It was a warm night for the end of October. Too nippy to forgo a light jacket, but pleasant all the same. There was a slight ground mist spreading itself over the camp's back garden and the smell of wood smoke was drifting in from somewhere.
It was almost enough to make a man a tad homesick, so it was just as well there were so many distractions to take his mind from it.
Reece was standing just outside the back door with a cigarette while he waited for his Slayer to be ready for patrolling. He'd been assigned to Rona, much to his chagrin. It wasn't that she wasn't good - or beautiful for that matter - but she was bloody difficult when it all came down to it, not to mention a good friend of Dawn's.
Speaking of whom...
"According to Fen these parties are, like, the parties to end all parties, and Fen knows parties." Dawn chattered on, her nose wrinkling at the smell of the cigarette smoke. "So, did you want to go?"
"Hmm?" Rona was nowhere in sight, but Cici and Miranda were out in front of their dormitory, warming up with plenty of stretching; Reece smiled as he watched them.
"Do you want to come with me?" Dawn clarified, rolling her eyes. All Reece thought about sometimes was Watching and the freakin' Slayers.
She knew why he was being careful. After what had happened their first night together a couple of weeks ago, he didn't want Giles or Buffy thinking he was neglecting his duty to fool around with her. She respected that, totally, but did he have to be so dutiful when no one was around to see him?
"I know what you're thinking - it's a high school Halloween party, it has lame written all over it, but it might be kinda cool and I thought as it's your only official night of the year off," Dawn grinned. "It might be nice to spend it together."
Reece realized Dawn's chatter had stopped expectantly and tore his eyes away from Miranda's bum to focus on her. "I'm sorry, sweetheart?"
"No, I was listening. Halloween party tomorrow night; you want to show me off to all your school friends," he smiled at her. "I think we can arrange that."
"Really?" Dawn bounced on her toes a little.
"Of course, who else would I want to spend my night off with?" Flicking his cigarette away, he leaned in to give Dawn a small kiss on the lips. "I can't wait."
"Are you sure? I mean, I know you're not going to know anyone..."
"Well, here's an idea," Reece glanced over to where the Slayers were limbering up. "Why not ask the girls if they would like to join us? It's their night off too."
"That's a great idea!" Dawn bobbed up and down again, clapping her hands once before gripping his shoulders. "That way you won't feel all... left out or whatever, when I'm with my friends. Not that I'd let you feel left out," she added quickly, "But it never hurts to have a back up plan, right?"
"I think your back-up plan is perfect, Dawn," Reece smiled. "I can't expect you to stay glued to my side all night, and I'm sure the slayers will keep me well entertained when you're not."
"Cool! Oh, here comes Rona, you better go," Dawn pulled him down by his shoulders so she could give him a kiss goodbye, which he happily obliged her with. "I'll see you in the morning. Safe patrol!"
He smiled at her, catching her hand as he stepped back and giving it a quick kiss. "Goodnight."
Dawn stared at the back of his gorgeous head in glee for a few seconds, barely containing her excitement. This party was going to be so darn cool! She was going to have the best looking boyfriend there and she was going to look totally popular when she turned up with all the slayers too. Wiggling her fingers in front of her with anticipation, she rushed to her bedroom to phone Fen.
Reece walked across the back lawn in the twilight to where Rona was waiting impatiently for him - as if she hadn't just kept him waiting for twenty minutes. Miranda was stretching out her calf muscles, bent right over at the waist, gripping the backs of her own ankles. Her light sweater had ridden up and the black leggings she wore were taut over her backside.
Reece smirked, enjoying the view. "Nice form, Miranda,"
"Really? Thanks!" Miranda beamed at him - upside down and through her legs.
Reece chuckled as he walked on by, thinking this party could be very good fun indeed.
"Hey!" Willow greeted, surprised but pleased to walk into her newly decorated bedroom and find Kennedy already in there. "What'cha doing?"
Kennedy was on her knees in front of the bookcase neatly placing books on the shelves. Top shelf for Willow's books on magic, bottom shelf for Kennedy's books on rare martial arts, weapons and of course... her Playboys.
