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


PART ELEVEN: 2nd to 5th October 2004

Chapter Nine: Hard To Know What's Wrong or Right

Buffy was dancing with Faith. Willow and Kennedy were also there. Dawn was jiggling around beside them a little more drunkenly than Buffy was happy about. They were at least a foot apart. But it was still very clear that she was dancing with Faith.

Except apparently to Faith. A hand waved up and down very close to her nose, making her pull her head back.


"You're spacing out on me again!" Faith shouted over the music.


Buffy didn't bother to deny it and danced closer to make amends. Within seconds though her body was again left to get on with the dancing while her mind returned to Toni and the conversation they'd had outside earlier.

It had taken her completely by surprise and for once that wasn't down to naivety or lack of foresight. It was really fast. Wasn't it? Moving in with someone was a big deal and moving in with someone on another continent to the one you usually called home was a huge deal. Okay, Faith had done it, but Faith was the poster child for reckless and look where it had gotten her: marrying someone tomorrow she didn't one hundred per cent want to be with anymore. So she was not freaking out for no reason here.

What was kinda freaking her out more was the fact that the idea wasn't freaking her out all that much. Oh, there was definitely a high level of freaking going on but that was like in just one part of her brain. There was a crowd of brain cells there, shouting and hollering that she was nuts to even consider such a thing; but they were cordoned off and there were bigger brain cells with riot shields keeping them vaguely under control while another set of higher functioning brain cells sat around a table, drinking tea and discussing things in a calm, rational manner.

She liked Rome. She loved Toni's apartment. More than once over the summer, usually after one of their long phone conversations, she had fantasized about actually living there with Toni instead of Dawn and Andrew. Of course she also fantasized about living there with Faith but that was never going to be more than it was. So where was the big? A place she loved, a woman she loved, in a romantic city... Why not just say yes?

On the other hand, she missed her real home, she missed America and more than that she really missed her friends, no, her family. Seeing them all the last few days had made her realize just how much and she really wasn't sure if she could handle living in a different country to them on any kind of permanent basis.

Plus it really, really was too damned fast, her riotous brain cells yelled.

She was lost in her own world again and startled when her arm was gripped tightly, pulling her in close to Faith's body.

"What?" she said again.

"Seriously, B, you're killing me here. Either dance with me or fuck off back to your little bitch and let me dance with someone else."


"I mean it. This was supposed to be our night and you've been distracted by her for nearly all of it!"

"You're the one who invited her!"

"Believe me, I know, 'cause I'm seriously starting to regret it. Now are ya gonna be here with me through choice or am I gonna have to kick her ass out to get your attention?"

Realizing that Faith had a point -- an unnecessarily rude point, but still -- Buffy gave herself a mental shake and tried to focus on the woman in front of her.

"I'm here with you, so chill, okay?" She took one of Faith's hands and entwined their fingers, raising them a little so it looked more like dancing than just holding hands. "What's got you so worked up anyway?"

"What do you think? You two. You were fuckin' ages out there after I came in; leaving me to deal with the shit she put me in! And don't think I don't know what you were doing out there."

Buffy smiled a little uncomfortably. "Trust me; you don't know what we were doing out there."

"Yeah, your face tells it all, babe. Toni playing her sick little games with me got you wet. I can't blame ya for taking advantage of it but ya coulda waited until you went home to fuck her."

She would have been offended if Faith hadn't been so totally off base, so she laughed instead. She was also detecting a little something in Faith's annoyed tone that spoke volumes above what she was actually saying.

"Oh my God, she really did turn you on!" she laughed delightedly.

"Fuck no!"

"Not even a little bit?"

"Only time I wanna touch Tone is with a fist, B. You know that."

"So just a little bit then?"


"Yeah, just a little bit," she answered herself, grinning. Seeing Faith's expression, she added. "Now you only want to touch me with a fist, don't you?"

"Thinking about it." Faith spun her around so they were dancing just a little away from the others. "So did you ask her about tonight? Or were you too busy out there pretending she was me?"

Despite Faith's more playful tone, Buffy sobered. "Yeah, I asked."


"She said yes."

"Really? No way, you're shitting me! No, really?"

She smiled at Faith's response. "Uh huh, but there was a condition."

"What condition?"

Buffy couldn't tell her the truth. Faith shouldn't have to deal with this at her party. At the very best it would bring her down; at the worst it might lead to a confrontation between her and Toni that none of them needed.

So she improvised for fun instead. "She said you have to agree to a threesome. You're cool with that, right?"

Faith actually stopped dancing. "Excuse me?"

She grinned. "You heard."

"So I have to have sex with her to spend the night with you?"

"Well, I don't really know how threesomes work. Maybe?"

Faith leered, "Okay, whatever."

"Ha, I knew it!" Buffy pointed at her, laughing.

Faith looked confused. "Knew what?"

"That she seduced you good earlier. You just didn't wanna admit it."

