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Ritual

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Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is copyright and not created or owned by me. References to characters, episodes and all other intellectual property related to the show below are made for entertainment only and I do not profit from it in any way.

Note: For the purpose of this fic, Dawn is older than canon - a year younger than Faith. As far as the subject of the fic, essentially I wanted to take a standard trope usually used in PWP stories and take it seriously & flesh it out. That said, while there is plot, there will also be sex. Which leads to...

Warnings: British spelling, coarse language, sexual references, sex scenes, dub-con, rough sex, references to bdsm (although the last not described or explicit).

 

“The spell that was performed has some very serious ramifications.” Giles began, dreading the moment everyone understood what would be required.

“Like opening the mouth of hell.” Anya observed.

“Well...yes.” Giles glanced over at her. “The increase in demonic activity hasn't yet become overwhelming, but the more evil creatures that come through, the more will be able to come through, until we are looking at a mass incursion and all out war with full blooded demons ravaging the earth.”

There was a pause as everyone absorbed the information.

“You could just say apocalypse.” Xander protested, finally grasping what was being described.

“Indeed.” Giles refrained from getting frustrated, knowing the worst was yet to come. “The only way to prevent this is to close the hellmouth again, but the manner in which it was opened makes this somewhat difficult.”

“Come on Giles. Dumb it down for us. You're not saying impossible, so what's the what? Rocket launcher? A bit of ancient Sumerian and some power sharing? Or was Oz right all along and we'll need a whole lot of hummus?” Xander sat forward, trying to undermine the tension he felt coming off their former librarian in waves.

“We essentially have to reverse the spell used by the warlock who opened it. He merged the essences of a multitude in one vessel then performed a blood-letting ritual which functioned in the same way a mass-sacrifice would. To dumb it down, as Xander says – everyone who was present when the hellmouth was opened will have to likewise merge essences into a single vessel whose blood will then be used in a spell to close the gates to the underworld.”

“So what's the big?” Xander protested. “Merging essences, we got that covered! A bit of hand holding, memorising chunks of some ancient language, a few bad dreams the night after...”

“That was sharing power, that didn't affect your blood.” Anya contradicted casually. “The only way to do what Giles is describing is for everyone to have sex with the vessel in a Mage Circle to ensure the transition of essence.”

“Anya!” Willow looked scandalised. “You're obsessed! Not everything is about orgasms!”

“No, she's right.” Giles sighed. “That's exactly what I'm saying.” Anya shot a look of triumph over at Willow, who was far too shocked to notice.

“You want us to...I mean, we have to...” Xander floundered. “With Buffy? I mean...she's the vessel, right? The Slayer is always the THE thing. You know.”

They all turned and looked at the Slayer who was sitting a little stiffly. Finally she shrugged.

“Well...” she spoke up, eyes distant, “I guess it isn't any worse than being told about the prophecy with the Master.”

“Of course it's worse!” Joyce slapped a hand down on the table, causing everyone to jump slightly in surprise. “I may accept that my daughter is some kind of superhero, I may have accepted that it's up to her to go out and fight every night to keep other people safe. I may have accepted that there are demons out there trying to kill her, and I may have accepted that she regularly fights to stop the world from ending. But I will not accept that there is no choice for her but to have some sort of orgy to prevent an apocalypse!!” She shouted.

“Wow, guess I arrived just in time.” The voice came from the doorway into the front hall, and not a single person had heard Faith come in. Spinning to her in shock, everyone was far too highly strung to know how to react on the back of Giles' existing bad news.

“Faith. What are you doing here?” Buffy asked bitterly.

“Your very own Queen C had a vision. Apparently the world is ending and she told me my specific skills would be required to help stop it. I thought – maybe a drinking competition with the Big Bad? But fucking to prevent the apocalypse...guess that falls in my skill set, too.” She dropped a carry bag to the floor just inside the doorway.

“What makes you think we would trust you to help no matter what is needed?” Willow narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

“Like Momma Bear just said. Buffy's too good for that shit. She shouldn't have to dirty up her record. Me? Down and dirty is my M.O.”

“Faith, no...” Joyce shook her head. “No matter what's happened in the past, I wouldn't wish this on you any more than Buffy. It's just...my God, Mr Giles, surely there's another way to...what did you say? Exchange essences? I mean, how exactly is it achieved?”

“With an...” Giles cleared his throat as his cheeks suddenly flamed, but he left his glasses on and looked very serious, “...an exchange of fluids, as it were.”

“So there's a risk of pregnancy.” Joyce looked even more horrified.

“No, no.” Giles rushed to assure her. “That's one...er...good thing. The magicks at work are death magicks, not life magicks – it renders the participants infertile throughout the process and for a week afterward.”

“It's rape.” Tara contributed quietly but pensively.

“Hey now, don't be like that.” Faith held up her hands. “No rape in it, I'm agreeing now, alright? Don't get all dramatic on me.”

“Yes, but why are you agreeing? The law calls it duress – like if someone held you at gunpoint. You might agree, but only because the alternative is death. You may agree to this but only because the alternative is the apocalypse.” Tara explained her view, although didn't make eye contact with anybody at the table. There was a pause while everyone considered it.

“Well even if it is like that, it'd be the fuckin' Powers doing the raping, it's them holding the apocalypse over our head, right?” Faith argued.

“That's true.” Joyce spoke up unexpectedly, garnering everyone's attention. “It wouldn't just be Faith being...taken advantage of. There are many of us who wouldn't normally agree to the situation required if it weren't for the apocalypse.”

“Mom? What do you mean, there's no way you're getting involved in this.” Buffy protested looking appalled.

“I already am, Buffy. If what Mr Giles has said is true, everyone that was present when we cast the original closing spell would need to....partake.” She swallowed hard.

“Oh God.” Buffy spoke as she realised. “Dawn.”

“What? No fucking way, she's what, like twelve?” Faith stood up suddenly, her chair falling over from the violence of the action.

“I'm eighteen now, Faith. Only a year younger than you, remember?” Dawn's voice floated in from the hall, closely followed by the rest of her appearing in the doorway.

“Dawn! You're meant to be in your room!” Buffy protested in shock. Her sister just rolled her eyes.

“I heard when things started getting heated and came down to eavesdrop. Turns out it was a good idea.”

“Well that just seals the deal, then.” Faith ran a hand over her head, shifting nervously on her feet. “It's gotta be this slayer. Aint no way Buffy can do it with Joyce and Vampbait over there.” She tried not to think about the Dawn-factor, still completely uncomfortable with the idea of someone she had known since they were fourteen.

“Does it...have to be the same slayer, for everyone?” Willow asked hesitantly, looking at Giles.

“I'm afraid so. It must be a single vessel representing all of us, and it must be a slayer because the magical portion, once the sharing of essences is complete, would kill anyone else.” He explained, taking refuge in procedure and facts.

They all sat in silence, absorbing and considering, trying desperately to think of any other way.

“I'm so sorry Dawn. Mom.” Buffy finally spoke up.

“Not your fault.” Dawn shrugged.

“This is wrong.” Tara spoke up again. “No-one should...we can't just use Faith like this. I mean I know the circumstances aren't ideal for any of us but for most of us it's just the one unplanned partner. You're asking Faith to have sex with all of ten of us for God's sake!” Tara spoke with the most anger any of them had heard from her, and it wasn't just Willow who was watching close enough to see the Wiccan's hands tremble before she clutched them together.

“Maybe we could apply for a Guinness record.” Xander joked weakly. Faith snorted.

“Aint no record for me, even if it was all in one night. I guess this time I'd be sober – that's sort of new.” She shrugged. They all stared at her in varying states of disgust and sadness. “Oh hey, don't worry.” She noticed the looks but misinterpreted them. “I got a clean bill of health, lab report right here.” She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and waved it in the air before putting it on the table. “Y'all might want to get checked out though, not what I figure you mean when you say 'sharing is caring' right? Better safe than itchin'.” She joked, falling back on an old habit of distancing others when uncomfortable by trying to disgust or offend them.

“God, Faith, shut up.” Buffy put her head in her hands. “I'm sorry this is just...all too much."

Chapter Text

Please read warnings and disclaimers in Chapter 1

 

“It's actually kind of better than usual.” Faith disagreed with a shrug. Meeting the few eyes that would face her, she went on to explain. “Well, this time beating the end of the world won't kill us, right? Unless any of you got some kind of heart condition. Actually safer than usual, none of us gonna get decapitated or eviscerated or--”

“I get the point.” Buffy interrupted.

“Just keepin perspective.” Faith shrugged. “So is there some sort of timeline to all this, British? All in one night? All in one place? Do we gotta eat funky herbs before it or do it during the full moon or something?”

“Ah, no, no herbs.” Giles rubbed his forehead. “The uh...imbuing of the vessel with the essences of those who were present would have to take place within a circle formed through ingredients and incantation, but once the circle is present it will be absorbed by the vessel after the final essence is passed on. Once that is done there's no limit to how long we have to get the vessel to the hellmouth, but obviously we'd like to get it all done relatively quickly as the longer the seal to the hellmouth is weakened the longer citizens are at risk from the evil being emerging from it.”

“So an all-nighter then?” Faith asked, looking unconcerned at the possibility.

“Er, no. As the final spell which takes place once you have arrived at the hellmouth is quite physically taxing I think it best that you be rested and ready for it. Maybe over the course of two or three days, if possible?” His eyes were closed at this point, having to force himself to discuss the process necessary.

“Fine by me.” Faith shrugged. “I didn't understand what you said about the circle and shit, but just point me in the right direction.”

 

The meeting broke up with everyone in a relatively somber mood. Faith was heading out the back door for a smoke when she was intercepted by Joyce.

“Faith? Can you help me with the dishes, please?” She requested in the motherly tone that was obviously more of an instruction than a request. Joyce almost laughed at the look on the girl's face – she appeared more scared by this than by any demon they had faced or the upcoming apocalypse. But she did as asked and made her way into the kitchen.

“Sure.” She husked out. “Uh, wash or dry?” Joyce passed her a tea-towel in response and for a few moments they stood in silence. Faith grew increasingly less comfortable until she couldn't stand it anymore.

“I'm really sorry, I know you don't want me touchin' Dawn or B...or even you...why don't you just tell Giles it's all off? We can keep fighting whatever the hellmouth spits out.” She insisted.

“Faith.” Joyce stopped her with a hand on the shoulder. “It's not your fault. My concern isn't for Dawn or Buffy, although I do hate that all of us have very little choice in this. I'm worried for you.”

“Me?” Faith looked confused for a minute. “Oh, like that I'll go psycho again?” She checked.

“No.” The mother sighed as she resumed washing up. “I'm worried that you're doing this to make it up to us, to Buffy. I know you both put your lives on the line as part of your sacred duty, but sex...sex should never be a part of that. That's not ever a decision you should make out of obligation, or duress as Tara put it.” She turned to look at Faith, but the slayer was focussing intently on drying a plate.

“'S'no big. It's just sex. I've done it for plenty worse reasons.” Faith shrugged and stacked the plate with the others. Joyce wanted to protest but was faced by the reality that she would, in effect, be trying to convince someone not to save the entire world from being slowly overrun by the hordes of darkness.

“If you're sure.” She eventually settled for. “But if you need to talk, if there's anything difficult or upsetting...”

“Thanks Mrs S. You're a real good mom.” Faith said, softly and sincerely.

They finished cleaning the dishes in silence, and once Faith had hung up her towel Joyce fully expected the girl to leave. But Faith paused and turned to her, looking entirely uncomfortable. “Um...I just wanted to say...” She bit her lip and looked up at the older woman. “I dunno if I'll be the first or whatever, but I'll be real careful with little D.” Faith figured even someone as cool as Mrs Summers wouldn't want details about how she'd make sure Dawn enjoyed the hell out of fucking her, but Faith was absolutely determined she would be as careful and considerate with Buffy's sister as she could. Joyce's hand clenched hard on the edge of the table she was standing at, but she looked grateful.

“Thankyou, Faith.” She murmured, then left the room herself, entirely overwhelmed.

 

“So you're...okay with this?” Xander asked cautiously, knowing Anya's previous feelings on the topic of anyone else 'having' him.

“Well, it's better than dying a gruesome death at the hands of a multitude of demons.” Anya sighed reluctantly. “And it's a fantasy of yours to be with two girls, so I'm sure it will be hot at least.”

“Two girls?” Xander's mouth dried up at the words.

“Well sure.” Anya glared at him. “You didn't think I'd leave you alone with that woman? We're a couple. We'll have sex with the slayer as a couple.” She declared. Unable to interpret the tortured expression on Xander's face, she continued. “I know she's not as attractive as I am. But surely once you see me performing cunnilingus on her--”

“I'm sure it will be fine.” Xander hurried to interrupt before she caused a situation in his pants that they were not currently in a position to address. While he did have some worries about the consequences for their relationship and the relationships between the white hats in general, he was also a virile young man with hot sex in his near future.

“Best apocalypse ever.” He murmured. Anya smiled and nodded.

 

“Oh God Will.” Buffy shut the door to her bedroom to allow for quality best friend time. “What do I do?”

“Uh...” Willow turned slightly pink in the face. “You mean general catastrophe rhetorical 'what do I do' or specific sex tips 'what do I do'?”

“What? Ugh! The first! Or...” She stopped her pacing with a sudden realisation. “Oh hell. Maybe both. I...so don't want to get that detailed with you. No offence. But then again...do I want to be alone in a room with Faith in charge? Oh my God.” She flopped down on the bed, her face in her hands.

“Well...it could be worse. I mean...Faith isn't....unattractive.” Willow tried to comfort her.

“But she has no penis!” Buffy mourned. “With the boys it's all about the penis! And it's so easy to tell what it wants! And so easy to make it happy...and how the hell am I meant to have sex with someone that will have slept with both my sister and my mother!?” She demanded.

“Um.” Willow ran out of sage advice. “Get very drunk?” Buffy looked at her wide eyed.