"Figured one of us had better put this stuff back," Kennedy waved at the books still littering the new blue carpet. "Besides it's been a week and the piles all over the place were starting to get on my nerves."
Willow knelt down next to her, "Ha; I knew if I just stayed out of the room enough, you'd crack first."
Kennedy chuckled, "As long as that's the only reason."
Willow gave a wry grin as she looked over to one corner, where a large, brand new, faux leather, pink dog bed had been placed. In the bed, with her stumpy legs hanging over one side and her head mostly obscured by a cheap blanket, lay Goorzar - fast asleep.
"Well, I admit, I was hoping she'd get accustomed to Faith's room and wouldn't want to follow us here, but... I suppose it's not like she's any real trouble."
"Thanks Willow," Kennedy smiled, leaning over to give her girlfriend a peck on the lips. "I know it's not ideal, but as soon as Andrew gets his own room she can sleep in there most of the time. I honestly never thought she'd get used to bunking with us that quickly."
"It's okay," Willow shrugged. "I don't mind, really, it's just a bit... well, there's kind of a privacy issue."
Kennedy laughed softly, going back to putting the books away. "Will, I told you! She doesn't care if you get undressed in front of her; she doesn't even understand the concept of getting undressed. You're wasting your inhibitions on a baby. You wouldn't be embarrassed getting undressed in front of a human baby, would you? It's no different just 'cause she's furry."
"I wasn't really talking about that, although, yes, I probably would feel embarrassed getting undressed in front of a baby, but I was talking more about, you know, other stuff." Willow smiled coquettishly.
"Oh." Kennedy smiled slightly as the message sank in. "That kind of privacy."
The touch of Willow's lips caused the same jolt of energy, the same explosion of heat, the same pleasant shiver of sensation all over her body as it always had, and Kennedy sat there amongst the books enjoying it all.
Willow's right arm went around Kennedy's back as she slumped sideways from her knees to her butt. Bracing her left arm the other side of Kennedy's thighs, she leaned into her lover as she kissed her, loving the way their bodies touched together in places.
It was the longest kiss they'd shared in two weeks, and Willow was prepared to do her damnedest to make it the most passionate too.
Gently she pushed forward; her arm around Kennedy's back ensuring a slow descent to the pristine carpet.
They were almost lying flat out on the floor - still kissing - when Kennedy abruptly pulled away. She stared into Willow's eyes for a moment, as if shocked that she'd come to be in such a position, and then she sat up again, staring at her knees.
Willow dropped the rest of the way to the floor, asking as causally as she could, "Is something wrong?"
"No, everything's fine." Kennedy shot her a quick smile as she stood up. "I just realized I'm running late, that's all."
Willow looked out of the window, noticing that darkness had indeed fallen. She couldn't argue with sacred duty, at least not if she wanted to win. Rolling on to her tummy, she looked up at Kennedy. The Slayer was standing in front of their full length mirror, brushing her hair.
Willow's brow creased in a light frown. "Those aren't very patrol-y clothes. Aren't you worried you'll get them ruined?"
Kennedy checked out her outfit in the mirror, taking a second to appreciate her own hotness in the new jeans and tight cerise baby-T. Slaying was a tough gig, but no one could deny it was good for your figure. She'd always kept in shape, but she'd never been this toned and healthy looking before.
"Not patrolling tonight," she answered, keeping her tone neutral and fussing with the front of her hair a little. "Vi asked if I wanted to catch a movie with her down at Lakeside."
Willow sat up slowly, her frown deepening, "Vi asked you?"
"Yep. We probably won't be late, but don't wait up if we are, okay? I know you and... you and..." After the second hesitation, Kennedy just changed the sentence. "You have an early start tomorrow."
Willow's face dropped altogether now. "If this is about..."
"It's not," Kennedy cut her off, holding out her hands to pull Willow up. When the witch was on her feet, Kennedy gave her a quick kiss. "I'll bring you back some Duds. See you."
Willow stared after her as Kennedy left the room, and then, heaving a big, disappointed sigh, turned to Goorzar's snoozing form.
