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


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PART NINE: 5th July to 23rd September 2004
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Chapter Twenty: I Might Be A Fool, But You Might Be One Too

If you could see all the possibilities
we might not still be standing where we started.
***
You could say we were just a big mistake.
I think it's worth making,
worth repeating.
***
Maybe we're perfectly not meant to be,
Or more alike than we're willing to see.
Maybe we're not meant to not disagree.
Maybe we're crazy, baby.

"You're going into the mountains again?" Buffy asked into the phone as she checked herself out in the full length mirror. "Are you really in Japan to work, or are you secretly doing one of those survivalist course thingies? And if so, do you know something I don't?"

That was a loaded question; of course Toni knew something she wasn't telling. The latest diary entry Buffy had painstakingly translated was a written testimony to that.

"No, I know you're working hard and I get that you need downtime. It's just; I thought I was your downtime."

Her new devil-red bikini looked perfect. She'd been wearing one of Toni's until now and the top had been more than a little loose, much to her chagrin. It had been okay when she was alone or with her room mates, but it wouldn't have done for today.

"Yeah, the idea of sleeping under the stars together sounds good to me too, but I don't think I have time to come out and visit you. Not with the wedding so close."

She walked through to the bathroom as they chatted.

"Nope. Getting there, but it feels like we've still masses to do. You're lucky, all you have to do is buy a tux and write a speech and then turn up!"

Buffy picked the suntan oil out of the collection of sunscreens and lotions in the cabinet. That was one perk of being a slayer - her super sized healing kicked in before she could burn badly. She made Dawn pour on factor twenty-five at least, and Andrew had brought his own SPF fifty - he was actually paler now than when he'd arrived.

"I remember, dress fitting at your grandmother's next week. We're going down, or is that up, in the morning, so we'll probably be there early. Should I call her first, do you think? I mean, I've never met any of your family and suddenly I'm turning up on your grandmother's doorstep without you."

Bottle of oil in her free hand, Buffy walked back through to her bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed.

"No, we'll be coming back the same day, providing Faith's car is out of the garage by then... I told you, she's having the roof fixed and new seats put in, and there was this slight dent in the hood, not really sure how that got there."

And by 'slight dent' she meant one side of it caved in, and by 'not sure' she meant... she may have been driving it at the time.

"Well, if we have to go to Bracciano by public transport, we might not be able to get home the same day." Buffy began casually, before rushing out the last sentence, "So Faith suggested we stay at the castle."

Actually, she was a little excited at the thought of staying in a castle. It would be a first for her, but she knew Toni wasn't going to be happy about her spending the night with Faith, even if it was totally platonic.

"It'll only be a last resort. I don't want to leave Dawn alone even for one night if I can help it. I know Troy says she's under his protection - whatever that means - but he's still in Africa for another couple of weeks."

Speaking of her sister... "Buffy, we're going now."

Buffy pulled the phone away from her a little so her answering shout wouldn't deafen Toni.

"Okay, but be back by dark if you still want to go for that meal. I'm getting a little tired of eating after nine every night."

"When in Rome." Her sister laughed.

"Bye, Buffy!" Andrew shouted through.

"See ya." She put the phone to ear again. "I really wish I knew where those two went every day. Is there any chance Troy's surveillance demons could give me some kind of report?"

Toni laughed and Buffy smiled, settling back on the bed.

"So, as you're going to be incommunicado again for a couple of weeks - which I still say sucks no matter how beautiful and tranquil you find the mountains - how about I send you off with a little something to remember me by?"

Toni's response was both agreeable and dirty and Buffy grinned as she slipped her hand through the gap in her sarong.

"Buffy," Dawn shouted again, making her sit forward fast in embarrassment. "Faith's here."

Cringing, she called through, "Right here?"

"Yeah, B; where are ya?"

Oh. She sat still for a moment cursing, well, everything, and then got up from the bed.

"Coming," she called, although not literally now unfortunately.

Toni wasn't happy either.

"It's wedding stuff," she promised quietly as she took her time walking through to the living room. "She's just come by for a few hours to go over some things... No, we don't have to cut our conversation short just because she's here; we just have to keep it... cleaner."

As she listened to Toni's answer, she walked into the main room to find Faith stripping off her shorts and tank top. Buffy covered the mouthpiece quickly as her eyes went wide.

"What are you doing?!"

"Gettin' ready," Faith shrugged, still undressing.

"For what exactly?"

"Uh, for the pool party you invited me 'round for," Faith reminded her sarcastically.

"Oh right."

She now realized Faith was wearing a bikini under her clothes. Fluster mostly over - although not completely, Faith was wearing a bikini after all - Buffy took her hand off of the mouthpiece again.

"Yeah, I know," she said to Toni, hoping that answer fit because she hadn't been listening for the past minute.

She breathed a sigh of relief when it apparently did. Although the relief caught in her throat when she realized what Toni was actually saying. Blushing, she turned her back on Faith.

"Did you not hear me when I said cleaner?" she asked, amused and mortified that her girlfriend was trying to turn her on in front of Faith. "That's... Behave!" she insisted, giggling when Toni wouldn't quit it.

"Who're you talking to?" Faith asked; like she didn't know.

Buffy didn't answer because her ear was filled with Toni's suggestive suggestions. When there was a tap on her shoulder, she actually jumped and spun around. Great, now Faith would see how red she was.

"Still with me then?" Faith grinned, mischief in her eyes. "Where's my usual hello hug?" she asked loud enough to carry down the phone.

Buffy swatted her arm before giving her a brief one-armed hug around the neck, and hello... bikini's allowed for a lot of touching flesh. She stepped back quickly, albeit reluctantly.

"Toni, I have to go... No, not so I can hug Faith. I could do that without putting down the phone if I wanted to and you'd be none the wiser, right? I just want to get the stuff we have to do finished so I'm free when you call me later."

When had lying to her girlfriend become so easy? Oh, right, since day one as far as Faith was concerned. She was a bad person... but she'd learned to live with it.

"Of course I want to speak to you before you leave," Buffy said sincerely, trying to keep her irritation out of her voice. "Why would Faith being here change that?"

Okay, so she'd slipped a few times, but she was getting a little tired at having to constantly reassure Toni nothing was going on between her and Faith. If Toni didn't trust her anyway, why was she putting so much effort into resisting Faith's horny, wedding-jitter advances?

Buffy relaxed as Toni chilled and apologized, but before she could say anything else the phone was taken roughly from her hand.

"Hey, Tone. Yeah, it's me. Why don't you calm the fuck down and give B a break? If she wanted to fuck me do ya really think she'd still be wasting her time having naughty little chats with you? No; we'd be screwing like bunnies and you'd be the furthest thing from her mind..."

"What are you doing?!" Buffy snatched the phone with one hand and pushed Faith with her other hard enough to make her stumble back. "Toni?"

The dialtone was her only reply.

She glared at Faith. "What was that?"

"I was helping you." Faith picked a plastic bag up from the floor.

"That was...? How exactly was that helping me?" Buffy demanded.

"Well, for one," Faith gestured with her free hand. "She's not gonna believe we're screwing anymore."

"We're not screwing!"

"I know that," Faith said frustrated. "But Tone obviously didn't. Now she does."

There were a hundred holes in the logic, but Buffy couldn't be bothered to argue any of them.

"I need to call her back."

Faith rolled her eyes. "Go ahead. I brought beer." She shook the bag in her hand making it clink. "I'm gonna go put 'em in the fridge."

"I already bought some," Buffy said absently as she dialed Toni's number from memory.

"Good, 'cause God knows I need a cold one now."

It was Buffy's turn to roll her eyes as she watched Faith walk into the kitchen. Trust her to cause a scene and then act like the injured party. If she wasn't wearing a skimpy forest green bikini she would have told her to leave.

She got Toni's answering machine and wasn't really surprised. She kept her message short.

"Hi, baby, it's me. Sorry about Faith, but she has a point. If I didn't want to be with you I wouldn't be, so you have to stop with the jealousy, okay? Please call me later. Love you."

Startled, she did a double take at the phone and then threw it away from her. "Holy crap. Damn. Shit! Damn it!"

Faith came running back into the room. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"I just..." she remembered who she was talking to. "...uh, nothing."

"Okay." Faith eyed her dubiously and handed her a cold one from the fridge.

Buffy took it and drank two-thirds in one go, gulping for breath afterward from the chill-factor.

"Jeez, B, what just happened? And don't say nothing, because that's bull."

"I think, uh, I maybe, sort of, just... in a round-about or, maybe, straight-forward way, kinda just..."

Her eyes were fixed on some distant point, but she was vaguely aware of Faith steering her towards the couch and pushing her down. When that didn't rouse her, fingers snapped less than an inch from her nose.

She jerked her head back a little and looked up at Faith. "I just told Toni's answering machine that I love it... I mean her."

"Oh."

It had to be over a minute before Faith spoke again; Buffy wasn't sure, she was too busy staring into space to time it.

"That the first time?"

"She hasn't even said it yet," Buffy replied quietly.

"Did you mean it?" Faith asked, her voice tightly controlled.

"I don't know. I've never said it before when I didn't."

Faith backed up a step, shaking her head, ready to turn away. With a deep sigh, she changed her mind and squatted in front of her instead.

"So you love her. What's the big deal? Doesn't change a whole lot from where I'm standing."

Buffy's head felt swimmy.

"Look, she's not gonna dump you just 'cause of what I said, right?" Faith tried to speak with certainty, but Buffy detected a little guilty doubt.

"Probably not, I don't know."

"I'll call her back if you want," Faith offered awkwardly. "Tell her I was out of line."

Buffy shook her head. "You'll just make things worse." Seeing Faith's expression darken, she added quickly, "I don't mean deliberately. Just, well, you will."

They sat in silence as Buffy tried to figure out what she was feeling. Did she love Toni? Or had she just said it as a way to placate her? Why would she want to placate her so badly if she didn't love her? Why did Faith have to be squatting in front of her in a bikini while she was having this conversation with herself? It made any kind of rational thinking extra hard.

She slumped back against the couch cushions with a sigh. Falling in love should be easy. It shouldn't make her feel guilty. She wasn't cheating on Faith by being in love with Toni, but that's how it felt.