Arms locked around her waist as Faith moved much closer and started to dance again. "Never happened, B. I'm just prepared to take one for the team if it means I get you all to myself for the night."

"Yeah, right, of course."

"Fine, don't believe me." Faith smirked and released her until they were just dancing loosely in front of each other again. "So, my place tonight? Troy's staying up on Olympus so as long as we dodge Felacio on the way in, we're golden."

Buffy nodded but it didn't take her long to remember it wasn't as cut and dried as that. She'd never answered Toni's question earlier which meant she wasn't entirely sure she had the permission to stay over that Faith thought she was getting with one simple threesome - if threesomes were simple, she really had no idea. She kinda wanted to find out, but...focus! - a threesome that wasn't actually destined to happen, or at least Toni had no idea about. It made things more complicated than she wanted them to be right now but what could she do?

What she couldn't do was agree to live in Rome with Toni just because she wanted one night more with Faith. That would be stupid, not to mention completely wrong and asking for trouble a very short time down the line. She couldn't agree unless she really wanted to live with Toni.

Did she really want to live with Toni?

It wasn't the worse scenario in the world she could imagine, that was for sure, and if they'd ever talked about it before, maybe it wouldn't have come as such a shock to the system. It was all a little out of the blue though. One minute they were talking about her spending the night with Faith, the next Toni was asking her to make this big life-altering decision. It didn't take a genius to work out that it was Toni's insecurities that had spurred the question. But that wasn't a good reason to agree either.

"Hey, you went away again," Faith griped, snapping a finger under her nose.

Buffy pushed her hand down. "Yeah, sorry, I have to go away again. I need to speak to Toni. I'll see you in a minute."

She gave Faith a little wave as she left the dance floor and headed for Toni, who at the moment was thankfully sitting at their table alone. Toni smiled as she came over and pulled up a stool close to her chair. Buffy sat on it so that her knees were either side of Toni's and leaned in for a quick kiss.

"Okay, so we need to talk."

"Si. Have you made a decision yet?"

"No. It's just that it's pretty sudden, baby. I mean, have you been thinking about this for a while?"

"No, only since this afternoon."

"Okay." She laughed a little. "So what brought it on?"

"I like your friends, Buffy, very much, and I know they love you dearly, but... they know everything."

"They know even more now thanks to you."

"I know I should not have let my pettiness control my tongue but... everyone knowing our business does not bother me, I am proud to be your girlfriend. But everyone knowing of the business between the two of you as well... it is not a nice feeling for me."

"And that makes you think we should move in together?"

"I want to live with you because I love you. I want us to live in Rome because I think we will be able to build a stronger foundation for ourselves if your friends are not constantly comparing me to Faith behind my back."

Buffy saw Willow heading happily for the table and subtly shooed her away. Her friend looked hurt for a moment before realizing they were 'talking' and then grinned and wandered off in a completely different direction.

"They wouldn't do that."

"Perhaps not intentionally but I do believe it will happen all the same."

"So because of something that might possibly happen accidentally, I have to live thousands of miles away from my family?"

Toni shrugged. "You do not have to."

"But I can only stay with Faith tonight if I do." Buffy murmured, thinking aloud.

"Please, can you not forget about Faith for one minute? This is about us, Buffy. This is about us starting a new life together, just the two of us!"

Buffy caught her hands and leaned in a little. "I know that. And I want to start a new life with you. It's just that this is supposed to be Faith's night and..."

"Then make your decision and you can get back to her," Toni said a little too huffily for someone asking so much.

"I can't decide something like this so fast, Toni."

"That is a no?"

"No! It's an 'I need more time than none to think about it'. Moving in with you was something I thought about for our future, not something I imagined doing in two days time."

"You have truly thought about it?"

"Yes. Apparently more than you have," she added wryly. "But I need time to process and Rome is a long way from my family."

Toni nodded. "But you are considering it?"

Buffy smiled. "Why wouldn't I?"

She saw Toni's eyes dart to Faith who was still on the dance floor and rolled her own.

"Wouldn't that be a downside for you anyway? Won't Faith and Troy be moving back to Rome after their honeymoon?"

"According to Troy, Faith wishes to return to America in the near future."

"Ahh." Buffy sat back a little, a knowing smile on her lips.

"That is not why..." When Buffy just continued to give her the same 'I'm on to you' look Toni changed tack. "It is, you are right, another good reason for us to stay in Rome."

Chuckling, Buffy reminded her, "Rome wasn't my idea."

"But you agree it is not a bad one, given all the facts?" Toni gave her hands a firm enough pull that Buffy moved off of the stool onto her lap. "I could show you around my city."

Buffy settled herself comfortably astride Toni's thighs as she delivered the bad news. "Faith's already shown me."

"Ah, but not in the way it is meant to be seen. I will give you the true Italiano experience. It will be perfect. It will give us time to heal. It will...give me time to prove how sorry I am for my betrayal."