"Guess it's just you and me, Girl..."
Willow hadn't even finished her sentence when the little demon sensed her Mommy had left the room. Throwing her blanket out of the bed, Goorzar scrambled to her big feet and scurried out of the bedroom in search of her.
Willow tried not to feel rejected by that as she sighed again and sat back down amongst the books scattered across the floor.
"Guess it's just me then... again."
Buffy looked up at the soft knock on her bedroom door with a smile and a roll of her eyes. Wow, she'd been back from patrol for a whole thirty minutes, this was like a new record.
She walked to the door and opened it wide, leaning on the frame to effectively block the way in.
"What kept you?" she grinned.
Faith grinned back, still dusty and disheveled from slaying. "Me and Ali met up with some Krano demons in the city; B, you missed a sweet time."
"You took Alison into the city?"
Faith preempted Buffy's displeasure. "Yeah, but hey, it was Ali's idea, so bust her ass about it, not mine."
"I'm sure you took a lot of convincing."
"Not really," Faith's tongue curled over her lower lip as she swept her eyes up and down Buffy's body, checking out the red checked shirt and the bare thigh below. "You ready for bed already, babe?"
"Yup. Early start in the morning."
"Good. I'm all for time-savin'." Faith stepped forward, aiming to get into the room.
Buffy, grinning, shifted in the doorway to hold her perimeter. "Not so fast, F."
"Not so fast?" Faith repeated, and it was her turn to roll her eyes. "Not so slow, B!"
Buffy laughed. "It's late...ish, and your bedroom's that way, remember?"
"B, perhaps you didn't hear me: There were Kranos! You know what they're like, right?"
"Sure," Buffy smiled. "Feisty hand-to-hand fighters. Able to pop in and out of our dimension as easily as we do the Hokey-Pokey so you never know which way to face. Get ya all riled up beyond reason and then pop out and never pop back. That the demons you're talking about?"
"That'd be them, yeah." Faith fidgeted on the threshold.
Buffy leaned closer, "Did you slay them?"
Faith shook her head, "Nah, I let Ali get some glory while keeping the rest of the bastards off of her. She got a couple, but then they realized they were getting beat and did what you said."
"So you got all the fight and none of the slay?"
Faith nodded. Her skin was flushed and her eyes were bright, and Buffy could practically hear the blood rushing through her veins... and she didn't need two guesses at which direction it was heading in.
"There is no way I'm letting you in here tonight, Faith." Buffy smirked, folding her arms. "No way."
Faith put her palms flat on the frame, one either side of the doorway, and leaned in.
"Come on, B, just five minutes."
"You always let me in for five minutes." Faith softly kissed her cheek.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed. "And then I spend the next hour trying to get you back out."
Faith chuckled, "Yeah, well, ya need a new method; obviously wrapping your legs around me while putting your tongue in my mouth isn't working." She kissed a little closer to Buffy's lips.
Buffy moved her face away, smiling gently. "I have a new method and it's working okay so far."
"Fine," Faith let go of the doorframe, straightening her tank top and brushing some invisible debris from her breasts. "If you don't wanna spend any quality time with me today, I'll just go to my room and... amuse myself."
"What'cha gonna do?"
Faith gave her a faintly amused look that said it all.
Buffy closed her eyes, smiling and shaking her head a little; really wishing she hadn't asked. When she opened her eyes again, Faith was backing down the hallway.
"Are you going without your goodnight kiss?"
Faith shrugged, "Thought that was what you wanted."
Buffy smiled and waggled her finger in a 'come here' gesture. As Faith complied, Buffy reached out an arm, grabbed the front of her red top and jerked her closer. They were kissing by the time Faith's chest was pressed to Buffy's own.
Buffy felt the doorframe biting into her back as Faith pushed her against it, and hands... there were hands rubbing up and down her sides - Faith's idea of being good; she had no idea what the innocent touch did to Buffy - they were accidentally tugging her nightshirt up an inch every time until she could feel a draught on her ass.
