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 Nine: Wherever I Hang My Bra

Buffy had never been in a position to travel on the subway before and it had woken a childish excitement when Faith mentioned it after their meeting with Serena. Several hours and halfway across Rome later she was starting to wish she'd stuck with her previous comfortable unadventurous position.

It wasn't just that this particular journey must be coinciding with the rush hour and they had to stand. It wasn't just that because it was so busy they were packed in front to back like sweaty sardines in a swaying tin can. It wasn't just that the man in front of her had gone way overboard with the garlic cologne. It wasn't just that at every stop the doors whooshing open sent the biggest bit of railroad grit into her eye. Nobody else's eye, just hers! And it wasn't just that due to the cramped conditions, swaying floor and gigantic cinder chip blurring her vision she couldn't read the sheet of paper with the 'To do' list on it properly.

Nope, it wasn't any one of those things. It was all of them together!

So much for their special day. The only thing special about it had been the 'All day breakfast special' Paninis Faith had brought them for a late lunch. They'd even eaten those on the go as they ran from one nuptial related task to the next.

This was her punishment for keeping secrets. Faith was going to run her ragged with wedding errands until she cracked and spilled every thing she knew. Little did Faith know that the more effort Buffy was forced to put into this darn wedding the less inclined she was to drop a bomb on it.

Also, strangely, the closer she and Faith became, the less she wanted to ruin even so much as her wedding night for her. How could she take something Faith was so excited about away from her? Even telling herself Faith would much rather be with her anyway - she just didn't know it yet - wasn't making it sit any easier.

Buffy was so focused on trying to focus on the list that she didn't realize the train was pulling into another stop and didn't brace her legs ready for the change in momentum. The wedding folder hit the garlicky man's back, immediately followed by her sweaty forehead slapping against the To Do list before she could save herself.

"Oops, sorry."

The man she'd swatted didn't take any notice but she continued irritably muttering to herself until Faith's arm slid around her stomach and pulled her backwards.

"Let me keep you steady."

Buffy gratefully settled against her. The feel of Faith pressed snugly against her from her butt to her shoulder blades enough to dispel the tension creeping into her body and mind. She smiled over her shoulder.

"Isn't this a bit out in the open for snuggling?" she murmured over the noise of the doors swishing open and people shuffling and fidgeting for space.

"Firstly, this is not snuggling. I'm just doing you a public service," Faith murmured back. "Secondly, this ain't exactly what I'd call out in the open either."

Buffy looked around, realizing she had a point. They were packed in so tightly now there wasn't room for anyone to look down and notice Faith's arm around her.

"Maybe this mode of transport doesn't suck quite so hard after all then," Buffy smiled again briefly. "Do I have ink of my face?"

Faith pulled her head back a little so she could look properly. "You have blue mirror writing on your forehead if that's what you mean."

Buffy licked her fingers ready to rub it off.

"Wait." Faith leaned closer.

"Are you reading my head?"

"Yeah, says here 'horse and carriage', or, actually, it says 'orse and carriag' but I'm guessing they mean the same thing, right?"

"Well, if you think they mean I'm carrying you on my back to the next appointment, wrong," Buffy preempted any jokes as she finally scrubbed wet fingertips over the ink marks.

"No, dipshit, I mean it's wrong. We're not having a carriage to the reception."

Buffy looked back down at the folder. Just legible beneath the blue smudges the word 'limousine' was crossed out and 'horse and carriage' had been scribbled hastily in.

"Well that's what I have here. Did you go back to the limo idea again already?"

"It's horse and chariot." Faith was very deliberately looking away from her.

"What?" she asked with a chuckle.

"You heard me. Troy wants a golden chariot pulled by two white horses. I did tell you all this earlier." Faith sounded annoyed, an offshoot of the embarrassment.

"I know, but I thought you said carriage. I mean, carriages are more, uh, popular and I thought... I thought you were joking about the golden part or just, um, having some kind of... Cinderella...thing..." Buffy did her best to bury her face in the folder, not so worried about inkiness now.

"Cinderella? Stop laughing!"

"I'm not laughing." Her shoulders shook, giving her away. "Honestly."

"Stop it!"

She jerked a little as Faith gave her waist a hard pinch.

"I'm sorry, but..." she took a deep garlic-laced breath and wiped her watering eyes. "Is he serious? Where exactly am I supposed to get a golden chariot from in two weeks? Does he want Helios to pull you blazing across the sky to the reception as well? Hey, I know, why don't we get two golden chariots and that way you can race each other from the temple to the palace? In your heels. And your really short dress. And one of those helmets with the horns coming out of the sides..."

Faith squeezed her tighter and her laughing turned to coughing and spluttering.

"I think that's Vikings," Faith said, loosening her grip. "But nice Helios reference."

Buffy wiped her eyes again, giggles still escaping as she caught her breath. "Thanks. But can you remember who he is?"

She crossed out 'carriage' and wrote in 'chariot' while Faith racked her brain.

"Troy's... uncle?" Faith guessed.

"Great uncle," Buffy corrected her. "See, I told you those flash cards Willow sent over were a good idea."

"Yeah for you," Faith grumbled. "You've got it down cold. I still suck at it."

Buffy briefly laid her hand over Faith's. "Uncle/Great Uncle... I'm sure no one's going to think you're an idiot if it you make a little mistake like that."

"Troy's dad gets on with most of Troy's uncles, but he doesn't get on with most of his own uncles. If he gets into a conversation with me about Helios and I start gushing about the guy and it turns out he's one of the one's he sent to hell, how's that gonna look?"

Buffy bit back her smile. "Okay, baby, just grope me and get it out of your system. Not like anyone's going to see."

A finger jabbed into her kidneys. "I'm serious!"

"Pity." Buffy smiled down at the folder a second longer before looking over her shoulder again. "Zeus has no beef with Helios. You can gush about him all ya like. 'Cause you're such a gusher usually."

Faith grinned, freak-out over. "See; you know everything. You know what you should do?"

"What?" she muttered distractedly as she ticked a few of the things off that they'd already done.

"You should stay glued to my side all night long so when I talk to people you can whisper this shit in my ear."

"Mistress, prostitute, wedding planner and personal assistant. How'm I ever gonna find time to eat?"

Although, glued to Faith's side that night was where she needed to be so maybe she shouldn't complain too much about the idea.

"You forgot favorite girlfriend," Faith whispered, her smile touching Buffy's ear.

"Favorite?"