Buffy eyes dropped to one of the laces on Toni's top as her fingers played with the end of it.

"It will give you time to grieve," Toni added softly.

It took her a moment to look up again and meet Toni's worried eyes with a smile. "I'm not planning on doing any mourning so not necessary, but nice attempt at using my feelings for Faith to get what you want. Really, I'm impressed."

Toni sniffed, unapologetic. "She has to have some uses."

Buffy smiled over at Faith, now standing at the bar not-so-subtly watching them over the rim of her glass. "She does."

Toni looked over too, unimpressed. "I meant uses for me."

Buffy leaned in slowly, eyes still on Faith until the very last moment when, lips brushing over Toni's she breathed, "She does."

"You think your attraction to her has some..."

Buffy pressed her mouth to Toni's, shutting her up and proving her wrong all in one go. She concentrated on two things: the softness of Toni's lips and the image of Faith's naked body that she kept handy in her head for when she couldn't see the real thing. Almost at once Toni's tongue flicked over her bottom lip, begging to deepen the kiss. Buffy indulged her, rolling her tongue over Toni's before pulling back with a smirk.

"And that's how you use my feelings for Faith to get what you want," she said smugly.

"No, that was not you." Toni leaned into resume the kiss.

Buffy leaned back far enough to avoid it and quirked an eyebrow. "I'm sorry?"

Realizing what she had said, Toni quickly looked repentant. "No, innamorata, it is always you. It is this moment there are stronger emotions at play in this room and I am finding them quite delicious."

She again leaned in for a kiss; Buffy pushed her back with two fingers in the centre of her chest. "I'm not following."

"Faith; can you not feel her?"

Buffy turned briefly to see Faith again. "Not unless she's touching me. I don't have your freaky essence sensor thing. So what? She's jealous and that does it for you?" She was a little irritated by that for some reason.

"Not just jealous but so very exquisitely frustrated as well. She wants to be in my position so badly, both literally and metaphorically. She wants to be inches from you as I am, she wants to be able to look into your eyes as she tastes your lips; wants to feel you pressed to her like this, so close, so casually intimate, so... stimulating."

Buffy gulped. "Okay, now it's doing it for me."

She did her best to keep the following kiss respectable. They were still in a not very crowded bar after all, and if just Faith watching them was kind of a turn on, the thought of everyone else watching a full on display of what she was feeling right now, even kept within the confines of just a kiss, was not.

Toni didn't seem to have the same inhibitions; all that vodka she had drunk during the game had finally caught up with her. Either that or whatever boost she was getting from Faith's frustration was really strong, meaning Faith's frustration was really strong. She so didn't have a problem with that but she did have to keep pulling back from Toni to slow her down a little.

"You can really get all that just from the way she's looking at us?" she asked during one such breather.

"Her aura is a dark, broiling grey cloud; conflicted between lust, disappointment and anger. Trust me, she is very frustrated not to be able to do this."

Toni leaned in again until they were not quite kissing, her tongue flicking over Buffy's bottom lip and then her top, poking between them just enough to lick and tease her own tongue, trying to entice it come and play outside. It was hard to resist but a little sluttier than Buffy was comfortable with in public. She went with it for a few seconds anyway before drawing back to slyly glance at Faith for her reaction.

Unwanted desire and plain jealousy until Faith caught Buffy looking and then she turned around to face the bar.

"Lust?" Buffy asked absently, still watching Faith's back. "Not love?"

"I do not think so, no." Toni said evasively.

"Are you sure? You're not getting any feelings of love from her at all?"

Toni met her questioning eyes with a frown. She looked upset and Buffy didn't blame her, but considering who she was straddling and making with the slutty kisses with, it wouldn't kill Toni to give her an honest answer to such an important question.

Toni eventually nodded reluctantly. "Perhaps a little bit of love is present. The strongest feeling right now though is..." She kissed her again just as Faith turned back around with a fresh glass. Their lips lingered on one another's until Toni continued delightedly, "...ahh, her desire to rip my head from my shoulders."

"You sound kinda happy about that."

"Well, I would like to rip her head from her shoulders also and my head is far less detachable, so you see it is not a losing situation for me."

Buffy chuckled under her breath. "I don't want either of your heads ripped off."

"I promise you, my love, all I want to do is kiss you."

"Then let's stick with that."

She slid her arm around Toni's neck and mostly forgot about Faith's ever-present eyes for a minute or two, losing herself in her girlfriend's enticing proximity. Until a hand squeezing her boob startled her out of the moment, anyway, quickly followed by the crunching noise of a fist-crushed whiskey glass on the other side of the room.

Sighing, she leaned back enough to mutter, "Subtlety isn't really part of the whole Goddess package is it?"

Toni had a big grin on her face. "Now she really wishes to kill me."

"I'm not surprised!" Plucking the hand from her breast she let it drop to the side and then swung her leg off of Toni's lap. "And by winding her up that much you just forfeited your kissage time."