"We're still in the corridor," Buffy murmured between kisses, nearly breathless from Faith's lips.
"I'm not allowed in," Faith murmured back.
"I guess five minutes won't hurt."
Buffy used her body to push Faith into her room, reaching back blindly to shove the door shut so that their lips could keep in contact on the long voyage to the bed. They stumbled their way there, hitting it side on together and tumbling on top of the comforter.
They lay on their sides, kissing with apparently no need for air for well over the five minutes. Buffy couldn't help it. How could she keep an eye on the time when she had these perfect smooth soft lips pressing and teasing and challenging her own? Faith's lips made her lips strive to be better lips. How could she care about curfews when she had this amazingly nimble and wonderfully lively tongue playing so well with her own? Faith's tongue was a pro, her mouth was the Super bowl and Buffy's tongue was riding hers all the way to the big game.
Buffy's leg wanted a shot at the glory too; creeping up and over Faith's thigh. It wasn't a conscious move, her thigh had a mind of its own and it exercised its free will every time she was kissing Faith while lying down.
Of course, as soon as Buffy's leg started acting up - all of Faith started acting up.
She rolled Buffy beneath her, struggling out her new jacket at the same time. Turned out this was impossible lying down, or, just impossible while lying down and kissing. Faith pushed herself to her knees to shed the restricting denim quicker.
"What are you doing?" Buffy chuckled.
"Uh, taking off my coat."
"Well... 'cause we're making out."
"And you need to take your coat off to do that?"
Faith laughed at her. "B, I'm just getting comfortable!"
"I can see that, F." Buffy stopped Faith from lying back down with a hand on her chest. "A bit too comfortable."
"It's a coat! I'm hardly stripping naked. And besides, you're lyin' here in just a shirt and..." She flicked the hem up too fast for Buffy to stop her and her eyes went wide. "...just a shirt."
Buffy blushed hard and pulled the big shirt down again to cover the nakedness beneath. "Okay, make out's over."
"Aw, babe, don't be like that," Faith, grinning, lay down close to Buffy. "I'll put my coat back on if ya like?"
"Faith, no, you have to..." Buffy began, her voice stern. She paused when she saw Faith's eyes slide away, frustrated and annoyed. "I'm sorry, okay. I'm just... not there yet."
"You seem pretty there when I'm kissing you," Faith muttered sullenly. "Your leg seems pretty there when it's wrapping around me."
"That's because..." Buffy paused again, stuck for the best way to explain until she remembered this was Faith, and that blunt truth was always the best way to go when it came to sex. "Faith, that's because my lips are ready, and my leg is ready - both of them in fact - and... there are other... more intimate... parts of my body that are ready." Okay so there was blunt truth and there was her ability to speak blunt language, and the two didn't always mesh well. "I think the majority of my body has been ready and waiting for you since before I even realized it, but... there are other parts that need a little more time."
Faith had stayed silent, her smile coming back and growing as the speech went on. When Buffy finished, the smile wasn't overjoyed, but Faith didn't look away as she said, "Let me guess, this part and this part." She pointed to Buffy's heart and then her head.
"Yeah," Buffy said softly. "I can't help it. It's only been two weeks and we haven't really progressed a whole lot, have we? We still haven't even had a proper conversation yet. I mean, the only times we really see each other is at breakfast and when you come to say goodnight."
"I told you I had a lotta stuff to do!" Faith said, exasperated. "Xander's had me working non-stop. Decorating Willow and Ken's room, plastering ceilings and tiling the damn shower block. And you haven't exactly been available much. If you're not training the slayer-kids with Kennedy or training the Watcher-kids with Giles, you're off doing whatever the hell it is you do with Red. And now Giles has me acting as Alison's Watcher my evenings are booked too..." She rolled onto her back to stare up at the ceiling. "Why the hell he wants me doing that, I'll never get."
"He was impressed with the way you handled that Slayer in prison." Buffy rolled to her side and supported herself on her elbow so she could look at Faith.
"Her name's Janey," Faith reminded her sharply.
"Right," Buffy nodded.
