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 Thirty: Playing With Fire

Buffy walked into the bedroom, toothbrush in her mouth, hair in a towel and looked down at a snoring Faith. She was flat out on the little camp-bed she'd somehow procured the other night while fetching pizza, and naked still. Not that Buffy wasn't, but she wasn't the one who should've been gone five minutes ago.

She kicked the side of the cot, jolting Faith awake.

"You shouldn't be here."

"Why, you expecting your girlfriend?" Grumbling, Faith rolled over, snuggling down.

Buffy kicked the cot again. "No, but your boyfriend is expecting you. Now."

"He'll wait five minutes."

"Come on, Faith! You're supposed to be picking me up in a couple of hours. And I won't be happy if you're late."

Faith pulled herself groggily into a sitting position. "You're really high maintenance - you know that?"

Buffy laughed. "Yeah, well, if you didn't have a bit on the side, you wouldn't have to leave, would you?"

Faith looked up at her with a bleary grin. "Did you just call Troy my 'bit on the side'?"

"Well I'm sure as heck not. Get up, get dressed, get going. Before he can get pissed off with you and cancels our night out."

"Fine." Faith stood and grabbed her clothes.

"Do Gods have super-powered noses like Vampires?" Buffy asked, peeking out at the bright day behind the t-shirt they were using for a curtain.

"Can you be less random when I've just woken up?"

"I wasn't being random."

Faith paused in the act of dressing and then with a nod of understanding dropped her jeans again and stepped out of them.

"I'm just gonna take a quick shower."

"Make it very quick!" Buffy called after her as she ambled off.

Once Faith was out of the room, she allowed herself to smile. This might be the closest she ever came to domestic bliss with Faith and, strange as it was, she was kinda enjoying it.

They'd even nested, sort of. Deciding against furnishing the place, because it wasn't worth it for a week and half, little home comforts had still crept in. There was a beach towel laid out beside the camp-bed for a rug, there was a bean bag chair and a blow up chair in the living room - Faith wasn't allowed to use the blow up chair in case she popped it with a cigarette, but she was still in it every time Buffy entered the room - and there were three lots of photo booth strips of the two of them stuck to the wall with Bluetak - one in the living room and two in the bedroom.

It was still pretty bare but felt lived in now, even after just two days, and Buffy knew she was going to feel a pang when it came time to leave it. It was their first home together.

Chuckling, she pulled on her clothes. She couldn't linger here much longer today either. Dawn thought she was at the Council building - interviewing a Slayer for Giles. The complete fabrication didn't guilt her much, but being late for taking Dawn out would.

With only her jeans on, she walked back into the bathroom to rinse her toothbrush and comb her hair through in the small mirror.

"That you?"

"Who else is it gonna be?" Buffy asked.

"Just checking." Faith stuck her head around the shower door. "Grab us a beer?"

"You're supposed to be gone!"

"I'll drink it while I'm drying off."

With a roll of her eyes, Buffy went to leave the bathroom.

"Hey!"

She turned back to the shower. "What?"

Faith tilted her head back, gesturing her over.

Buffy went. "What?"

A dripping arm went around her neck and wet lips met hers. Buffy reciprocated, but her mind was soon back on the clock.

"Great, now I have to dry off again. Hurry up." Smiling, she left for the kitchen.

It was still empty, but cleaner. Buffy had been tickled the whole time Faith was wielding the scrubbing brush, but she couldn't deny the results smelt better. The fridge was well-stocked too, but only with beer, soda and cold pizza.

Grabbing two beers, she walked back across the living room opening them. Faith was out of the shower, drying off with a towel and Buffy reached through the open door to hand her a beer before going to find her top. She pulled it on, switching her beer from hand to hand, as she went back into the bathroom.

"So do you know anything about where we're going tonight?"

"It's a club."

"That's a no then." She sipped from her bottle. "Does Troy mind taking us too?"

"Never said."

"Is he glad to be home?"

"Guess so."

"Did he have a nice time in Africa?"

Faith dropped her towel to the floor and shrugged as she picked her beer up from the toilet seat. "Dunno."

Buffy followed her back through to the bedroom. "Have you two even had a conversation since he got back?"

Faith smirked as she pulled on her clothes as fast as she could. "Not long ones."

Realizing why, Buffy rolled her eyes again, sneering a little.

Catching her expression, Faith rolled her own. "Oh, like you ain't gonna be boning Tone for twenty-four hours straight when you see her again."

Buffy blushed and used putting her shoes on as an excuse to turn away.

"Is what it is, B."

"I know," she said quietly. To change the subject, she asked another question. "Did I hear Andrew right when he said Troy had fixed him up?"

Faith grinned. "Yeah. Dunno what that's about. Troy's on some mission to make him a man tonight."

"Why though?"

"Got me." Faith grabbed her beer and drank half of it down. "Troy seems to think they bonded before he went away. Ya know he's asked him to be a, whatjacallit, an usher? At the ceremony."

"Yeah, he mentioned that." Buffy didn't think that was so strange, but getting him laid... that was strange. "This girl, she's... not that I care that much about Andrew, but she's not like a... hooker, is she?"

Faith laughed. "No, B. She's just a girl, actually it's two girls. Troy's giving him a choice."

"What?!"

"Relax. It's on the level. It's just a couple of friends who are gonna escort him to the club. If either of them like him, he gets lucky, if not... he can still tell everyone he took two chicks out at the same time."

"Okay." Buffy was ready now, but Faith had to leave first, so she sat on the bed while she waited.

"They're gonna pick him up an hour after we come to get you, so he feels special, ya know?" Faith grinned as she dried her hair with one hand and drank her beer with the other.

"Troy sent over a tux."

"Yeah, it's for the wedding, but seeing as it's brand new Troy figured he might wanna break it in."

Buffy nodded. She didn't know why she suddenly felt protective of Andrew. Maybe it was just natural after living in close quarters for a couple of months. Whatever the reason she didn't like the idea of Troy screwing with him, but couldn't really see how setting Andrew up with a couple of hot chicks could be a bad thing.

"Okay, you ready?" she asked.

"Nearly." Faith sat down next to her. "Just two things left to do." She dragged her boots out from under the bed and held one up. "These and..." she started to pull it on, leaning over to whisper against Buffy's lips at the same time. "...this."

