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


Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, just the tangled webs I weave them into.
Rating: NC-17
Summary: A day of understanding dawns for Buffy. Eeyore and Spaghetti play their parts.


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PART SEVEN: 2nd June 2004
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Chapter One: Honey For The B

Buffy rolled over into Faith's warm sleepy embrace, feeling the brunette's smile against the top of her head.

"I'm glad you came back," Buffy whispered softly into Faith's neck.

"Mmmm."

"And I'm glad you forgave me," Buffy continued, her fingers roaming smooth supple skin.

"Mmmm." Strong arms tightened around her back, promises of love.

"And I'm glad we finally got a room," Buffy chuckled into Faith's ear.

Faith's answering chuckle corresponded with the blankets being pushed back, leaving Buffy feeling colder than the sunny room should allow.

As Faith moved away, the grey-green walls shifted until Buffy could see them for what they really were- a landscape. She lifted her head from the pillow they were sharing, her eyes wide with wonder.

All around them lay open space and there was no interruption between their bed and the bright blue sky above. Buffy got to her knees on the bed. Mountains surrounded them in every direction; smaller, lower than their summit and getting even smaller as they merged with the horizon in the middle distance.

"Room with a view," Faith laughed, looking way relaxed considering they were in bed on top of a mountain. "Only the best for my T."

"Yeah, um, how do we get down?" Buffy left the bed to walk to the edge, well nearly to the edge, of the flat top of the mountain. It was a sheer drop into jagged rocks on all sides. "You mean B," she added, looking back to Faith.

"Why would I mean B?" Faith asked, the anger sounding weird coming from someone lying in bed, languidly eating plump strawberries. "What good has that ever done me? We've been here, what - two minutes? And you're already looking for ways to get gone."

"I have responsibilities," Buffy stressed. "I can't spend all day on a mountain with you. That's not what real love is like!"

"Real love? Buffy you wouldn't know real love if it caramelized your donkey!"

"Who are you to talk...? Wait, what?" Buffy looked around.

A sad grey donkey stood between her and the edge, "Hello." It said in a tired, dull voice.

Buffy sighed and held her hand out to it in a STOP gesture. "No, no, no! Donkeys I draw the line at. Cops, space cowboys and even that cheese guy at least make a little sense but donkeys - no!"

"So go then," Faith said. "It's not like I want you here anyway; you're the one who keeps coming back."

"I can't help it, you're the flower and I'm the bee."

"I'm the ice cream and you're the wasp, you mean?"

Buffy walked closer to the bed, "And you're the only one I want to sting."

"Your sting is bad news, one day it's going to poison the fuck out of me."

"And then I'll be there to kiss it better." Buffy promised.

"You think I'm gonna believe that from a wasp?" Faith sat up, sheets and strawberries cascading around her. "The only thing you're good for is producing venom."

"Then that means I have the anti-venom in me too," Buffy reached the edge of the bed, only six feet from the edge of the mountain, even Dracula would have had trouble fitting a castle on top of here. "You just have to give me the chance to use it."

"Well why don't you grow a pair and fuckin' make me!"

Faith lurched up on the bed, shoving Buffy hard in the chest. It didn't hurt but sent her flying out into space. Faith and the donkey watched her do a cartoon scramble, trying to find purchase on thin air and then Faith's sarcastic wave blurred into the scenery flashing past upwards.

"Holeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..."

*****

"...Crap!" Buffy gripped fine Italian sheets in her fists; face down in the dent of her pillow as she panted in relief at not falling from a ridiculously high height into sharp jaggedy rocks.

With a sharp movement of her head she tried to shake the dream away, but it remained vivid, not just the falling but all of it. Her body felt sticky with sweat, amongst other things, beneath the expensive sheets and she kicked them off as best she could. Even without the sheet the stuffy dormitory room was uncomfortably warm, but she couldn't be bothered to move just yet.

It was raining outside; the window was shut explaining the closeness in the room, but Buffy could hear it rattling against the pane and the splatter of bicycles rushing through puddles on the pathways outside as students hurried to morning classes.

At least she didn't have to get up and rush off to work like she normally did. She'd booked the day off already and Toni was cutting college for the day. Buffy could lay there for as long as she wanted, listening to the rain and Toni's soft even breathing.

She let her eyes drift shut, but her eyelids had barely settled when they popped open again. All she could see in the darkness behind them was Faith's hostile features yelling at her to 'Grow a pair!'