"Only girlfriend, ever," Faith quickly corrected herself. "So will you do it?"

"Do you really think I'm going to be anywhere but glued to your side that night, Faith?"

"Well, not all night."

"No, you said all night."

"Might be a squeeze with three in the bed."

"Nah, Troy has big beds. I'm sure there'll be room for me."

"Yeah?"

Buffy looked over again and caught the twinkle in Faith's eye. "Believe me, I was kidding."

"You didn't sound like you were kidding."

"Never gonna happen, Faith."

"Not even a little bit?"

The train pulled into another stop. Faith's arm kept her steady until the doors opened, but then she dropped it and started to worm her way through the crowd. Buffy followed her path as she pushed through the people waiting to board.

"How do you have a little bit of a threesome?"

"I don't know. Use your imagination. How would you have a little bit of a threesome if it was Toni in the mix instead?"

Buffy could use her imagination on that one only too well, and had done, but she chose not to answer as they walked through the dim metro station and up the steps into the sunshine.

She looked around but didn't recognize the area at all. "So what are we doing here?"

Faith grinned. "It's a surprise."

"I hate to break it to ya, sweetness, but you turning all these annoying wedding errands into a treasure hunt doesn't make them more fun for me."

"Oh, lighten up!" Faith caught her pen hand and pulled her close enough so she could link their arms

"I would but when you said we'd do something special, just the two of us, I didn't realize you just meant ride on the world's fastest earthworm in-between sorting all this last minute crap out."

"You're my wedding planner, B. What did you think the next couple of weeks were going to be like?"

Buffy sighed. "This, I guess, but it's our last day before Troy comes home," she pointed out, feeling all pouty about it. "I thought special alone time would mean exactly that, and not..."

The folder was still open, balanced on her other arm, and she read down the list.

"...checking the delivery time of the flower arrangements. Checking the restaurant has finalized the menus. Checking the restaurant has hired enough waiters to send over. Checking the wedding party's flights and accommodation have all been booked. Meeting with the wedding cake baker to discuss tiers. Meeting with the hair stylist to discuss up or down..." Buffy pulled her arm in so she could awkwardly tick that off too.

"What did we decide again?"

"Up, Faith!" Buffy groaned. "You decided up! And that's everything on the list! What else could we possibly still have to do today?"

Faith stopped abruptly meaning Buffy had to stop too. She checked her rant and looked at the sidewalk for a moment while she reined in her aggravation. After a deep breath she looked up apologetically.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound like such a..."

Faith dropped her arm. "It's fine."

"No it's not. I'm throwing a tantrum in the street and I totally understand if you don't want to walk another foot with me. Maybe my blood sugar's low. Those paninis were a while back."

"B, I said it's fine." Faith chuckled. "I stopped because we're here."

"Oh." Buffy looked up at the three story nondescript building with renewed interest.

"So what's here?"

Faith put a hand on her shoulder, steering her up the few front steps without answering. Opening the arched door she let Buffy go through first. With the street noise shut out the hallway they were in was hushed and still; smelling slightly of olive oil and Gardenias.

"You're right," Faith said, pausing between the door and the foot of a narrow staircase. "This has been a really wedding intensive day. Sorry. I just enjoy having you around so much I forget you're not as excited about all this crap as I am."

"I am happy you're excited about it, finally," Buffy grinned. "And I enjoy being around you while you are. It's just... you do see my point, right?"

"No," Faith teased. "Spell it out for me some more."

"I just don't see why this has to cut into our time," she grumbled playfully. "It's not me you're marrying. You and Troy should be wasting snuggle-time doing this, not us."

Faith's hand shot out fast as a snake strike and Buffy found herself being pushed roughly back against the off-white walls of the narrow hall.

She looked down at the palm pressing between her breasts. When she looked back up she had an eyebrow raised.

"Problem?"

Faith leaned in close to firmly whisper, "I don't snuggle."

Buffy shrugged one shoulder and gave her a little half smile. "You snuggle a little."

Faith shook her head. "Nah, I think you're getting me mixed up with your other girlfriend."

"Maybe; Toni does like to snuggle." She bit her tongue gently for show as her mischievous smile grew.

Faith sized her up, smirk curling up one side of her mouth. Finally, she nodded.

"Good. Looks like you got the best of both worlds then. You can have the hot sex with me and then go snuggle with her after."

Buffy grinned. "Yep, I'm a lucky girl. What's your best of both worlds?"

"I get to have hot sex with Troy and then snuggle with you after."

Faith started to step away but Buffy grabbed the front of her shirt, pulling her close. She was still smiling slightly, but hers eyes were questioning. It was too early to be playing games of this nature. Or maybe all the weddinginess of the day had raised the jealousy that was always thrumming below her skin a little closer to the surface.

Faith smirked again. "Sorry, did I get the two of you mixed up?"

"I don't know, did you?"

"Maybe."

"Maybe?" Her fingers slid down, hooking into the belt loops either side of Faith's zipper. "You're gonna have to do better than that."

Faith let herself be pulled hips to hips with Buffy but she casually checked out the empty corridor and up the stairs to the right of them before meeting her eyes again.

"That a fact? You wanna snuggle right here, B?"

"If that's really all you think I'm good for, sure."

The front door was pushed open and Buffy dropped her hands to her sides as Faith shot backwards from her. Faith didn't look amused by the interruption, but Buffy grinned, slipping her hands into the pockets of her pants as she lounged against the wall.

An elderly gentleman shuffled in carrying bags in both arms. He barely spared them a glance but muttered something in Italian and nodded his head back at the door.

Getting the message Buffy pushed it shut again. By the time she'd turned back the old guy was disappearing into a door at the end of the hall and Faith was putting on her sunglasses.

"Too bright in here for you?"

"Yeah. Come on." Faith jerked her head towards the stairs and up they went.

On the second floor Faith gestured for them to head down the hallway. It was longer than the one below, lined with simple white wooden doors.

"So you never said what we were doing here," Buffy prompted.

"Last job of the day."

"We're pretty far out of the city centre."

"Had to be."

Before Buffy could ask what she meant a door opened ahead of them. Three twenty-something's came out into the corridor talking together in Italian as they locked the door behind them and started for the stairs.

Faith ducked her head and moved behind Buffy to let them by. Buffy smiled as they passed each other in the hall. Faith kept close behind her, so far to the right of the corridor her arm was brushing the wooden railing and Buffy could feel the tension pouring over her shoulders.