Buffy kissed her back with her eyes open so she wouldn't get carried away; also it was funny seeing Faith trying to lace her boots at the same time.

Once they were both on and tied, Faith tried pushing Buffy back onto the bed, but she exerted her own pressure and stood, dragging Faith with her, still kissing her to smother any complaints.

She kept it up as she pushed her all the way to the front door. Finally breaking away with a triumphant grin. "Okay. See you later."

Faith was breathing heavy as she shook her head. "Nuh-uh, after that we gotta go back to the bedroom."

Buffy evaded her attempted kiss-lunge and pulled the door open. "Go!"

"Sure? Ya know I'm going away tomorrow. This'll be your last chance 'til Monday."

Buffy looked into her sparkling eyes, hesitating despite herself, but made the mistake of looking at her watch instead of going with the moment.

"Yes, I'm sure. Dawn'll be calling any second to see where I am. Either you go now or I'm going first."

"Fine. I'm going. Just remember you turned me down when you're pining for my body tomorrow." Faith shot her wink. "Wear something sexy tonight, alright?"

"For you, anything." Buffy promised, laughing as she shut the door after her.

*****

As Buffy walked from the bathroom to her bedroom, Dawn poked her head into the hallway. "Ten minutes."

"What?" Buffy stopped in her tracks. "I can't be running that late. Baby, what time is it?"

"It is... four-thirty in the morning."

Buffy's nose scrunched up in confusion. "Wow, I really am late."

Toni laughed on the other end of the phone. "Of course, I am in Japan."

"Oh, you're no help."

She stuck her head into Andrew's room to check out his digital alarm clock. Dawn had been right. Doing a three-sixty in the hallway, she tried to think what she had been about to do next before heading the way she'd been going in the first place.

"Five minutes!" Dawn called as she passed her door again.

"Stop it!" Buffy called back.

"Would this be easier if I were not on the phone?" Toni asked.

"No, I'm glad you called. I just need to put you on speakerphone while I finish dressing and the speakerphone thingy is in the living room," Buffy explained as she dashed into the master bedroom.

"So we will shout to one another?"

Buffy grabbed her clothes. "Nope. I'm getting dressing in the living room."

Andrew was slumped on the couch in front of the television with a quilted comforter and several open bags of chips covering him.

"Shouldn't you be getting ready?"

"I've got plenty of time," he said, still munching and watching.

"Okay, well do you think you could just give me five minutes in here alone?"

He stared mournfully at the TV for a moment, but then stood up, taking one of the bags with him. "I guess."

He left his mess behind so Buffy laid her clothes out on the armchair before fitting the phone into its stand. She pressed a button and then went back to the chair.

"Still with me?"

"Yes."

"Good." Buffy took off the robe and hastily donned her lacy new underwear - no going without tonight with Troy around. "So, not that I'm complaining about the surprise call, but why are you calling at four-thirty in the morning?"

"My flight was delayed and there is nothing else here to do."

Flight?

"You're going somewhere?"

"I, ah, yes. Did I not tell you?"

"No."

"Oh, well, I... One second, Buffy."

Buffy held still, listening for the sound of Toni kicking herself. There was nothing but rustling though. Her thoughts running wild over what her girlfriend might be hiding now, she put her dress on while she waited.

"I am sorry; I thought they were calling my flight. So where is Troy taking you all tonight?"

"I don't know yet. So where are you going?"

"Only to Kyoto. I am spending my last week in the new office before flying out to meet you."

"Really?"

"Yes. That is probably why I did not tell you. It is not very exciting."

"Okay." Buffy paused for a second before deciding to take a little risk. "Toni, if I was to say Eostre to you, what would you say back?"

The pause that came back was longer than hers. "I would say 'Are you not supposed to be in a hurry?'"

Buffy smiled. "I'm almost done. So that's all you'd say?"

There was a deep sigh through the little speaker. "She is a meddlesome spirit. Has she wronged you in some way?"

"I don't think so."

"Then you would be best to think no more of her."

"Not that easy though, is it, baby?"

This next pause was a long one and Toni sounded nervous when she finally spoke. "What do you know?"

"Probably more than you'd guess."

"Buffy, you are playing with fire."

Buffy shrugged even though she couldn't be seen. "I like fire. It's pretty."

"In that case... By the Gods I am going to regret this, but listen to me very carefully. Eostre can take you no further. You would do better to put your faith in Mapanos. It is his time now."

"And who's he when..." A knock at the door cut her off. "And that will be Faith and Troy. I'll leave you to think up another quick subject change while I let them in... seeing as you're so good at it."

"Buffy..."

"I can't hear you," Buffy called back playfully as she went to the door.

She didn't want to fight with Toni, but she was annoyed enough to be a little passive-aggressive over the telephone. She'd make it up to her once she'd opened the front door, but until then it wouldn't hurt the Italian to stew in her own devious juices.

"Hi guys." They were both standing there, looking like a matching set of gorgeous. "Come in, I'm this close to being ready."

"I am ready," Dawn announced from the other end of the room.

"Looking good, Little'n." Faith smiled at her.

The endearment was funny considering in the heels she was wearing Dawn was closer to Troy's height than Faith's. Her little sister looked stunning, and way too mature.

"Toni, you still there?"

"Yes."

"Troy and Faith are here."

"I gathered."

Ooh, someone sounded huffy. Maybe she'd stewed long enough.

"We're just gonna go put my make-up on."

"Who is?"

"We is," she said, taking the phone off of the speaker attachment. "Five minutes, I promise," she said to everyone else.

Neither Dawn nor Faith commented that she already looked like she had her make-up on and as she thankfully closed the bedroom door she spoke softly into the phone.

"We're alone now."

"I can not tell you anymore."

"Not asking you to. Although, if you wanted something to do on the flight, a detailed text on who this Mapanos is wouldn't go amiss."

Toni chuckled softly. "I am afraid I cannot. He will hear you though, if he chooses to."

Buffy's eyebrows went up but she didn't pursue it. Instead she found her shoes and sat on the edge of the bed. "So are you all set for next week?"