Giving her shoulder a quick squeeze, she left a disappointed Toni still seated and walked onto the dance floor, catching Faith around the waist with an arm as she was storming past to dish Toni out some serious pain.

She spun her around and pulled her in close. "Dance with me?"

"Oh, I'm gonna fuckin' dance with you." It might have been more romantic if Faith hadn't been straining her neck around to glare at Toni. Or not. "'Fact, I'm gonna take you over there and fuck you on top of her!"

"Faith, don't be so...!" Buffy smiled. "Actually, I'm okay with that." And now Faith was glaring at her. "I was joking!"

"Whatever. Bitch can do what she likes, I guess. Not like I have a right to complain or... yunno, get even." Faith leered and pulled them flush together.

Buffy gasped lightly at the sudden contact but smirked. "Oh yeah, and you're going to do what she did?" She lowered her voice to just above a whisper in Faith's ear. "You're going to kiss me, right here, in front of everyone? Planning on feeling me up too?"

Faith just stiffened in her arms, breath quickening. Buffy closed fingers gently around her wrist and held it up. To an onlooker it just looked like part of the dance but Faith's open palm was now only an inch from Buffy's breast. Her eyes were daring as Faith's were deep in a battle between desire and common sense.

Buffy let go of her wrist but the hand remained there, indecisive, for several seconds before falling back to Faith's side. Buffy exhaled deeply through her nose, disappointed if not surprised.

"I want to," Faith promised.

"Don't worry about it." Buffy laughed at herself. "Not like getting groped on the dance floor was my goal for the night anyway."

"Exactly." Faith made her eyebrows dance along with the rest of her. "Your goal is to get groped in my bed at the end of the night. And we better be right on track for that after what I just had to see."

"No one made you watch."

"Hard to miss."

Buffy waved a hand around at their partying friends. "Everyone else seemed to manage just fine."

"No one else has a vested interest." Faith looked around too. "'Cept Serena maybe."

The possible spy had warmed up through the course of the evening, joining in with the drinking and dancing and apparently enjoying herself. So perhaps she had just been shy in the beginning after all. Having said that, Buffy noticed she was watching them with a keen eye again from the other side of the dance floor.

She pretended not to notice as she turned back to Faith. "She wouldn't care if I was humping Toni on the table next to her but I swear I see her ears perk up every time we so much as look at each other."

"Think Tone'll run some more interference for us?" Faith asked.

"Doubt it." But Buffy looked around for her girlfriend anyway.

She was dancing with Melissa but sensed Buffy's need for her and looked over immediately. Buffy tried to signal that Serena was paying some unhealthy interest without giving too much away. She knew Toni understood; mostly by the way she smirked and shrugged. Buffy sent her a look of pleading puppy dog eyes.

"Throw in a pout."

Buffy grinned. "I don't wanna overplay my hand."

It took until the end of the song before Toni casually wandered over. "Si?"

Buffy rubbed a hand over her hip affectionately as Faith bristled beside her. She really had to learn a better attitude for asking favors.

"Uh, I know it's not your problem or anything but Serena's kinda... making me uncomfortable."

"I am sorry to hear that, il mia amore."

Toni's stance didn't scream 'Defender of Buffy'. If anything it screamed indifference.

Buffy frowned a little. "I was just wondering if...maybe... you could..."


"Um... Do your thing," she finished awkwardly.

"Now you wish for me to seduce Serena after all?"

"Not seduce! to her again."

"I would rather talk to you. We have a conversation to finish, no?"

"Yeah, and I have kicking your ass to finish," Faith said. "So how about you forget talking and I'll forget kicking."

Toni just laughed and held her hand out to Buffy. "I believe it is my dance anyway."

Buffy was torn. She sort of wanted to put off the end of their conversation for as long as possible, seeing as she still didn't know how it ended, but the song now playing was far too bump 'n grindy to enjoy with Faith anyway while Serena was watching.

She gave Faith an apologetic look as she took Toni's hand. Faith just threw a hand up, muttered "Whatever!" and stalked back to the bar. Buffy watched her go until Toni tugged her closer and slipped her arms low around her waist, pressing them together from the stomach down. It was nice but didn't feel as right as dancing with Faith had. She tried to block that thought before Toni could pick up on it and wrapped her arms around Toni's neck. Still, it took her to the first chorus to really get into the dance.

"Did I upset you?" Toni asked softly.

Buffy kissed her bare shoulder. "No, it's the sitch that's upsetting me and that's not your fault. Well," she amended, "not all your fault."

"Have you made a decision yet?"

"No...yes...I don't know," she said honestly. "I want to stay with Faith tonight, but not at the cost of making a big mistake with you."

Toni hesitated over saying, "And you think living with me would be a big mistake?"

"Oh, no!" Buffy slipped her hands to Toni's shoulders so she could lean back and look up at her properly. "That's not what I meant. Living with you gets a big A+ on the Buffy score card but I just don't think I want to live in Rome."