A little confused, she moved over so that Faith was walking beside again and noticed the waves of dark hair pulled forward like a curtain to shield her face. The dark glasses made more sense now too.

"They're gone."

Faith didn't answer.

"You wanna tell me what that was about?"

"I'm pretty sure you can figure it out."

Faith stopped in front of the penultimate white door and pulled a single silver key from the back pocket of her jeans.

"Well, yeah. Obviously you're trying to be all incognito. Are you ashamed to be seen with me now or something?"

"Or something."

Faith slid the key into the lock and twisted it. With a light push the door opened inwards.

"You a regular here?" Buffy asked even more curious.

Faith simply gave her a wide, dimpled grin and went through the door. Following her in, Buffy looked around at the small, completely bare room with slight apprehension.

"What is this, Faith?"

"Eight hundred Euros a month, give or take."

"What?" Buffy was starting to get a good and bad feeling about this all at once.

Faith pulled the key out and pushed the door shut with a soft click. Taking Buffy's unresisting hand she walked slowly across the uncovered floor, their footsteps echoing in the empty room.

"I know it's small and it needs painting, and some furniture, but it's got potential, don't ya think? 'Sides, it's the best I can do for cash."

Buffy pulled Faith to a stop in the middle of the room as she looked warily around at the blank walls.

"I'm sorry for the denseness of me, but you're gonna have to spell this out. What is this place?"

Faith moved in front of her, catching her other hand too as she smiled sheepishly. "This place... would be your new living room."

Buffy opened her mouth to say something, but she was completely speechless, so she closed it again. Heart racing, she dropped one of Faith's hands but held tighter to the other as she turned half way around on the spot, once again taking in the small room.

"Say something." Faith sounded nervous.

"Okay." There, she'd said something.

Towing Faith behind her she walked to the nearest open door and looked through.

"Your kitchen," Faith said.

Buffy nodded. It was small with only a few feet of floor space between the doorway and the counters that lined the far side. There was a sink under the window, a cooker at the other end and a fridge was shoved under the counter directly in front of her.

Scared to step past the threshold, she leaned forward and yanked the fridge door open and then recoiled fast. It was empty but stank strongly of sour milk. She pushed the door shut hard and then backed out of the kitchen waving her hand under nose.

"I can clean that for you."

She looked at Faith in surprise. In Cleveland it had been nearly impossible to get Faith to do her regular chores, now she was offering to get down on her knees and scrub out a stinky fridge.

Now she was looking at her she could see just how nervous Faith actually was. She was biting her lip and her cheeks were pale, palm sweating slightly against Buffy's own.

"You got me an apartment?"

It came out sounding more matter-of-fact than overjoyed because she was completely freaking out. She hadn't asked for this, wasn't ready for this! It was complete absurdity, not to mention a tad presumptuous. But as Faith slowly took her sunglasses off and gave her a hopeful smile, she couldn't help thinking it was also the sweetest and most romantic thing anyone had ever done for her.

"Yeah," Faith said softly. "But I only put down the deposit. I haven't signed anything yet, so if you don't like it we can look for something..."

"When have you had time to go apartment hunting this week?" Buffy cut her off, not prepared to answer any questions about this place herself just yet.

She pulled Faith towards one of the two doors at the other end of the living room. The first one she opened led to a bathroom. Or a shower-room anyway. The whole room would fit inside Troy's bathtub. It was tiny, but she could probably come to think of it as cute if she gave herself the chance. It could be considered ultra-efficient. She could wash her hair in the shower and brush her teeth in the sink while she was using the toilet.

"I spent Tuesday morning meeting with Troy's property manager," Faith began. Buffy turned to her sharply. "Chill. I told him Dawn and Andrew are thinking of making a go of it in the big city and I was just helping them out."

Buffy grinned. "Dawn and Andrew aren't even a couple."

"Yeah, well I know that, and Troy knows that, but there's a damn good bet that his property manager doesn't and if questions get asked later I'll just say they changed their minds."

"And isn't it going to look a bit suspicious that the apartment is still being rented even though they changed their minds?" Buffy couldn't help looking for the flaw in Faith's plan, especially as she was hoping to find one.

"You never let me finish," Faith said. "I spent the morning going over the properties he owns and then the ones Toni owns..."

"Toni doesn't own any property."

"Yes she does. She owns that whole building you're living in for starters. Anyway, after I weeded all those places out I spent yesterday morning going around checking out all the places they don't have a piece of. This is one of the better ones that'll take cash."

"I see."

Buffy tried the sink faucet. The water ran through clear and cold immediately. She tried the toilet flush and that worked perfectly too. Faith pulled her out of the bathroom before she could turn on the shower.

"I'll have to sign a contract, but by paying cash we can keep the paper trail to a minimum."

"Makes sense, but how will you afford it?" she asked. "At eight hundred Euros a month your savings are going to run out pretty quickly and my job is going to be terminated in two weeks."

Faith frowned, "Why?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Troy's not gonna have much call for a wedding planner once you're married."

"Right." Faith chuckled. "Well, I have a few options."

"Like?"

Faith grinned and tugged her towards the last door as she answered. "Like Giles says he can find me something in the Italian branch of the Council. All I gotta do is call him when I get back from my honeymoon." She pushed the door open. "Your bedroom."

Buffy walked inside. It was as empty as the living room and not much bigger than the kitchen and bathroom combined. You could probably get a double bed and a wardrobe in there at the same time but if you wanted to swing a cat too you'd have to do it someplace else.

She finally let go of Faith's hand and walked to the small window. It looked over a fountain in the plaza below. Probably not one of the famous ones, granted, but it was still pretty.

"So what do you think?" Faith asked from the middle of the room.

"I don't know," she said.

"Well, do you like it at least?"

She turned, leaning her butt on the window sill.

"Like you said, it has potential, but I don't remember agreeing to getting a place with you, Faith," she said it softly, not wanting to sound mad but needing to be truthful about it all the same.

"I know." Faith rubbed the back of her neck as she awkwardly met Buffy's gaze. "But... I don't know, I wanted to... to... Look, if you don't want it we can just forget it. I'm not trying to force you into anything. I just wanted to do something, ya know.... Make a grand fuckin' gesture or something."

"Well, it's certainly that."

Faith huffed out a laugh. "Least I got something right. Or didn't I?"

Buffy looked at her feet and gave a little shrug. "This is really big, Faith."

"Bigger than going back on all your convictions to have some crazy-ass half-life with me?" Buffy simply raised an eyebrow and Faith smirked. "What? You think the only convictions I understand are the ones I got banged up for?"