“That....is a very good plan.” She slowly agreed. She sighed, calming down from hysteria to standard misery. “And how are you going with it all? I mean, you're not a huge Faith-fan even if you are more familiar with the girl sex.” She lounged on her bed in the classic gossip posture.

“I'm...kind of scared.” Willow admitted. “I mean, what if she just pulls a knife and cuts my throat and is all 'ha ha ha to hell with the world, it will be more fun with demons anyway' sort of thing?” Buffy nodded her understanding at this reasoning. “And the thought of her with Tara...sort of makes me want to cut HER throat. Faith’s.” Willow added unnecessarily. “I mean, if Tara and I get back together...will it be weird because we've both been with Faith? Or what if Tara has sex with Faith and is like 'wow, that's incredible! I don't want Willow anymore'.” Willow looked up to see Buffy's patient but sceptical expression. “I know. I'm being paranoid. But you asked how I felt.” Buffy nodded once again, empathising with the situation due to her previous anxieties after the Faith and Riley Incident.

“I get what you mean. But you gotta remember, this is Tara. She's like the sweetest person ever. She wouldn't be all fickle like that.” Buffy reassured confidently.

“But what if I get all paranoid and can't get over it? What if all I do is worry about if she's comparing me to Faith and I screw it up?” Willow looked distraught at the possibility, and Buffy stood up and pulled her into a hug.

“Then you're an idiot. If you guys get back together, you've gotta trust her Will. But,” She pulled back and looked at the red head sternly, “I suspect if you do get back together you'll spend so much time...reacquainting yourself...you'll be left with no doubts as to how she feels about you.” Willow sighed and rested her forehead against the slayer's shoulder.

“Thanks Buff.”

Chapter Text

Please see disclaimer and warnings in chapter 1

 

“So, a fuckin' apocalypse.” Spike grinned wolfishly at Tara, thoroughly enjoying his own pun. She just raised her eyebrows. He shrugged. “What do you reckon, luv? Don't see you as the type for casual sex.” Tara was slightly interested that Spike had given the topic any thought at all, but chose to take his comment at face value.

“I'm not.” She agreed.

“You reckon it will screw things up with your honey?” He asked.

“We broke up. It can't get much worse.” Tara answered flatly. “What about you? I mean...I know you and Buffy have a sort of...arrangement.”

“Yeah well.” He drew on his cigarette and stared out into the night. “That can't get much worse, either. I mean yeah, we have sex. But,” he shrugged, “she still hates me. Or maybe herself. Probably both. Tell you what though.” He suddenly looked very fierce, and Tara remembered again that he was a monster with a history of impaling innocent people on railroad spikes, “She better treat Little Bit right or I'll tear her throat out, chip or no.”

Having read Faith's aura to give the group some kind of reassurance about her intentions, Tara knew that the brunette slayer cared a great deal for Dawn Summers. Whether or not Faith had any frame of reference as to how to give the younger woman what she needed for her first time was something else entirely. Tara decided that a talk with both Faith and Dawn would be in order.

 

“Thankyou for coming, Riley. I know it was rather awkward for you to get here...and probably just to be here.” Giles said rather formally.

“It's...good to see everyone, even under the circumstances.” Riley smiled at him. “But uh, I probably won't be around too much. Can you...get in touch with me when there are plans for....everything to happen?” He asked awkwardly, entirely unused to planning sex as if it were a mission. His mother would take the wooden spoon to him if she knew he was considering casual sex. He didn't think she had clauses in her understanding of casual sex to facilitate 'in the event of apocalypse'. Once more he mourned the many shades of grey the supernatural had brought into his life.

“Certainly.” Giles voice brought him out of his thoughts. “I'll be in touch. Goodnight.” They waved and Riley made his way out the door and into the once-familiar street of his ex-girlfriend.

 

Dawn sat, ostensibly watching TV, although primarily caught up in her own thoughts. She had fooled around with a couple of the guys she had dated throughout high school and early college, but with an extremely violent and over-protective older sister – not to mention all said sister's friends – and a fairly sensible head on her shoulders, Dawn had been content to wait until she was in a serious relationship.

That said, like any other teenager, she had spent her time obsessed with sex and overcome by hormones. A large part of that time had been while knowing Faith, and Dawn had to admit if only to herself, that she was excited at the prospect of sex with the slayer. She had been hurt at Faith's reaction to the suggestion but figured it was partly cos of the same overprotective thing Buffy had going for her.

Dawn had talked to Faith about sex when she was younger, and even though the Boston native wasn't all that much older, she was obviously more experienced. She didn't blush and change the subject like Buffy did, or tell Dawn to wait until she was forty. She just told her not to be in a rush and to do it when she was comfortable. And to feel free to masturbate as often as possible. Dawn had to grin at the memory. Faith had a way of making embarrassing or stupid questions seem totally fine or funny.

 

“So, Faith. I was wondering if you had any thoughts or ah, preferences, as to how you would like things to proceed.” Giles asked awkwardly. “I mean, it seems a little bit much for everyone to sit around waiting to be called on, you know, so I wondered if you'd given any thought...” He trailed off into silence, unsure of where to go with what he was saying.

“Yeah, actually. A bit.” Faith shrugged. “I figured I'd start with the people I've done before. Xander and Riley. Anya told me she wants to go at the same time as Xander, so I guess him and her then Riley. After that, I guess I'll take em as they come.” She smirked at her obviously intentional choice of words and Giles wasn't sure if he was about to laugh or blush horribly. He was no prude when it came to sex, but discussing sex with a slayer – one of his former charges – felt entirely wrong. He didn't want to contemplate how wrong actually having sex with her would feel.

“I see. Certainly. I'm sure that will be fine by, ah, everyone. Any thoughts on where you would like it to occur? I'm not sure where you're currently staying, but we'll need space to draw the circle and set up the spells that will ritualise the acts and channel the participant’s essences into you.”

“We're not doing it where I'm staying.” Faith shook her head. It was always harder to cut things off if someone was at your place, and in spite of how well she knew Buffy's super-friends, inviting them into her own space would feel like an invasion. “How about the motel where I used to hang?” She suggested after a few moments thought.

“That should suffice.” Giles agreed. “I'll call Willow and Tara – you will need to accompany us over there. We'll book the room then perform the necessary rites and incantations to form the circle and link you to it. Then ah....everything can commence as soon as you're ready.”

 

“Been a while.” The sleazy hotel manager looked Faith up and down as she walked into the office, largely ignoring the older man and two other women behind her. “Same deal as last time?” He grinned, and seeing the lingering journey his eyes took up and down Faith’s body, Willow wanted to turn him into a rat on principle.

“Nah.” Faith answered easily, not caring to elaborate. She figured it would be pretty obvious to the bystanders what he meant, but they had always been pretty naïve. She didn’t want to make it any more obvious than it had to be. “Giles, money? Give us three nights, Tony.” Giles stepped forward glaring at the man and opening his wallet.

“Ah, sugar daddy.” The owner smiled at the Watcher. “Well come see me if the cash runs out.” He took Giles' card and ran the transaction, returning a receipt and a set of keys. “Room 209. Enjoy your stay.”

Faith plucked the keys out of Giles’ hand and lead the way to room 209. She remembered the layout of the place fairly well, and the others seemed content to follow her. Arriving at the right door she put the key in the lock, and after a brief struggle managed to get it open without kicking it down. Stepping in was like a flash back, visuals, smells and all.

“Home sweet hell.”

Chapter Text

Please read warnings and disclaimers in Chapter 1

 

Faith moved further into the room to allow space for the others to enter. The place had clearly not been designed for four people to spend any significant amount of time in.

Faith considered the bed that took up the majority of the living space. “You need to put a circle around it, huh?”

“That’s correct.” Giles agreed.

“Aight…” Faith looked at it for a second more before moving the TV and dressing table against a different wall to give the room more equal dimensions, then pulled the bed away from the wall, roughly centering it in the space remaining. “Will that do?”

Giles walked around to observe the bed from a few different angles to ensure the sigils he would have to lay down would fit. “Yes, that should be fine. Thankyou, Faith.” He put the bag containing the ingredients they would need on a table and started to lay them out.

“Does it matter where I stand for this?” Faith asked.

“Hmm? Oh, no. Wherever you’d like.” Giles waved vaguely around the room.

Faith smiled and nodded, then jumped onto the bed, bouncing once or twice to test it.

“It should do.” She smirked and winked at Willow who had observed the performance, before flopping back and sighing. “How long you think this will take?” She asked, clearly already becoming bored.

It was Tara who chose to answer, noticing Willow’s annoyance and Giles’ distraction.

“Maybe half an hour?” She answered. She didn’t sound too confident but Faith wasn’t worried – in her limited interactions with Tara she had discovered that the woman usually spoke as if she was asking for permission for something.

As the time passed, Faith grew silent, lying on the bed and watching the magic users do their thing. Giles spent a fair amount of time carefully drawing complicated-looking pictures on the floor in a circle around the bed, and Willow followed him round, pouring various ingredients at certain points. When this had finally finished, Giles had drawn another symbol on Faith’s forehead, before he, Willow and Tara took up positions roughly equidistant from each other around the circle.

From what Faith could tell, there seemed to be an emphasis on speaking other languages full of meaningful-sounding shouts and whispers. She smiled to herself at the thought that this was far more bizarre than any kinky thing the owner may have dreamed up the four of them doing today.

Finally things seemed to come to a crescendo and abruptly silence fell and light flared from the drawings on the floor. Faith watched in fascination as the messy piles of ingredients and still-wet paint Giles had used were absorbed into the pattern on the floor, making it look as if it had been burned into the carpet for years.

“Huh.” Faith finally commented. “Don’t think we’ll get our deposit back.”

Giles smiled at her tiredly. “It will disappear when the transfer of essences is complete.” He assured her.

“So now we’re good to go?” Faith asked. “Anything special I should know?”

“Um.” Giles considered what had already been discussed. “Just remember, the uh…transfer of fluids is essential. So whatever….sexual acts you choose,” he cleared his throat awkwardly at this point, “you will need to give and receive. Uh, ahem, fluids.” He was sure his face was deep red at this point, but knew that none of the girls would blame him. Possibly mock him, in years to come, but that could wait til after they had survived the current crisis.

“In any hole?” Faith asked thoughtfully.

“Goddess, Faith!” Willow hissed.

“No, it’s a fair point.” Giles sighed and rubbed his temples. “The last thing we want is to get it wrong, and with these sorts of spells it can make quite a difference. Any orifice will suffice Faith, yes.”

She nodded understanding. “Sweet. What if some demon busts in to attack us while we’re doin' the nasty? Or if things get wild and someone falls outta the circle?” She checked.

“It won’t be possible.” Giles explained, impressed by her understanding of which actions may be important, if distressed by her blunt way of asking about them. “The circle will act as a barrier while participants are inside it. You will not be able to leave until the essence is transferred, and no-one else will be able to enter. The barrier forms once the vessel has entered, which is you, so make sure your…guest enters first.”

“'Kay, no problem. Can you lend us some money? Gotta stock up on lube and condoms.” She stood up and held a hand out.

“Oh, right.” Giles fished in his pocket for his wallet.

“Condoms? Didn’t you say there was a...fluids...thing? And that no-one could get pregnant or catch disease during this?” Willow turned to ask the man. It was Faith that answered.

“Sure, transfer of disease maybe, but you know. Heat of the moment, if anyone wants to play musical holes and goes back to front instead of front to back, you can get a nasty infection.” Faith shrugged.

Willow wasn’t entirely sure she knew what the hell Faith was talking about, but she had a vague suspicion and didn’t really want to understand further than that.

Faith accepted the cash Giles held out to her. “Wicked, thanks Mr G. Can you tell Xander and Anya to meet me here in about an hour? More is fine if they’ve already taken the edge off and need to catch their breath.” She grinned.

“Certainly.” Giles paused for a moment as he walked toward the door. “Faith? Thankyou.” He carefully enveloped her in a brief but heartfelt hug, before releasing her and leaving the room.

 

Faith closed the door behind them as the three magic-users made their way back to the former librarian’s car.

“Go on ahead girls,” Giles gave Willow the car keys, “I’ll just be a moment.” Willow and Tara looked at each other quickly before shrugging in agreement and parting ways from him. Giles easily found his way back through the hallways of the motel to the office.

“Sugar Daddy.” Tony smirked in greeting. “Anything I can – ” His next words were cut off by Giles grabbing him quickly and violently by the throat and forcing him back into a wall.

“Listen carefully.” Giles spoke calmly, although the tension throughout his body and the look of barely restrained fury in his eyes rendered the calm terrifying rather than reassuring. “The girl I came here with, that you recognised. You will never touch her again.”

At the slightest hint of amusement on the owner’s face, Giles’ grip tightened even further and the man’s face started to go red. The Watcher took a choked grunt as agreement and loosened his grip again just enough that the man could get air.

“As I said. You will never touch her again. Do not talk to her. Do not even look at her. If you do any of these things I will know about it, and I will make it my business to ensure you live through hours of agony and dismemberment before you die. Do I make myself clear?” As he released his grip, Tony gasped in ragged breaths before even trying to respond.

“Yeah. Clear.” He croaked.

“Consider yourself lucky I didn’t choose to take one of your fingers for retrospective suffering.” Giles hissed, and Tony looked down as a knife thudded into his desk between two of the mentioned fingers. Giles jerked it out again easily and left.

Chapter Text

Please read chapter 1 for disclaimer and warnings.

Note: Regarding structure, to prevent the story becoming like a laundry list of sex acts (which while potentially titillating would not make for a particularly interesting story) not all of Faith's sessions will occur chronologically 'on screen', although eventually all of them will be covered.

Chapter warning: This is the first chapter in which sex technically occurs, although per above most of this one happens between chapters.

 

After dropping Faith, Tara and Willow off at their requested destinations, Giles made his way to Joyce’s house. He needed to phone Anya and Xander, but he also wanted to speak to Buffy’s mother about the situation which, while controlled, was still overwhelming.

When Joyce answered the door, she didn’t appear surprised to see him.

“Hello Rupert.” She greeted him and stepped back from the entry way, allowing room for him to pass. He noticed the habitual lack of invitation with appreciation.