"Yes and no. My bags are already packed, I cannot wait to leave here, and I cannot wait to see you, but I have not yet written my speech."

"Your best man's speech?" Buffy looked up as her door opened.

It was Faith. Buffy shooed her away, but she came in anyway, closing the door softly behind her. Buffy shook her head hard, but that didn't make any difference either.

"Yes, I did not think it would be hard to write and yet when I sit with the pen in my hand I can think of nothing."

Faith wandered slowly to the bed and sat down close - very close - to her. Buffy shifted away; Faith just shifted too.

"Well, you... you've been really busy. I bet'll it'll come to you when you have a quiet moment..."

"You look so fuckable." Faith's hot whisper directly into her phoneless ear sent delicious shivers through Buffy.

She pushed her away, frowning and shaking her head again.

"...Do you have anything so far?"

"Nothing of high quality."

"I bet it's fine. Do you have it there? Let me hear it."

"Do you have time?"

"I'll make time."

Buffy winced at herself. She should have said no. She should be getting up and leaving the room. She should be doing anything that didn't give her more time in this situation. She avoided Faith's eyes - like that made this any better.

She could hear paper rustling on the other end of the phone. Hopefully it was masking the sound of Faith sucking on her neck. She tried pushing her away again but her efforts were even weaker than the last time.

"Are you ready?"

"Yes."

"I only have a few paragraphs."

"Gooood. I mean, uh, that's good, that you have a few paragraphs already."

As Toni read aloud, Buffy really did try her best to listen. It was hard, though, considering how she was now kissing Faith back. With a hand over the mouthpiece so no kissing sounds made it to Japan, she put her other arm around Faith and let herself be pushed back onto the bed.

She knew how cruel and unfair this was to Toni, and even if this wasn't enough to send her to hell she could probably count on some seriously bad karma in her future, but dammit, she couldn't help herself. It was Faith, and Faith was just... Faith!

She should probably try and be a little more coherent by the time Toni finished, which, she realized unhappily, had already happened. Pushing Faith away just as hard as was absolutely necessary, she sat back up again and uncovered the mouthpiece.

"Well, that sounds okay. It's a little..." she had no usable word because she hadn't really been listening, but Toni dutifully filled in the blank.

"Bland?"

"Well, I didn't like to say. You two have been best friends forever, right? Can't you just throw in a story about his rebellious youth for a little color? You know, like what he got up to at his two thousand and first birthday party? Or his eighteen hundredth? How long have you known him anyway?" Buffy babbled as she tried not to let her flusteredness carry over.

"Buffy, are you okay?"

No she wasn't, and the fact that Toni had just changed the subject again hadn't escaped her either. It actually helped focus her a little too and she pushed Faith away again and sat up straighter.

"I can't get my shoe on. Why won't you answer the question?"

Buffy's eyes went wide as Faith slipped off the bed to kneel by her feet, only relaxing when Faith simply picked up her shoe and slotted it onto a foot.

"I have known him for a very long time."

Faith, giving her a mischievous grin, mouthed 'Ask her how old she is' as she deftly buckled the shoe and picked up the other one.

She pondered the sense of that for a moment before giving a shrug. "How old are you, baby?"

Faith pinched her calf for the endearment and Buffy kicked her as she listened to the silence on the other end of the phone.

"Only we've been dating over six months now and I just realized I've never asked."

Eventually, Toni said frostily, "So why the sudden desire to know?"

"Because you're my girlfriend and I love you..." Faith pinched her harder and Buffy kicked her back harder. "...and I should have asked months ago, but I always assumed you were a couple of years younger than me. In fact you deliberately gave me that impression, but now I'm thinking I should have made you be a little more specific."

"I am older than you and younger than Troy. For anything more specific you will have to wait until I see you for I do not feel comfortable discussing this in an airport lounge."

Way older than her then. Buffy sighed. "Toni, for the record, I don't care how old you are. My first real boyfriend was nearly two hundred and fifty and I loved him more than anyone."

As Faith shrank back from her and nothing but even frostier silence greeted her ear, she sighed again. Way to piss off two girlfriends with one sentence.

Reaching forward, she ran a hand through Faith's hair, pulling her close again as she tried to reassure her with her eyes, while doing the same for Toni verbally.

"More than anyone until I met you, anyway."

"You mean until you met Faith."

"Both of you." Oops! ...but screw it. This was tricky and she was doing the best she could. "My point is your age isn't going to change the way I feel about you, okay? But I do think I have a right to know and I think, considering all the other secrets..." Faith looked up at her and Buffy mouthed 'Not now'. "...this should at least be something you share."

"When I see you," Toni said again. "I will tell you everything you want to know."

"Everything?"

She jumped as a hand slid up her thigh. Scowling at Faith she tried to push it away, but it wouldn't be budged so she settled for clamping her hand over it and keeping it still.

"Yes. I do not want to keep secrets from you anymore."

"Okay."

A hand slid up her other thigh now and she'd run out of hands to use as clamps. Her glare was met with a cocky smirk. She tried to squirm away, but the hand just squirmed with her.

"Will you do the same?"

Buffy glanced at Faith and then looked resolutely away. "I think you already know everything, but sure, if you have questions."

There was a few seconds of silence and then Toni sounded disappointed as she said, "You should probably be going now, si?"

"I have a few more minutes," Buffy said, hating herself but loving the feeling of Faith's fingers creeping ever higher up her thigh.

"Good girl," Faith muttered, and Buffy smacked her on the head. Faith just grinned at her.

"Buono. Have you had your final dress fitting yet?"

"Yep, I went up yesterday. Troy had one of his drivers take me. It was awesome. It looks awesome. Benedetta is awesome."

"Does it make you look very sexy?" Toni asked, her accent making it sound like a purr.

"Oh yeah, you're gonna wanna rip it right off me." Buffy grinned until fingernails circling over her lacy underwear made her have to bite back a moan.

"I cannot wait."

"Me neither."

"What are you wearing tonight?"

"Just a dress."

Faith's fingers slipped beneath the lace. Buffy tried closing her legs, but it was too late for that. She shifted a little on the bed, trying to work up the will to push Faith away or at least hang up the damn phone.