Buffy chuckled and for a few seconds the tension was broken. It needed to come back again though.

"Okay, maybe they're the same level of big, but..."

Buffy didn't get any further before Faith interrupted.

"I had to do this today because Troy gets back tomorrow. We're gonna have less time together and sneaking around is gonna be next to impossible. I wanted you to have this place so..."

Buffy started laughing as her heart sank. The gesture suddenly seemed a whole lot less sweet and romantic. How had she ever assumed otherwise? Of course there was only one reason why Faith would want to get her a nice little hideaway.

"I get it. You want me installed in this tiny, rundown little fuck-nest so you can still get some on the sly when Troy's around. Thanks a lot, Faith."

She started to storm towards the door but Faith jumped in front of her.

"No, B, you stupid..." Faith grabbed her shoulders, stopping her as she tried to push past. "I wanted you to have somewhere that can be ours. So even when I can't be around you still know that I... I love you."

Buffy stopped trying to get around her but she was still angry. "Yes and nothing says I love you like a den of adultery."

"It's not that! It will be your place. You'll be the only person who'll have a key. I'm not gonna be letting myself in here whenever I want a screw or anything! I don't expect to have you on tap or for you to drop your panties every time I walk through that door. I just wanted you...us to have a place that maybe once in a while, after dates and shit, we could come back to and just chill together."

"Oh."

"Damn right, oh." Faith let go of her shoulders and stepped back.

"Really?" she asked, wanting to be more convinced than she was.

"Really, B, I was just trying to show you I cared about us." Faith held her eyes for a beat and then turned angrily away. "This is exactly why I didn't want to get involved with you."

"What do you mean?"

"We haven't even made it a week and already things are turning ugly. You can't help but think the worst of me, and I can't say I blame you for it, but I can't handle it either, B."

"Faith, it's just a misunderstanding."

Faith slumped against the wall. "Pretty big misunderstanding."

"Well, we already agreed everything about this is pretty big."

Faith nodded but her eyes were somewhere to the left of Buffy. "Yeah, it is, and if you're gonna doubt me every step of the way we might as well just give up now."

"Is... is that what you want?" Buffy asked, her heart beating faster in worry.

Faith shook her head but still didn't look at her.

"Okay, so let's just forget the last five minutes and try a different approach."

"Like what?"

Buffy was already walking towards her. With gentle fingers on Faith's chin, she turned her head so they were looking at each other.

"Like this." She kissed her softly on the lips. "Thank you for getting me an apartment."

Not smiling, Faith said, "I like this approach better."

"Me too." She kissed her again. "Tell me more about it."

"Not much more to tell. You've seen all the rooms. Living room gets the sun in the afternoon as you saw, this room gets it in the morning, doubt the kitchen and bathroom get any at all. We can pick up some cheap paint somewhere and I know a girl who can get you a bunch of furniture. Already been to check it out too. Couch, coffee table, wardrobe, that sort of stuff."

"No bed?" Buffy grinned.

Faith finally grinned again too. "Not yet, but it won't be that hard to find one."

"Well, we don't need a bed anyway."

Buffy kissed her again and this time Faith joined in. For over a minute there was nothing but the feel of Faith's lips moving against her own. When she pulled away she was feeling way more relaxed. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Faith was right, she'd done an amazingly generous thing here and Buffy had too easily thought the worst. She had to make that up to Faith somehow.

"Bed'd be nice though," Faith breathed, her eyes going to the centre of the room where one would normally be.

Buffy shook her head. "Over-rated. We've never needed one before. So is there any more?"

Faith grinned again. "You want the real estate spiel? She went on about the beautifully lit living room and the hardwood floors and the proximity of the amenities... whatever they are."

Buffy looked down at the scuffed and paint-splattered floorboards. "They don't look like hardwood to me."

Faith lightly stamped her boot a couple of times. "Well, they ain't soft."

Buffy smiled. "I think to actually be classified as hardwood they need a little more than that."

Faith looked confused. "Like what?"

Buffy shrugged, not knowing. "Doesn't really matter. Could be a cardboard box and I'd love it."

"Why?"

"Because you got it for me."

Faith looked excited. "So does that mean you'll take it?"

She didn't know how to answer that, so she resorted to a tried and tested method. Her lips met Faith's even more gently than before in a fluttered kiss or three. When Faith began to respond she opened her mouth more, touching her tongue to Faith's lips until the other woman opened up too. The first slide of their tongues was as electrifying as ever and Buffy leaned into her, her hands cupping Faith's neck as she melted into the sensation.

"Is that a yes?" Faith asked as soon as their lips parted company.

"Would you just shut up and let me thank you?"

Faith regarded her suspiciously for a moment but it was soon replaced by an eager leer. Buffy hit her with another quick smooch as she balled her fists in the hem of Faith's blue tank top, drawing back as she pulled it up and off. She dropped it to the floor and batted Faith's hands away from the buttons of her own shirt.

Faith held her hands in the air out of reach. "What the hell?"

"Did I get you an apartment?" Buffy bent her head, kissing at the smooth skin pushed up by Faith's bra as her hands circled her to get at the clasp. "No? Did I get you so much as a fruit basket?" The bra came loose and followed the tank top to the floor. "No? Then I'm the only one around here who gets to do the thanking."

Her lips traveled over the firm rounded flesh of one breast as her hand glided over the other.

"Yeah, sounds fun babe, but not really my style." Faith reached between her face and her hand to make another attempt on her buttons. "If we're doing this, we're doing..."

With an exasperated sigh, Buffy reluctantly left Faith's breasts alone and grabbed her hands, slamming them not too hard against the wall above her head.

"Don't make me get rough."

"You wouldn't even know how to."

Buffy's grin matched Faith's. The latter let her hands be held above her head without a struggle, but her eyes weren't backing down. Buffy let herself be drawn in by them until she was leaning up against her and feeling that dirty grin against her lips. She kissed it away, their tongues skittering over each others in a game of cat and mouse between their mouths.

Buffy was breathing as heavy as Faith when they parted and she wasn't even the one with her tits out. The thought of Faith half exposed in this bare room made her shift back and look down appreciatively. Partial nudity just looked so good on her.

The word exposed conjured another thought too though and slowly she turned to look at the unadorned glass window to the side of them.

"Do you think anyone can see us in here?"

"Why, would that turn you on?"

Buffy looked at her incredulously. "My deepest, darkest fantasies are hardly relevant here."