“Do you mind if I use your phone? I need to call Anya and Xander, but I wanted to drop past to discuss…everything.” He ended lamely.

“Sure.” Joyce smiled. “I’ll make some tea while you use the phone.”

Giles nodded his thanks and made his way to the phone. “Xander? It’s Giles. Yes, hello. We’ve just finished incanting the circle with Faith. She indicated she would be most comfortable ah…starting things off…with you and Anya. Yes. In about an hour if you’re available, but she said later would be fine. Excellent. She will meet you at room 209 of the Sunnydale Motel. Okay, thankyou. Could you ah, ask her to call me once…the barrier is down again? She’ll understand. Alright, bye now.” The Watcher hung up and sighed before walking slowly to the kitchen.

While Rupert Giles admired many things about Joyce Summers, he often came up against her superior role as Buffy’s caretaker, something which previous Watchers almost never had to contend with. He hated sending Buffy to danger, but could often rationalise the need. Explaining it to Joyce, however, was something else entirely. As a result, their relationship had been…tumultuous, at best. Currently she was sitting at her kitchen bench waiting for him with a cup of tea.

Giles sank into a chair opposite her and sipped his tea gratefully. “Ahh. Thankyou.”

“You’re welcome. You wanted to talk?” Joyce asked, drinking some of her own.

“Yes. I suppose I was wanting to know how you’re coping with this latest…situation, especially as it involves yourself and Dawn as well as Buffy.” He bravely forced himself to meet her eyes.

“I hate it.” Joyce began her answer simply. “I know it can’t be helped, but I hate that Faith…that all the children…are going through this. I know it’s unfortunate for all of them, but Faith particularly…she was so desperately sad before, Rupert. And I can see that she’s changed. But the first thing we ask her to do when she returns is get on her back for all of us? How will she ever see herself as something more than a tool if we only ever use her as a weapon or a sex toy? God knows she didn’t have a high opinion of herself or her life even before she hurt anyone – and now she’s added murder and jail-time to her self-image.” Joyce looked shattered by the thought, and Giles found himself fiercely proud of his slayer’s mother for her compassion and genuine concern for all of Buffy’s circle.

“I know.” He agreed. “It’s appalling. What’s worse is how easily she’s accepted what’s needed. I don’t think she’s fighting the good fight to make a life for herself and the world. I think she’s doing it because she’s resigned herself to being a tool of the Council, or the Powers, until she dies. I don’t think she’ll mind terribly if that comes soon.” The former librarian explained sadly.

“How do you feel about having to…share your essence?” Joyce asked uncomfortably. Giles winced.

“Terrible. I don’t know how I’ll go. I mean, she’s a undoubtedly very attractive young lady, but I suspect I will be so torn by guilt and shame…Lord, even performance anxiety. Have you seen the other young men she will have been with?” He smiled a little wryly, trying to lighten the mood a little.

Joyce chuckled a little. “I suspect you’ll hold your own. I was wondering…” She trailed off looking indecisive.

“Yes?” He prompted after a moment’s silence

“Well it’s fine if you’d rather not. But I was wondering if it might be possible for us to spend our time with Faith…together.” The mother swallowed hard and looked away.

“That…would actually be a very good idea, if you’re sure.” Giles looked cautiously optimistic. “I would feel much less uncomfortable about it with you there.”

Joyce smiled in relief. “Yes, exactly. I’m glad you agree – I mean, we’ve only been together twice, but before that, for a very long time, it was just Hank. And I mean, I don't have experience being with a woman and I’d really like…to not make it too horrible for Faith. If you see what I mean. I thought perhaps you could help with that.” She was turning slightly pink, and he knew it wasn’t so much the discussion of sex as it was discussion of her insecurities. Giles had observed that being a single mother largely required her to appear confident and independent in all ways, and admitting any kind of worry seemed to be anathema.

“We’ll muddle through together, then. And even without the enchanted candy, hopefully all manage to share some pleasure in spite of the circumstances.” He smiled in the way she loved, just on the rakish side of comforting, and for the first time felt able to deal with what was to come.

 

“Xander, Anya, hey.” Faith stepped back from the doorway. She appeared to be wearing just a robe. Xander entered followed closely by the former demon.

“Wow.” He commented. “Déjà vu. A lesser man would probably be full of conflicting extremes of emotion at reliving the loss of his virginity with his current girlfriend to witness.” He bluffed bravely.

“Don’t worry honey.” Anya patted his arm with the slight violence borne of unfamiliarity with the gesture. “All you have to do is have an orgasm, and we do that all the time.”

“Well when you put it like that.” He said sarcastically, clearly not reassured.

“So, few rules.” Faith spoke up. “You guys have to get in the special circle of sex magic first – once I’m in there it locks up and nothing gets in or out til we’ve all swapped cum. Yeah?”

“Okay, right.” Xander agreed, focussing intently as if a quiz may be announced. Anya nodded blithely, possibly already aware of the general rules of such rituals.

“Giles reckons it’s all about ‘exchanging fluid’ – so Xan, you gotta come inside me. Any hole is fine. Figure I’ve gotta go off either while you’re in my kitty or in your mouth. Blondie – I’m not up with the Magical Guide to Lesbian Sex, but I figure if you come in my mouth or against my pussy we’ll be fine.” She shrugged, amused to note Xander’s interest in the last few words.

“Makes sense.” Anya nodded, and started stripping.

“Anya…” Xander wanted to protest the abruptness of her actions. When it was just them it was fine, as Anya was just as desperate for sex as he was, and had a very different idea about romantic gestures than most girls. But then again, so did Faith.

“Relax Xan.” Faith stepped close and started unbuttoning his shirt while dancing her hips lightly against his. “Stop thinking so much.” As soon as his shirt was open far enough, she latched onto one of his nipples and started to suck.

“Oh God.” Xander groaned and closed his eyes, holding a hand out blindly in Anya’s direction to anchor him. The comforting size and feel of her familiar hand taking his helped him relax, and he focussed on that – and the feeling of his shirt, shortly followed by his pants, dropping to the floor.

Toeing his shoes and socks off, Xander opened his eyes as Anya began to tug him by the hand toward the circle. He let her encourage him to lie on one side of the bed, then watched as she lay next to him, holding a hand out in invitation to Faith. The brunette untied and dropped her robe, then stepped into the circle, accompanied by a flash of light as the barrier went up.

“Ooh, pretty.” Xander commented, unable to hold back the habit of joking during tense moments.

“Mm, she is.” Anya agreed, and began to touch herself. Faith’s grin widened and she looked over at Xander.

“Got yourself a firecracker there, don’t you?” She asked rhetorically before crawling up the bed between Anya’s legs.

Xander felt no temptation to close his eyes again for the rest of the evening.

Chapter Text

“That was immensely pleasurable.” Anya announced once they had stepped out of the circle.

“Glad you enjoyed it.” Faith smirked. “Grab a shower if you want, I need to give Giles a call.” The slayer picked up and donned her robe before moving to the phone.

“Come on Xander, we can get clean together.” Anya grabbed his hand, once more pulling him along. He felt a little strange wandering around Faith's motel room naked, possibly because on the previous occasion he had only been naked long enough for them to have sex before being kicked out the door.

As Anya turned on the water and adjusted the temperature, he considered that things weren't really all that different this time, as none of them really had a choice in the matter.

 

“Hey, Giles. Xan said you wanted me to call you when the fucking was complete.” She grinned, almost able to see him choke at her choice of words.

“Ah Faith, yes, hello. I don't think those were my exact words. But thank you for calling. I trust everything went...smoothly?”

“The amount of lube I bought, how could it not?” She asked rhetorically, hoping to avoid any deep or meaningful discussion of events.

“Ahem. Yes. Indeed. Uh, I was wondering when you would like me to indicate to Riley that he meet with you? I don't mean to rush you, I'm sure you would like some time to recover and come to terms with things, but I believe he would rather be out of Sunnydale as soon as he can.” Giles explained apologetically.

“Sure, no worries.” Faith responded easily, thinking to herself that she could well understand his desire to get out of the town. “Ah, I guess later tonight, around midnight?” She suggested. “Then line Spike up for maybe ten in the morning.” Generally speaking she had never really had sex to a timetable, only when the urge struck. Even if the others considered that to be often, screwing to a deadline in the hopes of saving as many lives as possible was a new one. Each session depended to a certain extent on how she felt after the one before, but she figured she would be alright in time for Spike if her former dalliance with Riley was any indication.

“Alright my dear, I will let them know. Thank you.” They said goodbye and hung up.

Once Xander and Anya left, Faith took a shower and went out to eat.

 

Riley had been trying unsuccessfully not to think about his 'appointment' with Faith all day. He didn't know when to expect a call from Giles, so in an effort to keep his mind off the wait had decided to catch up on some reading at the UC Sunnydale library. Finn's psychology degree wasn't something he often made use of anymore, but he had always had an interest in the way the mind worked. Possibly moreso since seeing the other side of evil.

Despite being interested in his studies, the soldier was struggling to concentrate. While his body was technically no longer affected by the medication the Initiative had put him on, the soldier had been battling for months with what felt like extreme mood swings.

Army doctors had explained that the swings were, in fact, just normal levels of emotion. In addition to pumping up their team's strength, the Initiative had apparently sought to ensure they remained compliant by including drugs to level off their moods.

Knowing that didn't really make it easier for Riley, who had become used to being easy-going and slow to anger and was now feeling the effects of being back near his ex-girlfriend without pharmaceutical assistance. It hurt to see Buffy again. It hurt to see that she didn't miss him – at least, not as much as she said she did.

Riley gave up his attempt at reading around dusk, itching for the kind of fight he hadn't really had since he was last in Sunnydale. Taking to the streets, he kept a hopeful eye out for demons.

With the amount of evil emanating from the open hellmouth, he was not disappointed.

 

“Finn.” He answered his phone the second time it rang. When he first heard the ringtone he had been engaged in a life or death struggle with something slimy he had never seen before.

“Riley, hello. It's Rupert Giles, do you have a moment?” The British voice came through clearly.

“Yeah, sure, hi Mr Giles. Is it about the spell?” He asked, slightly out of breath.

“That's right. Faith was wondering if you might be free around midnight to visit and perform your part of proceedings.” The older man asked. Riley had to smile at how official he made the entire sordid situation sound.

“Midnight will be fine. Thanks Giles, bye.” Riley hung up and sat down heavily on a monument in the middle of the graveyard. He had not run into Buffy yet, and it spiked his anger, reminding him of the many times she had blown him off to go patrolling. Where was she now? He had been through most of the graveyards already.

And Faith. His problems with Buffy had started when he had unwittingly had sex with Faith. And now they were expecting him to do it again. He hadn't only had sex with her, he had treasured her – worshiped her, made love to her like he would have with Buffy.

Forcing his fury down once more, Riley began searching for a target for his rage.

 

After a couple of good fights the soldier was bloodied but not satisfied. Checking his watch however, Riley realised that he didn't have any more time to vent his frustrations. He started making his way to Faith's motel.

He knocked at the door, awkwardly ignoring the stares of an old man entering the room next door. The door in front of him opened to reveal the brunette in question that he had never actually met while in her own body.

“Beefstick.” She greeted him and stepped aside. “Couple of rules from the G-man. You gotta go in the funky sex-circle first, cos once I go in nothing goes in or out til we both get off. You gotta cum anywhere inside me, I gotta hit the big O with you in my kitty or in your mouth. All good?” She turned and presented the circle to him to enter with an exaggerated gesture.

“Got it.” Riley nodded and started stripping, leaving only his briefs on before stepping in the circle. When Faith followed he watched in fascination as light flared up from the design on the carpet to the ceiling in a minor light show. Finally he turned to Faith.

“You remember what you asked me, last time? You asked me how I wanted you.” He shot the brunette slayer a look she couldn't decipher.

“So what, you been dreamin' of positions ever since?” She asked glibly, stripping off her robe. “Last time I was taking a new body out for a test drive, this time I'm rockin my usual ride.” She ran her hands down her body, trying to read what he seemed most interested in. Later she would spend hours trying to explain why he seemed so fast, even with her slayer reflexes, but it was primarily due to the sheer unexpectedness of the move. Riley lashed out and caught her by the throat and slammed her back down onto the bed.

Faith tried to calm the immediate response of adrenaline shooting through her and instead of knocking Buffy's ex unconscious, just met his eyes, inches from her own.

“You asked if I wanted to hurt you. I do. I have ever since you screwed up my relationship with Buffy.” He hissed, and with that explanation the fight Faith had planned on putting up died. He had a point, she figured – she deserved whatever he felt like giving.

Riley lifted his hand, allowing her to respond. Faith coughed a little, easing her airway.

“So, get to it.” She shrugged, just lying there. Having heard of her reputation for a fiery attitude, this aggravated Riley further. He drew back, kneeling on the bed.

“On your hands and knees facing the headboard.” He instructed. Faith complied with seductive grace, refusing to give the soldier the satisfaction of appearing hesitant or worried.

“Unless you wanna give yourself a friction burn you better use the lube.” She flipped a tube back at him. Riley coated himself liberally with it and without warning stabbed into Faith. The only evidence of the painful lack of preparation, beyond slow progress, was a quiet hiss and the clenching of the slayer's fists in the covers as Riley continued working in, before finally setting his pace.

“How do you like that, whore?” He asked. It was clearly due to contempt more than a fulfillment of some kind of domination stereotype the man may have had.

“You're doin' better than you did the first time.” Faith managed to get out.

Finn remained mostly silent for some time, adjusting to the idea of sex with someone he hated, until he finally noticed something. “Are you....you're actually getting off on this.” He sounded amazed. “You crazy slut.”

“You'd hope so, otherwise neither of us will ever get out of this stupid circle.” Faith grunted. She did feel ashamed, but not for any reason Riley would ever suspect, and the last thing she wanted was for him to see her perceived weakness.

She reached down to touch herself, wanting the session over with as soon as possible. Faith didn't really object to rough sex, but much preferred when she was on top. She finally managed to reach a small climax.