She looked down at the other woman, about to say this, but... Faith's eyes were burning trails over her body, and from between her legs, she had a pretty good vantage point.

"Oh yeah, 'cause that helps," she murmured.

"What?" Faith asked, still distracted, and then came to her senses with a start. She whipped her eyes around to the television - which would have been a better cover if it had been on - one hand ran through her hair, the other tripod-ed the carpet to keep her balance. "I mean, uh, what?"

"Smooth, F." Buffy couldn't help grinning a little.

Faith's lips echoed hers in acknowledgment, but she didn't meet her eyes as she stood and picked up her own untouched beer from the table. "So, you ready to take this to the roof?"

Buffy looked from Faith to the phone in indecision. Why hadn't it rung yet? Assuming Toni really hadn't left the second she'd hung up on Faith, she would have heard the message. She would have heard Buffy say 'Love you'. Surely she couldn't still be angry after that?

Unless of course, she didn't actually care. Last night's diary entry came to her again. Well, actually, it was from two nights before they had met, so seven months ago now, but it was still glaringly new information for her.

...I requested my role in what is to come to be small, but Troy no longer believes that possible. Having read the information gathered, I am inclined to agree, but not for the reasons that have him worried. The accomplished are not easily fooled and if suspicions arise it will not be her heart we have to worry about...

If Buffy had been just a task to be completed, maybe she was already complete. She was busting her ass to plan the stupid wedding for Troy, she was putting what was left of her energy after that into her self-control, running a knife edge all the time trying to resist Faith; always knowing the next look or touch or suggestive comment might be the one that pushed her from dutiful best friend back into obsessed jilted ex. And now that she'd told Toni she loved her, she'd taken that final step into leaving the dream of being with Faith behind. Okay, so she'd done it without meaning to, but still.

So if Toni's role had been to keep her distracted while Troy had his wicked way with Faith - wicked way naturally referring to duping her into a monogamous relationship and tricking her into the sinful traditions of a legally binding marriage - then she had succeeded.

Mission accomplished. The check was in the mail. Why would Toni need to call her back? The job was done, everything was set in motion, the wedding was only six weeks away and it would take a miracle to knock it off track now. All thanks to her.

Buffy bit her lip as she let her thoughts run on, going in an ever downwards direction. She'd been so stupid, letting herself get carried away with Toni, even going so far as actively talking herself into it when she'd had doubts. Convincing herself she only had doubts because she thought she should have doubts, was too used to things going wrong in her love life that it had been hard to believe things were actually going right for once. Talk about irony, huh? She'd been so busy convincing herself she was paranoid, she hadn't seen the sucker punch coming - that all the good times they'd had didn't mean Toni cared about her; she really had just been enjoying her work.

"And I figure this out now?" she groaned, dropping her head into her hands. "Typical."

"What?" Faith asked, clearly bored with Buffy's long silence. "Come on! Let's go have a swim, it might clear..."

Tinny accordion music suddenly rose from somewhere, playing the first few notes of Bella Notte. Faith frowned at the window, but Buffy jumped up, did a three-eighty spin on one leg as her eyes darted over every surface of the living room, followed by a flash of memory that had her charging for the bedroom.

Faith unwittingly got in her way, but that was solved in an instant, she could apologize later. Clearing the bedroom door way she dove as far up the bed as she could, her right hand reaching for the ringing cell on the night stand as she hit the covers.

She took only a second to catch her breath and compose herself before answering the call.

"Hello?"

"Buffy! Who have you been talking to? I have been trying to call you for twenty minutes!" Toni's voice sounded slightly hysterical. "But... but... I've been staring at the phone waiting!" Buffy blurted out, confused.

"You forgot to hang up after the last call, Sherlock."

The house phone bounced onto the bed near her head. The green digital display still had the message 'End Call?' flashing. She slapped a palm into her forehead.

"I'm an idiot," she said to Toni. "Just give me one sec?"

She twisted her head around to see Faith in the doorway. "I think you mean Einstein. Sherlock would be the detective."

Faith was rubbing her elbow; she'd probably struck it on something when Buffy had pushed her out of the way. "Whatever, just hurry the fuck up with the hearts and flowers before I get so bored I start reading all that paper-back crap out there."

Faith disappeared back towards the living room. Buffy didn't shout after her that all the paper-back crap was also full of hearts and flowers. Buffy had already had a look and there wasn't a decent horror novel among them, although that much Mills and Boon was pretty horrific all on its own.

"So you heard my message?" Buffy began nervously.

"Si." Toni sounded nervous too. "Did you mean it?"

"Which part?" Buffy asked stupidly; she was wound too tight to have this conversation right now.

Even though she'd wanted Toni to call back, thoughts of betrayal were still at the top of her mind, making her less than comfortable to be speaking straight from the heart.

"You know which part," Toni said softly.

"Yes. At least I think I do. I'm a little conflicted," she admitted.

"Because of Faith," Toni sighed, upset.

"No, Toni, because you've been keeping secrets the whole time we've been together and I can't help feeling like a fool for even thinking I'm in love with you." She hadn't meant to say all that, but the green-eyed monster had pissed her off and, well, it was out there now. And another thing... "I don't hear you doing much disputing," she pointed out.

Toni sighed again, although this one sounded more like frustration. "Things are very complicated right now, Buffy, and if I could tell you everything..."

"You can," Buffy interrupted her. "It's easy; you just start talking and don't stop until you've said everything."

"I am sorry, but I cannot do this. I would rather you be alive and not love me, than love me and be dead."

"Are you saying you could tell me but then you'd have to kill me?" Buffy asked skeptically; thinking it was a shame Andrew wasn't listening, because he'd love this.

"No, of course not, but you would be dead all the same. As would I," Toni said a little desperately.

Buffy got up from the bed and walked to the open door. Covering the mouth piece, she called through to Faith.

"Hey, I'm gonna be a few minutes. Why don't you take the cold beers and go on up? The key's on the coffee table."

"Okay, but don't waste the whole day in there. You can make mad, passionate phone-love after I've gone home."

Buffy gave her a strained smile as Faith walked into the kitchen and then softly shut the bedroom door.

She whispered into the phone as she walked back to the bed. "Are you saying Troy will kill us? Because with best friends like that..."

"No, not for merely talking about it, although he would be displeased. But there are others."

"So don't tell them we've talked."

"I would not have to."

Buffy sighed now, rubbing her forehead with her free hand. "So you're still not going to tell me anything?" It was just as well it was a rhetorical question because Toni didn't answer. "What about if we do the thing I did with Quantiaro? I ask a question and you tell me if I'm right or not?"

"You have spoken with Quantiaro?" Toni asked, her voice suddenly harsh. "What did you tell him?"

"Nothing. I don't know anything I could tell him! He was the one making big with the info... although not actually. He was almost as evasive as you. And if people don't start giving me some answers soon, I'll..."

"You do not need to know, Buffy," Toni said sternly.

"Of course I need to know! I'm in this up to my butt whether you and Troy like it or not."

And where were all the little endearments Toni usually bestowed her with? Usually it was all mia tesoro this and il mio dolce that. It fed into her theory that Toni's affection had all been an act and it hurt despite her current anger.

"I will put it another way. You knowing will help no one, it will only endanger those dear to you and dear to me. Please just drop this now and when I am able I will tell you everything, I promise."

"It'll be too late then, right?" Buffy guessed. "Because they'll already be married?"

"I will see you before the wedding."

Toni's cryptic tone seemed to imply a secret message, so although Buffy was in the mood to tell her to go to hell if she thought she was still going to be her date, she bit her tongue and nodded to herself.

"Okay."

"I am truly sorry about this, mio tesoro..." Ah, there it was, now Buffy had given up fishing. Was it really that easy for Toni to slip back into her role? "...I never wanted to cause you this turmoil. It pains me greatly that you are distressed. If I had known..." she trailed off sadly.

"Okay," Buffy repeated, steeling herself for what she was about to say next. "You're in an awkward position, I get that and I'm not trying to make it worse for you, but I have one question that I need an answer to right now, and if you refuse... even if it's because we may end up dead... that's it, we're over."

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

"I'm not playing here, Antonella," she insisted, twisting on the bed to sit up. "We're both guilty of hiding stuff, and maybe you think your reasons are as good as I think my reasons are, I can draw a line under that for now-" Seeing as she wasn't getting any answers anyway "-But, like it or not, this question's a deal-breaker. Are you ready?"

She'd fallen into Slayer mode now; she could feel it and welcomed it. The quick talking, the upbeat tone, the hard outer shell that protected her squishy inner-Buffy.

"What if you force me to answer something that makes you wish to break up with me?" Toni asked apprehensively.

"Then it will suck for the both of us," Buffy said truthfully. "Well, me anyway," she added, remembering her theory. "But I'm still gonna ask."

"Okay," Toni said slowly. "But before you do, you should know that nothing you could ever say would make me want to break up with you."

Buffy chuckled, but more because she admired Toni's wild shot than any belief in the words.

She took a deep, bolstering breath. "I know asking if you're only with me because of Troy is pointless, because he introduced us... so obviously, but would you still be with me if it wasn't for him? I know he coerced you, or maybe not quite coerced, I don't know, but he wanted you with me to keep me away from Faith, that much I do know, I think..." The Slayer was gone, and Buffy was back in her place. "Was I really just a... a mission? The last six months, all the time we've spent together, all the times we've been... together. Was that just work for you?"

There was silence on the other end of the phone and her heart sank into it.

"You can lie to me if you want," Buffy joked pitifully. "I mean, you've fooled me once... might as well fool me twice."

"Buffy, my Darling! No, no!" Toni suddenly found her voice and it exploded with emotion. "Never think that! It is true certain duties were assigned to me, but... but... Oh Gods, I cannot say too much..." Now she sounded really distressed and Buffy could hear her pacing. "Please believe me, you are the most important person in my life. And not because Troy wills it; in fact he frowns upon my attachment to you. The way I feel for you... It is truly unbelievable! I have not experienced anything this strong in so many years."

Buffy sighed silently in relief, but Toni wasn't completely off the hook yet. "Not since Helena?"

"Not since Helena," Toni agreed immediately.

"But you said you'd been with other women since Helena." Buffy said, finding it hard to believe that she was the only one who matched the love of Toni's life.

"No, there has been no one else... Oh merda!"