Faith frowned. "Getting watched is your deepest darkest fantasy? Damn, remind me never to tell you any of mine - you'd never sleep again."

Faith obviously wasn't thinking with her brain right now and so Buffy would have to do it for her.

"I can see into the room over there." She pointed to the building on the other side of the plaza. "True our eyesight is a little better than most, but you don't need good eyesight if you have binoculars or a camera zoom or possibly Troy-minion eyes."

Faith looked over. "Sun's shining straight through that window. We're in shadow over here."

That was true and she was probably just being paranoid anyway. Something she could blame on Faith throwing the word 'discreet' around like it was street slang and she was trying to sound cool.

"Perhaps we should just..." she nodded her head away from the window, not that there was any way to feel completely covered in the empty room.

"Yeah, maybe we should." Faith agreed and tried to free her hands.

"Oh no," Buffy smirked at her as she kept hold of them.

Buffy tugged her over to the other side of the room, which at least didn't have a direct line of sight from any of the opposite windows, and then twirled and pinned her in the same position.

Faith was smirking smugly by the time the manoeuvre was finished.

"How exactly are you planning on thanking me if your hands are up there with mine?"

"Oh no, you've outsmarted me." Buffy laughed. "Whatever shall I do now?"

As soon as Faith's hands were free she went for the shirt buttons again, but in pretty much the same second, Buffy had both of Faith's slim wrists caught in one hand and back against the wall again.

Grinning, she waggled her now free hand in Faith's face delightedly. "Ha!"

"Fine." Faith shrugged the best she could with her arms held above her. "I'm at your mercy. Now are we gonna get to the gratitude or are you just gonna make shadow puppets on the wall?"

"I think..." Buffy dragged the word out as she nuzzled along the tops of Faith's breasts. She looked up again with a bright, simple smile "...shadow puppets!"

She made a bunny out of fingers and danced them inches from Faith's nose, although the only shadow was the one of warning that crossed the other woman's features.

"Hey, do me a favor and put that smart mouth to better use."

"Like how?" Buffy asked innocently as her 'bunny' nibbled on and tweaked a nipple.

"I don't care," Faith's back was arching away from the wall as her body responded to the fingertips on first on nipple and then the other. "Just get it on me."

So Faith liked her calling the shots for once despite how hard it was for her to give up control and relax. Remembering back, Faith's resolve had always turned the consistency of warm butter around about the same time Buffy had pushed some kind of physical intimacy on her. It had only been before and after that she'd come across as cool, calm and completely untouchable.

Maybe that was the problem, or one of them anyway. Faith could never relax around her, she was always uptight and tense and waiting for the other shoe to drop, or in more literal terms, for Buffy to break her heart all over again. It was true they had gotten more comfortable around each other since she had arrived in Rome, but that had been friendship-comfy. They'd only had a week to get coupley-comfy - and they weren't there yet.

Not that it was all on Faith's shoulders; Buffy had just proved she was still way too quick to jump to the worst conclusion where Faith was concerned. Even now, when she was sure she loved her completely and utterly, she still had reserves about the suitability of Faith as a life partner. Honestly, if the physical stuff wasn't so damn good all the damn time, Buffy probably would have let her slip away months ago and considered it a lucky escape.

Actually, that probably wasn't true, but she did have to admit - if only to herself - that this part-time love arrangement wasn't only kind to Faith's sanity. Buffy had been serious that day by the pool when she'd told Faith she wanted it all, she did, really and truly, but that didn't mean she was sure she could handle it. This way, she didn't have to face that fear, not just yet anyway. She still held hope that one day she and Faith would be together like a proper couple. Until then this affair could be their training wheels. Getting them ready for the day they put on their big girl panties...

Which obviously wasn't today, at least not for Faith, and that much was obvious as soon as Buffy finished the one-handed unbuttoning of her jeans. They were just loose enough to fall off of her hips a little, baring the shadowy apex of her thighs in a mouth-watering way.

"You want my mouth here?" Her lips pressed softly against the obstinate line of Faith's.

While she waited for an answer, her hand slipped into the opening of the jeans and petted the short, almost-black curls that tickled her fingertips.

"I thought you were running this show?"

Her fingers kept up their soft stroking but didn't stray between Faith's legs. Leaning down, she brushed her lips over the easiest nipple to reach. When Faith arched towards her she pulled away and looked up.

"So here?"

Faith relaxed against the wall again. "Up to you, B. You're the one saying thank you."

"Well, in that case." She straightened up and gave Faith a stern look. "I'm letting go now because I'm going down there." She pointed to the floor. "But don't think I couldn't have you hog-tied with your own bra in a second if you try anything funny."

Faith laughed as Buffy released her wrists. "Ya know, I might have to think of something funny now just to see you try that."

"I don't try, I do." Buffy dropped to her knees, taking Faith's jeans down to her ankles in one smooth movement. "Hello, baby," she drawled once she was eye level with her prize.

Faith's laugh ended in a sharp gasp when Buffy gently spread her open and licked slowly up between her inner lips. Faith was already wet - nothing unusual there; Buffy had yet to find this little piece of paradise dry. It could have been Faith's general state of being, she claimed to always be horny after all, but Buffy liked to think she was the sole cause of every monsoon season.

By the second touch of her tongue, Faith was wetter and by the third Buffy could get a good taste. It was a nice one, but she'd never come up with a good simile. It was just pure Faith. It even beat Peaches in Brandy and that was saying something.

She was still new at this, as far as Faith was concerned anyway. Once in the Easter cavern and once at Troy's castle - the swimming pool incident didn't really count because the end had ruined the experience - but judging by the sounds Faith was already making, third time was definitely the charm. In some ways she preferred using her fingers. Feeling Faith around them, pushing and clenching as her juices dripped into her palm and down her wrist; being able to look into her eyes and kiss her and tongue her... well, Buffy smiled, she was still tonguing her. But this way definitely had its perks too, and there was something about being on her knees as she opened her mouth wide against Faith's pussy that gave it that extra edge.

Faith was panting above her now as she concentrated on teasing her clit, feeling it getting firmer under her tongue. Two hands landed cautiously on the top of her head but there was no way she was stopping now to tell her to reach for the sky again. One of them ran through her hair while the other stroked a warm thumb over and over the shell of her ear.