“Did you just make yourself cum? You bitch!” Riley felt a surge of frustration at the slayer trying to take back control and a hot pulse of fury at the possibility she doubted he could bring her to the peak himself.

Without thinking, he slapped the brunette in the side of the head hard enough to leave her ears ringing. Distracted by this it was a minute before Faith registered the sensation of the soldier's finger lubing up her ass. She bit her lip, guessing this was something he didn't have a chance to try with Buffy, and hoping that would mean he would enjoy it too much to last much longer.

She ignored the searing pain as he penetrated there, grateful at least that he had used more lube than earlier. Her hopes were answered when after only a couple more thrusts Riley came.

Faith quickly pulled away, turned over and kicked him off the bed. She stood, picked up his clothes and threw them at him. “That's your only freebie - now we're even. Get the fuck out.” She shoved him out the door and shut it behind him, locking it – for whatever the shitty motel lock was worth.

Faith walked to the bathroom and entered the shower, turning it on hot and hard before sliding down the wall and gingerly sitting on the tiles with a sigh.

Half an hour later, she still didn't feel clean, and wasn't quite sure what it meant that it was still somehow easier than the sickening panic she had felt when Riley had told her he loved her while in Buffy's body.

Chapter Text

Please see chapter 1 for disclaimer & warnings

 

Xander lay in bed awake, holding Anya close. There was no such thing as 'turning someone gay', Willow had told him. And even if there was, they had only kissed once due to clothing fluke – it would make more sense to say Oz had turned her, if you were going to use that logic.

But Willow's 'kinda gay' alternate-universe-vampire-self had shown up earlier than that – soon after he and Willow kissed, in fact.

Holding Anya a little tighter, he tried to remember if she had ever described sex with him as 'immensely pleasurable', and tried not to think about how easily she had taken to being with another woman.

 

“Buffy, hi.” Riley stood awkwardly in front of her door as she opened it.

“Riley, hey. Uh, just a minute.” She grabbed a stake and opened the door fully before joining him outside. “What's up?”

“I'll be heading off tomorrow. I just wanted to say bye, I guess.” He rubbed the back of his head.

“Oh.” Buffy said quietly. “So you've...with Faith...”

“Yeah.” He admitted.

“Is she much different when she's not in my body?” She asked the only person who would know.

“I was. I mean, I was different when I thought it was you. I loved you. Faith was just...you know. Anyway.” He shrugged.

“Yeah.” She agreed, desperately wishing she was anywhere else. “So how's army life?” She asked a little too brightly.

“Routine.” He smiled, remember her light teasing about his daily push-ups and vitamins. “Are you...dating anybody, at the moment?” He asked tentatively. Buffy thought about her 'arrangement' with Spike.

“No, not dating anyone. Just focussing on family at the moment, you know.” She wanted to cringe at how little she had actually been spending time with Dawn or her mother, but she didn't care to elaborate on who she had been sleeping with. Riley had never really liked Spike. Come to think of it, she had never really liked Spike.

“Buffy, when Faith was in your body – was that whole thing what screwed us up? Did you stop trusting me? Is that why things fell apart?” He asked, suddenly sincere and to the point.

“What? No...” Buffy looked genuinely confused. “We finished because you said I didn't love you enough and left to fight demons in the jungle.” Here she started to look a little angry. “I think...that being in control for you isn't about the power, but about being the person other people look to for help. It's good that you like to help people but...I can never be someone who needs someone.” Buffy finished with a shrug.

Riley wasn't entirely confident of her assessment of his desire for power, especially after how things had turned out with Faith that night. He forcefully turned his mind away from the incident that he was already trying to forget.

“I should go. Long day tomorrow, you know.” He shrugged and looked down the street.

“Alright.” Buffy agreed. “Take care of yourself, okay?” She gave him a brief hug and stepped back again. Riley just nodded and walked away.

 

Faith slept, dreaming uneasily of rabbits, clowns and weakness.

 

First thing in the morning, Tara showed up at the Summers' home. Joyce answered the door.

“Tara! Lovely to see you, how are you?” She stepped aside and allowed the newest member of the children's friendship group to enter their home.

“I'm well thanks Mrs Summers – I was wondering if Dawn was in?”

“Certainly, I'll just get her. Would you like anything while you wait?” The older blonde offered.

Tara demurred and Joyce disappeared upstairs to find her youngest daughter. Tara waited in the foyer, much more comfortable in this home than she had been only months before. She smiled when she heard the telltale thump of Dawn jogging down the hallway towards the stairs.

“Tara, hey!” The younger Summers took the stairs two at a time and enveloped her friend in a hug, stepping back to talk.

“I was wondering if you felt like going for a walk and a 'shake.” Tara asked with a smile.

“Sure, should be fine. Mom! I'm going out with Tara!” She called into the next room, before tugging Tara out of the house and onto the veranda, closing the door behind them.

Tara was slightly amused, thinking of how Joyce would have reacted to Dawn's declaration when she had first arrived.

The mother had initially been uncomfortable with her relationship with Willow – not so much out of disapproval, but unfamiliarity. But in getting to know Tara and seeing her interact with the group, they had gradually developed a dynamic both of them were comfortable with. Joyce would never admit it, but she was probably more relaxed leaving Dawn with Tara than with Buffy, in spite of the latter's superpowers.

“So you wanna talk about the spell, huh.” Dawn guessed.

“Mm.” Tara agreed. “Or I thought you might.”

“Yep!” Dawn affirmed. Sex had not been something she discussed much with Tara, as she was a little too much like a mother figure. Still, when it came to their current situation, the older girl was leaps and bounds better than her actual mother on the awkward scale.

“How do you feel about it all?” Tara asked her essentially standard entry question to any conversation with Dawn. Although the girl was highly intelligent and far more measured than she had been when they first met, the young woman still led with her feelings.

“Kind of excited, actually.” Dawn admitted with a grin. “But also nervous, you know. And sort of freaked out that like, mom and Buffy will know about it.”

“It doesn't bother you that she's a woman?” Tara asked in interest. She had never really wanted to bring the topic up with Dawn before, for fear of seeming biased either way.

“Nah. I can be attracted to girls. I just like guys more. But Faith is...Faith, you know? Anyone with eyes can see she's hot. Actually, blind people could tell she's hot. She's just like that.” The eighteen year old insisted.

“That's true.” Tara nodded.

“Will this...screw up things with Willow?” Dawn asked tentatively. Tara laughed a little.

“You know, Spike asked me the same thing?” She shared. “No, things with Willow are over. She probably won't be comfortable with the idea I've been with Faith, but it can't really make things any worse than they are.” The wiccan shrugged. “But back to you – is there anything you want to ask?”

Dawn laughed. “What, like advice? Nah. I'm pretty sure Faith will be plenty honest with any instruction required.” She smirked.

“Would it be okay,” Tara began, shooting a quick glance at the other girl, “if I spoke to Faith about her time with you?”

“What, like the shovel speech?” Dawn queried with a grin.

“Something like that.” The witch nodded.

“Sure. Just don't embarrass me too much, or freak her out so bad she won't touch me. We've still gotta do enough to make the spell work.” She reminded Tara pragmatically.

 

Riley boarded his plane, and discovered he couldn't look the brunette stewardess in the eye.

Chapter Text

Willow looked thoughtfully at her handiwork. It was taking more effort to achieve than she had initially thought, although she had known it would be a little complicated.

The problem with freezing a person – in motion, not in ice – was that if you froze them entirely their heart would stop with them and they would die. Even if you froze just their hands and feet, it would stop the blood flowing, and it wouldn't be long before the extremities died. She didn't want to kill Faith, or make her an amputee – just keep her firmly in place, to prevent any knife-wielding or double-crossing.

So she was trying something along the lines of invisible strands of power acting like ropes to tie the other woman up. The difficulty there was, unlike normal ropes, they would require constant concentration both to keep existing and to prevent them becoming too tight or too loose.

Yet another crushed aluminum can testified that she had not got the balance quite right yet – and she hadn't even tested maintaining the balance when distracted by orgasm. Biting her lip, she set another up and resumed concentrating.

 

Buffy lay in bed thinking. When she had been forced to walk out on her mother and kill Angel she had foolishly assumed that her calling would never require anything worse of her.

Usually she would be relieved at discovering she had 'dodged the bullet' and would not have to make a life-changing sacrifice. There were so many possible dangers facing her daily as a slayer that if she dwelt on things that might have happened, she would never be able to continue.

But this time was different, because the sacrifice was still being made – just by someone else. Buffy couldn't help but think about what she would have had to do if Faith had not offered to take her place.

Sure, she could argue that Faith owed her for previous betrayals – but she would never choose for the younger slayer to 'repay' her like this.

She was left with the inescapable knowledge that Faith had saved her from almost tripling the number of her past sexual partners and having to commit incest with her entire immediate family.

Regardless of how uncomfortable she felt knowing she would be required to perform the spell with Faith, it was still ridiculously easy compared to the alternative.

Buffy swore to herself that no matter how weird things got, she would bend over backwards to help the other slayer deal with the fallout from this catastrophe. Even literally, for whatever good that might do.

And God help anyone who dared call the brunette a slut. Never again.

 

Faith woke up early after an unsettled night's sleep. For the first time she felt wrong about a Save the World hook up. Or the first time in advance, anyway. She was not the type to judge others' sexual activity, but if there was ever a consensual fuck she could call unnatural, doing a vampire would have to be it.

Call her crazy (many had) but the idea of getting with a re-animated corpse skeeved her. And planning it all in advance like this just gave her time to think and feel more wrong about it.

At least it was Spike, who all the super friends seemed to hate. If Angel had been involved Buffy would flip her shit about Faith screwing another boyfriend (ex or otherwise). Girl did not like to share.

 

Spike entered the motel room carrying a blanket. Faith gave him an unreadable look.

“I've got a blanket.” She commented. “I've even got a bed.”

“Funny.” Spike narrowed his eyes. “Sun's at the right angle now, but I don't know how long we'll be, do I? Don't suppose you'd want me hanging round all day just so I don't fry getting back to the sewers.”

“Ah, speaking of which.” Faith began to look a little dangerous, and Spike wondered if prison had entirely fixed her. “I've never done a vamp before. Given a choice, I never would. If you bite me, I'm dusting you as soon as we're done.”

Spike held his hands up defensively. “No need for that, I'll keep my fangs to myself.”

“Damn right. Any final words?” She grinned evilly.

“Actually...” Spike casually drew a bundle out of his jacket and tossed it to the slayer.

Faith didn't hesitate to roll it open, and raised her eyebrows slightly at the hand-sized cross and cane inside.

“No-one's really put a good hurt on me since Dru.” Spike shrugged, looking a little nostalgic. “I thought you might have the stones for it.”

“So what fantasy am I filling here? Big Bad slayer forcing the defenceless vamp into sex? Or am I punishing you for being an evil, soulless monster?” She asked.

“More of the second,” Spike answered, “but I don't really care as long as I get some pain with my pleasure.”

“That I can definitely give you.” Faith decided that even if sex with a vamp felt all wrong, at least hurting the blood-sucker would feel right. “What's your safe-word? Anything other than a name.” She narrowed her eyes, just knowing he would try to fuck with her by using Finch or Buffy or something.

“You think a vampire needs a safe word!?” Spike looked offended. Faith interrupted before he could list off how evil and tough he was and make this even harder.

“My first instinct is to dust you. You think I'll be taking notice of your feelings once I start caning your ass? I don't need to spend any more time worrying if I've crossed a line. Choose a fuckin' word or I'll give you one.”

“...dust, then.”

“Dust it is.” She shoved him bodily into the circle then followed, causing the now-familiar flash of light as the circle activated.

 

Giles sat in his armchair, deep in thought. If anyone had told him, even a matter of weeks ago, that he would spend so much time thinking about sex with Faith, he would have knocked them out.

Even now it was tempting to avoid thinking about it as much as possible. But Giles knew that it would be very easy for he and Joyce to cause a great deal of harm to the slayer under the current circumstances, and so was trying to think of the best possible way to get through their part of the ritual without adding to the young woman's distrust and alienation.

 

Faith got up and walked over to her clothes, leaving Spike panting on the bed. She grabbed her phone out of her pants pocket and checked to see if there were any messages from Giles before calling him to plan the next liaison. There was one message, but when she listened, it turned out to be from Tara.

The Slayer was a little surprised but figured it had to do with the current situation. Hanging up the phone, she turned back to Spike.

“Stay here for as long as you like, haven't planned my next party yet. I'll buzz ya on the room phone if I need you to get gone.”

Spike gave a grunt of what was presumably agreement, but Faith had already left.

Chapter Text

Making her way back to her apartment, Faith dialled Tara. Waiting as it rang, she catalogued how her body was feeling. Sore still from Riley, exacerbated by Spike, but mostly good.

Faith would be the first to tell anyone that sex was just a means to an end - in this case a more important goal than usual, but same basic process. Except that for some reason it was different. Maybe the weird undercurrents from having it happen with the SunnyD gang, or maybe she had changed in prison, but it was impossible to shrug off these hook-ups the way she used to.

By the time Tara picked up, Faith had almost forgotten who she was calling.

“Hello?” Came the soft and feminine voice, sounding unlike the slayer had ever heard it – relaxed and full of laughter.

“Hey, it's Faith. You rang?” She cut to the point.

“Oh, hi Faith. Yeah. I know you're really busy right now but I was wondering if it would be possible for us to meet and hang out for a bit before you plan to have sex with Dawn or I?” The other woman asked. Faith was more than a little surprised at how plainly the Wiccan was able to state things. Clearly she had changed a little from the overwhelmingly nervous girlfriend she had first seen while wearing Buffy's body.

“Yeah, sure. Where you at? I can come over today after I have a shower and stuff, if that works?”

“Um...let me check.” There was some rustling of papers and some scraping noises as Faith arrived at the front door of her apartment block. “Yep, today's free until late.” Tara confirmed. “I'm at the dorms on campus. Do you have a pen?”