Faith sighed. "Believe me, Buffy, if I could spend every freakin' minute of the day with you, I would, but between Xander, Giles and Devenrowe, I don't get a freakin' minute."
"I know, it's okay," Buffy said gently.
"Well, obviously it's not, because you can barely stand to kiss me for more than a minute at a time right now."
"Oh, I can stand to kiss you forever, Faith," Buffy smirked, "It's just that it only takes a minute before you start seriously turning me on and then..." It was her turn to sigh deeply.
Faith turned her head to look up at Buffy, raising an eyebrow. "And that's not a good thing?"
"Good, yes; wise, not yet."
"So what the hell are we going to do about it? Because I'm going crazy here, and you know where that leads."
Despite Faith's serious tone, Buffy chuckled. "I think you're exaggerating, but if you're really worried, I'll cut a deal with you. If you find yourself about to..."
"Go evil and kill someone?" Faith offered.
"Yeah, if you think you're in any danger of that, come tell me and I'll do you right there and then," Buffy grinned.
Faith's face went slack for a second, and then she fixed Buffy with the old crazy eyes, as best as she could remember how they went anyway. Keeping her voice low, and trying to inject some menace, she asked, "You got any big, sharp knives in here, B?"
"Yep, but you're not having any of them... Hey, look at that, I just found a way to keep the world safe without having sex with you," Buffy's grin grew as she leaned down to kiss Faith sweetly on the lips. "I always was good at improvising."
"Yeah you're shit hot, B," Faith grumbled. "Don't help our sitch though, does it?"
"Well," Buffy thought for a moment while she played with some strands of Faith's hair; after all, it wasn't as if she wasn't itching to get to 'ready' herself. "I guess I could always come and watch you swing a hammer sometime, and you could ask Xander for an hour off now and again to help me with the baby-slayers. That way we could spend some more time together."
"Sounds like a plan that could work," Faith nodded, reaching up to run a hand through Buffy's hair.
They smiled at each other, feeling more relaxed.
Slowly, Faith drew Buffy down for another kiss. Buffy didn't resist and Faith kept it as light and friendly... well, friendly wasn't really the right word; within seconds it was just plain hot again.
As Buffy pushed her tongue into Faith's mouth, the brunette did her best not to groan out loud, but when Buffy rolled onto her, one leg accidentally coming to rest between hers, Faith couldn't keep the noise behind her open lips. Buffy swallowed the aroused reverberation, feeling it fan her own excitement, and ignored the voice telling her it was a warning. She didn't want to keep pulling away.
Faith, spurred on by this, dragged her hand down the back of Buffy's night shirt until it landed on a loosely flannel covered ass. Much to her delight, even this didn't stop Buffy, but, apparently, the squeezing was touch too far.
"Okay," Buffy pulled back quickly, smiling and breathing heavy, but no longer within tongue range. "I think that concludes our kissage of this evening."
"You sure?" Faith asked hopefully.
"Totally," Buffy grinned. Losing her grin, she added, "Besides I have to be up at six to go to Columbus with Willow and Oz."
"Regretting offering to play chaperone?"
"Nope, just regretting I agreed to leave so early," Buffy chuckled, sitting up.
Faith sat up too. "Okay, I guess I better let you get your beauty sleep." Smiling at Buffy's pout, she checked. "S'only a day trip though, right? You'll be back tomorrow night?"
"Uh huh. My one official night off of the year? I'm not gonna miss that," Buffy promised. "I plan on sitting my butt in front of the Great Pumpkin and eating all the candy Giles is gonna buy."
"Giles buys candy?"
"Big bowl every year," Buffy nodded.
Faith nodded approvingly as she leaned in to give Buffy one last quick kiss. Scooting to the edge of the bed and standing up, she said, "Sweet, it's a date then."
Buffy made a soft 'hah' sound of amusement, "A date sounds nice."
Faith nodded as she backed towards the door, not willing to let Buffy out of sight until she had to close it behind her. "Night, babe."
"Sweet dreams," Buffy smiled, her eyes never leaving Faith's either.