She hated these dreams that plagued her two or three times a week; never the same but always promoting the same themes of love, hatred and, the bit in the middle, forgiveness.

The donkey was new though.

Buffy rolled over onto her back and looked around the gloomy corners of the room until her eyes landed on a poster stuck to the closet door. Winnie, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger stared back at her with cheerful demented grins. She had nothing against Christopher Robin and his pals, but the poster always gave her the wiggins. It was no surprise it was manifesting in her dreams.

The real question? Was it just a natural phenomenon caused by her having to lie in the same room as the creepy poster or was it, somehow, actually manifesting in her dreams. If these dreams were some kind of Slayer connection deal, like she wanted them to be, then did that mean she had to look out for evil Eeyores?

Was Quantiaro a donkey? Troy was an ass, she knew that much.

"Yes," Eeyore agreed in his slow drawl.

Buffy shook her head hard and looked at the poster again. She waited a minute, but none of the two-dimensional cartoon characters said anything else.

"Just stay out of my dreams," she warned them in a low voice. "It's bad enough she keeps invading them."

She knew what dream-Faith would say to that, "Stop fucking thinking about me then."

Which would tie in nicely with what she had said the one and only time she had picked up her cell in the past six weeks?

"Stop fucking calling me, bitch!"

It hadn't been the nicest thing to hear, understatement of the year, but at least Faith had picked up that time. Surely that showed she cared, or maybe she was just sick of having her in-box filled with Buffy's voice.

Six weeks Faith had been gone. Making it six very long weeks since Buffy had finally got to hear the three little words she'd been waiting to hear for months, maybe even years subconsciously. It should have been a great moment, except of course it was Buffy's moment, so the only thing great about it had been great stinking mess she made of it.

It wasn't as if she even meant any of what she had said. Of course she didn't think Troy was too good for Faith, in fact her whole mission statement said the complete opposite. She'd just been trying to wedge some doubt into Giles' mind, try and make him come up with other possible reasons for why Troy might be interested in Faith other than because she was gorgeous and intelligent and beautiful and funny and sexy and hot and strong and original and dedicated and inspiring and - did she say hot?

It was easy for Xander to say afterward, 'You could have just said you thought something was off about him,' but she had! Almost in those exact words and everyone had cried jealousy like Peter had cried wolf or ...something.

So, she'd opened her mouth, words had come out and as usual her life was a complete mess again and she'd ruined any chance with Faith. Even the idea of them being friends again seemed like something you'd find at the end of a rainbow now. It was just never gonna happen.

Especially if Faith stayed in Rome for the rest of her life. Not that far-fetched, she'd already been there for six weeks and it seemed she'd broken ties with all of them, not just Buffy. There were no postcards, no phone calls and dust settled over her room like fine grey snow.

If Troy had kidnapped her there would have been more communication.

Banging came from somewhere outside the door and a loud masculine voice called out a greeting; reminding Buffy why she didn't miss living in halls.

The rude interruption to the peace in the room woke her bed mate and Buffy pushed all her thoughts of Faith into a dark corner where they wouldn't be seen.

"Buongiorno," Toni smiled, rolling over to rest her head on Buffy's shoulder, her eyes sparkling beneath dark sleepy lashes.

"Uh huh," Buffy smiled back, letting her head sway to the other side to better enjoy the soft kisses being delivered to the side of her neck. "You know, I could get used to these lazy mornings."

Toni made an agreeing noise, swapping the kisses for gentle sucking. Reaching over with her left hand she encouraged Buffy to roll and face her. Buffy didn't need more than a nudge in the right direction, slipping her thigh between Toni's as she rolled.

"Maybe I should quit work and you should drop out of college," Buffy mused, one hand on Toni's butt and one in her hair, pulling her up for a kiss.

"And what would that achieve?" Toni asked, one perfect eyebrow raised in amused curiosity as she wriggled away from the sheet still half-tangled around her.

"Well a lot more of this for a start," Buffy kissed her. Hands slid over her damp skin, one finding its way between her legs and nesting. "Oh and that!" she groaned when her lips left Toni's. "There should definitely be more of that."

Toni obliged, her fingers working quickly to please Buffy; Buffy watched her girlfriend's parted lips, the tiny tip of pink tongue that poked between the white of her teeth as she began to smile at Buffy's approaching gratification.

Her breath was coming in powerful twin jets from her nose as Buffy kept her mouth closed tight. It was morning, and not early, people were right outside, making vocal appreciation for her current situation a bad idea.