Faith didn't, but got the details as she jogged up the stairs to her floor, their conversation ending just after she had entered and shut the door behind her. Tossing the phone on her couch, she started stripping as she walked toward the bathroom, feeling an unusual amount of pleasure at being back in her own space.

 

“Hey.” Tara greeted her with a bright smile and let the door swing open. Faith felt a little awkward entering the other woman's room. It seemed to symbolise all the differences between the two of them, with décor that was soft, warm and friendly. The slayer stood a little uncomfortably in the middle of the room, awaiting direction.

Tara dropped casually onto her bed and shuffled up it to make enough room before gesturing for Faith to sit.

“Sorry,” she explained, “but there isn't really room in here for many seats.”

“That's cool.” Faith shrugged, looking around. “So you wanted to talk?”

“Yeah. I know you're probably not all that comfortable talking about personal things, but given the situation I was hoping I could ask a couple of questions.” The blonde tilted her head slightly as she focussed on the brunette slayer.

Tara wanted to ask how Faith was coping, and hug her, and tell her how valuable she was – but she highly doubted the slayer would welcome that approach. Instead she intended to focus on the subject of Dawn and sort of...slip the caring in alongside.

“You can ask.” Faith responded. “Guess whether I answer just depends, but I'll try.” She wriggled slightly in place, disliking Tara's earnest expression.

“Have you ever been anyone's first time?” Tara asked casually.

“Um...well yeah. I mean I know I was Xander's, but probably some others that I didn't know for sure.” The slayer answered. “This is about Dawn?”

“Yeah.” Tara nodded seriously. “Have you been with women?” It was a question which had plagued the witch a little since learning of the spell that would be required. If she had been in Faith's place, the thought of having sex with five men would have been sickening.

Not that she was actively disgusted by heterosexuality or men in general, but the thought of forcing herself to have sex not only with people she wasn't attracted to, but to a sex she had no interest in, was painful.

“Some.” Faith shrugged again. It didn't really tell Tara whether Faith was capable of being attracted to women, but at least she wouldn't be experiencing it for the first time in the name of her calling. The witch decided to move on to the more pressing issue of Faith's time with Dawn.

“Have you been with anyone you care about?” The student pushed.

“What the fuck?” Faith stood up and started to pace. “What are you drivin' at?”

“Well, have you?” Tara persisted quietly.

“I guess. Sorta.” She ran a hand through her hair in frustration.

“Sorry Faith, but that's what I'm driving at. I'm guessing that you've never been with anyone that you care about as much as Dawn.” She brushed some hair away from her eyes and watched as the slayer's pacing stopped.

“Woah, no way. I'm not into Little D like that, I swear.” She looked terrified and angry.

“I didn't mean that you have some sort of inappropriate obsession with her Faith.” Tara shook her head, internally lamenting that the girl saw affection as somehow sick. “Just that you care about her. You like her, want to keep her safe, want her to be happy.”

The woman in leather relaxed visibly, and dropped back to sit on the bed. “Well, yeah. I guess. So?”

“My point is that sex is different with someone you care about. You're doing more than just trying to meet your own needs.”

“I...” Faith paused before really responding, considering what she had said to Mrs Summers. “I promised Mrs S I'd be gentle. I won't hurt her or laugh at her or anything. But...I mean, we do both have to get off.” She bit her lip.

“I know. Faith...look at me for a second?” Tara waited until suspicious eyes complied before continuing. “I want you to absolutely feel free to say no, and to take some time to consider this. But I don't usually have casual sex, and I'm really not comfortable being with you just for the sake of this ritual. Because of that, and because of what we've just said about Dawn, I was wondering if you might be willing to...spend some time with me. Before the ritual.”

Faith stared a little blankly. “I don't follow.”

“I'm asking if we can be intimate before the ritual. Spend some time getting to know each other. If we're going to have sex, I want there to be caring involved, and that just can't happen in a couple of hours in the name of an apocalypse. And I thought...if you were okay with that, you could use it as sort of a way to practice being with someone you care about when the stakes aren't so high. 'Cause this won't be my first time.” Tara was beginning to blush a little, and Faith found it fascinating. She watched as the red spread from the blonde's neck up to her cheeks.

“So you're saying...” she started a little pensively, “you wanna fuck me more than once?”

“I said I wanted to spend time with you. And whether or not you'll admit it now, I want to show you there's a difference between fucking and caring sex.” Tara emphasised, unconsciously putting a hand on Faith's knee for emphasis. “Although,” she continued with a crooked grin, “there may be time for fucking, too.”

Faith stayed in place, a little shocked and impressed as Tara patted her knee once before standing gracefully.

“Don't make your decision now. But please, consider it?” The blonde requested.

“Um. Well I'll get back to you about the....the caring sex thing.” The brunette cleared her throat. “But no harm in spending some time hanging out, I guess.” She spotted the small TV in a corner, and despite knowing that she was on a schedule of sorts, figured she was allowed a bit of relaxation. “You wanna watch a movie or something?”

Tara smiled and set the DVD player up, and when they both settled side by side against the head of the bed, Faith speculated that this may be the longest time she had spent clothed in a bed since leaving prison.

Chapter Text

Willow's nose bled a little as she jotted notes on a page. Absently she wiped it away before it could drip on the colour-coded page. She had over-done things with the magical ropes – the constant flow of power needed to maintain them had drained her, and she had finally admitted another solution would be needed.

So after a brief period of brain storming, she had discovered a simple, elegant solution which would prevent either she or Faith being permanently injured. The problem was, a spell which would have been simple yesterday was now practically impossible – she was too drained to do a card trick, let alone genuine magic.

 

Buffy made her way through the sewers. The number of weird beasts either coming out of the hell mouth or being drawn to their town by its changed energy was already notably increasing. To stay on top of things and give Faith as much time as she needed, the slayer was hunting during the day as well as patrolling at night.

Many demons were dormant throughout the day, making it easier to take on established nests of those who had 'bunkered down'. During the night she focussed on patrolling to protect civillians against demons out to hunt.

Buffy's familiarity with the sewers these days made it safer than it used to be, but the slayer was still ready for anything.

Consequently, Spike was almost dust before Buffy realised it was him.

“Bloody hell.” Spike clutched his chest, where he'd almost been skewered. “You almost restarted my heart.”

“Spike?” Buffy asked unnecessarily, stretching out her senses to make sure there was nothing nearby likely to attack while they were distracted. “What happened?” She took in the vampire's uneven stance and some of the burns on his arms.

“Just on my way back from giving the dark slayer the time of her life.” He boasted, hoping to make the blonde jealous.

“And you...got jumped by angry priests?”

Spike followed her line of sight to the suspiciously neat cross-shaped burns on his arm. “Oh, right. That – no, it was a demon.” His pride insisted on the lie. “Big, flaming demon. On fire, I mean. Not queer. With...very square hands.”

Spike had always taken a perverse sort of pride in being just as capable of taking a bit of torture as he was of giving it. But he was also aware that it was probably the sort of vampiric skill that would impress Buffy about as much as 'who can piss the highest'. Not to mention, the last thing he wanted was Buffy asking Faith about their time together, or...making assumptions about why he might want a slayer to make him hurt.

But Buffy could usually tell when he was hiding something, and always assumed the worst.

"Why would she need to burn you...?" she frowned in thought, and he could almost see the conclusions piling up behind her eyes. "What did you do?.... Did you try to hurt her?!” Buffy stepped closer. Her feelings about Faith - mostly guilt and determination to come to her defense, and her feelings around Spike - mostly distrust, guilt and self-loathing, were quickly creating a dangerous cocktail of emotion.

Spike froze for a minute, worrying that she'd keep guessing until she got it right.

His apparently guilty silence was all the catalyst needed for all of her feelings to react and explode as anger. Buffy grabbed the front of the vampire's shirt with one hand, and punched him with the fist still gripping her stake. “I won't let you hurt her again – ”

Breaking her hold, Spike spun and threw Buffy against the wall before getting in her face. “I didn't hurt the bint. What, you reckon I've been boning you so long I forgot how normal people do it?” He hissed contemptuously, manoeuvring between her legs. “You think I'm so used to you getting wet from a good beating that I tried it with the jail bird?” He ground his hips into Buffy's long enough to make his point and for Buffy to feel violated before she found enough leverage to give him a sharp shove away.

“No chance, luv. I know very bloody well that I can't hurt any humans – except the one that came back wrong.” He sneered, waiting for the violent reaction he wanted.

Buffy clenched her fists hard enough to dig her nails into her palms before swallowing her fury down deep. “Did I come back wrong? Maybe. But what I've been doing with you...is definitely wrong.”

“Don't start this again.” The vampire rolled his eyes and started walking away. “You can't help yourself. You'll be back for more before the Watcher even gets his next concussion.”

Buffy remembered breaking down crying in Tara's lap from shame and shook her head. “I really won't.”

 

After receiving a text from Faith, Giles made the call to Willow.

“Yes, hello dear. Faith was wondering if you might be free for...er, your part of the ritual later today. In about three hours time.”

“That's fine, Giles. Um, can I ask you something? About magic?” Willow responded a little vaguely.

“Certainly.” The British man answered, struggling to hide his trepidation.

“Would the presence of a benign charm inside the circle disrupt the exchange of essences?” She asked, nervous that her final plan might be a bust.

“Um, let me see.” The former librarian considered this for a moment. “No,” he finally answered decisively, “definitely not. Unless it was cast on the vessel. Willow? You won't cast anything on Faith, will you?”

“No.” The red head sounded relieved rather than anxious, and as she had always been a terrible liar, he felt relieved in turn.

“Alright then. Um, good luck.” They both cringed at this.

“Thanks. Bye.” Willow ended the call as quickly as possible, then turned to look at her latest purchase. With a little enhancement, these would hold the Slayer in place without causing any death or amputation.

Now all she had to do was find Amy and get a power boost so she could cast the spell.

Chapter Text

Faith wasn't really one for psychology and other such touchy-feely bullshit. However, she knew that Willow would be one of the toughest to work with given their history.

Consequently, Faith had tried to think of ways to help the session run as smoothly as possible. Half an hour before Willow was due to arrive, the younger slayer neatened up the motel room, stashing the condoms and lube in the night-stand in addition to the standard replacement of bedsheets. While it made the place look sort of barren, she hoped the witch might notice it even subconsciously as a change in the slayer.

With that done, Faith changed into a white tank and her lightest coloured jeans. She had always worn this type of clothing, but figured leather was more her signature and was again hoping the difference would be apparent.

 

When Willow arrived, things started out okay, if a little weird. Faith wondered if maybe the uptight nerd had actually gotten high or something before coming over, because she seemed a little blissed out.

However, once they were inside the circle Willow spoke up, and Faith started to think they might both be trapped in there indefinitely.

“I don't trust you.” The redhead stated, sitting down on the bed. “I can't lose the feeling that once we're both naked you're going to kill me and watch the world burn.”

“I swear – I won't hurt you Willow, I – ”

“No, you're right about that.” She smiled kind of...serenely...and it was weirding the slayer out. “The only way we're doing this is if you wear these.” Willow pulled a couple of pairs of handcuffs out of her pocket and dangled them from a finger.

“Handcuffs won't hold me.” Faith answered. She didn't want to blow the only chance of getting Willow to agree, but figured it may be some kind of honesty test.

“I know. These aren't normal, they're enhanced. Two Mack trucks couldn't tear these apart, or break whatever the marked ends are attached to.” Willow smiled, her eyes dark with challenge.

Faith looked at the dangling cuffs. She had worn them going to jail obviously, and a few times inside. But none of those could have held her if she really wanted to escape. In fact she hadn't really been tied down with anything that could withstand her strength since she received her powers - it was one of the best things about being called.

She hated being restrained - but there was no real choice. She could refuse to wear them - from where she stood, since Willow was the one laying down conditions it would be the red-head's fault they were stuck in a bubble while the world ended.

But she knew Buffy would never see it that way. If Faith had a chance to save people and didn't take it, that'd be Wrong...right?

“'Kay.” Faith shrugged before stripping off her tank top and bra and lying on the bed. “You gonna do the honours?”

Willow felt a jolt of power in her stomach that she had never felt before, not even when channelling torrents of magic.

While she and Tara had taken turns on top, they had never played with bondage, and the idea of being completely in control, especially over someone as strong as Faith, was intoxicating.

Willow's mystical abilities made her possibly the most powerful person in Sunnydale...but she had still never really been the most physically powerful person. She closed the cuffs over Faith's wrists and through bars on the headboard, and felt unstoppable.

“How do you feel, Faith, knowing your life is in my hands? I could kill you like you threatened to kill me. Or maybe just make the most of this body you're always talking up.” Willow finally allowed herself to really take in the view, safe in the knowledge that Faith wouldn't be able to turn the tables.

If she was honest with herself, Faith felt more than a little sick. “Remember I gotta get off too, or we'll be stuck here. Might not wanna spend the whole time gloating.” She tried her hardest to look bored, and hoped Willow couldn't feel her heart beating faster.

“Oh that won't be a problem.” Willow held up one hand and wiggled her fingers, a spark of electricity shooting between them. “With a real lover I wouldn't bother, it's too much like cheating to use magic to make someone orgasm. But with you...well, I know enough about magic and biochemistry to have you coming for a solid hour, whether you want to or not. Of course, it's unlikely that I'll want to make you feel that good.” She stripped off finally, and Faith noticed with relief that focussing on the red-head's body helped her get a little turned on.

No matter what the witch claimed, the idea of coming only because Willow clicked her fingers gave her chills.

Willow gracefully threw a leg over Faith's midsection and slid down to bring her breasts level with Faith's mouth. “Suck.” She ordered. Normally the brunette slayer would refuse on principle, but she was keen to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. She latched on and gave the witch's breasts the best treatment she knew.

Willow was vocal in her appreciation, and was already beginning to rock against the slayer's stomach. “That's right...just like that. I can't decide if you're such a slut because you're skilled, or if you just became skilled after letting anyone who wants between your legs.”

