but tonight is a special occasion." Toni came around the side of the bed and unzipped Buffy's pants for her.

Buffy held her arms back a little, more than happy to let Toni take over, maybe this was going somewhere after all...

'It's not going anywhere!' she scolded herself. And it shouldn't. They didn't have time. Toni had only just forgiven her. Worse, Buffy didn't even feel like she should be forgiven. Willow had managed to make her and Faith sound like something that should be ignored, denied, hidden in dark corners and never talked about... wait, that was a pretty good description actually. It shouldn't make her feel horny, though!

She concentrated on Toni slowly pulling her pants down her legs to her ankles. It didn't make the feelings go away but at least if Toni picked up on it, it would be safer to explain.

She tried to take her mind off of it. "Incidentally, we now don't have horses or donkeys to pull the carriage. If we can't find somewhere else tomorrow I get the feeling you and I will be pulling it."

Toni grinned. "I have to have the final fitting of my suit with Troy in the morning but I can call around afterwards."

"Thanks." Buffy stepped out of the pants. "Faith and I have our last dress-fitting in the morning too."

"Ah, yes, my girlfriend in her underwear... with Faith. Perhaps we should all meet with Benni together so that I can chaperone."

Trying not to sound horrified by the idea, she said quickly "No need. Nonni will be there to do that." That wasn't a bad effort, now for the finishing touch. "Besides, it's bad luck for the Best Man to see the Maid of Honor in her dress before the big day."

Toni chuckled as she slowly straightened up in front of her. At about the mid-way point the chuckle died in her throat. By the time they were face to face Buffy knew she was somehow in trouble again.

"What is it?" She followed Toni's line of vision. "Oh."

Toni reached out gingerly and pulled a long strand of straw out of the front of Buffy's panties.

"Wow, that straw gets everywhere, huh?"

Dropping it to the floor, Toni turned to the mirror to fuss with her already perfect hair.

"I just thought you wouldn't really want to know," Buffy said quietly. When she didn't get an answer she went and placed a gentle hand on Toni's lower back. "It's not like they make a handbook for having two girlfriends!"

"That is because most people do not consider it to be a perfectly acceptable thing," Toni muttered, still pretending to be fascinated with her own reflection.

"Toni."

"Buffy, if you do not remove your hand from me..." she began casually, leaning closer to the mirror to brush an imaginary smudge from her cheek. "...You will have to look for it, and the blood-gushing stump of your arm, in the bushes outside."

Buffy took a sarcastic step back as her hands dropped to her sides. Toni didn't even seem to notice.

"Fine. If this is how you want it. But you know I love you. I mean, you know. So don't pretend this is more than just you being jealous."

Toni turned to her in amazement. "How can you say that like I being jealous of this situation puts me in the wrong?" Buffy didn't know so she just stared defiantly. "Go and take your shower, Buffy."

"You're as bad as Faith."

She may have crossed the line a little there. More so than she already had obviously. Toni's expression went really dark and she took a step forward. Buffy cursed herself silently as she took an involuntary step back. She tried to correct it by taking a bigger, threatening step forward. Toni didn't even flinch.

So trying to appear unaffected, she turned smartly on her heel and left the room. "I'm going to take my shower."

After closing the bathroom door she stood there wincing for a moment before turning on the shower and taking off her underwear. That could have gone better, but then it also could have gone a lot worse. She could have had her arm pulled off.

She used the Passion Fruit shower gel quickly on her body and then rubbed apple shampoo into her hair. It would probably need three washes to completely lose the scent of horse but she didn't have time for that. Re-washing the more intimate parts of her body wasn't necessarily a good idea either, she realized.

"I can't still be horny after that," she muttered to herself. "Damn." She was already leaning her forearm against the tiles and her head on her arm as the fingers of her other hand didn't listen. "I haven't got time!"

It would take the edge off though. It was going to be a long night; a long night with a lot of untouchable Faith, and Toni almost certainly wouldn't be in the mood any time soon. She'd be doing everyone a favor if she just took care of herself now.

Eyes closed, she kept her head under the shower spray to wash the conditioner out of her hair as she rubbed herself, trying to make it quick. Typically neither Toni nor Faith would settle in her mind long enough to help her along, but to hell with them; she could do this alone.