"Just a dress? What does it look like? How do you look wearing it?" Toni's voice dropped an octave. "What are you wearing under it?"

Oh no. No, no, no! She was not doing this. No! This was... this was... wrong, times a trillion... to the power of ten! She could not, would not... Oh God!

"Uh, it's lilac, you know, the color and, uh, it's sort of strappy and... and short and stuff and... and I look like... like... like..." The smooth, deep plunge of one finger unstuck her stammer. "Puh, purple!"

"'Scusie?" Toni was chuckling, that had to be a good sign.

"My underwear." Buffy gave up, resigning herself to this fate. "My panties are purple."

Faith lifted up her dress. "So they are," she murmured. Her grin couldn't actually get any bigger right now unless a coat hanger was employed.

She smacked Faith gently on the side of the head again before flopping backwards.

"What are you wearing?" she asked, figuring she might as well get in the spirit of the thing.

"Tracksuit pants, a sweater and a duffle coat."

Buffy chuckled. "Hot!"

Toni laughed. "I am sat in a cold airport!"

"So you won't tell me your age, but you have no problem talking dirty to me there."

"No, but I have not begun talking dirty yet."

"Must just be the sound of your voice then," she said, and she really wasn't lying.

"What does my voice make you do?"

"All sorts of things."

Toni's voice was noticeably lower. "And right now?"

Buffy lifted her head, watching as Faith shuffled closer on her knees. She'd never dropped her dress and now she pushed it up, baring her underwear. Faith removed her finger, drawing a soft moan from Buffy, and then pushed the panties to one side. She looked up, catching Buffy's eye, just before lowering her head.

"Right now?" she asked, dropping her head back down.

Right now she could think of a perfect way to turn this to her - and Toni's - advantage while at the same time punishing Faith for putting her in this situation. She probably shouldn't... but then she shouldn't be doing any of this.

"Right now, Toni, I'm imagining your tongue on me."

"Davvero?"

"Really... Toni..." She took a second to bask in what Faith was doing. "Yeah, you're tongue is all swirly around my... my clit and it feels so good. I love having your head between my legs... Toni. And now you're licking..."

Toni cut her off, sounding breathless herself. "Can you wait until I find a bathroom?"

No, Buffy really couldn't, but she was saved having to answer by knocking on her bedroom door.

"Are you coming?" Dawn shouted through.

"I'm trying!" Buffy shouted back and then clapped a hand over her mouth as she went red.

As Faith collapsed into silent giggles at her feet and Toni did the same in a Japanese airport, Buffy tried again.

"I mean, my shoe strap broke. I'm trying to fix it. I'll just be a sec."

Jumping up, she pushed Faith towards the door, but stopped her from going through it at the last minute.

"Toni, can you just hold on a minute?"

Covering the mouthpiece again, she spoke sternly to Faith. "I am so beyond mad at you right now." Faith grinned at her. "I mean it! That was way out of order," she added in a whisper.

"You'll live... and with me around, you might even enjoy doing it."

Buffy rolled her eyes and gave her a kiss. "I'm getting you back for this one day."

"You already did," Faith promised, pointing to the phone as she left.

Shaking her head, Buffy put the phone back to her ear. "So I guess you got the gist of that. I have to go."

"I understand. It was fun for a while, though, si?"

Buffy smiled. "Si. Can you call me tomorrow? Maybe find a bathroom first," she added suggestively.

Toni chuckled. "I will be busy for the weekend at the new office, but I will call you as soon as I am settled."

"Good enough. I better go. Safe flight."

"Have fun tonight, Buffy."

They said their goodbyes and Buffy hung up. Then she had to sit down on the bed and concentrate on her breathing to stop herself from freaking out. She'd done stupid things in her time, but that one had to take the cookie. Even forgetting for a second how betrayed Toni would feel, Troy had been in the other room waiting for them!

Feeling shaky and a little sick as the adrenaline rush took its pay, she got up and went to the mirror. A cleansing wipe took care of her smudged lipstick and she took a long swallow from the cold bottle of water on the side before putting more on. That made her feel a bit better. Grabbing her purse, she left the bedroom.

In the living room, Faith was in Troy's arms already. Andrew was back on the couch and Dawn was waiting by the door with an impatient look on her face.

"Is everything okay now?" Troy asked amiably when he spotted her.

Buffy smiled. "Yep, shall we go?"

*****

Buffy wasn't sure if she was avoiding Faith, or if Faith was avoiding her, but they'd barely spoken since walking into the club. Faith was dancing exclusively with Troy. Even when they weren't dancing she never left his side. She looked for all the world like the deliriously happy, monogamous fiancée she was supposed to be.

Buffy didn't mind, it was probably a good idea to keep their distance when Troy was around anyway seeing as they couldn't seem to keep their hands off of each other when he wasn't.

So she danced with her back to Faith. Laughing with Dawn and Serena as they pretended to waltz to the fast Europop blaring through the speakers, frowning slightly as she felt several of Troy's demon staff melting in and out of the background of hundreds of clubbers, and thinking more about Toni than her own dance moves.

The demons, despite their suspicious behavior and pale, wrinkly look, didn't seem dangerous. They were just there. Maybe watching Troy's back while he had a good time, or maybe just there to run out and get him a latte if he fancied one. Who knew? The clubbers ignored them and Buffy tried to as well, but whenever she caught one out of the corner of her eye she watched him until he blended back in with the crowd again. Every now and then one would turn and give her a cocky little wave - letting her know they knew she was watching.

Happy enough that she was aware of them and they knew that, she was mostly letting her mind wander on her conversation with Toni. She'd been serious when she'd said Toni's age didn't matter but after having time to think about it, she realized it wasn't quite as cut and dry as that.

It really didn't matter if Toni was going on a thousand; she still had the body and attitude of a twenty-one year old. And so what if when Buffy looked forty Toni still only looked twenty-one? Men had younger wives and women had toyboys all the time. Age wasn't important. What was important was how come Toni was that old? What was she exactly?

It felt like a rude question to even consider, but given her life it wasn't really. The thing was, Toni didn't look or act demonic in any way. She had a heartbeat, she loved the sun and she didn't have any special powers that Buffy had noticed. Her only ever suspiciously odd attribute had been her friendship with Troy.