Faith couldn't really comment with her mouth full, and chose to focus on what she was doing and disregard anything Willow might say. It was certain that Faith had heard worse, although rarely while in such a vulnerable position. She was a little more disturbed to notice that the witch's eyes weren't just dilated but entirely black, and tried to convince herself it was a side-effect of arousal.

Willow couldn't believe how wet she was getting just from basic stimulation. The knowledge that she could hurt Faith – really hurt a slayer – was literally making her throb. Seeing Faith rendered speechless through her ministrations on Willow's breast caused another surge of satisfaction. So often she had wished the cocky brunette would just shut up and realise that she wasn't the centre of everything, in spite of how she seemed to impress Buffy. Now she was being put in her place by shy, geeky Willow. The desire to use that annoying mouth in other ways became overwhelming, and the red-head pulled away to readjust.

She resettled with her centre hovering above Faith's face, and smirked in pleasure at the other woman's widening eyes. Winding one hand into the slayer's hair and using the other to balance, she glared down, almost daring Faith to complain or refuse. As the silence dragged out, Willow finally lowered herself. “Suck me, slut. Keep going until I come all over your face.”

Faith had once gone down on a guy with her hands tied behind her back. It was something she never wanted to do again, as it left her with no ability to adjust, control or signal, completely at the mercy of her partner while struggling for breath.

What Willow was doing was worse. At least with Jimmy she had been on her knees with her nose clear – a psychological advantage, even if it provided no practical assistance with her throat full. On her back, with her hands tied spread-eagle and Willow grinding all over the lower half of her face, it took everything she had not to panic. She certainly couldn't help that her arms were tugging violently against their bonds – she hadn't realised she was doing it until she heard Willow laughing and taunting her about it.

 

Once Willow had left, Faith had a quick shower. It didn't feel like enough, but she couldn't stand still long enough to have a long one. Running her hands through her hair and pacing, she tried to work out just what exactly would make her feel better – sex was usually a good outlet, but right this minute, the last thing she wanted. She figured her best bet would be slaying.

Grabbing a stake and a knife, Faith left to go do some damage.

Chapter Text

Please see chapter 1 for disclaimer and warnings

 

Joyce opened the door to a blood covered slayer. “Faith?! Oh my God, you're hurt.” She stepped back quickly to make room for the younger woman to enter.

“I'm alright.” Faith grimaced a little. “Just a bit banged up.” She entered, memories gathering at the edges of her mind about the last time she showed up unannounced to find Joyce on her own.

Pushing them aside, she hobbled past Buffy's mom, giving the older woman a wide berth, and into the kitchen where there were fewer things that could stain. For a moment she couldn't focus on anything but the relief of sitting down in a safe place. Once the moment had passed she slowly blinked her eyes open to see Mrs Summers staring at her, trying to work out where the slayer was injured.

“Hey, seriously, not as bad as it looks.” She tried to smile reassuringly. The mother didn't appear to be buying it – which was understandable. 'Reassuring' wasn't really an expression Faith practiced often.

“That's what you always say. That's what you'd say if both your legs had been cut off.” Joyce scowled, plucking at the slayer's shirt to see where it may be clinging to open wounds.

“Maybe I should've pretended they were, so the actual damage dint sound so bad.” Faith suggested. “It's only a slice across the ribs and a bite on my leg. Few bruises. Just didn't have any first aid stuff at my place, sorry.”

It hadn't actually occurred to her before knocking on the door, but Faith was relieved to realise that she would be able to explain away the marks Willow had left as side-effects of a hard night's slaying. The chafing from the cuffs was fairly distinctive, but she figured Buffy's mum was unlikely to have seen similar before. A small part of her brain that she quickly bricked away reminded her that hiding injuries used to be something she was very skilled in. Taking a mental inventory of where she hurt, Faith realised she couldn't really remember half of what caused the damage anyway.

“Come on then.” Joyce sighed. “Our kit's in the upstairs bathroom.”

 

Once they finally made it upstairs and into the bathroom, Faith carefully sat on the edge of the bathtub. Walking through the hallways with Joyce was bringing back all kinds of unwelcome memories, both of holding the older woman hostage and of her time in Buffy's body. Thankfully the bathroom was relatively free of any specific negative associations.

At Joyce's urging, she pulled her shirt off. The older woman started wiping her down with a washcloth, making the injuries easier to see and treat.

Faith didn't really care that Joyce was seeing her half-naked – she would probably see it again soon, anyway. But sitting there and letting the mother treat her injuries was freaking her out. By the time Joyce had finished locating her wounds and had the brunette holding a dressing against them, Faith was almost vibrating with suppressed energy.

Uncomfortable with gentleness and compassion at the best of times, when taken in combination with the memories crowding in, it was all too much. Faith kept still as long as she could but finally couldn't hold it in any more and stood up, quick-stepping sideways in an effort to avoid bumping into Joyce in the process.

“Faith, what – ”

“Why are you doing this?” She blurted out, sliding past Mrs Summers toward the bathroom door and beginning to pace, running a slightly bloody hand through her hair.

“You're hurt.” Joyce answered. Half-way through answering she realised Faith's question had a slightly deeper meaning, but a split second later figured her answer would be much the same regardless.

“No, I mean – all of this. Why are you being nice to me? Why did you let me in your house? I stole from you. I threatened you!” Most days the newest slayer was content to take what she could get, even if it didn't make any sense. But right at this moment, she needed to understand.

“I...believe in second chances.” Joyce answered. People who didn't know her well usually saw Joyce Summers as a standard middle-aged middle-class housewife. But countless experiences throughout her life had made the older woman eternally grateful for opportunities to make up for her mistakes.

She had been given the opportunity to re-make herself as a mother, to become a parent actually involved in her daughters' lives. She had the chance to explain herself and patch up her relationship with Buffy after semi-intentionally kicking her out of home. She had always wanted more than one child, and when Buffy told her the truth about Dawn...she was unbearably grateful to only remember a life with two daughters and the many surrogate children that were Buffy's friends.

She may not have ever killed someone, but remembering the long sleepless nights after Buffy ran away spent wondering if her eldest was alive or dead, or what she might be doing to make enough money to get by, Joyce remembered how it felt worrying that the worst had happened, and being terrified that she was inadvertently responsible for her own daughter's death.

“Second chances are just another opportunity for someone to fuck you over.” Faith shook her head. “People don't change! I'm the same evil whore I've always been.” She spat, before becoming still and looking over at Mrs Summers.

“Or is that what you wanted?” She cocked her head, looking for the first time a little like the maniac who had held Joyce hostage. “I can do that. Just give the word.” She bit her lip and stepped forward with the confidence of someone who understands what game they are playing. “D'you want to punish your bad girl? You want me to call you mommy?”

“Faith, stop.” Joyce put a hand on the brunette's shoulder, holding her at arm's length with a firm grip. “Honey, I don't want anything from you. I want things for you. I want you to be happy and healthy. I want you to be free, and safe.”

Faith looked utterly confused, and shook her head in denial. She tried to pull her shoulder away, but at the same time shifted on her feet like she wanted to step forward.

“You shouldn't.” She said, finally. “I'm bad.”

Joyce slowly but firmly wrapped the ex-con in a hug, ignoring her blood and nakedness. “You've made mistakes, like all of us.” She disagreed softly. “And I love you like a daughter.”

Faith's fist tightened in the back of Joyce's shirt as if to pull her away, frozen there as she fought a silent battle in her mind. Finally the girl wrapped a second arm around Joyce, and overwhelmed by everything that had happened, hid her face in Mrs Summer's neck and started to cry.

Joyce was silently grateful all over again for second chances, and held on tight.

 

Buffy had invited Xander to join her on patrol. It was part of her shiny new attempt to get her life together, involving something like a 'fake it til you make it' ethos. If anyone knew about getting their lives back on track, surely it was former alcoholics?

So she decided that she would multi-task by doing 'friend time' in between slayings. Buffy hoped the chaperone would have the added bonus of keeping Spike's libido under wraps. Or at least her own.

“What I want to know,” Xander was saying, “is how the warlock managed to open the hellmouth. Giles said he made a single sacrifice representing many, kind of similar to what we're going to do. I'm trying very hard not to think of him instigating a magical demon orgy.”

“Oh, ew.” Buffy's face twisted in horror. “You couldn't have kept that thought to yourself?”

“I trust you to share my burdens.” He joked solemnly.

“You've...done your part of the spell, right?” Buffy changed tack.

“Yes. Now I can legitimately claim that my sperm saved the world.” He boasted with a grin. Buffy backhanded him lightly in the stomach.

“How was it?” She asked. “I mean...” she rushed on, becoming a little wide-eyed, “not how was it like how enjoyable, I mean...”

“I get it.” Xander shoved down the many inappropriate responses that leaped to mind, and put her out of her misery. “It was okay. No real threats or weirdness – beyond the obvious. Faith's a bit more...I don't know, relaxed than she used to be. Not as intense, or something. Since then it's been kind of harder than I thought though - having had Anya there, I mean.” He admitted.

“Maybe it's better though.” Buffy suggested. “At least this way you don't have to wonder exactly what happened.”

“True. I've just been obsessing a bit. Afterwards she said it was 'immensely pleasurable' – I guess I've been overthinking that. Entirely.” Xander shared, feeling stupid for regretting what amounted to Every Man's Dream.

“I'm almost certain I heard her say the same thing about selling that hideous drunken leprechaun statue.” Buffy pointed out. “You know I never really understood Anya, but...she really cares about you. And she's definitely blunt enough to tell you straight away if she wasn't happy.”

“That's true.” Xander agreed. “Oh – heads up.” He pointed to a group of three demons, who spotted the approaching humans at the same moment. Each of them moved to grab a tree, and with a flash of light, the vegetation became clones of the demons.

“'I never wanted to be a slayer.'” Buffy quoted, hefting her axe. “'I wanted to be...a lumberjack!'”

Chapter Text

It had taken a while, but Faith pulled away from Joyce as soon as she felt able to hold her shit together again. Avoiding the other woman's eyes, she cleared her throat.

“Ah, thanks Mrs S. I should really get going...” she grabbed her shirt and fidgeted with it, uncertain how to express her appreciation but still escape the closeness that was freaking her out.

Joyce picked up some wound dressings and tape and handed them to the slayer without fanfare.

“There you go.” She smiled gently. “I'll leave you to pop these on quickly before you leave – I don't want you walking home with open wounds, you might get an infection and it would make things that much worse if you had to fight any monsters on the way.” She patted the bundle Faith was now holding and made her way to the door.

“Mrs S?”

She paused to look back at the obviously uncomfortable brunette.

“Thanks. Really.” Faith met her eyes and held them for a brief second before she turned away and started roughly but efficiently taping the dressings in place.

 

The walk home presented an unpleasantly long opportunity for thought. Faith's mind bounced restlessly between a number of subjects as she tried not to dwell on what had happened with Joyce. Throughout the walk Faith had the nagging feeling that she had forgotten something, but had no idea what it could be, considering that she was setting her own schedule.

She was only a few minutes away from her place when it hit her. Willow...and Tara.

 

After almost dying at the hands of the Gentlemen because people were too scared to open their doors, Tara had invented and 'installed' a magical peephole for her door. Not only could she see out into the hallway without anybody realising, but when she did vampires showed up tinted red and demons green, meaning even supernaturals who looked human would be obvious to her.

The system wasn't perfect – obviously there were plenty of standard humans it would be dangerous to open a door to. But it did mean that when she heard a knock late that night she could see that it was Faith, and opened the door.

The slayer just stood there for a second, regretting her impulsive need for immediate answers. Tara stepped back and Faith took the hint to walk in.

She had spent more time worrying about Tara's answer than thinking about how to ask the question, so just blurted it out.

“Why did you and Willow split?”

Of all the things Tara thought Faith may have come over to talk about, this didn't even make it onto the bottom of the list. But the Boston native was clearly invested in the answer - the sense of contained energy practically vibrated in her aura.

“We had a big argument.” Tara started, watching Faith's body language to try and get a sense of where the question was leading. “About how she was using magic.” Faith tensed, as the fears that had brought her to the dorms seemed confirmed.

“And she cast a spell on me to make me forget the argument.” Tara shared, feeling an echo of the betrayal she had felt.

Faith's first thought, for a split second, was how good it would be to forget. There were so many things that she didn't want to remember. But running away from them had not turned out well – one of the best and worst things about prison had been having the time to face up to all of it.

Her next thought was an image of Willow removing her magical handcuffs...and casting a spell to make her forget what had happened. Suddenly it was very easy to see why Tara might be horrified by losing a memory.

“You obviously found out.” Faith noted. “Did you get the memories back? Did she wipe anything else? Did she hurt you worse than an argument and then make you forget it?” She was getting worked up and knew she should tone it down before she scared Tara into clamming up.

“I got them back. The problem really wasn't the things I forgot...it was the things I remembered.” Tara sat slowly on the edge of her bed.

"It was about a week until I found out." She continued. “A week of decisions that I would have made differently if I had remembered our argument. You know how I said earlier in the week that it matters why you agree to go along with this spell, that I felt you agreed through duress? I guess, looking back, I feel like I was lacking the capacity to consent to...a number of things which happened that week.”

Faith was furious. It was easy to read between the lines - the witch wasn't really hiding it, even if she didn't want to say it. The two had fooled around, and probably fucked, and if Tara didn't have her memories stolen it wouldn't have happened.

It was a horrifying thing to hear, even if Faith had been expecting something more extreme from her recent session with Willow.

What she couldn't work out, even when she had double-timed it over to the dorms, was why she cared. They barely knew each other, and empathy had never been one of the brunette slayer's strong points.

Still, she couldn't deny that she really wanted to go cut Willow's head off. In spite of their brief acquaintance she knew Tara wouldn't want that, though - so she took a deep breath, pushed down her anger and decided to try helping the Joyce Way.

Faith sat down carefully next to Tara and awkwardly put an arm around her, giving the Wiccan's shoulder a squeeze.

“She's lucky you only dumped her. Did any of the super friends give you shit about it?”