They had the usual moment, where Faith had the door open but hadn't quite gone through it yet because Buffy's eyes were holding her in place; it would last a few moments and then Buffy's smile would turn to a grin and just before she could remind Faith what a door was actually for, Faith remembered for herself.
Shooting Buffy one last wink, Faith closed the door and was hit by a bolt of inspiration. She stopped dead on the landing as an imaginary light bulb flashed above her head a few times. Oh yeah, now there was a million watt idea - stupid it hadn't come to her before.
With a devilish grin, she went to her room.
Owen took a step back from his reflection in the antique mirror, grabbing the lapels of his velvet robe self-importantly and smiling at himself.
"Why hello, old chap. Has it really been a year?" Raising a thick white eyebrow, he patted his tummy judgmentally. "Evidently. Another year, another inch. Just as well they make these garments so generous."
Smiling again, he pinched the material at his shoulders, giving it a little shake to straighten out the creases in the deep hood.
The robe was made of thick blue velvet, the exact shade of the sky an hour before sunrise on the day of the summer solstice... as seen from a certain hill in Somerset. It was magnificent and very well-preserved.
Far better preserved than he, at any rate.
His hair was as thick and lustrous as it had been in his youth, but it was just so short these days. It should be long, reaching to his shoulders at least, and slightly curly - although he had to admit, the pure white of it was an improvement on the blonde locks he'd suffered with most of his life.
He rubbed his smooth chin with an elderly hand and sighed deeply - that wasn't right either. Especially for tomorrow night. His outfit really did look unfinished without a long, wispy white beard. Still, it was too late to grow one now.
His fingers ran down the velvet robe all the way to the cord belt, which he tightened a little before turning one way and then the other to check himself out from all sides. His nose wrinkled at the smell of mothballs wafting up, but at least they'd done their job. The robe's condition was as pristine as the day he'd received it.
He looked good; and although his years had instilled a modesty he'd never had when he was young, he couldn't help feeling he'd be the best dressed man at the party.
There were still two things missing however.
The nondescript loafers he wore to work made tiny taps as Owen crossed the black and white tiles of the large reception room.
He opened some finely painted wooden doors and peered into the coat closet. The soft blaze of light from the chandelier didn't penetrate far into the gloom of the cupboard, but he knew which hook to reach for by instinct - the one right at the very back - and carefully he removed his hat.
It was big, or tall, or maybe both. The brim was wide, and flopped in wet weather, and the point was high. A dent in one side caused the point to stick out oddly, but a flick of his finger against the stiff blue material popped it back into form. He should keep it in a hat box really, but they didn't make hat boxes this shape.
Closing the cupboards doors, he carried the hat back to the mirror and set it carefully on his head. He had to adjust its angle a few times, and run his fingers around the brim to uncurl it, but soon it was looking as good as new.
He nodded to himself in the mirror and then walked through to the elaborate rococo-style drawing room.
He'd set a big fire burning in here when he'd returned from work and now - with the robes and the hat on - it felt far too warm. He pulled at the gathered cloth beneath his chin as he retrieved his boots from in front of the iron grate.
Perhaps he would go without the roaring fire tomorrow. If it felt hot to him now, it would be unbearable with so many more bodies in here for the party, and some of his guests - Ptah, for example - would be wearing even more layers than he.
Owen perched on the edge of his chaise-lounge, kicked off his loafers and pulled the bottom of his robe up over his increasingly knobbly knees so that he could see his feet. The boots - black, with hobnailed soles, but pleasingly velvet all the way up to his calf - felt strange and a little tight after the comfortable modern shoes. He wiggled his feet, getting used to them again, as he fiddled with the curly toes.
Back out into the grand reception hall, Owen walked with a dignified, confident stride.
By the heavy oak front door was a stand designed to look like a long brass snake balancing on the tip of its tail, winding its way around the long length of time-polished wood it held. Owen pulled the staff out of the stand and its thud on the tiles accompanied his every second step as he walked back to the mirror.
Robe, hat, shoes and staff, Owen smiled at his reflection in the mirror. As the much younger generation would say: he was ready to party.
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