Buffy wished she had someone to talk this through with, to get a second opinion, but there wasn't anyone. Serena might know, but while they were getting along okay tonight she didn't know her know her. Even if she could come up with a way to throw a question about Toni's species into the shouted conversation between her and Dawn, it would be hard to make it sound polite and unassuming over the loud club music.

She could phone Willow and ask for more research to be done, but she'd been making her friends crazy over the whole Faith and Troy thing for months now and it didn't seem fair to put this on them too. Besides they would be busy this week - packing and getting the camp ready to survive while they were all away. They didn't need the added stress of research on top of that. Toni was her girlfriend; she should deal with this herself.

She could ask Troy. If there was anyone who could give her the inside scoop, it was him. Not that he would probably tell her anything. In fact, he was much more likely to deliberately mislead her for his own amusement.

He was her best hope though, she decided, and casually danced around until she was facing him. Maybe if she led with the fact that she loved Toni and just wanted to understand her better, he would be more accommodating. It would mean talking to him, though, and she felt even less comfortable doing that now than she ever had before. So far tonight she had avoided it more or less; did she really want to put herself into a position where a lengthy conversation might ensue?

He was totally focused on Faith right now anyway. The chances she could drag him away, or even get him to look away for long enough to hear her question were slim. Buffy felt jealousy burn her gut with the way they were wrapped around each other. They were dancing as fast as the music, but Buffy's traitorous brain had no trouble seeing it in slow motion, watching them writhe and grind against each other as if they were making love instead.

It occurred to her that Faith might even know. She had been the one prompting her to ask for Toni's age in the first place. Why would she have if she hadn't already known it was at odds to what Buffy believed - or wanted to believe at any rate? It was a distant thought, though, struggling to get through the green haze filling her brain, feeling as thick and real as the fog the smoke machine was pouring onto the dance floor.

This was the first time she'd had to see them together since making her decision to be with Faith. The first time she'd had the reality of her choice shoved in her face. She couldn't even blame Faith because she had known it would be like this. She had never decided if Eostre had had any help in convincing her Faith was worth the plunge, but even if she had, there had been plenty of chances to back out since. No, she had entered into this with her eyes open and she'd enjoyed all the pro's since; now she had to deal with the cons.

It was what it was.

Was this how Faith had felt listening to her on the phone with Toni? Buffy had just thought Faith wanted to mess with her, push her that extra few inches to see how she would react. Now all Buffy wanted to do was storm over there and pull the happy couple apart so she could be all over Faith herself. It was almost like a physical pull and if she hadn't been so caught up in her thoughts she would have realized she'd mostly stopped dancing as she stared at them.

She had been so annoyed with Faith at the time, but now she thought she got it. If it had hurt Faith half as much to hear her being all couply on the phone with Toni as this was hurting her, then boy, she got it.

Not that it made it right, because she wasn't going over there whispering dirty nothings in Faith's ear while they danced. She had to admit she would be though, if it wouldn't be such a dead giveaway.

Also, that some of her annoyance stemmed from just how much the scenario had turned her on wasn't helping. It had been hot. She wanted to deny it, but she couldn't deny how wet she had been even before Faith slipped between her knees. And she couldn't even pretend she felt that guilty about it. On some level, obviously, but on all the rest of the levels... not so much.

It wasn't like it had all been down to Faith after all. Buffy had spent months getting off just to the sound of Toni's voice. Toni and Faith at the same time had been her best fantasy for months. Realizing it had all but happened tonight actually made her feel giddy enough to smile into space.

Until a hot-breathed shout of: "Perve!" in her ear startled her.

"What? No! No, I..." Realizing it was Dawn, Buffy felt less flustered, more irritated. "Would you stop interrupting me tonight!"

"You're supposed to be dancing with me," Dawn shouted over the music. "But instead, you're staring at them like a horny teenager!"

"I was thinking about Toni," Buffy shouted back honestly.

"Yeah, right." Grinning, Dawn gave her arm a shake and reluctantly Buffy started dancing again. "Tell that to the drool puddle at your feet."

"I was!" she insisted. "I need to speak to Troy about her and I was just waiting for the right moment to cut in."

Dawn looked over at the closely entwined pair. "I somehow don't think that's going to be tonight."

Buffy followed her gaze, sighing. "Me neither."

Serena came back then with drinks for all of them and Buffy gladly took her beer, draining half of it immediately. It crossed her mind that not long ago she'd been more of a fruity cocktail kind of girl. Just one more thing that had changed about her since accepting Faith back into her life.

She smiled her thanks again at Serena and tried her best to get back into the dancing. The music was okay, fast and bouncy enough to lose control and work up a sweat, but she was still slightly facing Troy and Faith and try as she might she couldn't take her mind off of them, or Toni. A couple of track changes later her beer was finished and she just gave up.

Catching Dawn's arm, she shouted in her ear. "I'm going to the bathroom and then to the bar for refills. You okay?"

Dawn nodded without slowing down and Buffy gratefully escaped the busy dance floor for a while. She deliberately walked the long way around to avoid Faith, not wanting to look like she was trying to get her attention. She just needed a few minutes to cool off. Actually, no; she needed a few minutes to work this tension out so she could enjoy the rest of her evening not feeling like a horny teenager. Doing it in a club should have made her feel sullied, but desperate times and all that.

Thankfully there was hardly anyone in the brand new, pristine restroom. A few of the stalls were occupied and a couple of women were talking together at adjacent state-of-the-art hand-driers, but otherwise it was a tranquil oasis after the crowded club. Keeping her head down so she wouldn't meet anyone's gaze and feel embarrassed, she went straight to the furthest cubicle. She was breathing heavy already with anticipation and nerves as she entered and she almost shouted in dismay when something stopped the door from locking.

It didn't take long to realize what it was. Faith slipped silently through the narrow gap her pushing hand had created and then, with a finger to her lips, stood aside to let Buffy lock the door.

Buffy shook her head at first. This was crazy. This was crazier than Faith going down on her in the bedroom. At least then... her brain caught up with her, actually this wasn't as crazy as that. Still crazy though.

She clicked the lock shut and leaned against the door as she murmured, "Did anyone see you?"