Tara cleared her throat, choked up from the memory and Faith's unexpected gesture. “Dawn, actually. She was hurt that I was leaving. It was too...raw for me to explain it to her properly.”

“Does she know now? Do the others?”

“No, I...things have been so crazy. There never seemed like a good time.” Tara looked guilty, like she was keeping crucial information to herself.

“That's your call. They don't need to know shit. But if any of them hassles you, or Willow tries it on...I'll plant my boot so far up her ass she'll be spitting leather.” Faith grit her teeth. She was pretty new to the whole comfort thing, and felt like she probably should not have brought it back around to violence, but Tara's hand on her face caught her attention and stopped her thoughts dead.

The witch wanted to make sure she could see Faith's eyes. “Thank you Faith.” She could hear the brunette's breathing catch at their proximity and couldn't help herself.

Tara leaned in and brought their lips together, starting a gentle and incredibly sensual exploration. Faith seemed frozen at first, possibly unable to recognise the slow gliding of lips as kissing. But the reality of feeling Tara's lips quickly broke her haze, and so she tried to follow the other woman's lead. She sucked Tara's bottom lip between her own, fighting to keep things slow.

Faith knew that of everything she wanted right now, her strongest desire was not to scare Tara off

Chapter Text

Faith had disturbing dreams of loneliness and frogs.

 

When she woke up, Faith knew immediately she was not in her own bed. The main give-away was being fully clothed. That presented its own problem - usually she didn't wake up wearing clothes if she was in someone else's bed, either.

She opened her eyes and, taking in her surroundings, remembered what had happened the night before. Tara had kissed her. She had kissed Tara. They had kissed...and that was all. She frowned at the memory, not quite sure what to make of it.

Faith wasn't sure if it had meant something to the witch, or if it had been part of Tara's plan for them to 'get closer' before exchanging essence, to learn some important thing that Dawn would want. It did seem like the kind of thing Dawn would enjoy – the kissing had felt sort of nice, even if it got her all worked up with nowhere to come.

“I can hear you thinking.” Tara spoke up from the other side of the room, behind her. Faith rolled onto her back so she could see.

“Mornin'.” She husked out, voice low from disuse.

“Coffee?” The witch hid a smile behind her own cup, obviously a little amused by the slayer's 'not yet rolled out of bed' look.

 

Xander woke up and opened his eyes to find Anya hovering immediately above him, looking equal parts angry and worried.

“Bah!” He jerked his head back harder into his pillow.

“You were dreaming about her, weren't you!?” She pushed up so she was kneeling over him, and pointed a finger at her boyfriend furiously. “Or you were dreaming about ways to break up with me! All this time you were just using me for my incredible body until your one true love returned from the Big House!”

“Anya, stop.” He rested his hands on her thighs. “Honey, I just woke up. You're not making any sense.”

“That floozy, Faith! You're going to leave me and run away with her to sow your wild oats!” The former demon pouted and punched the bed in frustration. “And now I'll have to find a particularly creative way to slaughter you to maintain my dignity...” her lip started to tremble, “...but I don't want to hurt you.”

Xander finally understood what his girlfriend was talking about, and laughed in relief. He sat up to hug her, ignoring the awkward position. “Ahn, I love you.” He said emphatically. “I'm not leaving you, and I don't want to hook up with Faith.” He tugged her back down on top of him and kissed her.

“So you don't prefer her...trendy colloquial speech and her jaded urban attitude?” The blonde checked, genuinely insecure in spite of how ridiculous her question seemed.

“I prefer you. To anyone.” Xander answered, kissing her again. “I've been worried that you might prefer Faith, too.” He admitted.

“The sex was nice.” She confirmed candidly. “But ever since, I've been hating her for seducing you. She isn't so bad now that you've said you're mine.” Anya smiled widely and bent down to kiss her man.

 

“Buffy.” Dawn spoke up between mouthfuls of cereal, her eyes focussed on the TV. “You've been staring at me for about ten minutes. Did you want something, or is this some lame 'test Dawn's awareness' thing?”

“Ah.” The slayer cleared her throat, a little embarrassed at being caught. “Well, I...I mean, I know I haven't been around much lately. But I just wanted to say, if there's anything you wanted to ask, because of the spell...”

Dawn turned to look at her sister expectantly, but stayed silent to see how much Buffy could actually get out before turning red in the face and running out of the room.

“Because it's your first time. And you might have questions. Sister-type questions.” She managed before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. Suddenly they flew back open. “Oh my god. It is your first time isn't it? Dawn Marie Summers! You didn't sleep with that weird long-hair guy, did you!?”

“Buffy.” Dawn groaned and put her bowl down. “Breathe, would you? Yes, it will be my first – even though that's really none of your business.” She figured it was better to just tell Buffy than risk her sister going to interrogate all of her exes.

“Thank God.” The slayer relaxed a little.

“This is the part where you say how proud you are that I didn't give in to hormones slash curiosity slash peer pressure.” Dawn dead-panned. “You know, by modern standards I'm practically the 40 year old virgin. Much older, one might point out, than you were.”

Buffy waved this aside. “No-one in their right mind would take their lead from my love life. I would not be against you becoming an actual 40 year old virgin. But, fine, yes - I'm very proud of you. Also relieved my calling didn't end up with you married to or impregnated by any demons.” She elaborated, remembering one of Cordelia's stories about her first year working with Angel.

“Well I've been meaning to tell you...”

“Agh! Don't even joke about it.” Buffy smiled...then frowned. “You were joking, right?”

“Yes, Buffy. And thank you for...I don't know, offering sisterly question-answering duty, but I'm pretty okay with everything.”

Buffy smiled and nodded, looking away, and Dawn couldn't fight the grin starting to break out on her own face.

“Did you have any questions for me?” She asked. “I mean, I did live only a couple rooms away from Willow and Tara for a couple of months there...”

“Dawn!”

 

It had taken Faith a while to sit upright enough to be able to drink her coffee, but when she did the slayer began to wake up properly. Once her eyes were a little brighter, Tara risked asking another question.

“What made you come over last night?” She tilted her head in thought. “I mean, why did you want to know how Willow and I broke up?”

It wasn't an easy question for Faith to answer – she hadn't really worked it out herself. The part she did know, that Willow freaked her the fuck out, she didn't want to discuss until she knew a bit more about what had been going on with the red-head before Faith came back to town.

When it came to the hellmouth, Willow's behaviour could be caused by anything from possession to band candy and everything in between.

“I heard a couple of the gang wondering 'bout if this spell thing would make things worse between you guys. Guess I just wanted to understand so I didn't make anything harder than it had to be.” She told the half-truth. Slayer hearing meant that after Giles' Big Reveal when everyone had wandered off to talk things through, she had overheard a lot of it from her position in the backyard while she smoked.

“But I sort of get it now.” Faith continued. “They just don't really know what happened so they figure you guys will work it out?”

“Something like that.” Tara nodded, not really convinced that Willow's friends wouldn't expect her to forgive her ex even if they did know the whole story.

“How is the ritual going?” The witch asked, not wanting to dwell on the situation with Willow any further. “Who do you...have left? Is the slaying getting more difficult?” She asked before swallowing the last of her coffee.

“Uh, Giles, you, and the Summers.” Faith shrugged. “B and Spike've been doing most of the slaying to let me focus on the fucking. They haven't really said if it's been much worse. I might ask Tweed when I line him up.”

“No news is probably good news.” Tara guessed

Chapter Text

Joyce had gone to bed once Faith left the night before, but barely managed any sleep. The girl's disturbing come-on and her eventual tears had left Joyce in turmoil about the spell.

She managed to hold off on calling Giles until 7am, at which point she couldn't wait any longer and dialled.

“Hello?” Giles managed to make the greeting sound like a polite rebuke.

“I don't think I can do it, Rupert.” Joyce tugged anxiously at a curl of hair. There was a pause as he took this in.

“Perhaps we could discuss this in person?” Giles requested, not wanting to seem like he was pushing. “Would you like to come over? Or I could, if that's easier.”

“I'll come over to your place.” Joyce agreed, actually looking forward a little to seeing how the man kept his personal space.

 

“So. What's changed?” he asked once Mrs Summers had entered his home, apparently too agitated to take a seat.

“She came over last night, injured. She's fine now,” Joyce forestalled his next question, “but I looked after her. And she was so surprised by it, and suspicious of it. She thought I wanted...well. She came onto me. How can I go ahead with this knowing she'll never again believe we're not just after a repeat performance?” The mother asked bitterly.

“Well –”

“And that's before I even consider the practical aspects. I think of her like a daughter Rupert, I'm not even slightly attracted to her. I never have been attracted to another woman. You know I love Tara and Willow, but I just have no interest in sex with women. It leaves me completely cold. How am I ever going to manage an exchange of essence with her?!”

“I suppose – ”

“And then there's the sexual dynamics. I mean, if I were on top I'd feel like the stereotypical old cougar taking advantage of a younger woman, but if she's on top I'm certain she'll revert to the facade she's always putting on, implying that the whole thing – including her – is easy, cheapening it.”

Rupert Giles gave up on words and just pulled her in for a hug. Joyce willingly wrapped her arms around him and lay her head against his chest, but having learned his lesson Rupert remained quiet and waited to see if there was more.

“I'm also old.” Joyce added quietly, aware of how silly it would sound. “My body...”

“Is gorgeous.” Giles said firmly, taking his turn at interrupting. While it may have been the least of Joyce's actual concerns, he knew it wouldn't help to have it added to all the rest.

“Why does it seem worse in my mind for Faith to have to sleep with an old lady she finds ugly than for her to have to sleep with people who hated, hunted or fought her?” Joyce asked rhetorically, letting the sound of Giles' steady heartbeat calm her down somewhat.

“Because you are imaging her being disgusted and suffering through the experience.” Rupert suggested. “But did you not ever have a crush on an older man when you were Faith's age? As I said, you're gorgeous, and I'm certain Faith would agree.”

“I take your point,” Joyce mused, “but when I think about it, I don't really want her to think about me sexually any more than I want her to feel like we see her that way. Is it wrong to hope we find this sorcerer who caused everything and drop him right into the hellmouth before we close it?”

“Not at all.” Giles answered. “Although it's possible entering the hell mouth was his goal in opening it. Still, I imagine he would not wish to remain there indefinitely.”

“And the other problems?” Joyce finally pulled out of the hug with a sniff and sat down on his couch. “I know we'll have to go ahead with it. Perhaps we'll just have to find some other trustworthy adults to become involved in Faith's life once this damages our relationship with her irrevocably.” She suggested sadly.

“Well I have actually been thinking quite a lot about this, for all the reasons you shared. I would guess Faith is highly attuned to the power dynamics of sex and we absolutely don't want to appear to be too controlling, but at the same time we wish for it to be a largely positive experience – and I think if Faith were to guide things she would, as you say, force it into the mould of her previous experiences.” Giles reiterated thoughtfully. Seeing that he had all of Joyce's attention, he continued.

“Let me explain what I was thinking.”

 

“I should probably go.” Faith looked at the door, worried by the fact that she didn't actually want to.

“Okay. But, before you do...” Tara bit her lip. “I kissed you last night. I hope I didn't make things too confusing.”

“It's fine.” Faith shrugged. “I kissed you back.” She stood up.

Tara's smile in response to this reassurance was bright and happy, and the slayer was amazed to think she may have contributed to it.

“Okay.” Faith took a deep breath and forced herself to start moving toward the door. “Better go line up my next ride. I'll see you 'round.”

 

Before calling Giles, Faith needed a strong drink. Returning to her apartment finally, she started with a shower to wash away the previous night's slaying.

She found herself not really wanting to have sex with Joyce or Giles. The fact that neither of them had ever asked before was kind of cool – not because of the ick factor the rest of Buffy's friends seemed to have about the idea, both of the adults were pretty hot – but it meant they pretty much stayed out of her business, which was fine by Faith.

Fucking both of them at this point, even in the name of a spell, was just going to make things weird. When the older ones got all possessive or domineering after sex it was best to bail, but she still didn't know what her plan was for after they'd plugged the entrance to hell back up.

If Buffy and Giles wanted her to stick around and keep working off the Redemption Debt, it would be pretty difficult to avoid either of them. Then again, it was just as likely they would want to shove her back in her box once they were finished...well, shovin' things in her box.

Towelling off quickly, Faith got herself the much-needed drink and slammed it back quickly, ready to stop with all the magical bullshit and get to the part where there was a Big Bad to fight.

She dialled the watcher to organise his session first, not quite ready to face Joyce after the night before.

“Yo G-man, you ready to do the dirty?” Faith asked as soon as he had answered.

“Ah, well yes. Although I wouldn't put it that way. Actually, Joyce was wondering if we might perhaps perform our part of the ritual together?” Giles was certain that dealing with Faith was occasionally like confronting any other predator – it was best to show no fear.

There went Faith's plan of avoiding Mrs Summers for a little longer, but it would have to happen eventually. She shrugged, even though he couldn't see it.

“Five by five, it'll make closing the hellmouth quicker. Whatever works for you guys. I'll meet you at the motel.”

“Excellent, thank you. Can we meet you there in about an hour?” He asked, thinking about the plans they had prepared to ease Joyce into things.

“Deal.” Faith hung up, leaving Giles to roll his eyes at the poor habits of the next generation.

 

Faith was only a few doors away from the motel room when Tony stepped out from around the corner. She was actually surprised he hadn't come past to hassle her any sooner.

“What'ya want, Tony?” She asked, a little impatiently.

“Come on Sweetness. Is that any way to talk to the man who owns the bed you're sleeping in?”

“Yeah.” She crossed her arms, waiting for him to get to the point.

He snorted. “Now that you've got Old Man bankrolling you you're all cocky. But do you think he'd keep the cash coming if knew about the other...visitors...you've been entertaining?”

Faith shook her head at the realisation the asshole was trying to blackmail her. “Sure he would,” she chuckled, “he sent them over.”

“Ah, so the Sugar Daddy is actually the Pimp. Well you just be careful. Some folks look down on that type of thing, wouldn't want you getting in any trouble.” He said with a meaningful look.