"You just said 'oh shit'" Buffy accused. "Why did you say 'Oh shit'?"

"Your Italian is getting too good," Toni accused back. "I lied to you before. There has been no one else since Helena. I loved her with my whole heart and soul, and then she... she was gone. I never expected to feel that way again until I met you."

Buffy stared at her feet, not knowing what she should say or do now. That really hadn't been the answer she was expecting. She'd geared herself up for disappointment and heartache and had received hugs and puppies instead; and she wasn't sure right now whether that was a good thing or not. A clean break might have hurt, but could she stay with Toni now anyway? Knowing she was deliberately keeping important stuff from her.

Or, to look at it another way, had anything actually changed since before this conversation? Yes, it had actually; now she sort of knew why Toni was being secretive. Or at least she knew Toni wasn't any happier about it than she was.

She listened to Toni's breathing for a few moments before checking. "So, uh, does that mean you love me too?"

"I cannot answer that," Toni said softly.

"Oh, for Pete's sake!" Buffy cried into the phone. "It's a simple yes or no question. And after everything you just said, I was kinda expecting an automatic yes!"

"You do not understand. I cannot answer that."

"Oh. More you can tell me but someone else will have to kill me?"

"Si."

"Well that bites."

"It is unfortunate."

They sat in silence for a while. Buffy knew she should say goodbye and go join Faith - some good old fashioned Faith banter might actually help clear her head of this shit a little - but she also wasn't quite ready to put the phone down. She had the unshakable feeling that if they ended their conversation as it was things would never be quite right between them again.

"For the record," she suddenly said, "You answered, so I'm not breaking up with you. Of course, you might want to break up with me for putting you on the spot, which I would totally understand."

"I do not wish to ever break up with you," Toni said quietly.

"Well, that's good... Wait, is that because you don't want to or because you're not allowed?"

"Both." Toni chuckled.

"See how swell this honesty thing is?" Buffy deadpanned.

Toni's laughter was rich, tickling her ear and untying the knot that had been in her stomach since she'd picked up the phone. She relaxed into the 'love' she was feeling for the first time since admitting it out loud. Maybe she really was an idiot for letting her guard down when she knew there was something to be guarded about, but it wasn't like she was planning on marrying her or anything. So, hey, at least she wasn't as big an idiot as Faith was.

She grinned, thinking about Faith again. Poor, horny Faith up on the roof all alone, no doubt plagued with unwanted images of her and Toni making with the phone-lurve. She decided not to disappoint her when she went up, let her keep her misguided fantasy. Buffy smiled a little sadistically, knowing the more it turned Faith on, the more it would torture her.

Although, talking of torture, now she was getting horny thinking about Faith getting horny at the thought of her and Toni phone-fucking. And they weren't even.

"What are you thinking about?" Toni said into the comfortable silence.

Well it had been comfortable, now Buffy's knot was back, all be it a little lower and far more pleasurable.

She gulped at the question. "Um."

It didn't really seem appropriate to bring the subject up after her accusations, but probably better than going up on the roof to see Faith in a bikini without taking care of this itch first.

"So, this is the part where we make up after our fight," she started, hoping to lead Toni in the right direction. "A bit difficult with us being a few thousand miles apart, granted, but I bet we can think of a way."

Toni sighed regretfully. "That sounds nice, but I have a meeting in forty minutes."

"That's ages away," Buffy said hopefully.

"Not when the conference centre is an hours drive." Toni chuckled. "I should have left some time ago. Besides, Faith is waiting for you, si?"

"She can wait longer."

"But, alas, my meeting will not. My time here is nearly done and I have been, as you say, a model prisoner; I do not wish to upset my father now. Go, be with Faith, enjoy yourself. Troy will be returning to Rome soon, you should make the most of your time together."

Buffy's jaw dropped and her eyes bulged and other facial things happened that expressed extreme surprise.

"You're advocating I spend quality time with Faith? What happened to the green-eyed monster?" It sounded a little too good to be true.

"It is still here," Toni said ruefully. "But now I know you love me also, I feel more generous towards her."

"Okay, cool."

"But only so generous," Toni added with a chuckle. "The monster is still very close to the surface."

Buffy laughed. "Understood.

*****

When Buffy emerged onto the roof a few minutes later, Faith was swimming vigorously. Yep, she'd been thinking about them! Buffy smiled wickedly as she watched her ex-lover's lithe body make lap after lap of the pool, unaware of her presence.

It wasn't a big pool by any means, not worthy of the Sunnydale High swim team let alone an Olympic squad, but it was plenty big enough for her and Faith to splash around in for the afternoon. She might let Faith work out a little of her frustration first though. The two of them horny, half naked and wet? That could only end good and she was pretty sure it wasn't what Toni had meant when she'd suggested making the most of their time together.

"Take a video." Faith suddenly rolled onto her back to float like a starfish. "Not only will it last longer, you can play it next time you and Tone 'do the diddy' phone-style and it'll actually be kinda like you're having a three-way."

"Or I could go one better and just let you be in the room with us. Then it would be kinda like an actual three-way," Buffy volleyed with a smirk as she moved to the edge of the pool. "It could be your wedding gift."

"The gift is supposed to be something I want; not what you want."

"So I'm not gonna get you ditching Troy at the altar wrapped in a big red bow, I take it?"

"Fresh from imagining your chick's fingers wandering all over you and getting me all to yourself is still the only thing you can think of, huh?"

"Hey, if you'd rather keep imagining my chick's fingers wandering all over me instead of thinking about what I'd do if I had you all to myself, don't let me stop you. Personally, I can do both. At the same time." Buffy got a dreamy look on her face. "Oh yeah."

Faith stood waist deep in the water, staring back at her momentarily lost for words. From her expression it was possible she'd even forgotten how to think beyond the image Buffy had just conjured.

"I won, I actually won!" Buffy crowed, laughing.

Faith fake laughed and smacked the water surface with a double handed hammer punch. Spray shot up, hitting an unprepared Buffy directly in the face.

"I still won," she spluttered defiantly.

"Yeah, yeah, give a monkey enough typewriters it'll eventually write Shakespeare too," Faith said dismissively. "Are you coming in or not?"

Buffy watched water trickling down Faith's torso, specifically two daring droplets that were venturing into her cleavage. They came through the string tunnel of Faith's bikini unscathed and continued over her stomach, heading for third...

"Uh, I think I'm gonna just cool down a little first."

She walked towards the small deck bar to grab one of the beers Faith had put in the shade. Sipping from it and humming at the delicious coldness that contrasted beautifully with the heat of the afternoon, Buffy walked back to the pool and sat on the edge. She let her legs dangle in the refreshing water as she watched Faith swimming again.

She swam like a dolphin, if dolphins wore skimpy green two-pieces and could ever look that hot. Maybe Mermaid was a better description, but without the weird and inconvenient fish-tail. What was so sexy about a fish tail anyway? Legs were far better. For one, you could walk and stuff, which made dry land far more accessible. Two, they were spreadable, which... kinda spoke for itself, she thought, smirking.

Faith popped out of the water practically between her knees, making her jump, and showering her in the process.

"Could you knock next time?" Buffy gasped at being jerked from her x-rated musings so fast.

Grinning, Faith held onto one of Buffy's knees and wiped her face. "Why, what were you thinking about?"

"I wish people would stop asking me that today," Buffy groaned.

"That good, huh?" Faith stole the beer from her hand and had a sip.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I was just thinking about legs."

"My legs?" Faith smirked.

"Legs in general."

"And what fascinating insight did you have about legs?" Faith teased.

"That they're spreadable," Buffy grinned, taking back her beer.

"Ya mean like this?" Treading water, Faith pushed Buffy's knees far apart.

"Uh..." Buffy looked down at Faith's head bobbing up close and personal between her legs. "Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what, uh, I was all insightful...and... stuff... and... wow, what was the question?"

Faith chuckled, saying softly, "I win!" as she kissed the inside of Buffy's knee. "Now get in here and give me my prize," she grinned, swimming away a little.

"You wish," Buffy said firmly, but stood up anyway.

Setting her empty bottle on the table she took a running dive into the deepest end of the pool, because now she really needed to cool down.

Staying under, she swam a length and a half before surfacing in the middle where Faith was treading water again.

"Ya wanna race?"

"Sure," Buffy smiled. "But you've been swimming a while already and I'm salmon-fresh. Do you need a head start?"

"Nah, I can hold my own. Pity you can't say the same." Faith winked. "You ready? One."

"What do you mean? I can hold my own."

"Sure?" Faith swam around her in a tight circle. "Two."

"Try me."

"Okay. Three."

Faith ducked under the water and suddenly Buffy felt her bikini bottoms being dragged down. "Hey!" She thrashed her legs around, trying to kick Faith away before she lost them completely. Faith left them around her knees and broke the surface. "Go!" and then she was off, racing up the pool, cackling madly.

"You...! That's not..." Buffy struggled to yell and pull her bikini back into place as fast as she could at the same time. She took on more water than could possibly be healthy and accidentally did an ungainly somersault, mortified to be mooning the bright blue sky and anyone watching from the rooftops of neighboring buildings. "That's it; you are so dead when I catch you!"

Which took nearly twenty minutes, and by the time she'd managed to jump onto Faith's back and keep her grip, she was too exhausted from chasing and laughing to do anything but cling on with arms and legs.

"You know, you hanging offa me like this? Not really the punishment you probably think it is." Faith was still chuckling, but sounded majorly out of breath now too.

"Give it time, it's a slow burner," Buffy panted.

She let her chin rest comfortably on Faith's shoulder, nose tucked just under her ear as she waited for her breathing to return to normal. Her warm bursts of breath soon raised goose bumps on Faith's cool, damp neck.

Faith jerked her head to the side a little, but Buffy just held on tighter, pushing her breasts firmly against Faith's back, well, pushing, rubbing, it was the same thing really, right?

"B?"

"Mmmhmm?" Buffy hummed softly in her ear, making Faith tense slightly.

"Ya gonna stay there all day?"

"I'm relaxed; besides I thought it wasn't bothering you."

"It's not," Faith insisted quickly. "Just kinda hard to swim with you hugging me from behind like that."

"Then don't swim... go to the side." Buffy tightened her legs as she whispered, pressing, rubbing, whichever, against Faith's butt. "Faith, have you ever seen Showgirls?"