Spurred on by the gentle caress - in a moment where Faith was probably feeling anything but gentle - Buffy slid her hands up from the backs of her thighs to the tight curve of her ass and pulled her closer as she sunk her tongue into her as deep as it would go. Faith bucked against her with a stifled cry, pushing her in an extra millimetre of two. Such an extended tongue should have been uncomfortable but it just felt cosy and cocooned. Buffy tried not to smile at the odd thought, wondering exactly where Faith's G-spot would be - they didn't teach that stuff in sex-ed - and whether she could reach it like this.

Before she could find out, or maybe she did find out and just didn't know it, Faith's thighs were trembling and she was pushing harder against her, her hands stilling in their stroking and holding on a little tighter. A minute later, with a final - and louder than usual - grunted expletive, Faith came in her mouth.

At first, the gush of warm opaque come made Buffy pull her head back, a little surprised that she'd gotten such a result so fast, but shaking her head at her alarm she buried her face back between Faith's legs and licked and slurped her through a shaky-legged come-down.

Only when Faith started to slide down the wall towards her did she pull back and wipe at her lips and nose with the back of her hand.

They sat in silence while Faith, actually, both of them got their breath back, but they were smiling warmly at each other all the while. Okay, so maybe Buffy's smile was smug too.

"Thank you," Buffy said. "Yunno, in case it wasn't clear."

"It was clear." Faith grinned. "And I should probably be thanking you now."

"Believe me, you're welcome." She leaned forward on her knees and kissed her slowly, reveling in the feeling of being able to make Faith feel this way.

After another minute she had to get back to her feet and she pulled a reluctant Faith up after her.

Faith leaned up against the wall again; pants still around her ankles.

Buffy nodded to them. "Are you gonna stay like that all day?"

Faith grinned again. "Actually, I was hoping if I stayed like this long enough you'd be up for another go."

"I'm up for it," Buffy promised. "But my knees already hate the both of us."

She leaned down and gave them a rub. She hadn't noticed it in the heat of the moment, but now it felt like every grain of the floorboards was embedded in them.

Faith chuckled softly. "Told ya the floors were hardwood."

Buffy groaned and moved in to wrap her arms around Faith's neck. They shared a leisurely kiss that went on for ages. She wasn't sure when exactly it became less leisurely, but feeling the buttons of her shirt being tugged open one by one was definitely an indicator that it had.

She pulled back reluctantly, "Hey!"

"You said thanks, now all bets are off," Faith told her as she sought her lips again.

Buffy shrugged. It was supposed to convey whatever, but had the extra feature of removing her open shirt from her shoulders. It hung at her elbows but gave Faith more than enough room to reach around for her bra clasp. When that too was hanging from her elbows in front, Buffy had to pull away again.

"Okay, now I'm the one getting hog-tied."

"Good. Now get down before I put you down."

Buffy raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"Fine."

Faith picked her up with hands under her ass and then dropped to her knees.

"Ow!"

"Yep, definitely hardwood." Buffy giggled.

"Yeah."

Faith shook off whatever pain she was feeling and dropped forwards, laying Buffy down on the bare boards. She pulled at the bra, but Buffy had to wriggle out of her shirt before it could come off. The floor felt rough under her back but she didn't complain. She had been horny since Faith's arm slid innocently around her on the train and it had been ebbing and flowing ever since.

She was definitely in a flow state of mind right now as Faith pulled off the rest of her clothes. Before the other woman could dive head first between her legs, though, Buffy grabbed her arms and pulled her over her.

"You don't want me to," Faith asked in surprise.

"No, I do, just..." Buffy pulled her face in close and kissed her soundly for a minute. More breathless than before, she continued. "Now you can." And pushed at Faith's shoulders, grinning.

Faith grinned back, but then all Buffy could see was the top of her dark head as she ducked between her bent legs. She stiffened instinctively as she felt the first swipe of Faith's tongue, and then relaxed, and then stiffened again at the second swipe, and relaxed. By the fourth or fifth she felt like her shoulders were melting through the wooden floorboards and by the sixth or seventh everything from her waist down was melting through to join them.

This felt better than great. She could probably live out the rest of her existence never moving from this spot and she would still know that she had lived a full and happy life. At the feel of that beautiful tongue inside, her hands definitely drew unnoticed splinters from the boards and her feet skittered across and then pushed at the floor. It was lips circling and sucking at her clit that made her hips buck though, her hands giving in their battle for independence and sinking deep into Faith's hair to keep her as close as possible.

Faith made a humming noise and she felt the vibrations travel the length and breadth of her being.

"Oh, God, yes."

Her ass was permanently in the air now, jerking ever so slightly with every suck of Faith's mouth. She felt tongue bathing her clit at the same time and her eyes rolled back in her head.

"Oh, fuck, yes."

She was ready to pop, past ready, but Faith wasn't letting her, her lips and tongue doing just enough to keep her writhing on the edge of ecstasy. It felt... fantastic, but she wanted... needed...

Faith shifted enough to push two fingers into her stupidly-slick hole and Buffy's eyes slammed open and aware again. The ceiling badly needed painting, Faith badly needed to never stop doing that and... She just had time to think, 'Oh so that's where my G-spot is...' and then - bam! - She was hit by a hard, good, great, best, longest orgasm ever!

And really, Faith had already raised the bar pretty damn high!

With anyone else she would have been embarrassed about spending the next minute flopping around like a hooked fish, hips bucking out of control as the rest of her limbs spasmed in sympathy, but she had a pretty strong feeling that Faith would be psyched by it. Any second now the words 'I bet Toni never...' or possibly the classic 'I bet Angel never...'

They never came though and Faith did as Buffy had, staying behind to do the clean-up until her sensitive flesh couldn't take any more pleasurable aftershocks and she encouraged Faith up to lay over her.

Again they both took a minute to catch their breath, but this time Buffy was flat out and boneless.

Faith naturally recovered first. "You okay?"

Buffy's eyes were closed and she didn't open them to answer. "Me okay; you rock."

She heard Faith chuckle and then there was kissing. Buffy joined in but she still didn't open her eyes.

"I rock, huh?"

Buffy smiled dreamily. "You rock."

There was another chuckle and then the delicious weight moved off of her.

"Noooo."

She didn't move far though. Buffy could feel hot naked skin against her side. One arm draped itself low over her stomach.

"Lift your head up."

Buffy opened her eyes as she complied and smiled as Faith pushed her other arm beneath her head. She settled back down on the arm. Much more relaxing than the wooden floorboards.

"Thanks."

"No problem. Just be ready to move quick when my arm goes dead."

"Okay."