All of the steam was sucked out of the room as Toni opened the door. Buffy, facing the other way, didn't stop what she was doing. Toni closed the door and watched her silently for a few seconds and then Buffy heard her brushing her teeth. Buffy grit her teeth and kept going.

A minute later, she heard, "When you are ready we need to leave."

"You could come in here and help me out."

Toni laughed. "You think right now you are worth ruining my dress?"

Buffy looked over her shoulder but her hand never stopped moving. "So take it off for a minute."

Toni stared at her with baleful eyes. "If Faith was not enough for you I am sure I will not be."

Buffy stopped and turned around, leaning casually against the shower wall, giving Toni a nice, soapy full-frontal view. "Why don't you try?"

Toni laughed again. "You are unbelievable."

"I fooled around a little with Faith today. Big deal. You knew it was gonna happen. Right now is our time, the time that was so important to you, and we don't have much of it left. Do you really want to waste it arguing? Isn't there anything else you'd rather spend it doing?" she wheedled.

She'd won, she could tell by the hungry look in Toni's eyes as she stepped slowly closer. Buffy kept her pose until Toni was right outside and then leaned out of the shower just a little to meet her lips in a fiery kiss.

When Toni pulled back, Buffy, still leaning half out of the shower, licked her lips and murmured, "You better take off your dress."

Toni smiled beatifically. "Not a chance in Hades." And then she slammed the shower screen shut.

Buffy just had time to pull herself in out of the way. "Hey! I nearly lost a nipple!"

She could hear Toni's unsympathetic laughter over the running water and then the bathroom door shutting.

"Crap!"

She thought about trying to please herself again but it would probably be even harder to find that perfect moment now than it had been before. She just had to suck it up and accept the fact that she would be uncomfortably horny all night now. It was kind of a fitting punishment when you thought about it.

Turning the shower to cold, she finished up as fast as possible and then wrapping a towel around herself, went back through to the bedroom. Toni was still in there and she'd laid all of Buffy's clothes for that night out neatly, plugged the hairdryer in and had even set out her makeup. It was a welcome sight seeing as she had expected to come out of the bathroom and find all her belongings chucked out of the front door.

"Thanks," She started to dry herself off.

"You're welcome." Toni didn't turn from re-applying her own make up.

"About Faith..."

"I do not wish to talk about Faith."

"I know that but what we have... it's complicated... but you have to stop thinking it interferes with how I feel about you. It doesn't."

"And if she left Troy tomorrow?"

"She's not going to leave Troy tomorrow!" Toni went stiff. "Okay, wrong answer," she muttered to herself before saying. "I love you, Toni, that's not going to go away if Faith leaves him tomorrow or next week or even next year."

"But it would change things."

"So would nuclear holocaust or you growing antlers and a tail! Why worry about stuff that's never going to happen?"

Toni turned sharply and stabbed in her direction with a blackened mascara wand. "Because she will always be in your heart, in your mind, in your... fantasies. I thought I was okay with it, but..."

Buffy paused with one leg in mid air as she put on her panties. "But?"

Toni shrugged. "I admit I do not know right now how to finish that sentence."

Buffy kept her head down. "Willow thinks we have an addiction. Like, to each other or something. That's why even though we both know it's really bad for us we still can't stop... wanting each other." Still not looking at Toni, she wrapped the towel around her hair instead and put on her fancy new bra - not that anyone would be getting to see it tonight once her shirt went on. "What do you think?"

Toni didn't pull any punches. "I think calling it an addiction is a clever way to hide from yourself how selfish you are being."

Buffy spun to her. "You think I'm being selfish? You think I want to feel this way?"

"I think you want to have everything you want, damn the consequences. You were sleeping with Faith while you were with me, you slept with me in the few short hours you were with Faith and now you are sleeping with both of us! You do not care for my feelings, I wonder if you even care for Faith's at this point. I think what you are addicted to, Buffy, is self-indulgence."