"Yeah..." Faith grabbed her arms, pulled her off and flung her overhead. Just before Buffy bombed into the water, she heard. "...you win."

When she popped back up, laughing and coughing up water at the same time, Faith was already out of the pool and heading towards the beers. Buffy ogled her dripping wet body for a few moments before boosting herself out and heading in the opposite direction for the sun beds

She pulled two fairly close to each other and spread her towel on one. The towel she'd brought up for Faith she chucked onto the other one. Sitting on her lounger, she poured tanning oil into her palms and began applying it in long, even strokes to her legs.

"That's hot."

At Faith's casual remark, Buffy looked up to see her standing close by, watching her with a smirk.

"Really?" Buffy smiled, hands still sliding the oil over her thighs. "Thanks. So's that."

Faith looked down at herself. "I'm just standing here."

Buffy winked, her smile flirtatious. She indicated the two beers Faith was holding. "Is one of those for me?"

Faith handed one over as she sat on her own lounge chair. "B, I know you've always been a tease... but since when have you been good at it?"

"I think your bikini is inspiring my creativity." Buffy chuckled, lifting her bottle to her lips.

"In that case get ready to become fuckin' Da Vinci." Faith reached behind her with both hands.

Buffy choked on her beer. "What are you doing?"

"Going topless." Faith pulled at the string that kept the bikini taut under her breasts and it came loose; the two ends dangled down her sides.

"No, but, why?" Buffy wiped beer from her chin. "Trust me, that's not a good idea. You win, okay? You win everything. You're queen of the world. Just don't!"

Faith grinned. "Relax, B. I'm not trying to seduce you. I just want as few as many tan lines on my wedding night as possible." She reached up to the bikini's final mooring around her neck. "The only reason I'm not sunbathing nude is because I wouldn't get much of a tan with you crawling all over me."

"Ha ha ha, and no! You're not sunbathing topless! Firstly, this isn't a private pool; the whole building can use it." Not that she'd ever seen anyone else up here, but that was beside the point.

"I ain't got nothing to be ashamed of and when half the Baptists in South Boston have seen you in all your glory, it takes a little more than letting the 'girls' get some sun to embarrass you." She started to pull on one of the strings.

"Not fair," Buffy murmured, glaring at her. "Not fair," she said a little louder when Faith continued to pull on the string deliberately slowly. "No, don't. Stop!"

Faith dropped her hands with a frustrated sigh. "What's the big deal, B? You've seen my tits before."

"Oh god." Buffy pressed the heel of her hand between her eyes. "I know! And now I'm trying to give them up!"

"So don't look."

"I won't look, I'll stare!"

"So stare!" Faith smirked, reaching behind her neck again. "Doesn't bother me."

"That wasn't a threat; it was a plea for mercy," Buffy groaned.

Faith raised an eyebrow and after a moment Buffy gave in to a small grin.

"Okay, so it was a little of both," she admitted. "But you're not supposed to like the idea!"

Faith laughed. "Like I said, I don't want tan lines, B, and the way I see it, long as you're just looking and not touching we're not doing anything wrong."

Buffy was about to give in grumpily when she thought of another means of defense - attack! "Fine, but if you're going topless, I am too!"

Faith laughed again. "Yeah, that'll be the day."

"I will," Buffy threatened.

"Fine, we'll do it together." Faith shrugged, reaching to the back of her neck again. "On three?"

The scorching sun that had felt great a minute ago now felt too hot as Buffy gulped and reached around to the clasp on the back of her bikini. The smell of chlorine from the pool and old sun cream from the loungers was suddenly overpowering. Oh God, was she going to faint? She reminded herself they were just looking, not touching, as Faith counted in the distance and as she vaguely heard her reach three, she wrenched open the fastener below her shoulder blades and threw the bikini top away from her body.

"Ha!" She shouted triumphantly, feeling proud of herself. Faith was laughing. Why was Faith laughing? Oh, maybe because Faith wasn't topless! Going red, and not because of the sun, Buffy covered herself with her arms. "I can't believe you!"

Faith was still laughing.

"That wasn't funny!"

Faith clearly disagreed. "Oh come on, B, that was classic."

"Take your top off!"

"Oh, now you want me topless?" Faith leaned back on her arms, clearly in no hurry now. "Your tits lonely, B?"

"No!"

"Then why're you hugging them?"

With an animalistic growl Buffy jumped up, pulled Faith's bikini top off with a fair amount of force and threw it into the pool.

"Ripping my clothes off now? What would Tone think, huh?" Faith laughed, not in the least abashed or bothered.

Buffy sat back on her lounger, facing away from Faith, and finished applying the oil to her arms and shoulders. Looking down, she bit her lip slightly before quickly rubbing it over her breasts and stomach too - if she was going to be forced into a topless situation, she might as well at least get bronzed all over.

"Ooh, do that again, only slower!" Faith teased.

"Shut up!"

"Please yourself. You gonna share?"

Buffy tossed the bottle of oil over without looking and bent to pick up the black wedding folder she'd placed by the lounger.

"Aren't you gonna watch?"

Buffy sighed, rolling her eyes to beseech the sky as she shook her head slightly. She didn't need to watch, she could see it all too clearly in her imagination.

"We have work to do," she said firmly as she flicked through the plastic sleeves in the folder.

"I don't wanna."

"Neither do I." Buffy shrugged. "But I told Toni you came over to talk wedding stuff, so we're talking wedding stuff. Besides, it might stop you from hitting on me for five minutes."

Faith chuckled. "Don't put all your eggs in that basket."

Buffy smiled despite herself.

"See, you like me hitting on you; so why work so hard to put an end to it?"

"I could ask you exactly the same question," Buffy muttered as she found the page she was after.

Faith snorted in derision, but gave no comeback.

"Okay, invites?" Buffy glanced at Faith before quickly looking back at the folder again.

Faith was on her back, one leg in the air as she leisurely stroked her oil-slick hands up and down it.

She paused as Buffy asked her question. "I thought we covered invites already. They should have all gone out by now."

"We did mostly and they have mostly. All the gang RSVP'd to say they were coming. Troy has about nine hundred family and friends coming. Even Toni has family coming."

"Since when did she get put on the guest list?"

"Since Troy asked her to be his best man," Buffy reminded her needlessly. "Weird, I know, I thought best men were supposed to be, you know, men, but then Willow was Xander's so I guess it's not that weird."

"Nah, it's weird." Faith frowned. "And I tried to veto Toni, but apparently you can't veto best man choices."

"Why do you hate her so much?" Buffy asked in exasperation.

"Because she's doing my girl, dumbass." Faith drawled casually enough.

Buffy looked over sharply, but Faith was concentrating on oiling up her other leg now. She hated the way Faith could make her heart, stomach, everything! flutter with just a few offhand words.

"I'm not your girl," she muttered softly, her eyes fixed on the folder.

"Whatever."

"If I'm anyone's girl, I'm Toni's."

"Yeah right, and I'm Andrew's. So what's the problem with the invites?"

"Are you gonna invite anyone else?"

"Nobody else to invite," Faith said casually.

"What about your family?"

"Don't got any," Faith said less casually.

"Oh come on, there must be at least one relative out there you can invite?"

Buffy had meant to broach this subject carefully, but Faith's comments about Toni had made her irritable. Why did her relationship with Troy have to be taken oh-so seriously, but her relationship with Toni was something to either dismiss or make fun of?

Faith sighed. "Mom's dead. Grandparents' probably still wish I was. No siblings... far as I know." Faith shrugged. "I had cousins, but half of them thought they were too good to give a crap about me and the other half, well if they're even still kicking, they're not the kinda people you want at a nice respectable to-do, ya know?"

Faith looked so unexpectedly miserable; Buffy wished she'd gone the careful route after all.

"Are you okay?"

"Five by five," Faith drawled, not looking at her.

"Do you need a hug?" Buffy asked, smiling gently.

Faith leered at her breasts. "Now you're talking!"

Buffy rolled her eyes again. "I'm going to retract my offer until we both have more clothes on."

Faith chuckled and resumed putting oil on her arms. "Killjoy."

"That's me." Buffy smiled. "So what about your dad?"

Faith didn't answer.

"Only he wasn't in your list of people you couldn't invite, so..."

"I've had more 'dads' than you could shake a demon at, B. And the only one who ever really gave a damn... you blew up." She didn't say it maliciously, but Buffy detected an undertone of old resentment.

"Yeah, well, I'd say sorry if he hadn't been asking for it. Besides, I was kinda meaning your real father."

"Haven't seen him in a while."

"Since when?"

"I think it was my second year in prison."

"Oh." For some reason Buffy had expected it to be years longer than that.

"My shrink said it would be good for me to write to him, so I did, and he came for a visit."

"Really?" Buffy didn't mean to sound so shocked.

Faith glanced at her, picking up on it. "Yeah, really. Twice actually. First time was to tell me he'd turned his life around. He'd met some woman, fell in love and stuff. She had a couple of kids already, teenage girls; he showed me a picture of them all. They looked nice."

Buffy sat quietly. Faith talking about her family was a rarity. She wondered if Troy already knew all this; if he'd taken the time to pry it out of her gently, whereas Buffy always waited for the tidbits to be dropped into conversation, and selfishly hoped that he hadn't.

"The second visit was to tell me they were getting hitched. Wanted to see if I could get paroled for the day to go, but... I guess I didn't have enough good behavior points backed up by then 'cause they turned my application down flat. Musta disappointed him, 'cause he didn't come back for another visit."

"Faith, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Gotta letter from him six months later saying he'd gone on a bender for a couple of weeks and she'd called off the wedding and left him. Guess that disappointment thing works both ways, huh? I gotta letter offa him every couple of months after that - some of them were even legible - until I escaped. For all I know, he's still sending 'em and just thinks I ain't bothering to reply."

"So why don't we invite him to the wedding? That way you'll get to see him again and he'll get to see you be married. I bet he'll be way proud to walk you down the aisle."

"It's a nice idea, B." Faith smiled wanly. "But I wouldn't even know where to start looking for him. You could invite Angel though; I was thinking it might be kinda cool to have him walk me down the aisle."

"My ex is one of your daddy figures?" Buffy's nose wrinkled as she made a note in the folder. "I'd say how deeply disturbing, but we passed that point a long time ago, didn't we?"