"Wouldn't be here if they had," Faith murmured back. "Saw you looking at me."

Buffy just nodded. She'd probably been staring for a while. She hadn't noticed Faith noticing, but it wouldn't have taken x-ray vision.

"Made me hot."

"Thought Troy was doing that all on his own," Buffy muttered, not able to keep the sour tone from her voice.

Faith simply shushed her gently and moved closer. Unable to resist, Buffy pulled her the rest of the way by her dark blue vest.

Faith grinned. "Knew you'd want more of me."

It was Buffy's turn to shush her, but she was grinning too. "One for the road."

"Sounds good." Faith kissed her softly with one hand cupping her cheek, but pulled away after just seconds. "Screw this; we don't have time for slow and gentle."

"Good, don't want it anyway."

With two hands behind Faith's head Buffy crushed their lips back together and as soon as she was sure Faith knew she was serious, she dropped them to her waist. With one hand she pulled at the button of Faith's torn jeans while her other disappeared up the wife-beater. Faith had it easier, her dress being short enough to pose hardly any barrier at all, and Buffy sucked in a deep, happy breath through her nose as it was hiked up as high as her breasts and her panties were pushed down to her knees.

It wasn't long before she had Faith's jeans down to the same area and not for the first time did she appreciate the other woman's love of going commando. The door rattled, so without breaking the kiss, they shifted over until Buffy was leaning against the brick wall instead. Much better. Rougher on her half bared back, but less likely to call attention to the snuffly noises they were making as they both slid fluidly into third.

When she just couldn't kiss any more for a moment, Buffy pushed Faith's top further up, pulled her bra down to bare a nipple and used that to smother any suspicious noises. Faith, denied the same route, pressed her mouth to the top of Buffy's head, probably flattening her hair with the hot and increasingly fast gasps.

Faith suddenly raised her right leg as far as her jeans would allow and jerked against Buffy with a soft, "Uh-guh!" She tripped backwards as she lowered her leg and fell against the other side of the stall, but by the looks of the satisfied smile on her face, she wasn't bothered.

There was the half-formed thought, of 'That was fast', before Buffy looked down at her own lower half and glared at Faith.

"Uh, I don't think so," she muttered indignantly.

"Chill, Twinkie," Faith murmured, still with a big smile on her face. "Just give me a sec."

It was probably less than a second, certainly the glare hadn't had a chance to leave her face, before Faith was on her knees before her. Buffy squeaked helplessly as two fingers easily slid straight back up inside of her. Her head hit the bricks as she spread her legs wider and she had to cover her mouth with her arm as an eager mouth sucked on her in time with the fast pumping fingers.

It was a wonder she didn't draw blood when she came; as it was she was going to have a hard time explaining the teeth marks in her arm if anyone noticed them. She was breathing too loud, but she didn't really care right now as she stroked Faith's hair back from her forehead to meet her eyes.

Faith was still on her knees, still spreading her with one hand while the other eased the two fingers in and out of her at a gentler pace than before.

"We don't have time for slow and gentle, remember?" Buffy whispered, her breath still hitching at the attention down there.

"I know. Nearly done."

Faith closed the toilet lid with a bang that made them both freeze a little, but before Buffy could ask 'what the hell?' she had been pulled down to sit on it. As soon as she was splayed with legs either side, Faith dived back in.

"Oh fu...!" Buffy said aloud before clamping her other arm over her mouth.

In no time she could feel her pleasure reach its peak again. Her ass started lifting off the lid and she could feel the sounds she do desperately needed to make start seeping around the edges of her arm, but then as it really hit, Faith was up and over her, pulling her arm away and sucking in the squeal of pleasure as she kissed her.

When Faith finally pulled away to wipe her mouth, Buffy was a trembling mess atop the toilet. She had to wipe her mouth too; her lips covered in her own transferred wetness.

"That was risky," she murmured, her eyes still closed.

"Worth it though?"

She opened one eye to see Faith grinning at her, nodded, and then closed her eye again. She heard Faith pulling her jeans up again, but couldn't be bothered to move herself just yet.

"I'll go first. Give me a minute or two." Faith whispered.

Buffy swallowed thickly and nodded again. "Okay."

"I'm taking these, okay?"

Buffy nodded again. "Okay. Get drinks. I promised Dawn and Whatshername drinks. Tell 'em I stepped out to call Toni or something."

"No problem." Buffy finally opened her eyes as Faith leaned in to give her a swift kiss. "Two minutes, alright, then come out and we'll dance."

"Sure thing," she promised, her eyes still sparkling as she watched Faith leave the stall. "Oh, wow, that was good," she murmured to herself once she was alone.

She couldn't bask for long though, not with the door unlocked and her panties still around her ankles. She could always bask for another two minutes once those things were remedied. She sat forward reluctantly and reached out to flip the lock shut again and then she leant down for her panties.

Huh.

It was no surprise they'd come a little dislodged, so to speak, but they weren't around either ankle. They had probably fallen off completely when Faith had pulled her down. She looked around the floor. With a sinking heart she looked over every inch of the floor again. No panties.

Faith!

The two minute rule forgotten, Buffy stood and straightened her dress, pulling it down as far as it would go. Nowhere near far enough, but at least this dress wasn't as revealing as the one she had borrowed off of Dawn that time.

Half fuming and half amused, she clicked back the lock and let herself out of the cubicle. There were a few people in the restroom, but no one paid her any attention. As subtly as she could she scanned the floor in front of her in case she had accidentally kicked her underwear under the door. She even checked the stall next to hers. No luck. There was only one viable explanation.

Faith!

Buffy washed her hands and then threw water on her face and wiped it dry with a paper towel. By the time she'd reapplied her lipstick she was convinced that everyone in the room - all of three women - knew exactly what she had been doing and that she was sans underwear right now. Trying to push both fears down, she left the room. She needed a drink more than ever now.

Faith was once again in Troy's arms when she hit the dance floor, but they weren't dancing. Buffy stopped on the threshold for a moment, wondering if this meant trouble, but she soon realized it was because they were standing at one of the tables circling a pillar with Dawn and Serena.