There was room for Faith to lay her head on her arm too and she did so, her nose nuzzling just below Buffy's ear. They stayed that way in easy silence and Buffy fought the urge to crow that Faith was snuggling because she was sure it would go away if she did. Better just to lay back and soak it up than call attention to it.

After a few minutes, Faith asked, "So, you like the apartment?"

Buffy closed her eyes, mentally sighing. This was the conversation she had been trying to avoid since they had arrived. No avoiding it now though, she was too worn out to go down on Faith again right this minute.

"I do, but..."

Faith groaned, cutting her off. "I was really hoping not to hear a 'but' right now."

"I know, but... it could be a great apartment and I really do love that you went to all that trouble to get it for me, really, but it's not practical."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, for starters, this is the only bedroom. And it's small. I had my fill of sleeping next to Dawn and Andrew when we were in that hostel."

Faith was quiet for a moment. "Well, I thought maybe after the wedding they'd be going back to the States."

Buffy sighed openly this time. "They will be."

"So where's the problem?"

"I'll be going with them."

Faith got very still, not that she'd been jumping around to begin with but the change was noticeable.

"Please don't take it the wrong way," she begged.

"You think there's a right way to take that?" Faith sounded more confused than angry, a blessing at least.

"Dawn should be back in school on Monday," she began. "Giles spoke to her Headmistress and explained there's family stuff happening, so she's been given a leave of absence until after the wedding, but she has to go back then or she'll lose her place. And you know how prestigious that school is, I'll never get her into another one like it now and she needs it to get into a good college..."

She trailed off as Faith rolled onto her back. "So send her back with everyone else after the wedding. Why do you have to go too?"

"She's my little sister. Until she's eighteen I'm her legal guardian. I have to be where she is."

"I get that." Faith still didn't look angry, but firmly added, "Now tell me the truth."

"That is the truth!"

"But?"

Buffy rubbed a hand over her forehead. "Toni's heading back straight after the wedding too. She's got college and..."

Faith sighed, shaking her head.

"...And I don't have any good reason to stay here once it's all over."

Faith shot her a hurt sidelong look and Buffy rolled so that she was facing her.

"Except the obvious, obviously." She stroked her fingers across Faith's cheek. "It's going to kill me to leave you, but what's my excuse for staying if my sister and my girlfriend are both back in Cleveland? You'll already be married, so I don't have that reason for hanging around. If I don't go home it's going to look really suspicious."

Faith closed her eyes and clenched her jaw. Buffy was pretty sure if they weren't both all mellow from the sex they'd be in a shouting match by now. It might have been better than the silence.

"Faith, I'm not leaving you, I'm just... leaving."

"Can't see much of a difference."

"It's there. You just have to want to see it."

"I don't."

Buffy sat up, pushing her hands through her damp, tangled hair. "Okay, so tell me what we do then? I tell my family I'm staying in Italy for the food? I tell my girlfriend I'm staying in Italy because the long-distance relationship works so well for us?"

"Works for me."

Buffy's hand slapped the boards next to Faith's head. "Well, it doesn't for me!"

"Well if you wanna be with her so bad what're you fuckin' me for?"

Buffy gave a derisive laugh. "You might wanna think twice before throwing that stone around."

Faith sat up, finally angry. "You always have to come back to that, don't you?"

Buffy held her hands up. "I'm not coming back to anything. I don't need to. It's always right there!"

"You knew what you were getting into."

"Yeah, and you knew it wasn't going to be all me giving and you taking."

"How am I doing all the taking? I just got you an apartment."

"I would do almost anything to be with you, Faith, and I think I'm proving that." She pointed to the wedding folder, still on the floor where she'd dropped it. "But living in this city alone for the rest of my life isn't one of them."

"You won't be alone."

"Yes I will. You'll be with Troy a lot more than you'll be with me and after everyone's gone home I will have nothing here except you. Whether you meant this place to be a love shack or not, it's what it'll turn into pretty quickly. I'll be sitting here every day waiting, hoping you'll come by for a few hours, and I'm not prepared to live my life like that."

"You could get a job with the Council like me."

"I have a job with the Council. We got lucky this year, no big apocalypse threats, but the stronger the Hellmouth gets the more I'm gonna need to be there. I'm sorry, Faith, I've been arguing this over in my head all week, but it all comes down to the same thing... I have to go home."

"Well, if you've already made up your mind then I guess that's it." Faith started to stand up. "Game over. Thanks for playing."

Buffy grabbed Faith's arm and pulled her back to the floor. "I'm not breaking up with you!"

"You're leaving me - what's the diff?"

"Again, I'm leaving Rome, not you. I still want to be with you. I still want to be your secret, favorite girlfriend."

"And how's that gonna happen if you're five thousand miles away?"

"The same way me and Toni have managed all summer."

"Great, so I get half an hour of you talking dirty to me on the phone and she gets to spend the night in your bed." Faith pulled her arm away. "I'm not doing that."

Buffy stood up and started to pace, mindless of the fact that she was still very naked. This conversation was going pretty much the way she thought it would, but still it was too hard. It was apparent now that Faith wanted it all as much as she did, but unfortunately their 'alls' didn't go well together.

"Why did you want to be with me, Faith?"

Faith looked at her like it was a trick question. "Because I love you."

"Yeah, but didn't you love me when you were adamant we'd never be together too?"

"Didn't we already have this conversation the other way around?"

"Don't answer a question with a question. I want to know what changed for you; why you went from horny but fighting it, to horny and up for it?"

Faith just stared at her obstinately, not even bothering to fake an answer.

"Do you even know?"

"I gave in because I wanted you too much not to. Seemed a waste of energy resisting when you were right there begging for it."

Buffy stopped pacing and glared at her. "Oh, that's nice. And I was not begging!"

"You wanted me as much as I wanted you."

"Yes, maybe, but there was no begging! You begged."

Faith stood up so they could argue face to face. "I did not!"

Buffy laughed on the inside at how ridiculous Faith's indignance looked with her pants still around her ankles. On the outside, she was half-angry, half-worried. Catch-22; the fight to save us might be our last one as a couple.

Aloud, she said, "The day by the pool you were begging so hard it was funny."

"No, you thinking I was gonna run away with you just because you offered it up was funny."

"You agreed because you wanted me so bad!"

"No, I gave you the impression I was agreeing because I wanted you so bad," Faith paused, blinked and then switched the sentence fast. "Because you wanted me so bad! Anyway, you were the one begging in Bracciano."

"I didn't beg! I gave in because you were crying."

"I wasn't crying!"