Of course, any second now inner-Buffy was gonna be screaming ...something, a name possibly, with any luck her girlfriend's, and outer-Buffy was just gonna have to hope her closed mouth made a jot of difference. Sometimes it did and sometimes her mouth opened all on its own.

"Toni!" she gasped. There! See! It just did it and she hadn't even reached the critical stage yet, although the extra digit was certain helping her along.

Buffy's eyes opened wider as she felt herself getting closer to meltdown and she was probably pulling some totally weird sex-expression that was doing her no favors.

"You are so sexy before you come, I almost want to keep you this way forever," Toni purred, her exotic accent making her words even hotter.

Buffy's mouth opened, but a grunt was all she could manage in reply. Hopefully she sounded sexier than she thought too.

Toni wasn't going to get a chance to make good on her threat, Buffy was sure of that as her body, already taxi-ing down the runway, started to gather speed; her engine revving down low.

A polyphonic version of Sirtaki began to accompany Buffy's heavy breathing, easily ignorable until it began to speed up in unison with her panting and then she almost felt like she was undulating her hips faster and faster to stay in time with it.

Toni suddenly pulled her hands and mouth away from Buffy, leaving her to groan in frustration.

"Can't you leave it?"

"I am sorry, I cannot." Toni got to her knees, looking around the room for her cell-phone which continued to play a vaguely familiar tune. "It is impo... it might be important. Besides, dolcezza, we must leave soon if we do not want to be late."

"Fine, you're right." Buffy sighed as her engine sputtered and died with her wheels still frustratingly on the tarmac. She ran a hand over her face in the hopes that it would clear her mind of lingering horniness. It didn't. "Is that a new ringtone?"

"No," Toni's voice was absent as she still searched for the phone. She was off the bed now and was checking around the floor on her side, kicking aside last night's pizza boxes in case the phone was hidden beneath.

"It's just... I recognize the tune, but I don't know where from." Buffy sat up to help her look. It sounded close by. Of course it was close by; they were in a small room. She looked down her side of the bed. "And I thought you might still have The Lady and the Tramp theme song," she added coyly.

Toni turned to her briefly with an affectionate smirk, "It was a gift from you, no? Of course I still have it." She turned back to searching. "It plays when you call me."

"It plays when you call me too," Buffy hopped off of the bed and started tracking the cell phone. Any second it was going to go to voicemail and then they'd never find the thing.

"I know," Toni was poking around on her dresser now, moving textbooks and folders around. "Where is it?" she barked in annoyance.

"So who does this mean is calling?" Buffy followed the fast tune all the way to the door but she still couldn't see a phone anywhere. She held her hands out palm up in exasperation as she looked left and right across the floor.

"It is the ring I give to my brother's number, he does not call often," Toni explained.

"You have a brother?" Buffy asked at the same time as she spotted where the ringing was coming from. Reaching into Toni's knee high black suede boot her fingers closed around the skinny Motorola.

She was looking at Toni in surprise at this bit of family news until the tune dying on a high note pulled her attention to the cell in her hand. The caller id disappeared to be replaced with a message about call diversion, but the half a second was all it took for the name to be imprinted in Buffy's brain.

No, she must have read it wrong, or be having a bad case of the windmill tilts. She was spending so much of her time chasing his shadow around her mind she was seeing him elsewhere too.

Before she could think anything more about it Toni was taking the phone.

"Grazie," Toni gave her a quick peck on the lips before reaching for her robe hanging on the door of her closet, next to the Pooh poster. She kept the phone in her hand as she pulled the pale green robe on and went to the door. "I must return my brother's call and then we must get ready. We have a day of great fun ahead."

"La Festa Della Repubblica Italiana here we come." The words Buffy had practiced to please Toni rolled off of her tongue, but she was too distracted to even realize she'd said it all correctly for the first time ever.

As Toni slipped from the room, she didn't appear to realize either.

Buffy's mind seemed to have soaked up the familiar ringtone in the way it did the cheesiest of pop songs so that it could play on the repeat between her ears for the rest of the day. Gathering her stuff so she was ready to go for a quick shower when Toni returned to the room she found not only was she humming it, but doing a little folk dancing too.

It was the strange bobbing, leg-kicky dance that flicked the switch in her subconscious. Wouldn't Toni's brother be Italian? And if so why did Toni choose a tune from some old Greek film to denote him?

Her Troy-shaped windmills were looking less and less like windmills and more and more like the real deal.

Leaving the real question to be: Why was Toni lying to her about it?


Chapter Two

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