"Way, way back," Faith smirked. "And he is not a daddy figure, just a guy who gets me, so don't start having no Orthopedic-style fantasies about me."

"Huh?" Buffy stared at her blankly. She opened her mouth to reply, but honestly couldn't think of an appropriate response. "No, really, huh?"

"He's the guy who wanted to do his mom, right?" Faith explained.

Her eyebrows went up. "I don't think that was his name." Then she frowned. "And thanks for ruining my favorite threesome fantasy, by the way."

Faith snickered. "I thought that was you, me and Tone."

"Well, it'll have to do now." Buffy sighed. "You've been making some very strange references recently, and not just strange because they're mostly wrong, but also because you're making them."

"Thanks a bunch. Ya know you're not exactly known for your smarts either, Blondie." Buffy scowled at her. "I'm trying to brush up on my reading and shit before the wedding."

"Why?"

"Because over half the guests at this wedding aren't just fans of classical literature, they wrote and starred in it! These guys can crap more culture before breakfast than I've ever had in my whole life. They got thousands of years of knowledge between them and if they're anything like Troy they're gonna be big talkers. I figured a little light reading would at least let me keep up with them, even if I can't actually contribute, but turns out there's no such things as 'light' literature." Faith gestured so maniacally with the suntan oil that it nearly slipped from her fingers.

Oh, God, Buffy groaned inwardly. "You're freaking out again, aren't you?"

"Did you know Homer isn't just a guy on the Simpsons?"

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"He wrote a book... a book about Troy's brother! I got a headache just from trying to understand the first page!"

"Maybe you should try an English translation."

"That was the English translation! I was crazy; you can't plan a wedding like this in three months! It's impossible. At least, I can't do it. That's it, I'm... I can't do it. He'll have to find some smart, posh chick to marry him like his Dad wants, 'cause the wedding's off."

"Cool!" Buffy laughed, clapping her hands. Faith shot her a hurt look. Okay, also not the time for totally serious comments. "Look, you don't have to call the wedding off just because you haven't read a couple of ancient Greek plays."

"This is his family history we're talking about! If they think I don't even care enough to learn some of it when it's right there in Penguin Paperback..."

"Have you asked him for some key points to memorize...?"

"Yeah, I'm not stupid, I tried getting the full story from him first, but he don't really like talking about it."

"Well there ya go then, if Troy doesn't like talking about it, maybe no one else will expect you to."

"Troy don't talk about it because he doesn't want me kowtowing to those guys. He says I should be myself and let them deal with it." Faith shook her head. "But I can't!"

"And this never stops surprising me, but Troy's right. And since when do you not agree?"

"I do agree, but I want them to like me for Troy's sake. They keep giving him a hard time for being with me, ex-con and all that; can't really blame them, even I don't think I'm a good choice for Goddess material..."

"If you marry him you'll be a Goddess? Are you sure that's how it works?"

"I don't know, I figured its like when you marry a prince you become a princess." Faith shrugged. "I'll look into it, but the point is, they got their panties in a bunch because he's marrying beneath himself and I'm gonna prove them wrong. Prove that I am good enough to be a part of their stupid family. At least, that was my plan, but now I'm gonna look like the stupid one."

"So you're doing this for yourself, really?" Buffy asked.

"And Troy."

"But, you came up with this plan? He's not chaining you to a reading lamp every night and making you recite classical verse or anything?" Buffy checked.

"No," Faith smiled. "He doesn't even know about it. I wanted it to be a surprise."

Buffy made another note in the folder. "Well, I bet if you give Angel a call, he'd be happy to give you away. Sunlight may be an issue, but we can always get him a tuxedo with a hood or something."

"Can't you call him?"

"Can't you be less of a wuss?"

"Hey, I'm not a wuss!"

"Then call him."

"I thought you'd want an excuse to call him."

"I don't need an excuse to call him, it's just... we haven't spoken in a while." Buffy frowned slightly.

"Why not?"

"Just haven't."

To be honest, she was feeling a little awkward about Angel these days. She'd kinda promised him cookies at some hypothetical point in the future and now she was pretty sure they'd be going to a woman instead. Preferably the woman sitting opposite her, but if not, then maybe Toni... maybe. It probably wouldn't even come up when they spoke next, there was no reason why it had to, but the thought of calling him still made her antsy.

"Here, oil me," Faith said as she chucked the bottle over.

Buffy caught the bottle as she was looking up. She didn't quite make it as far as Faith's face before recoiling slightly. "Are you kidding me? I'm not oiling those... I mean, you!" "Relax, babe." Faith laughed. "I already did the girls." And now Buffy could see she had, they were all... glisteny! "I meant my back."

Faith pulled her legs up onto the lounger and rolled over. Buffy just stared at her.

"Any time now would be good," Faith encouraged as she pulled her damp hair to one side out of the way.

"I thought we agreed no touching," Buffy replied nervously.

Faith smirked at her. "Are you really tellin' me you can't even rub my back without losing control?"

"Of course I can, it's just... what if you lose control over it? I'm tired from swimming; I might not have the energy to fight you off."

"Then don't," Faith countered, still smirking. "I won't tell anyone."

Buffy stood up slowly. "Are you likely to lose control?"

"Hmm, maybe, if you're lucky."

Buffy grinned. "Oh, well if it's not a sure thing I don't think I can be bothered."

"If it was a sure thing, I wouldn't be letting you do it in the first place."

"So you don't really think I can make you lose it?" Buffy popped the top on the bottle.

"I think it'd take a little more than you rubbing some oil on my back, yeah." Faith laughed.

"Oh really?"

Buffy ran appreciative eyes over Faith's nicely shaped back; as backs went, it was a good one to get your hands on. With a little shrug, she upended the bottle and squirted a liberal amount from the base of Faith's neck to the edge of her bikini, more than what was needed, but who cared, it wasn't like she'd get a chance like this again in a hurry. It was worth the price of another bottle and then some.

Faith started slightly when Buffy swung a leg over her and settled on her knees just below her ass.

"Couldn't do it from beside me, huh?"

"Not as much fun," Buffy explained with an impish smile.

"Well, have at it, girlfriend." Faith settled her head back down again.

'Oh, I intend to," Buffy thought, but it still took her a few seconds to work up the nerve.

When she did, she instantly knew it had been a mistake. Faith's skin was warm from the sun and so smooth even without the oil. She'd been worried about being close to Faith wet, she'd never even considered slippery until now. Slippery was as worse as it was better. As she began with slow even circles over shoulders and shoulder blades, she wondered how wrong it would really be to lose control. Not that she was going to, she could do this without embarrassing herself, but... would it really be so criminal to have another one last time with Faith?

Sure, she loved Toni, but Toni was thousands of miles away. And she loved Faith too, Toni even knew that, and Faith was right here. Right under her, with the aforementioned slippery! And Faith was getting married really soon, so opportunities like this weren't going to come along for much longer, because she was damned if she was just going to be Faith's 'bit of stuff'.

But they weren't married yet. Meaning there was still even a chance Faith would change her mind for real. Okay, so the chance wasn't something even a Vegas tourist would bet on, but that didn't make it any less there.

None of that actually meant she could start something here though. After all, if she just gave it up any time Faith wanted why would she feel the need to break things off with Troy? Not that Faith probably even wanted it, really. Maybe on a physical level, but on an emotional level it would screw Faith up as much as it would her.

"Nah, we could do it, doesn't have to be a big deal," Faith murmured.

"You really think we can just have casual sex after...?" Buffy's hands stilled half way down her back. "Wait, bigger question, how are you reading my mind?"

Faith chuckled. "Not; just took a shot at what you were thinking."

Buffy grimaced. "So much for me being able to do this without embarrassing myself."

"Why embarrassed? I'm obviously thinking about it too," Faith said, still in that same relaxed intimate murmur.

"Well you shouldn't be," Buffy admonished, stroking her hands up Faith's sides, catching the escaping dribbles of oil and skating perilously close to the sides of Faith's breasts without actually touching them.

"Easy for you to say, you're not the one... seriously, B, are you still helping me get a tan or is this some weird mutual masturbation thing you picked up from the crazy Italian chick?"

Buffy flicked the back of her earlobe. "The first one! Anything else is just sprinkles on top. I can always stop though, if you can't handle it," she teased.

"I can handle it." Faith rubbed her ear. "Just... rub the oil in a little lower too, I don't want patches."

Buffy complied, moving her hands in massaging circles down Faith's back to below her ribs, amazed that touching Faith never got less thrilling.

"Do you think we'll still be this attracted to each other when we're fifty?"

"Probably. Lower."

That wasn't really the answer she'd been hoping for she realized as she spread her hands over Faith's lower back, thumbs sweeping down her spine until they reached the bikini and then going back up again. It hinted that they'd never be over each other, which meant no moving on... ever.

"So you're resigned to the fact that we're always gonna want to sleep with each other?"

"I guess. Lower."

Buffy looked down and one eyebrow slowly rose. "That's your butt."

"You should be a doctor, B, you'd ace the anatomy exam.

Buffy gave her a sharp slap on the behind in response to the sarcasm.

Faith shuddered slightly beneath her, grunting, "Or a dominatrix."

"Did you just...?!"

"No, don't be a retard," Faith snapped. "Keep going!"

Buffy grinned and went back to rubbing the oil over Faith's shoulders.

"I remember you saying you liked it rough, but I didn't know you were into spanking," she teased.

"I'm not, and if I was, I'd be dishing it out, not taking it," Faith said quickly.

Buffy's grin turned smirkish. "Except with me it seems."

"You ever wondered what it's like to fall off a tall building?" Faith asked menacingly.

"Let's change the subject," Buffy said, grinning brightly.

"Good idea."

Buffy's fingers made light circles up and down Faith's neck, making the brunette tense and un-tense repeatedly, which had the knock on effect of making her do exactly the same.

"Doesn't it bother you, though? If we can barely make it to your wedding with no touching, how are we supposed to live for the rest of our lives like that?"

"Everyone's gotta have a vice, B. Just, instead of sneaking out the back to have a cigarette, I'll be sneaking out the back to picture you in your underwear."

Buffy smiled. "But you smoke. That's two vices."

"Fine." Faith sighed. "I'll quit the smokes."