Buffy casually sauntered over. Well, she tried, the drafts from the air-conditioning that circulated the room kept blowing up her dress making her saunter possibly less casual than she was going for. Once she reached them, she stayed on the other side of the pillar to Faith and apologized to Dawn for going AWOL for so long.

Faith leaned around the pillar to see her and shouted to be heard. "You get everything sorted?"

Buffy eyed her with a slight smile on her lips. "Not everything, no." Playing it cool, she added, "But Toni had to get on her plane, so..."

She stopped, mostly because she didn't know what else to add, but also because Troy had suddenly looked up sharply. It wasn't a Faith thing, he would have been looking at her sharply all along if it was; it had something to do with what she had just said. She moved her gaze to him, but didn't say anything.

It was hard to tell over the music but it looked as though he cleared his throat uncomfortably before he asked, "Toni is going somewhere?"

"Apparently; she's spending her last week in Kyoto."

Was it weird that she knew something about Toni that he didn't? She should probably just be thankful that he was focused on this and not her and Faith.

Troy said, "Ah." and handed her a beer.

Not knowing what to make of that, Buffy just accepted it with a smile.

As soon as Troy seemed engrossed in a conversation with Serena that Dawn was trying her best to keep up with, Buffy took a chance and sidled around the pillar - because surely, her not speaking to Faith all night was almost as obvious as her only speaking to Faith all night.

"Give them back!" she muttered into her girlfriend's ear.

Faith was staring resolutely ahead, her beer bottle resting on her smiling lips. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."

"Come on, Faith!" she whined. "The hem length of this dress barely meets the credentials of slut school! I need my..." she leaned into Faith's ear so she could drop her voice even lower. "... panties!"

Faith's smile grew as she turned her head towards her. "You're not wearing any panties, B? That's kind of naughty for you, ain't it?"

"I was wearing some and now I'm not!" Buffy snapped into her ear. "One guess where they ended up."

Faith shrugged. "I only took what you said I could."

"I didn't know what you were taking."

"I held them up in front of you. Not my fault you couldn't see straight."

"Actually, it was," Buffy said harshly, and then couldn't help but giggle.

Faith looked like she felt the same, but held it together. "Too bad. What's yours is mine, remember?" She leaned the other way to say something into Troy's ear, and then turning back, grabbed Buffy's wrist. "Come on, let's go dance."

"No, Faith, I can't dance like this!"

Not caring, Faith pulled her deep into the dancers, almost to the other side of the floor before spinning her around and letting her hand slide down to lightly grip her fingers. Buffy wasn't getting away then.

"This is a really bad idea."

"What?" Faith leaned in so Buffy's mouth was near her ear.

"I said this is a really bad idea!"

"We're just dancing, B. We used to do it even before we started fucking, remember?"

"Yes, but things are different now."

Faith grinned. "Yeah, now you're not wearing any panties."

With a deft flick of Faith's wrist, they were suddenly dancing a whole lot closer.

"Okay, I was wrong, this is the bad idea!"

"Would you relax! It's like dancing with a steel pole."

Disgruntled at the comment on her dancing, Buffy grumbled, "Well, whatever you do don't start grinding on me."

Looking out over Faith's shoulder, she tried to loosen up enough to dance normally and keep an eye out for Troy or his minions.

"You're the one grinding."

"Huh?" Buffy looked sidelong at Faith as her words registered. "You're thigh is between my legs. I feel like I'm riding a hobby horse! How else am I supposed to dance?"

Faith just laughed in her ear.

"And if we have a two minute rule, shouldn't we have, like, a two foot rule, too, or at least a two inch rule?"

Faith laughed again, her lips deliberately grazing Buffy's cheek as she pulled back a little.

"S'okay. Troy thinks you're all miserable and depressed because you're missing Toni and this is me cheering you up."

"Thank you, but I was fine. I was fine before you barged into my room earlier, I was fine before you barged into the bathroom earlier, I was even fine until... Faith, you're hand is on my ass!"

"Keep it down, Babe."

Buffy waited, but the grope apparently wasn't an accident because the hand was still there!

"I seriously doubt anyone can hear me, but they can sure as hell see your hand."

"Martians heard you, B." Frowning, Faith wiggled a finger in the offended ear.

Buffy just breathed a sigh of relief because it was the errant hand she'd raised. Her butt was once again grope-free. For about... fifteen seconds.

"And great, now it's under the dress." She closed her eyes as a warm palm moulded itself around a bare ass-cheek. Pulling back, she gave Faith a reproachful look. "We're gonna get caught."

"Stop worrying."

"Fine. If you don't care, I don't care."

"Good."

"Good. So I'm going to kiss you now."

Well, it made the hand go away. It made all of Faith go away. It looked like they were using a two foot rule after all.

"Oh, what? So you're allowed to push the boundaries, but I'm not."

"At least I was being subtle about it," Faith griped. "I'm not an idiot. We're dancing in this corner for a reason. Anyone tries to get between your ass and the walls, I'm gonna see them before they see my hand. You kissing me, on the other hand..."

"I was never going to do it." Buffy laughed as she pulled Faith closer to her. "But just so we're both relaxed with the dancing, you better keep those hands where I can see them."

"Being with you is just one big lesson in compromise, huh?"

Buffy allowed Faith to raise their hands high above their heads as they danced; and let herself go with it as she was twirled, but as Faith's arm dropped around her waist and pulled them snugly together, she had a definite 'DANGER DANGER' feeling.

"Look down."

Buffy did so and the hand that wasn't around her waist waved upwards at her; she knew what was coming next.

"Still see my hand?"

"Yes, Faith, but considering where it is, I really wish I couldn't."

"Well, if I move it up here..." Faith's hand slid up the inside of her thigh, pushing the dress with it.

"No, no, no! So not what I meant!"

Buffy turned quickly within the circle of Faith's arm. It trapped the hand between her legs and kept her dress rucked up too high to be decent, but Faith's body was a good barrier. After a sneaky touch that made Buffy bite her lip and blush, Faith pulled her hand from between them and gave her a little respite.

"You enjoy torturing me, don't you?"

"No, I enjoy touching you," Faith countered. "Thought you did too."

"You know I do. I enjoy being toucher and touchee, just not tonight." Buffy smiled and added. "At least, not anymore tonight."