Buffy stared her down.

"Okay, so there may have been a little crying." Faith admitted, before she shouted, "That's why you're with me? Because I shed a few tears?"

"Do you really care why I'm with you as long as I am?" Buffy shouted back.

"Do you?" Faith shot back louder.

A moment of silence hung in the air as they glared, and then Faith was in her arms and there was kissing happening. Fast, ferocious kissing that didn't stop as they timbered to the ground like a tall pine at a woodcutter's mercy. Faith rolled them over so she could rub at where the floorboards had struck the back of her head, but still they didn't ease up on the kissing.

Buffy didn't question what was going on, didn't even care in fact. When it came to a choice of this or arguing there was only ever going to be one winner. And as Faith's hand slipped over her hip heading for the juncture of her thighs, Buffy gladly gave her brain some time off.

Later, Buffy lay over Faith panting, body sheened with perspiration and tacky against Faith's, who was just as hot and sticky.

"Okay," she said, still trying to get her breath back. "That resolved nothing."

"Who cares?" Faith stretched languidly before throwing her arms around her again.

"True."

She must have dozed off for a while after that. Not for long maybe, but sun had sunk behind their building, making the room dusky by the time she blinked her eyes open. She looked around and then down to find she was still lying on top of Faith.

Faith was awake, but she looked as drowsy as Buffy felt. Her eyes were half closed and there was a small smile on her lips. As she realized Buffy was awake again, she ran her hands up and down Buffy's back in lazy strokes.

"Sorry." Buffy leaned up on her elbows, feeling guilty for squashing Faith for so long.

"S'okay." With a hand behind her head she pulled Buffy down for a kiss. "I've been thinking."

"Uh oh." Buffy grinned as she rolled to Faith's side, keeping one arm around her just below her breasts. "Should I be worried?"

Faith shook her head, taking Buffy's question more seriously than it had been intended.

"So what have you been thinking about?"

"Huh? Oh."

Faith didn't answer straight away, giving Buffy enough time to feel apprehensive.

"I don't want you to go."

"I know, but..."

"I know. I know you have to. I even understand why you want to."

There was obviously more so Buffy stayed quiet.

"I wish I could give you a reason not to go... but I can't. So..."

"I don't want to break up with you," Buffy said, in case it hadn't gotten through the first time.

"So we won't. Break up, that is. But I don't know how well it's gonna work."

"Neither do I, but we'll make it, somehow," she promised.

Faith nodded, and then was quiet for a spell. Buffy almost drifted off again, her head was so comfortably cushioned by Faith's shoulder. A mattress underneath them would be nice, but she could live without it if it meant never moving.

"We're supposed to have a dinner meeting tonight."

"We are?"

"Yeah, soon as we finished here we had reservations for a highly unromantic wedding meeting at the most romantic rooftop restaurant in the city." Faith sighed.

"Well, at least we get to eat," Buffy's empty tummy rumbled at the thought. "Who's the meeting with this time?"

"Just you and me."

"Huh?" Buffy smiled as she got it. "Really? Just the two of us?"

"Yeah. Table for two on the roof terrace at six. Figured we'd be enjoying dessert as we watched the sunset."

Buffy looked out of the window again before checking her watch with alarm. "It's gone seven."

"I know."

"I'm sorry."

"Hey, I was arguing too." Faith grinned. "Doesn't matter that we missed it, I just needed to brag that I'd booked it."

"Duly noted. So does that mean no food?"

"That depends. You gonna stay naked if I run out and get us something?"

Buffy looked at her watch again. "Dawn and Andrew are going to be expecting me back soon."

"Call 'em. Tell them you're spending the night away."

"The whole night?"

Faith shrugged. "We gotta make the most of the time we have left, right? And this seems like the perfect place to do it."

Buffy smiled, liking that idea very much, but she had to ask. "Isn't Troy back tomorrow?"

Faith reached down and pulled her jeans - still around her ankles - up. She lay back down as she fastened them. "Not until lunch time."

"Won't someone notice you're not in his apartment?"

Faith gave her a quick kiss before getting up to fetch her top. "Who gives a shit? If Troy's not there why should I be?"

She pulled her top on. Buffy's eyes focused on the bra still on the floor. That had to be a good sign.

Faith came and sat cross-legged next to her. "So you up for it?"

Buffy smiled, feeling a little more caught up in the moment than was probably a good idea.

"I'll call Dawn. If she's not bothered I'm up for it. What do I tell her, though?"

Faith gave her another kiss and then stood up again. "You still owe her a night out clubbing, right?"

"Yeah, I keep putting it off."

"Well, to sweeten the deal tell her you'll take them out this weekend. Troy's taking me to a club opening. No reason he can't get you three on the guest list too."

Buffy smirked. "I'm sure he'll just love that."

"He'll deal," Faith shrugged. "You got a hankering for anything in particular?"

Buffy ran her hand up Faith's leg suggestively.

Chuckling, Faith stepped away. "Food-wise, moron."

"Whatever you come across first is fine."

"Okay," Faith said as she left the room.

"Buy a bed while you're out," Buffy called after her.

"Do my best," Faith called back, laughing.

Buffy relaxed back as much as she could on the hard floor. She was actually amazed that she had gotten her own way. Not that it was a way she was pleased about. Leaving Faith behind was not a happy thought and as soon as Toni was done with college she was planning on dropping some not subtle hints about returning to Rome. Until that day came though, this was the best course of action.

It had been a tough decision, but for every reason for staying there were ten reasons for her to go. Because at the end of the day the only reason she had for staying was Faith. Sure it was a great reason, but it wasn't enough. Faith all on her own would have been, but in less than two weeks she would come as part of a package.

She was sure now, after all the thinking about it, that she was doing the right thing. She wished she was as sure that they would survive it. Faith had done her best to put Buffy out of her mind the last time they were on separate continents. What if once they were again, and Faith was all caught up in her honeymoon period with Troy, she succeeded? What if she decided all she needed was her husband after all? What if after the wedding, she never saw her again?

Buffy stood up swiftly, trying to dislodge those silly, pointless thoughts. A better use of her anxiety would be worrying whether Faith would even want to know her if the truth about her wedding-night came out...

Oh great, now she was worrying about that!

She headed for the tiny bathroom. If they were holing up here for the night she might as well see if the shower worked. Maybe it would blast some of the unwelcome thoughts right out of her head. Or maybe it would just dribble and she could count it as another reason for why turning down Faith's grand gesture made sense.


Chapter Thirty

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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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