"You'd give up smoking so you can picture me in my underwear?"

"Well," Faith hedged. "Quitting is a big commitment. It takes a lot of willpower, I might even need to fork out for patches or gum or something."

"So you've changed your mind already?"

"No, I'm just saying I might need a little commitment from you too. Like, an actual picture of you in your underwear."

Buffy slowed her hands down. "I thought you had one already."

"Yeah, but you're kinda wearing panties in that one."

"Well, yeah, panties would kinda come under the heading 'underwear'."

"Yeah, I lied." Faith shrugged under her hands. "I'm gonna need a photo of you without underwear."

"You want a photo of me naked?"

"You want me to give up smoking!"

"That was your idea!"

"So you don't have a problem with the damage twenty a day is doing to my body?"

"Firstly, you don't smoke anywhere near twenty a day; secondly, while I think it's sweet that you'd give up smoking to look at naked pictures of me, you're not gonna guilt trip me into it," Buffy said firmly.

"You've apparently got one of me," Faith reminded her.

"Yeah, on a dead phone that I can't access," she griped. "Hardly counts."

"You have a bunch of Toni!"

"She's my girlfriend."

"Bet she has a bunch of you too!"

"She's my girlfriend!" Buffy repeated, laughing.

"So what am I?"

"You're... a lot of things, but you're not my girlfriend, therefore that's a nada on the naked pho..." Buffy began.

"You can have one of me."

"... So did you have any poses in mind or should I just start snapping and see which ones you like?" Buffy finished.

Faith laughed. "Don't put yourself out... I'll just take my own after we're done here today."

"Believe me; I won't be naked after we're done here."

"Bet you didn't believe you'd be topless by now either."

Buffy looked down at her own bare chest with a sigh. Faith had a point. It wasn't that she ever meant to get into these situations. She generally had the best of intentions - take today for example, how could she have foreseen the harm in the two of them spending the afternoon by the pool talking about the wedding? It was just water, bikinis, suntan oil and the subject that made Faith freak out and get horny...

Okay, so perhaps today was a bad example.

Generally though, there were good intentions, and they still always seemed to end up somewhere close to here. So maybe fighting it really was a waste of time. If Faith was right and there was going to be no end to them wanting to jump each other on sight, maybe little counter-measures like naked pictures and heavy flirting were the only way to stave off the undeniable urges they had to deny.

Or maybe it was all just foreplay leading up to the inevitable...

She could love Toni all she liked, but if one snap of Faith's fingers was all it took to turn her head, what was the point?"

"What are you thinking about?" Faith softly broke her reverie.

"Toni," Buffy said, because it was true and because she was getting fed up with people asking her that today.

Faith groaned. "I had to ask. Look, you're supposed to think of me when you're getting off with her, not the other way around."

"I am not getting off with you!" Buffy snapped in exasperation. "I'm just rubbing your back in a... vaguely sexy manner!"

"Fine." Faith laughed. "Vaguely sexy it is. So what's she like?"

"What?"

"Toni."

"I asked 'what', not 'who'. What she's like at what?"

"In bed."

Buffy sat back on her heels, taking her hands from Faith. "You're not seriously asking me that?"

"Why not? You keep telling me how great she is; give me some details to back it up."

"Right now?" Buffy frowned.

"Yeah, right now." Faith picked up the bottle of suntan oil that Buffy had left beside the lounger and squirted some over her shoulder before laying her head back down. "Nothing's gonna keep this vaguely sexy back rub platonic like you talking about Toni."

Buffy watched as the oil splattered between Faith's shoulder blades before dribbling down her spine, not quite able to shake the feeling that either she or her girlfriend had just been insulted. Then she remembered that Faith was convinced she and Toni had been having sweet, passionate phone-sex just before she'd come up on the roof. It made her less sure of Faith's motives for asking, but more sure of her ability to make Faith squirm.

Also the fresh oil was calling her name in a sultry way she couldn't ignore. She swept both hands sensuously up Faith's back, catching the oil in her palms.

"What exactly did you want to know?" she asked sceptically. "How many times she's made me scream her name?"

"How about how many times she accidentally made you scream my name?"

"Never." Which was a complete miracle. "She has a knack for keeping me in the moment." These days, not so much at the start of their relationship. "When she's touching me, it's hard to think beyond 'Oh God, this is good!"

Faith shifted a little beneath her. Squirming already!

"Where does she touch you... I mean, where've you done it," Faith corrected herself quickly. "She seems like the repressed type, probably doesn't go for action outside the sheets, right?"

Buffy grinned. "Well, it might surprise you, but I actually like my action between the sheets too, but we've done it other places." On top of the sheets mostly. "Like in a store changing booth in Cleveland."

"Really?" Faith asked in surprise.

"Yeah, only we got a little carried away and fell through the curtain together." Buffy's grin got bigger as Faith gave a delighted laugh. "I'm pretty sure I'm banned from that store for life."

"Did you give anyone an eyeful?"

"Yes!" Buffy winced, remembering. "But only of my boobs, thank God, so it could have been worse."

Faith laughed some more. "Well, ya got nice tits, B, so I'm sure they enjoyed it."

"It was two middle-aged women who were not impressed with our behavior." Buffy giggled. "But they had really bad taste in shirts so I didn't take their criticism to heart."

"Well, I'm impressed," Faith chuckled. "I didn't think you were that adventurous, let alone Toni."

"Excuse me, not adventurous? Have you forgotten how we got together... almost got together."

"Hardly," Faith said simply.

"Good," she said just as simply. "So you wanna know how she touches me now?" Buffy joked.

Faith was quiet for too long and Buffy realized her comment had been taken more seriously than she'd meant.

"I was..." she began.

Faith overrode her, her voice low and husky. "How about you tell me how you touch yourself when she calls?"

"Oh boy." Buffy had to lift up from the backs of Faith's thighs in case her sudden increased arousal could be detected through her bikini. "How 'bout we save that little story for another day?"

"How 'bout we don't?" Faith countered.

"You win," Buffy said weakly.

"Wasn't trying to, but cool. Does that mean you're not gonna spill?"

"Oh, I'm spilling," Buffy said without thinking. "Just not verbally right now."

Faith chuckled, but left the question.

Slowly, Buffy settled back down, her hands stroking down over Faith's shoulders and along her upper arms, loving the feeling of the muscles beneath her fingers. That was something Toni didn't have. Not that she had puny arms or anything, they were nicely arm-shaped, but Faith felt like a sleeping panther, all lithe and powerful and deliciously relaxed.

"Does she get you this wet?" Faith asked out of the blue.

Buffy lifted her ass up again fast. "You can tell?!"

Faith laughed. "Actually, I was playing the odds again, but thanks for confirming it."

"You know, sometimes I really don't like you," Buffy grumbled.

"So does she?"

After an age, Buffy quietly admitted, "Not really." and instantly felt guilty.

"Good."

"So does Troy, uh, does he get... get, you know, you... this?"

"If you want me to answer, you gotta ask the question right."

Buffy hesitated, but then figured what the hell? "Does Troy get you as wet as I do?"

"Not often."

"Are you wet right now?"

"What do you think?"

"I think we just stumbled into very dangerous territory."

Faith gave a throaty chuckle. "Really? I think we ran full pelt into it."

"Maybe that too." Buffy's fingers traced lazy patterns down Faith's sides, over her ribs, tickling into the curve of her waist, all the way down to flirt along the edge of her bikini. "Maybe it's a sign telling us we're crazy not to be together."

"Not as crazy as we would be together."

"Yeah," Buffy softly agreed, although here in this moment it was hard to remember why.

"We can still have this though, and nobody get hurts, right?"

Nobody got hurt if nobody found out, which was rather dubious moral ground.

"What, vaguely sexy back rubs?" Buffy grinned.

"That and you telling me what you'd be doing to me right now if you had me all to yourself?"

"Nu-uh." Buffy shook her head firmly.

"Come on, you've obviously been thinking about it."

"I may have."

"So tell me about it. It's still just words, B."

"So call me, and we'll talk."

"Call you? You'll talk dirty to me over the phone, but not in person?"

"Yep."

"Fine." Faith lifted her head to look around, but not seeing what she was looking for anywhere within reach, she held her thumb and little finger to the side of her head. "Briiing Briiing!"

"Dork." Buffy laughed.

"Briiing Briiing!"

"I'm not answering that."

"You better," Faith warned. "It might be Toni. Briiing Briiing!"

Rolling her eyes, still laughing, Buffy made her own hand-phone. "Hello?"

"Hey, B."

"Oh, it's just you." Buffy pretended to sigh in disappointment. "What do you want?"

"I want you to tell me what you'd be doing to me right now if you could."

Buffy rolled her eyes again. "I'm putting my hand down."

"Yeah," Faith breathed when she paused.

"No," Buffy chuckled. "I mean I'm putting my hand down. Goodbye."

"Why won't you answer the damn question?"

"Why do you want me to so bad?"

Faith didn't answer as she shifted under her slightly and resettled her head on her arms.

Buffy's hands went back to Faith's sides, stroking up and down, as she took a wild stab at the reason.

"I can't believe you're still jealous of Toni when I've just spent thirty minutes and half a bottle of suntan oil giving your back my undivided attention."

"I am not jealous of her!"

Buffy sighed. "So you're not pissed off because I told you I love her?"

"No more than it pisses you off that I love Troy."

"It does piss me off," Buffy freely admitted. "And it makes me jealous as hell, but I've had time to get used to it, whereas I sort of sprung this on you today. Actually I sort of sprung it on both of us... all three of us in fact." Buffy shook her head. "I should learn to keep my mouth shut."

"You can't help how you feel," Faith muttered.

"That's true," Buffy muttered back, but she was thinking more of Faith than Toni. "When you realised you were in love with Troy did you feel guilty, you know, about me?"

"Honestly?" Faith asked awkwardly. "Not a whole lot. I was still pretty angry with you at the time and I guess... I guess I felt mostly justified. Like 'In your face' justified." Faith smiled. "It was a good day, I was finally over you."

Buffy's fingers teased around the sides of Faith's breasts in response to that, making her tense and fail to hold back a small gasp.

Buffy laughed. "Yeah, you're so over me it's almost like I can't play you like a guitar."

"It's fiddle," Faith corrected.