"You do not know what you are talking about." Buffy took a step closer to her and this time the look on her face did have Toni straightening up warily. "You really are like her. Oh, everything is about Buffy! I can't possibly have feelings of my own. It can't possibly be tearing me up inside what this is doing to you. I obviously have no concept of how just being near me fucks Faith up! No, none of this affects me at all, Toni; I'm just a stone-hearted bitch out for myself, right?"

Toni looked away. "You asked for my opinion."

"Yeah, well, ya know where you can shove it. And, you know what else?" She waved a hand vaguely at her. "You can forget worrying about me using you in the future too, because we're done." She walked fast towards the door.

"Buffy!" She opened the door and kept going. "You are storming off in your underwear?"

"Yes!" She slammed the door behind her and kept going but stopped halfway to the main door and looked down at herself. "What am I doing?"

She stood in the centre of the room, one hand on her hip, fingers rubbing her brow in consternation. What was she doing? One thing she definitely wasn't doing was being selfish! Was she? No! She hadn't asked for any of this! Love wasn't something you could control... That was a good point!

Spinning around she marched back to the bedroom, throwing the door open with one hand and already pointing... pointedly... with her other.

"And another thing! I didn't ask to fall in love with two people. I didn't ask to fall in love with one person. Faith was just supposed to be a... a... thing! We were supposed to fool around a little, have a little fun, see what happened, ya know? I didn't know she'd been in love with me since Senior year! I never realized that would make me look at her in a whole new light and I sure as hell never expected her to turn me down because she wanted to be friends and turn this little but kinda interesting crush into this all-consuming..."

While she searched for a suitable word, Toni sarcastically supplied, "Love?"

"No, nightmare!" Catching Toni's changing expression, Buffy waggled her pointer finger with greater emphasis. "And don't start looking all smug. You were supposed to be a fling! You were supposed to help me get over Faith, that's all. Talk about pointing a flamethrower at that gas leak!" She threw her hands in the air. "We were never supposed to get serious. I wasn't looking for a relationship with you. You were just supposed to take my mind off of Faith and give me the breathing space to move on. Remember!? Now we're living together in a villa in Greece! How the hell did that happen, huh?"

Toni scratched the back of her head for a moment while she thought about it. "Well, while you were so thoughtfully using me, Troy had requested that I sed..."

"I know what literally happened, you... you... moron! I meant considering what literally happened how the hell did we end up here?"

"We fell in..."

"Oh, shut up!" she drawled before leaving the room and slamming the door behind her. Again, she stopped in the middle of the living room and looked down at herself. "And I'm still in my underwear."

At this rate they were never going to make it the damn dinner. Like that would suck so bad. Not like she wanted to go and rehearse Faith's wedding; the real thing was going to be torturous enough. She shouldn't have to go to any of it, it was inhumane! How could Toni expect Buffy to just forget all about Faith when she was being forced to be around her for another two days? Was she just supposed to shut off these feelings like a robot? She sighed; that would be nice.

In fact, she wasn't the selfish one; Toni was for her putting her in this situation. If she really cared so much she would have done more, tried harder, to get Buffy out of having to be there. Instead of pretending like it was perfectly natural to run away to Greece when they could have gone anywhere in the world. Instead of promising Troy she'd keep her here by using whatever method it took just so Faith wouldn't be disappointed!

Topped back up with righteous fury, she straight-armed her way back into the bedroom.

"I'm selfish? I'm the selfish one? What about you? You promised I'd stay here, promised I'd help with this... this... wedding! Without even consulting me! That's selfish!"

"It was the only way I could guarantee your life would be spared!"

"Well, that's... just..." She thought quickly for a back up argument. "Well, my life wouldn't have been in danger in the first place if it wasn't for you."

Toni finally turned angrily from the bed to face her. "What do you mean by that?"

"I... I... don't know, but... Ooh, yes, I do! If you hadn't met me and distracted me, Faith wouldn't even be marrying Troy anyway."

Toni sneered. "Can you be so sure of that?"

No. "Yes! If you hadn't interfered, I'd have won her back months ago. She would never even have left for Italy with Troy, let alone agreed to marry him."

She wasn't sure if she was telling the truth or re-writing history, but either way Toni didn't care, snorted derisively and turned back to the bed.