"I see."

"This has nothing to do with Faith."

"And yet you were happy to live in Rome for her and now you wish to return to America when she is."

"I wanted to go home before I knew Faith was heading back there and it doesn't matter anyway. I made a promise to you not to see her after the wedding and I still fully intend to keep that promise. For me as much as for you."


"Okay? You'll come back to the States with me?"

"Of course. I am disappointed now, but where you are I will be happy."

Buffy felt excited about it all of a sudden. She wrapped her arms a little tighter around Toni's neck, feeling the music more now.

"How about we have a two week vacation in Rome before we fly back to the States? I need to pack up Dawn and Andrew's stuff anyway and you can show me around your city properly," she offered generously, stretching up to kiss the corner of Toni's mouth. "And maybe we can go back for Christmas or something? Does your family celebrate Christmas? Well, whatever they celebrate I'm there if you want me to be. And when we get back home we'll..." she slowed down a little. "...start looking for somewhere for...uh...the two of us...soonish."

Toni nodded. "Troy will provide us with a house."


"No house?"

"No Troy. If we're doing this, he's not having anything to do with it."

"I understand your concerns, but property is not cheap, Buffy. I can sell some real estate in Rome for funds but that will take some time and I will need somewhere to stay."

"So you move in with us. My room's big enough and you already know about the slayer stuff so Giles can't argue about it...much."

"You would be okay with this?"

"Well, I'll have to check with him, because it's his house." That was her safety net, just in case she changed her mind later, but she didn't really think she would. "But as long as he's cool with it, so am I."

"Thank you." Toni smiled and kissed her.

Even as she was kissing back, Buffy was thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm moving in with Toni! Not like a vacation in Greece, but actual, real moving in with. We're going to share a bed every night. Have breakfast together every morning. Cook dinner together. Argue over the remote control. Fight for teeth-brushing space at the sink. Circle apartments together in the paper. Oh, God, I'm going to have to give her half my closet!' One last sneaky thought crept into her mind as their lips parted. 'I wish it was Faith.'

Instantly guilty, she buried her face in Toni's neck while she pushed that thought down hard and smacked it in the head a few times and then she looked back up with a bright smile. If Toni had sensed anything off in her it didn't show in her own beautiful smile.

Seeing it, Buffy felt her own smile become a little more real again. She loved Toni. Sure if things were different... but they weren't different, and she did love Toni. And this could be really good. She had never lived with anyone before so it would be a learning experience but she and Toni always had fun when the shadow of Faith wasn't hanging over them. Even when it was, as right now was proving.

She probably should go and find her again though. She kept telling everyone how this was Faith's night and she'd hardly spent any of the last hour of it with her. Although it hadn't been intentional she had her own theories for why. The sorrow of parting wasn't really all that sweet. She was trying to block out that this was their last night together and because of that she was acting as if it was just any other night. She'd probably regret it when it was too late to take it back but right now it was a coping mechanism that was working for her.

The song ended and another started with a slow, deep beat. As she kept her arms around Toni's neck, body pressing sexily against her as if in subconscious apology for her bad Faith thought, the opportunity for leaving and actually going to find Faith passed.

Strangely, Toni didn't seem to mind. She held Buffy to her, smiling, dropping a kiss onto her lips every few bars of the song but never lingering for more than a second or so. She knew Buffy well now, knew exactly how to keep her looking for more. In equal parts that excited and worried her. If someone with Toni's...skills... knew exactly which buttons to press every time, that could either lead to world of pleasure, or a world of the other thing. Whatever the other thing was, possibly torment.

Deciding to break the behavior before it could become a habit, Buffy let both of her hands slide up into Toni's hair and held her still as she leaned up to kiss her slowly and thoroughly. Toni's tongue dipped between her lips but withdrew almost at once as she became distracted. Buffy opened her eyes to see Toni glancing over her shoulder but then she came back, tongue sliding over hers again, distraction apparently forgotten and Buffy melted into the kiss.

Only a few seconds later a body pressed against her back. Guessing who it was, Buffy didn't break the kiss immediately and when she did it was a gradual process.

When she finally looked over her shoulder, Faith was grinning at her maniacally. "Figured it was time to get things started."

Uh-oh. She'd forgotten about her joke earlier.

"What things?" she tried.

Faith ignored that and handed her a shot. "Pre-appetizer."

"I think I've had enough."

"Yeah, well they ain't made enough in the world for me to do this easy, so deal with it."

"What is going on?" Toni hadn't objected to Faith being stuck like a postage stamp to Buffy's back yet and accepted her own shot readily enough, but she looked and sounded very confused.

Buffy pulled a distressed face. She couldn't explain with Faith's hips grinding against her ass to the music, pressing her more fully into Toni than she had been already.

"Either you'll figure it out in a minute or I'll tell you later."

She was about to down her shot when Faith stopped her.

"No, B, we're doing body-shots."