Buffy leaned over to whisper in her ear. "You don't strum a fiddle."

Faith swallowed before saying, "That doesn't even make sense."

"Still turned you on though, didn't it?"

"A little. Mostly, it's your tits."

"What about them?" Buffy looked down. "Oh you mean the way they're now giving you a back rub?" Buffy pressed closer as she leaned down to Faith's ear again. "Tell me again how you're over me, baby?"

"Why don't you tell me how you're over me?" Faith challenged, her breath deepening as Buffy's hands slowly circled her waist.

"Okay, it's simple; you didn't want to know, so I moved on. Met Toni, started seeing Toni, started having sex with Toni and eventually fell in love with Toni, all while you watched without a care in the world."

"I cared," Faith murmured shakily. "I cared a whole fuckin' lot, believe me."

"Why would I believe you when you've never done anything to back it up?"

"Hey, I bitch and whine about her every chance I get."

Buffy chuckled. "Not exactly the kind of thing I had in mind."

"I told her off for you earlier."

"Nope, still not it."

"Fine, when I see her at the wedding, I'll knock her the fuck out at the altar - will that prove I care?"

"Don't you dare!" Buffy warned sternly. "And that's not an 'I dare you' dare, that's an 'I will never speak to you again' dare. Besides, showing me you cared never had anything to do with Toni, it was about you and me. You're feeling insecure about her right now, trying to get me to reassure you that I still want you the most, but you never once did that for me. In fact, you've only ever told me you loved me after I've dragged it out of you."

Faith was lost for words for a minute and then she said incredulously, "Of course I friggin' love ya, but I can't go around dropping it into every conversation when I'm marrying someone else."

"But you do?"

"Yeah, sure."

Buffy waited a few moments, but nothing else was forthcoming. "Well, say it then!"

Faith sighed dramatically. "You want me to say it I'm gonna turn over so I can do it properly."

"You can't speak properly on your front?" Faith sighed again. "Only you've been doing pretty well 'til now."

"Take it or leave it?" Faith shrugged.

Thinking she was probably going to regret this, but hopefully it would be later rather than sooner, Buffy lifted up enough for Faith to roll over.

"B, my eyes are up here."

"That's okay; my ears work fine from down here."

"B."

Buffy grinned as she sat up straight.

Now it was Faith's eyes that dipped south. "Uh, what was I supposed to be saying again?" Buffy dug her fingers into Faith's sides, making her squirm about. "Okay, sorry, I remember, I swear."

Buffy relented as Faith grabbed her hands and gradually their giggles died away. She smiled expectantly as Faith intertwined their fingers.

"B..." Faith paused and started again. "Buffy, I love you. Always have. Since the day I met you; no, since the moment I met you. When you came out of the Bronze to rescue me wearing that pretty little strappy top. Man, you looked so cute and... hot. I hadn't even realized that was a workable combination until I met you. Didn't know I could fall in love 'til then either, but right then and there... I knew one day... you were gonna fuck me up, girlfriend." Faith gave a rueful little chuckle. "And fuck me, was I right." Seeing Buffy's tiny frown, she added, "Sorry, that ran on longer than it was meant to."

"It's okay." Buffy's smile came back. "It was kinda sweet actually, and true, so I can't fault you on that score. And for the record, I'm sorry too, that I... fucked you up."

"No worries. You didn't even know you were doing the stuff that was making me crazy, so I can hardly blame you..."

"No," Buffy interrupted her. "I mean I'm sorry for me that I fucked you up, 'cause if I hadn't we might have stood a chance."

Faith let her eyes drift up to the sky, not answering.

"So, I guess you get a free one."

Faith's eyes came back to her in a hurry. "A free screw?"

"No! A free reassurance request. You just fulfilled mine, and fair's fair."

"You mean something that will make me feel better about you bein' in love with Toni?"

"Yeah, anything you want... except sex or any form of groping of the really good bits," Buffy added looking down at Faith's breasts again with a grin.

"Take the rest of the bikini off."

Buffy shook her head. "Not gonna happen."

"End things with Toni."

"That's a little extreme don't you think?"

"Fine, just fall out of love with her."

"Easier said."

"Rub suntan oil on your tits."

"That's groping."

"But they're your tits!"

"Hey, I don't make the rules." Buffy shrugged, smiling.

Faith gave her a smirk, licking her lips and shaking her head slightly.

"Fine, just kiss me," she said at last, tugging lightly on Buffy's hands.

Buffy leaned over her a little, looking deep into Faith's eyes, but sadly shook her head. "Too dangerous."

"Oh come on!" Faith groaned. "You got a funny idea of the meaning of 'anything'!"

Buffy moved so that she was sat between Faith's legs instead of astride them. "What are you doing?" Faith asked hopefully, shifting her legs further apart to give Buffy room.

"Probably not what your hoping," Buffy admitted. "But ask me a question?"

"A question?" Faith frowned. "What kinda question? Oh... you mean like... uh..." She watched as Buffy picked up the tanning oil again. "...What would you do to me right now if you could do anything you wanted?"

"I'm glad you asked," Buffy smirked, opening the bottle. "Would you like me to tell you or show you?"

"Show me?" Faith said very slowly, like she was afraid it was a trick question or something. "But won't that be breaking your rules?"

"Nope." Buffy grinned as she squirted oil up first one of Faith's thighs and then the other. "Because I worded my rules very carefully and these..." She ran her palms up the outsides of Faith's thighs as far as her hips, catching up as much oil as possible to make them nice and slippery. "...only count as good bits, not really good bits."

"I see." Faith grinned, but then her mouth fell slightly open as Buffy's hands slowly went up the insides of her legs. "Damn, this is worse than the back rubbing thing."

Buffy chuckled. "Yeah, kinda is. I should stop, right?"

"No need, babe, we can handle it." Faith assured her, giving her the ghost of a wink.

Dubious, but prepared to overlook it, Buffy didn't stop.

"So this is all you'd do if you had me all to yourself?" Faith asked, her eyes closed now. "Not that it's not fun."

"No, there'd be other stuff to follow, but you're only getting the previews in full on Technicolor."

"So just tell me the rest." Faith tensed as Buffy's fingertips neared the inside leg of her bikini, but they stopped an inch below the material and swept back down towards her knees.

"Well, you know, there'd be fingers and... thrusting, and, uh, maybe... tongues... and somehow I really am more comfortable talking about this stuff over the phone these days."

"Maybe you're just more comfortable talking about it with Toni."

"Maybe I am," Buffy shrugged.

"Because you want her more?" Faith raised her ass slightly from the lounger when fingers nearer her bikini again.

Buffy stopped half an inch below this time. "Because she wants me more."

"So who do you want more?"

Buffy chuckled "That depends on what criteria I'm choosing from."

"Do you think about me when you're talking to her?" Buffy hesitated in answering but her fingers never hesitated as they teased the sensitive skin of Faith's inner thighs.

"Uh, sometimes."

"Oh yeah? Tell me what you picture me doing to you when Toni's purring in your ear all unaware."

"Whatever, um, whatever..." Buffy's fingertips skated around the edge of Faith's bikini for a few seconds before she had the presence of mind to pull them away. "... she's, um, saying."

"Like what?"

"I'm sure you can imagine."

"It's all in the details, B. Come on, babe, don't hold out on me now."

"Fine, alright, whatever, I think about you all the time. Every time she says she's putting a finger in me, I'm thinking about your fingers, every time she talks about having my tongue between her legs, it's YOU I'm thinking about licking." Buffy covered her face with her hands. "Oh God!"

"Buffy, it's okay." Faith ran her fingers down Buffy's arm, trying to comfort her.

"No, Faith, it's really not. Look at us!" She gestured at them. "What the hell am I doing?"

"We're not doing anything wrong!"

"That's bullshit! If we're gonna have this tender sharing moment, let's at least go all the way, huh? We're fucking each other every way but literally. I'm trying to get you off, and you're trying to get me off and we both think we're being really clever because providing we don't actually do the deed we're not cheating!"

Faith raised her hand slightly. "Actually, I'm perfectly happy with doing the deed itself, and if your little outburst was all true, I think we should just say screw it and fuck like bunnies 'til Toni gets home and I get married, which, incidentally, is happening roughly the same week, so makes for a nice little deadline."

"And after that?"

Faith shrugged. "Guess we have to see how things turn out."

Buffy shook her head, "I need more than that."

"I'll give you more than that," Faith promised, waggling her eyebrows and reaching for Buffy's hands.

"I meant more than sex," Buffy said, pulling her hands out of reach.

"Fine, I'll give you that too, but you got me really worked up here, B, and the deed is getting done somehow, so either you help me out or..."

Faith drew her thumb around her own nipple and then downwards, slow enough that Buffy had time to catch on.

Her eyes went wide when she did. "You're going to...?!" She automatically looked around in alarm, even though she knew they were alone. "...right here?"

"You betcha." Faith grinned, but it slipped into an almost relieved little smile as she licked her lips and slid her hand inside her bikini. "You sticking around for the big finish?"

Buffy didn't answer; she was too busy staring at the outline of Faith's faintly moving hand.

"Good. Make yourself useful."

With her free hand Faith picked up the tanning oil and squirted it profusely over Buffy's chest.

"Faith, I'll be all splotchy now!" She complained, but still couldn't seem to drag her eyes away as she brushed the oil over her breasts and tummy. "I can't believe you're doing that in front of me."

"No different to doing it on my own. The views still the same, just this time I ain't gotta close my eyes to see it."

Buffy smiled bashfully and looked away, but only for a second or two before curiosity drew her eyes back again. Faith's hand was lower now and moving more.

"You think of me a lot when you do this?" Buffy asked softly, fingers drawn back to the tempting pinkness of Faith's spread thighs.

Faith sucked in a fast breath at Buffy's touch. "Yeah, mostly."

She lightly tiptoed her fingertips up to the shallow dips where leg met... a really good bit. "Do you ever think of me when you're with Troy?" she asked as her middle fingers slowly traced down along the edge of Faith's bikini until it disappeared under her butt.

"Oh God." Faith spread her legs further as her hand moved faster. "I'll give you a thousand dollars if you fuck me right now, no a thousand euros, no a castle! I'll give you a castle, just touch me."