Her sudden cavalier attitude to their argument, an argument that Buffy was apparently the only one invested in, wound her up even further.

"Hey! You owe me some flexibility here, Antonella. You lied your way into my life. You cheated me out of getting to know you properly. You plotted behind my back for eight months! You knew me all that time, even the slayer part without me telling you, and you never let me know you. So, yeah, before you and I go skipping into the sunset together all tra-la-la-la-laaa, you owe me two more days with the woman I would have been with if you and Troy hadn't decided to play at being Gods."

Toni chuckled coldly. "Va bene, l'amore. Take all the days you wish."

"What?" For the first time since charging back into the bedroom, Buffy's anger stuttered enough to let her see what Toni was actually doing. "Why are you packing?"

"Because Dawn now has the other room. It is just a few things. I will fetch the rest tomorrow."

Coldness coiled tight in Buffy's gut. "Not what I asked."

Toni began packing faster as if she was trying to stay ahead of the storm. "Troy has plenty of spare rooms. I can stay there."

"Also not what I asked!" She looked from Toni's face that was set hard with the way she was holding back tears, to her hands that were almost blurry with the speed she was shoving things into her new duffle bag - or that could have been tears in her own eyes. "Stop it! What are you doing?"

She grabbed the bag, trying to pull it away. Toni clutched the other side and they had a little tug of war.

"Give it back!"

"No!" Winning by sheer force of will, Buffy upended the contents messily onto the bed and then threw the bag hard into the open wardrobe as she demanded again, "Why are you packing?"

Toni turned, shouting in her face, "You have broken up with me, remember?" before pushing her away.

She had to take a step back at the push but she easily blocked Toni's dash for the wardrobe and did a little pushing of her own.

"That doesn't mean you get to just pack and go without saying anything!" She was getting the weirdest Riley flashbacks right now that she could really do without.

"I think, in fact, it means I get to do whatever it is that I desire."

"We're both just angry. Come on, Toni, we can resolve this."

"What is there to resolve, Buffy? Because I love you I have been so accommodating I make myself feel sick! And why, so you can take me for granted at every turn? I have been here before, Buffy, why should I invite that heartache again?"

She had tried to calm herself, take the level-headed road, but now Buffy got furious all over again. "Don't compare me to Helena! This is completely different."

"Really, tell me why? Because it does not seem so different to me."

Buffy stepped in close to her and while she didn't raise her voice, her tone allowed no argument. "I loved you before you had any powers, I don't love you any more or less now you have them and I'm not going to stop loving you if ya lose them again. So, I repeat, don't compare me to that ho."

"You can never prove that!"

"And you can never disprove it!"

"I only have to listen to your heartbeat every time Faith is near to disprove it."

"That's not fair."

"So be it. Enjoy your decision, Buffy; you are now free to fuck Faith behind everyone's back as much as you wish."

"That's not what I want! Or... dammit!" She put a hand over her face. "That might be what I want for the next thirty-six hours but after that, no way, I just want to be with you."

Toni gave a short, scornful laugh. "It is too late, Buffy, we are over."

"We're not over! You know why? Because I'm not breaking up with you..."

"You already did."

"What? Oh, right, that. It doesn't count..."

"Of course it counts."

"Then I'm taking it back! The point is: I'm not breaking up with you and you're not breaking up with me so just stop trying to pack, lets go and get this stupid dinner over with and then we can come back here - together - and finish this argument like sensible adults!"

"What makes you so sure I will not break up with you?"

"Fine!" Buffy held her hands out to the sides in invitation. "Do it then!"

Toni opened her mouth, perhaps to do just that, but was overcome by a different urge before she could. Their bodies collided as Toni angrily kissed her. Buffy wrapped her arms tightly around Toni's neck as she was pushed backwards towards the wall. The bedside cabinet got in the way, hitting the backs of her knees, and she sat down hard on the telephone.

"Yowch!" She jumped back up again.

"What happened?" Toni asked breathlessly as she staggered back a few steps without losing her fierce grip on Buffy.

"Alternative phone sex."