They settled down into dancing casually together now. Still close, but no closer than they would have danced had they not been sleeping together. Close enough that a little lean forwards was all it took to hear each other speaking almost normally over the music.

"Because of Troy or because you're worried about getting caught?"

"Aren't they the same thing?"

Faith incorporated a shrug into her dancing. "Not to me."

"How do you mean?"

"I don't want Troy finding out 'cause I don't wanna hurt him or... or lose him. And I don't wanna get caught 'cause then, one way or another, this'll be over."

Buffy nodded. "Okay. Then why get so gropey out here in the open?"

"Because I don't wanna hurt or lose you either 'cause I ain't paying you enough attention..." she gave a shrug. "...or however it works."

"Don't worry; I know the score, Effie. He gets you in public, I get you in private." Buffy grinned; it was easy to be laid-back when she was the one dancing with her. "Or at least in restroom stalls that have a decent lock on them."

Faith waggled her eyebrows and slid a few important inches closer again.

"Yeah, well maybe I just wanna pay you more attention. Maybe I like paying you attention. Sometimes I just wanna give you all my attention." Faith kept her hands to herself but they were as good as nose to nose now, moving as one to the fast electronic beat. "Like... maybe I'm wishin' it was just you and me here tonight. Except not here. Somewhere a thousand miles away where no one knows us so I could give you all my attention, ya know, just you and me, now... later... always and forever and shit...and... shit..."

Faith trailed off and their eyes hung on each other. They didn't blink; Buffy was pretty sure neither of them even breathed for the minute it took her voice to start working again.

"Really?"

Faith stared at her for a moment longer, looking dazed and a little confused, but then she shook her head, willing herself out of it.

"Sure, sometimes." She smiled, but it wasn't real. "No one gets me caught up in fantasy land like you, B."

Buffy reached for her but grabbed empty air as Faith danced backwards out of reach; running a hand through her hair as she casually looked about the dance floor.

"Faith, it's okay, don't be like this."

Faith looked directly at her again. "Not bein' like nothin', babe. Just time to change partners is all." She pointed upwards to indicate a new song was just beginning. "Thanks for the dance."

Faith winked and was about to wind her way through the crowd, leaving Buffy in the middle of the floor alone.

"Faith!" She had to raise her voice if she wanted Faith to hear her now, but considering the way she was suddenly feeling, she had no problem with shouting.

Faith turned on the spot and shouted warmly back to her. "Chill, Chica. I'll catch up with ya for another dance in a little bit, alright? Just gotta go check the husband material is behavin' himself."

She winked again and then she was lost from sight. Buffy continued to stare after her for several moments; her hands going to her hips and a mix of disbelief and annoyance curling her mouth. Eventually she turned, throwing her hands up and shaking her head, her mouth working on words she was too stumped to utter. She couldn't even storm off the dance floor because her feet seemed rooted to the spot. This was it; Faith had finally pissed her off so much she had lost the ability to walk.

"Over-react much," she muttered, not sure if she was speaking about herself or Faith. "Fine," she continued under her breath. "You go, freak out all on your own. Never mind that what you just said nearly gave me heart failure too."

Buffy sighed heavily, not really sure what to do now. Did she go after Faith and make her admit that she'd just said what she'd said? Did she go after her and pretend like nothing had been said at all? Did she go after her and acknowledge that Faith had just said she wanted to be with her and only her... but let her off the hook with a smile and a casual quip such as... well, hopefully one would come to her if she needed it.

She didn't know, but clearly as all of her choices seemed to start with going after Faith, that was a good place to begin. So she did, or at least, she began to. She had barely pushed through the first line of clubbers when she found her. Or them. They were already dancing, already lost in each other's eyes, already completely oblivious to her. She probably could have jumped up and down behind Troy banging cymbals and blowing a trumpet and Faith wouldn't lift her head from the crook of his oh-so-manly shoulder to notice.

Buffy stared at them anyway with gritted teeth. 'Denial! You are so deep in denial, sister, your hair is wet! Do you really thinking acting all doe-eyed and squishy with him is gonna make you forget what you just said? Gonna make me forget what you just said? Oh, whatever!'

Buffy turned back around, dismissing Faith with a flick of her hand over her shoulder. She might have to live with it, but she didn't have to watch it. If Faith wanted to run scared because of a simple, heart-felt slip of the tongue then that was her deal. Buffy could find other ways to amuse herself. After all, she was footloose and panty-free right now... and she was pretty sure as soon as she started flaunting that - although not too literally, obviously - then Faith would soon start showing an interest again.

Looking around, she mused over her choices for a casual dance partner. Obviously her sister and Serena wouldn't do, not if the point was to make Faith pay attention. There were plenty of cute men in the club, plenty! Being another new place, once again only the young, pretty and ultra-fashionable had been invited. There were any number of studs on hand for usin' and abusin' that would make Faith lift her head from that stupidly broad shoulder. Unsurprisingly, none of them whet her appetite. It was alright for Faith, having her honey on hand. Where was Toni when she needed her?

'Oh, bad thought, bad thought, bad thought!'

As she mentally apologized profusely to her own honey for implying she was use-and-abusable, another thought occurred to her. Why was she limiting her eye-candy, and possibly dance-candy, to the unfairer sex? If she was all bi and proud of it now there was no reason not to take advantage of it, right?

As she looked around again, checking out the women now - who were all as stunning, if not more so, as the men - she had the slightly unsettling thought of 'If I instantly find a girl I'm attracted to in here, does that make me less bi and more...?''

She was saved from finishing that thought, or discovering whether it was even an issue, when she caught sight of two men - very familiar looking men - at the bar.

"What the...?"

She looked, almost self-consciously, around to make sure she hadn't suddenly been teleported elsewhere. The club was still there. Faith and Troy were still dancing over to her left, although they'd picked up the pace a little now - their moves fluidly in tune with the music and looking like sex again.

Looking back to the bar, the two men - if you could call them that - were still there; leaning over the bar as they spoke to the barmaid. She didn't know what was going on, what on earth might bring them here, but she gave a little chuckle as she shot Faith another look.

"Take that, Chica," she murmured to herself as she made her way to the bar. "I win."


Chapter Thirty 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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