Faith chuckled and Toni grinned. Great! Wasn't she lucky to have two such experienced girlfriends?

"I know what they are! I'm just wondering how the three of us come into it." She looked around, spotting several friends on the dance floor with them. "And people can see, Faith!"

Sure the room was shadowy and the constantly flashing disco lights made everything a little bit hazy and indistinct but she could see her friends dancing around them. That meant they could see her, or all three of them to be more precise.

"I don't care," Faith growled in her ear as she held up a packet of salt from the restaurant and ripped a corner off with her teeth. "That's what you wanted, right?"

"I...?" Oh God, she was going to be responsible for getting all of them smited, wasn't she? She'd tried so hard to be good too. Okay, not that hard. "What are you going to do with that?"

Faith licked a finger and dragged it slowly from the side of Buffy's neck to a point just above where her top covered her breasts and then poured salt along the line.

"Hey!" Buffy snapped mildly, but she was sandwiched between their bodies and couldn't do more than verbally complain. It was hard to even do that much.

Faith ignored her anyway, licked her finger again and drew an identical line from the other side of her neck to the same point on her chest and repeated her salt-shaking.

"Now what are you...?" A wedge of lime stuck in her mouth - juicy side facing out - shut her up.

She could see that Toni's eyes were now firmly on Faith, over her shoulder, and she imagined Faith was looking back just as intently.

"Who goes first?" Toni asked, taking this all in stride.

"Well, it's my night," Faith began.

"But she is my girlfriend." Without any further discussion, Toni took the salt from her neck with one long, firm lick that made Buffy's hips dance a little more firmly against her and then downed her shot in a fluid movement. She looked into Buffy's eyes for a second before leaning in to gently bite the wedge of lime from between her lips.

Buffy was mesmerized - watching Toni suck at the lime without lifting her hands from holding firmly onto her hips - when she was startled out of the moment by Faith pushing another wedge of lime between her lips.

Here we go again, she thought, but it was hard to hate it. Faith's tongue traveled slowly from her neck down to her chest. She had to dip Buffy backwards a little to reach between her and Toni, making sure she licked up every last grain. She finished with a flourish, flicking her tongue into Buffy's cleavage, and Toni's breathing picked up but whether it was with anger or arousal Buffy couldn't tell in the highly charged moment. Faith poured her shot down her throat and then Buffy felt a firm but gentle hand tipping her head back and Faith was leaning towards the lime in her mouth. She licked the length of it first, her tongue traveling more across Buffy's upper lip than the fruit, before pressing her lips to Buffy's as she sucked the whole thing into her mouth.

Buffy felt like she was panting by the time Faith spit the rind onto the floor next to them. She looked to Toni. Her eyes were big, pupils dilated, and Buffy could feel her hot breath coming fast against her cheek. She leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on her parted lips before looking back at Faith, wondering what happened next.

What happened next was Faith handing her the packet of salt and a wedge of lime. She looked at them stupidly for a second and then back up to Faith and then Toni. Neither of them were saying anything. They were both just staring at her intently, hornily and slightly warily. She looked back down at the paraphernalia she had been given and to start with switched the lime to the same hand holding her shot. That was a start. But where to pour the salt? Two women, neither of which were giving her any clues, both just waiting to see what she would decide. This was torture.

She licked a finger slowly to buy time and then in a 'do or die' moment dragged it slowly across the upper swell of Toni's breast, pushed up as it was by her top, then sprinkled the last of the salt over it quickly. Turning quickly, she shoved the lime a little harder than she meant to between Faith's lips and then did her shot.

"You're supposed to..." Faith mumbled around the fruit.

"Shut up!" she insisted, spluttering at the taste of tequila.

She knew she'd got it in the wrong order, thanks to nerves, but embarrassment refused to let her admit it. She swiped her tongue across the top of Toni's breast and then twisted her neck around, butting foreheads with Faith as she took the lime from between her lips. She faced front again, eyes closed and sucking the lime for all it was worth to rid her mouth of the taste of salt.

As the song changed to another sexy track, she felt Faith laughing against her back as Toni plucked the wedge from between her lips and dropped it to the floor, replacing it with her lips.

She expected Faith to melt away again now they had done the shots. After all, Buffy had done a pretty good job of accidentally ruining the moment, hadn't she? So she was taken completely by surprise when lime-sticky, slightly parted lips touched to her damp neck, tongue flicking out to taste her hot skin. Buffy felt her knees go weak and if she wasn't being held up by Toni from the front and Faith from behind, she would have slid straight to the floor in a melty puddle.

She dragged her mouth from Toni's, letting their foreheads rest together as she tried to get her breath back and... well, relaxing was probably out of the question. Toni tried to pull her back into another kiss immediately but Buffy put a palm against her cheek, keeping her just a few millimeters out of reach.

"You two need to stop...before I don't let you stop."

"Stop what, B?" Faith breathed in her ear, loud enough that it carried to Toni. "Making you sweat? Making you... wet? Are you sure it's me you want to stop?"