She pushed Toni to the side, down on the bed and was pulled after her. She landed on top but Toni rolled them over before dominantly kissing her again. She might as well have beaten her chest gorilla-style and worn a big button saying 'I'm in charge, ask me how?'

Not that Buffy was complaining, but she did have to pull her mouth away just for a second to ask, "Wait? This isn't just some fancy Italian way of saying you're dumped and I never want to see you again, is it?"

"No."

"Good." She met Toni's lips halfway and then thought of another question. "And not some big ritual that love-goddesses do when they want to turn an ex-lover into a wild boar or make her disintegrate in the wind or something?"

"No, Buffy!"

"Good."

More kissing.

"So we're not breaking up?"

Toni sighed and Buffy took the hint, keeping her relieved smile in check by pulling Toni's mouth back to hers.

They kissed for longer than they had time for but after weighing the choices in her head - stop kissing and go to the rehearsal dinner sooner or keep kissing and go to the rehearsal dinner later - it seemed sensible not to give Toni the opportunity to think about the time. She was just putting phase three of this plan into action - trying to pull Toni's long dress up to subtly slip her hands beneath it - when Toni pulled abruptly away, leaning up on one elbow and looking down at her with bright eyes.

"You can have your one more day, Buffy..."

Buffy smiled, surprised. "Thank you, I swear..."

"But!"

Buffy's head fell back against the bed, and while she didn't lose her smile she could feel it turn sceptical. "Yes?"

"Faith has had enough of you for one day."

Before she could ask what exactly that meant, Toni kissed her again, leaving her to mumble "Mmphkay." instead.

Toni leaned up again. "For tonight you are with me only."

"What about... Mmphkay."

"You will not be alone with Faith. In fact you will not speak to Faith."

"It's wedding stuff! How can I not...?"

Toni quickly kissed her into silence before adding. "You will not look at Faith."

"Not look at...?"

Again she was cut short by lips of Toni. She groaned deep in her throat but went with it. What did it matter? She and Faith were barely on speaking-nice terms since the stables anyway and she knew exactly what kind of 'looking' she wasn't allowed to do at Faith - the same moon eyes Willow had caught a glimpse of earlier in the car. As irritating on one level as having restrictions was, she couldn't very well spend the evening staring lovingly at Faith when her very-soon-to-be-husband and his crazy family were there.

"I will be your girlfriend tonight, Buffy."

"That shouldn't be hard, ya know, seeing as you are."

"And Faith will be as a stranger to you, do you understand?"

"Yes!" It was easier to just cross her fingers and agree to everything. "Now shut up about Faith unless you want me thinking of her while I do... this."

She finally got her hands under the dress but her comment hadn't been taken lightly and she watched as the fire rose fast in Toni's eyes. Reaching around behind her she pulled both of Buffy's wrists from beneath her dress - making all of the effort to get them under there a big fat waste of time - and pinned them to the bed above her head with one hand before going all seek and destroy on her expensive new panties.

She sighed as the flimsy lace tore away from her body all too easily. Sure they were kinda bought to be ripped off of her, but it would have been nice to get more than ten minutes wear out of them first.

Keeping her pinned easily with one hand - mostly because Buffy wasn't fighting it - Toni kissed her heatedly as her other hand stayed south for some teasing before pulling back to offer a rough warning,

"If I sense you thinking of her even once..."

Buffy had to swallow hard to be able speak through the delicious tingling haze Toni was creating with just one fingertip. She couldn't actually think of a bad ending to riling Toni up even further though, so she still managed to sound mildly defiant as she asked, "You'll what?"

"Stop."

"Oh." That was a bad end. She tried to clear her mind of all things Faith as her hips started to lift from the bed, trying to get more pressure from that damn elusive finger. "Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana..."

Toni had been about to kiss her again but pulled back again instead, bemused by her low chant. "Buffy, what are you doing?"

"Uh, making sure anyone who should absolutely definitely not be in my head stays completely and totally out of my head?"

"You could not just think of me?" Toni sounded like she didn't know whether to be amused or pissed off.

Buffy grinned sheepishly. "Oh. Yeah, okay, that'll work too."


Chapter Five

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Part Eleven Quick-Jump:

Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen


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