"First I'm your mistress, now I'm your prostitute, and all I ever wanted was to be your girlfriend." Buffy rolled her eyes. "Just answer the question."

"Ye..." Faith swallowed to wet her throat enough to speak. "Yes, sometimes."

"Remember what you told me about details, Faith?"

Faith swallowed again. "Sometimes when he's going down on me and... and sometimes...sometimes when he's in me... I know it's weird, but..."

"It's okay."

Actually it was freaking awesome, but she didn't laugh out loud or do a little happy dance, she just settled for pulling Faith's bikini down, carefully so as not to interrupt her hand.

"What are you... what are you doing?"

"Apparently watching you finger yourself," Buffy said candidly as she pulled the bikini completely off and dropped it on the deck.

She was a little surprised by her own boldness, but she was getting used to pushing her boundaries to accommodate the way Faith made her feel.

"Buffy," Faith panted, tilting her hips and speeding her hand up yet again.

"I'm right here, baby." Buffy leaned forward and kissed her. Faith tried to make it last, but she pulled away almost at once and sat back between Faith's legs again, watching. "You are so far beyond hot right now it's unreal."

"Thanks... I play better... to an audience."

Buffy grinned. "Does Troy know you're thinking of me when he's fucking you?"

"Do you have any idea how horny it makes me when you say fuck or fucking or... or fuckadoodledoo?"

Buffy's grin turned to one of bemusement. "I'm pretty sure I've never said fuckadoodledoo in my life, but the others in the F-word family? Yeah, I picked up on it months ago. Every time I say it your eyes do this dark smoldering thing, it's wicked hot."

Faith gave a breathy chuckle as her eyes slipped closed. "It just always... sounds so... naughty... coming out of your pretty mouth."

Buffy could see Faith's muscles tightening and figured it was time to make her move. Gently but firmly, she took hold of Faith's hand; closing her own around wet, tacky fingers and pulling them clear.

Faith's eyes opened, but she said nothing at first. When Buffy did nothing but look at her, she brought her other hand to bear, slipping it between her legs.

Buffy caught that one too.

"B... what are you...?"

Leaning forward on her knees, Buffy hooked both of Faith's hands over the back of the lounger and held on until Faith got the message and gripped it.

"Keep them there. You've had your fun, now it's my turn." Buffy said mischievously.

Faith smiled. "Sounds good to me."

Buffy smiled back, almost feeling sorry for her, and gave her another brief kiss. Faith's head lifted off the lounger when Buffy pulled away; trying to recapture her lips, but Buffy didn't linger close enough.

"How much do you want me right now?" Buffy teased, her voice husky, as she ran her fingertips lightly over Faith's breasts and down her stomach.

Faith squirmed but didn't move her hands. "A lot, I guess."

"So you never answered the question." Buffy's fingers swirled over her hips and down her thighs - God, she loved Faith's thighs! "Do you think Troy knows you're wishing it was me when he's inside you?"

"I doubt it, not like I'm screaming your name or nothing."

"Maybe you should."

Spreading her knees for better balance, she kept stroking Faith's thighs and was able to lean over and kiss softly around her nipples too - first one, then the other.

"What?" Faith's voice sounded slightly strangled as her back arched off the sun bed.

"I think you should scream my name next time you're with him. I'm only thinking of Troy here, he has a right to know what he's getting into." Buffy smirked up at her.

"He wouldn't leave me," Faith said with too much certainty. "If that's what you're hoping. He might not speak to me for a week, because it's you, but the whole infidelity thing doesn't faze him that much."

"So there's no risk?" Buffy kissed slowly down the centre of Faith's tummy. "Which means no reason why you can't do it."

"Would it turn you on?" Faith lifted her head to watch Buffy's progress down her body, her breath coming faster and faster all the time. "Is that it? Does the thought of me screaming your name while he's fucking me get you hot?"

"Yeah." Buffy swirled her tongue in Faith's belly button, making Faith gasp and her gag at the concentrated taste of suntan oil on the end of her tongue. Fighting the urge to spit, Buffy moved lower still. "So I dare you."

"You dare me?"

"Uh huh. And I know you two like your little sex tapes, so double points if you can record his reaction." She'd kissed all the way down until soft, wet curls were tickling her chin. Faith's eyes were dark with anticipation and she bit her lip slightly as Buffy looked up. "So?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah what?" Buffy breathed, glancing down at Faith's pussy and then back up again.

"Yeah, I'll do it, whatever you want, name it, just stop stalling."

"You'd promise me anything right now wouldn't you?" Buffy purred, her breath caressing Faith's wetness.

"Pretty much." Faith took one hand off the top of the lounger and stroked the back of Buffy's head, not so subtly encouraging her closer.

Buffy complied, letting her nose nuzzle the hair as she gave her the lightest of kisses. As Faith took a shuddering breath, Buffy looked up her body, meeting her pleading eyes, and gave her clit a tiny little lick. Faith gasped, rocking her hips forward, but she didn't break eye contact.

"Tell me you love me?" Buffy whispered.

"I love you," Faith said without hesitation.

Buffy lapped at her again.

"Tell me you want me?"

"You mean my dripping cunt isn't making it clear enough?" Faith groaned, urging her closer again.

Buffy pushed back against the pressure on her head. "Say it for me," she insisted quietly. "Please."

Faith's eyes were defiant for a beat, but then she softened, stroking her thumb gently over Buffy's cheek.

"I want you, Buffy. I've always wanted you, I always will, doesn't matter how hard I try not to... 'Course right now I want you even more than usual, what with you being mostly naked and staring my pussy in the face..."

Buffy gave her a wicked grin and lowered her mouth without needing to be asked.

"Yeh, that's g..." Faith began as soon as lips touched her swollen flesh.

Buffy lifted her head again before she'd even finished the sentence. "Tell me you want to be with me."

Faith's head thunked down onto the plastic lounger. "For crying out...! Yes, B, I wanna be with you! I wanna fuckin' be with you right now. So would you please just fuckin' eat me already!"

Buffy waited until the echo stopped bouncing off the neighboring buildings, before she said, "Well, that was romantic."

Faith grinned weakly as she looked Buffy in the eye again. "I'm too horny for romance. I could probably cry though. Would me crying speed this thing up?"

Buffy shook her head with a smile and licked her slit. Faith tensed, shifting as if she wanted to spread her legs even further.

"See, this is why legs are better than a fish-tail," Buffy murmured, and licked her again.

"Oh yeah," Faith grunted, her butt lifting briefly off the lounger.

Buffy pressed her thumbs gently inside Faith lips, spreading them further. Looking up at Faith, she dabbed her tongue against her clit a few times to make sure she had her full attention and then licked backwards until it was poised to plunge inside her.

She held Faith's eyes. Faith held her breath.

"Run away with me."

"What?" Faith panted.

"Leave Troy, be with me," she clarified softly. "It's what we both want. Me and you obviously, not me and Troy."

"I can't," Faith whimpered, raising her hips, trying to rub against Buffy's mouth. "You know that."

"No I don't. All I know is that you're scared it won't work out. I am too," she admitted. "But the only reason we're so scared is because it's so real! This is it, Faith, this is what everyone wants. The big, epic, forever love story! And we have it right now. Please don't throw it away, baby."

"It's too late," Faith whispered sadly.

"It's not!" Buffy kissed her again, swirling her tongue around Faith's clit. "It's not too late until you say 'I do'!"

"Can't we just have this?" Faith pleaded, rubbing her thumb over Buffy's shiny, wet lips. "We can be together without the risk. Enjoy each other without all the heavy shit."

Buffy kissed the thumb and shook her head. "I want all the heavy shit... and, deep down, I think you do too. You just need to admit it and then we can make this..." She pressed her tongue deep inside Faith and fucked her with it briefly. "...a permanent reality."

Faith squeezed her eyes shut. "Okay..."

Buffy raised her head, almost smiling, not quite ready to believe it yet, "Really?"

"Yeah..." Faith opened her eyes again, nodding. The biggest smile ever took over Buffy's face and she buried it between Faith's legs giddily, eagerly handing out her reward. "...I'll think about it." Faith promised, panting, both hands now in Buffy's hair.

Buffy pulled back sharply. "You'll think about it?"

"Yeah, I promise." Faith tried to push her back into place impatiently. "Maybe you're right, but I'd be an idiot to walk away from everything good that I have with Troy without seriously thinking it through first, right?"

"Not really." Buffy shook her head in dismay.

"Let me put it another way, babe. Do you really want me saying yes when I'm about to get head? It's not like I can think clearly with you down there."

"No, you're right, I don't." Buffy realized the flaw in her plan unhappily.

She gave Faith's pussy a goodbye kiss and started to sit up.

"Hey, whoa, where are you going?" Faith grabbed her shoulders.

Buffy shrugged her off and stood up. "To give you time to think."

"Right now?" Faith sat up. "But what about... about...? I'm about to explode here, B! At least finish me off!"

"No chance." Buffy smiled. "Next time my lips touch those lips..." she pointed between Faith's legs. "...will be after you've chosen me. And you better hurry up and think, because you've only got 'til the wedding. If you do decide to become Mrs Troy Atha-nasa-whatever-the-hell-he's-called, I'm out."

"What do you mean?" Faith asked cautiously.

"I mean I'll lead you up the aisle and I'll stand by your side while you make your vows, but then that's it. You won't see me again. I'm not spending the rest of my life watching you be with him. I'm sorry, but I can't."

"But..." Whatever Faith was planning on adding never came out as she stared at Buffy helplessly.

Buffy held her stare resolutely for a few seconds and then turned and dove into the pool, hoping the cold water would turn her off before she lost control, went back on her noble stand and screwed Faith senseless.

It worked... but only just.

When she popped her head back out of the water, feeling cooler and calmer, Faith was gone. The only sign remaining of her the deep green bikini top floating a few feet to Buffy's left.

"Damn!"


Chapter Twenty One

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Part Nine 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 || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen || Chapter Seventeen || Chapter Eighteen || Chapter Nineteen || Chapter Twenty || Chapter Twenty One || Chapter Twenty Two || Chapter Twenty Three || Chapter Twenty Four || Chapter Twenty Five || Chapter Twenty Six || Chapter Twenty Seven || Chapter Twenty Eight || Chapter Twenty Nine || Chapter Thirty || Chapter Thirty One


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