Buffy turned her head to the side to see her out of the corner of her eye and wished she hadn't. Seeing her hot, dark eyes and glistening lips just made her want to let this continue unabated, or until she'd come anyway. Faith's hand sliding up from her waist to her breast and moulding around it only cemented what a good idea that was.

Her mouth dropped open at the sensation of Faith's palm rubbing the fabric of her top lightly over her hard nipple and for a second she couldn't swallow.

"No, don't," she panted. "Dance floor. People everywhere. It's a smiting waiting to..."

Toni thrust a hand roughly into her hair and pulled Buffy's mouth back to hers and that was the end of that sentence. Buffy gave up protesting. With Toni kissing her feverishly and Faith sucking delectably on the side of her neck, maybe smiting was the only way that something that felt this good could end. It felt hard here in the moment to imagine another second of her life ever topping this one.

And then she felt Toni prying Faith's hand forcibly from her breast and smiled against her lips as it brought her a little back down to earth. Faith fought back at first but eventually dropped her hand to the side of Buffy's thigh. She felt Toni relax a bit, apparently happy to let Faith's hips shimmy against her ass as long her hands kept to casual touching. If you could call any of this casual.

Buffy almost bit Toni's lip when Faith's next move proved to be anything but casual. She was torn between laughing at her audacity while ignoring it in the hope that Toni wouldn't notice, and slapping the hand away from creeping under her skirt, the slit in the side making it all too easy.

In the end it could have been the back of Faith's hand brushing Toni's thigh through the skirt, or the fact that Buffy couldn't help herself from breathing so fast and heavy into Toni's mouth she was in danger of giving her carbon dioxide poisoning, but something gave Faith away when her fingers were a mere inch from Buffy feeling them on her panties.

Toni stopped kissing her and turned to glare at Faith so fast Buffy fell forward into her neck.

"I will give you one warning." Toni's voice was a low, threatening growl that still managed to make itself perfectly clear over the music. "Remove your hand from my girlfriend."

"No, I don't think I want to." Faith's own glare and defiant tone were accompanied by her sliding her hand exactly where she wanted it.

Buffy gasped as a fingertip ran along the edge of her underwear and then again as Toni's arm shot out and she grabbed a fistful of the collar of Faith's shirt. Pulling her closer, she unwittingly just pulled her harder against Buffy's back. Faith's hand was rubbing over the front of her panties now. Able to feel it herself, it incensed Toni further but besides the shirt grabbing and the taunting it didn't seem about to go beyond an epic glaring match, their faces close over Buffy's shoulder as if they were about to fight teeth first... or kiss.

Oh, she wished she hadn't thought that, in the same way she wished Faith would stop touching her down there - the not really at all way. Except an annoying part of her knew it was the right thing to think so she had to give it at least a token thought. She watched the two of them as best as she could from the side, trying to catch her breath and not come just from the feel of them sandwiching her and the look they were giving each other.

She let her head loll back on Faith's shoulder, realizing this wasn't really about her anymore. Not in the sense it had been two minutes ago. They'd moved beyond fighting over whose turn it was to dance with her, or touch her as the case may be. This was about so much more than that now. She could tell by the set of Faith's jaw, the fire in Toni's eyes. They were staring each other down and Buffy got the impression she'd belong to the winner.

It was a ridiculous notion, even if she was inclined to be 'won' by either of them instead of making her own decision. It was long past time for any dueling to take place. Buffy knew exactly who she was going home with tonight and she knew exactly who she was going to be spending her foreseeable future and hopefully beyond with. As far as her mind was concerned, those answers were set in stone. No amount of staring all hot and dangerous at each other was going to change that.

Something over Toni's shoulder caught her eye and when she could force herself to focus us on it properly, it was like a cold shower. The dance floor was still all alternating flashing lights in the dim room but she couldn't miss Serena standing on the other side of the room, staring directly at the three of them triumphantly...cell phone in hand. Buffy panicked. She didn't know how long it had been since she'd finished her shot and this had become more than just another risque drinking game. A minute, maybe two? Not that long surely? It had all gotten a little blurry after Faith's hand had slipped through the slit in her skirt but she could still taste tequila strong on her tongue and if they'd been in this three-way clinch for much longer surely one of them would have ended up with a black eye or a bloody nose by now. Had Serena had time to dial yet? Had Troy had time to pick up? Had she told him anything yet?

With a hand on the far side of Toni's face, she tried to pull her away from staring at Faith as she leaned up to her ear.

"Serena's staring at us and talking on her phone and I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing. Toni, are you even listening to me?"

When Toni still wouldn't look away from Faith, and Faith wasn't helping matters either, Buffy tried to wriggle out from between them. She'd have to sort this out herself. It might not be as diplomatic as Toni's approach, but a swift kick to the head should bring an end to any conversation Serena might be having on the phone. If it turned out she was just calling her mother, Buffy could always apologize later.

If she had the chance. "That cute little pistol of hers, does she carry it everywhere?" she asked anyone who was listening, which didn't seem to include her girlfriends. "Never mind, I'm sure I'll figure it out when it's shooting me between my eyes!"

Her words were the wake up call Toni needed. Letting go of Faith's shirt collar, she swung a wild fist at her and Buffy felt Faith jump back out of the way. Toni shot her one last self-satisfied smirk over Buffy's shoulder.

Focusing on her finally, Toni smiled soothingly as she promised, "I will fix this. Wait here."

Heart hammering in her chest, Buffy watched her walk over to Serena and exchange a few words. Less than a minute later she was leading Serena onto the dance floor while sneakily pocketing the blonde's cell phone. Damn, she was good.

Faith made a vague moaning noise next to her. "Hang on a sec." Buffy couldn't take her eyes off of the dancing couple across the room. She knew Serena and Toni didn't get along. Toni was Troy's best friend and Serena was in charge of his apparently limitless army of demons and humans and the beings that fell between the two. She had it on good authority that they had been clashing over everything for centuries and now the cold, emotionless General was smiling like a love struck girl as Toni whispered sweet nothings in her ear. Buffy's fists clenched at her sides as she noticed just how close they were dancing too.

It was a vertical staggering motion to her side that finally drew her attention. Faith was floundering about trying to get to her feet while still half out of it. Buffy hadn't even realized the punch had connected, let alone that she'd gone down!

"What happened?" Faith asked as Buffy helped her to her feet. Once she was upright she added, "Was it that good for you too?"

"Better," Buffy chuckled truthfully. "Your nose is bleeding. You should go get cleaned up before it gets on your shirt."

"Yeah." Faith staggered off to the restrooms, still dazed.

Buffy turned back to Toni and Serena; they were still dancing mighty intimately. Closer than she and Faith had been dancing most of the night. Her jealousy was irrational, Toni was doing this for her and let's not forget where Faith's hand had been less than five minutes ago, she told herself. Still, she didn't like seeing them together. She couldn't believe Toni had punched Faith either. Okay, she could totally believe it considering she wanted to go and punch Serena for far less, but it had still been a completely over the top reaction to...Faith's hand between her legs? Okay maybe not. She should have just told Toni about her silly threesome joke to Faith; she might have been more reasonable then. Actually, again, maybe not.

She just had to face the facts - she had tried to have her cake and eat it too and it had gotten Faith punched. At least Faith hadn't retaliated; on account of being knocked out cold for a minute. Wow, Toni must really have quite a punch on her now. If Faith hadn't gone down they'd probably be throwing each other around the bar as aggressively and painfully as possible.

So maybe she could condone Toni's violent behavior due to extenuating circumstances but she should probably still go and apologize to Faith. If she hadn't mentioned Toni's fake threesome clause, Faith would never have started things rolling. Not that Toni had seemed to mind the shots and the dancing together until Faith had gotten a little too overconfident and handsy. So maybe they were both to blame. The upside to that theory meant she was in no way to blame whatsoever. Except for the big way of starting it all in the first place.

She sighed - her heart was still beating too fast, she was still so horny she was buzzing...and had Serena just kissed Toni? What the hell? Instead of storming over and beating the crap out of Serena, Buffy forced herself to re-evaluate. Toni was busy and Faith might need help cleaning up her tiny little nosebleed.

Coming to a decision, Buffy danced over to Willow and pulled her a little bit away from Kennedy and Dawn.

"I need a favor."

"I'm sure Faith can go to the bathroom by herself."

"I'm not going to the bathroom."

"Oh. Then what is it?"

Buffy nodded her head back over her shoulder. "When Toni stops slutting it up with the ice queen, keep her busy."

"Buffy," Willow said in her 'I only have a thread of patience left' tone.

"Ten minutes tops, Will," she pleaded. "Fifteen minutes. No, twenty minutes, that's all, just twenty minutes."

Willow sighed. "If you're not back here in twenty minutes I'm turning you both into baby elephants."

"Thanks, Will, you're the best."

Before Buffy could walk away, Willow caught her arm. "And then you have to dance with Toni, okay? Just Toni, without Faith, to make it up to her."

Buffy glanced over at her girlfriend. "If she can pry herself away from Serena for long enough I was already planning on it."

Then she was picking her handbag up from their table and heading as discreetly as possible for the corridor to the restrooms. She was looking in her bag for the key as Faith came furiously out of the door and they bumped into each other.

"I'm gonna kill her," Faith said without preamble, obviously either less amused by or more aware of what had sent her to the floor now.

Not worried --after all, she had an ace up her sleeve -- Buffy stayed in front of her, grinning mischievously.

"You could do that or..." She held up the key. " could come and see the stripper I got for you."

As Faith's eyes went wide and dazed all over again, Buffy took her hand and led her further up the corridor to the private room.

Chapter Ten

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Part Eleven 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

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