“Oh, I'll be fine. But you watch yourself,” Faith took a step closer, and let what she wanted to do to him show in her eyes, “bad things happen 'round Sunnydale after dark.” She stared him down for a moment longer then stepped away, entering the motel room and closing the door behind her.

Chapter Text

Giles hung up the phone and turned to look at Joyce.

“Faith?” She asked, already certain of the answer.

“Yes.” Giles sat down next to her on the couch. “We won't at any point force you into anything, of course.” He reassured. “But do you feel up to trying to ease into it the way we discussed? We can stop at any time.”

Joyce blew out the deep breath she had taken to settle her nerves. “One step at a time, huh?” She turned to him and nodded decisively.

Giles cupped her face and smiled. “How about to begin with, I kiss you?” He asked. She relaxed a little at the simple suggestion and leaned forward.

 

Glancing at the time, Giles realised they needed to start the drive to the motel or they would never bother. His proposed plan had essentially been a slow seduction, in the hopes that Joyce would become aroused enough that any physical stimulation Faith provided would simply push her over the edge rather than make her anxious.

They had both agreed to the idea in principle, but the problem was, it was working – and they were both enjoying themselves so much it was hard to resist pulling clothes off and postponing the spell for another time.

Finally he managed to pull away without giving into the temptation to start undoing buttons.
Joyce groaned in protest but put up no other resistance, and they both made their way to the car as quickly as possible. Once they were in the car, Giles did not start the engine immediately, but turned to Joyce.

“Touch yourself.” He instructed seriously. Joyce's eyes widened in surprise, but her hand drifted toward the crotch of her jeans before hesitating.

“I...think I'll just feel silly.” She admitted.

“It's okay – just put your hand in your pants and touch yourself. Please, don't worry about anything else. Just relax and feel your body.” Giles stared at her intently for a moment, starting the car as she started to unbutton her jeans.

Joyce bit her lip and closed her eyes as she inched her fingers awkwardly under her waistband. At first she felt nothing but uncomfortable and exposed. But as she started to worry less about being seen and thought more about the fact that Rupert could see her, she began to imagine it was him touching her. Something about the idea of them being caught fooling around in the car like school kids instantly notched up her arousal. The slickness at her fingers brought her more into the moment, and she could smell herself. She knew Rupert could too.

By the time they arrived at the motel, her breath was catching in her throat and she was arching slightly back against the headrest.

Giles didn't really want to stop her, and made a mental note to pursue this again some time when they weren't saving the world. He put his hand over hers, halting her movements, before tugging her hand free. Joyce didn't resist the movement and watched as he brought her hand up to his mouth and sucked the fingers she had been using clean. Joyce groaned and couldn't help her hips bucking slightly at the sight.

“Beautiful.” Giles decided with a grin. “Let's go inside.”

 

“Hey.” Faith greeted them, a little subdued and uncertain.

“Hullo Faith.” Giles answered. “Joyce and I have both been quite anxious about all of this – we were hoping to focus on each other to make things a little simpler to begin with. Would that be alright by you?”

“Sure.” She shrugged and gestured for them to enter the circle first. In truth Faith was a little relieved by the suggestion. It would be a lot easier to fit into their existing dynamic than to try and work out what each of them wanted from her. Or even how she wanted this to go.

When she entered the circle behind them, the light flashed up as usual, but none of them really paid any attention. Giles and Faith had been expecting it and Joyce had her eyes shut, focusing on the feeling of Rupert's hands under her clothes rekindling the arousal they had built earlier.

Faith had chosen to wear a robe, knowing it would be easy to remove. She figured it would be best to leave it on for now and she could just undo it when needed.

Laying down on one side of the bed, she propped her head up on one hand and watched the others with interest.

It hadn't really occurred to her before, but she'd never really seen two older adults getting hot with each other. It had always been someone older getting it on with someone younger. And while she knew for a fact plenty of adults continued having sex way after forty (no matter what Xander wanted to believe), she suddenly realised that she had never considered how it might look before. She had vague mental impressions of boring married sex and that was about all.

But Giles and Joyce were being...well, passionate. In a way she'd never seen before. Faith couldn't work out what was so different about it - none of their physical actions were new to her.

It wasn't long before Joyce Summers was naked on her bed. Faith could see she still had her eyes closed, and wondered what she could be imagining that was better than a threesome with her boyfriend and a hot younger woman. Giles was murmuring reassurance as he took off the rest of his clothes and kneeled on the bed between the older woman's legs.

Catching most of it with slayer hearing, she held back a laugh. She had never had a guy honest enough to say “Don't worry, it will be over soon” before. Although technically he wasn't saying it to her.

Giles began to kiss and stroke Joyce's breasts, and Faith thought it might be the way he was so attuned to her reactions that was causing the scene to look so different. Or maybe how he seemed to be enjoying foreplay as much as Joyce was.

“Yes...Rupert, that's good.” Joyce spoke up for the first time, sounding almost relieved.

“That's it. Just focus on what you're feeling.” He encouraged as her hips started to rock slightly, causing maddeningly brief strokes of his erection against her clit. Giles hummed his own pleasure at the sensation but continued to focus on the beautiful breasts in front of him.

“More.” She insisted breathlessly, and Giles obliged, angling his body for maximum contact and stimulation along her wet sex. He knew Joyce needed to be practically mindless with pleasure before they tried getting Faith involved, or her anxiety about Faith's presence would completely kill her arousal.

 

“Rupert, I need to feel you inside me.” Joyce admitted. Faith would usually have thought of it as begging, but she hadn't really begged – she'd just sort of said it, and trusted Giles not to tease, or withhold, or make demands.

He barely even paused before giving what she had asked for, although he definitely slowed down, positioning himself carefully before pushing in, keeping an eye on Joyce's face for reactions.

“Alright?” He asked once he was settled completely inside her. Faith bit back the sudden burning temptation to break the moment. A voice inside her desperately wanted to undermine, minimise and distance. Fuck that cunt. Take it, bitch. Smack that ass. Their polite and respectful approach was making her want to flee or fight, almost as much as it made her want to watch. Faith forced down the impulse to destroy, gave up on trying to interpret what she was seeing and just took it all in to think about later.

“Incredible.” Joyce sighed in satisfaction and started to rock her hips, encouraging Giles to move.

 

Eventually he could take the sweet torture no longer and pulled out, moving two fingers to rub and curl inside Joyce instead. Giles moved so he was laying along Joyce's right side without stopping the movements of his hand, and finally looked up to make eye contact with Faith, nodding his head toward Joyce's sex with his eyebrows raised in question. The slayer didn't even need to think, and moved quickly to take Giles' place between Joyce's legs.

Lowering her mouth into place, Faith didn't bother with finesse. Giles had already worked Joyce up to the edge, and Faith would just help her to fly over. She thrust her tongue as deep as she could manage inside the older woman, restricted by the less than ideal angle. Faith decided it was worth doing regardless, since Joyce's earlier request seemed to suggest she enjoyed penetration as much as attention to her clit. The gasp Joyce let out in response proved her right, and Faith moved her fingers to start rubbing tight circles on the woman's button while her tongue kept thrusting as far as she could manage.

Faith could tell by the fluttering and clenching that Joyce was close, and eventually swapped her mouth and hand, pushing two fingers deep into the older woman while the slayer licked, sucked and swirled her tongue around her clit.

“Yes! Please...” Joyce gasped, and Faith figured she'd been waiting long enough. She curled her fingers upward and rubbed, hoping to get lucky and hit Joyce's g-spot. At the same time she sucked hard on the bundle of nerves in her mouth and lightly scraped her teeth against it.

Joyce came, hard.

“Faith?” Giles spoke up quietly after a moment. “I'm sorry but I won't be able to last for much longer.” His arousal had become painful a while earlier. “Perhaps if you moved over the top of Joyce I could finish my part of proceedings with enough time remaining for you to...reach orgasm against Joyce while she's still somewhat aroused?” He proposed.

Of all the suggestions Giles had decided to make, this was the one he was most concerned about. It seemed like the simplest and fastest way to ensure Faith was able to come against Joyce, without the other woman having to experience the much more foreign same-sex act of going down on Faith.

He had also felt that if the two had simply started things out by tribbing, Joyce would have become overwhelmed by having to...well, face up to what they were doing by looking in Faith's eyes as it happened. Having already reached orgasm, even if Joyce froze in anxiety from this point on, they would not be trapped.

In spite of all that, Giles knew there were unavoidable implications of dominance in penetrating a woman from behind. It was true that this would be a lot more difficult for him if he had to look Faith in the eyes – but a position which avoided that intimacy also seemed to emphasise that she was being used in a way which he hated.

In the end he had decided that having it all over quickly was the best solution for everyone, and that he would simply have to counter any negative connotations by how he treated Faith in future.

Faith just nodded to his suggestion, apparently content to accept any suggestions that might make things easier. She stripped off her robe and moved up on hands and knees over Joyce.

Giles was driven to distraction by the pain of his urgent need to ejaculate, and it had the unintended benefit of drowning out the hot shame and self-loathing he felt at doing this to Faith, regardless of the circumstances.

He no longer cared whether Faith chose to make jokes about his staying power, and once he had carefully thrust inside the slayer and given her a moment to adjust, finally allowed his body to take over. Faith didn't seem interested in drawing things out either, and rather than teasing, flirting or joking, worked to bring him off as quickly as possible. It did not take long.

 

Pushing the pleasurable haze of orgasm aside, Giles grabbed his pants and pulled them on as quickly as he could manage, before lying on the bed next to Joyce and taking her hand in his. She had kept her eyes closed, apparently needing the distance from what was happening.

Watching Faith, he could tell the entire episode had not been particularly erotic for her. But the physical stimulation was apparently enough, and after long moments of rocking against Joyce he could see her tense - light flashed all around them, and the barrier dropped.

Giles stood up, grabbed Faith's robe and placed it over her. Rolling off Joyce to the middle of the bed, Faith took the hint and tied it once more around herself. Rupert pulled on his shirt, and Joyce dragged the top sheet over to cover herself, as it had largely come loose and fallen down one side of the bed throughout their exertions.

Faith, probably taking her cue from their previous behaviour, was not looking at either of them until Giles sat back down on the bed.

“Faith...” Joyce began in a shaky voice, her eyes finally open, “I'm so sorry.” She held her arms up slightly in an offer of a hug and was incredibly relieved when the slayer hesitantly lay down against Joyce's side and allowed it.

“s'okay.” She spoke up, slightly muffled.

“It's not something either of us ever intended.” Giles explained seriously, patting her shoulder. The gesture should have been laughable after what they had just done, but instead it was...right. It was exactly what he might have done before.

“You shouldn't have to touch someone like me.” Faith agreed darkly.

“That's wrong.” Joyce insisted. “You're a brave, wonderful young woman with a lot of love to give. Maybe you're not able to show it to anyone yet. And maybe you won't believe me because of what just happened...” Joyce swallowed to clear the lump in her throat, “but I'm proud to think of you like a daughter. I'm proud of you for facing up to your mistakes and going to prison. The other children can all learn a lot from you.”

No-one had ever told Faith they were proud of her before. It was an incredible feeling, like something was expanding in her chest. At the same time she was terrified, because having something meant having something you could fuck up.

She squeezed Joyce tightly in appreciation for even thinking of saying something like that, then broke away, more than ready to have some time to herself.

“I better have a shower.” She mumbled the excuse.

“Of course. We'll be gone by the time you're finished.” Giles agreed, and with a nod Faith went into the bathroom and closed the door.

 

Thoughts were swerving chaotically through Faith's mind. Her mood swung as quickly as her thoughts, ecstatic at the memory of Joyce saying she was proud, despairing at the belief that Mrs Summers was just missing some of the facts and that her pride wouldn't last, terrified at the knowledge that she was a fuck-up and would ruin things with the only person ever to be proud of her.

Then she thought about how Joyce and Giles had fucked. The give and take between them had been so seamless she could not decide who had been on top. Giles had been physically, obviously – but he had done what Joyce said, what she wanted. Followed commands she may not have even realised her body was giving him. But then he seemed to guide her toward her peak....in a way that gave him pleasure.

Faith had seen some pretty damn complicated relationships play out through sex before, but had no idea how Joyce and Giles fell into such a confusing balance so easily.

They had never acted like any adults she had ever known, and apparently sex was no different.

Chapter Text

After Faith had left the dorms that morning, Tara sat down to think. If what the Slayer said was true, it was not only Spike and Dawn who thought the current apocalypse may affect her relationship with Willow. Which probably meant that Willow also felt there was a relationship still to affect.

Tara had largely avoided Willow since their breakup, unless it was in group situations. Partly because she couldn't trust the witch who had stolen her memories twice, but mostly she still did not trust herself.

Tara loved Willow. Deciding to break up with her had been incredibly difficult, and she missed her girlfriend terribly. Every day, especially at first, she had wanted to go apologise or accept Willow's apologies, and standing by her decision felt like she was being punished for Willow's mistakes.

But Tara Maclay did not leave home and stay in Sunnydale against her father's wishes just to let someone else try to force their opinions and choices on her, so she stood by her decision.

The other witch had seemed resigned to giving Tara space. Possibly because nothing had changed – the red-head still didn't see a problem with how she was using magic. According to Dawn, Amy was only encouraging it, and Willow was spending increasing amounts of time with the woman who was telling her what she wanted to hear.

Tara's initial plan was to let things play out until the topic came up naturally. But the spell complicated things. Willow made no secret of distrusting Faith, and Tara was concerned that if she waited until after her session with Faith to make sure Willow understood their relationship was over, the other witch would blame Faith.

The next problem was how best to approach Willow to discuss it. Tara felt most comfortable speaking to her over the phone, but it didn't seem very tactful to ring and provide any version of 'just so you know, it's entirely over'. However, any meeting in person increased the danger of further memory spells being cast significantly.

Tara decided the safest option would be to have a magical defense prepared and to visit Willow at the Summers' home unexpectedly, where the two of them had moved in to help out after Buffy died.

At the time moving there together had been the best option. Joyce had just finished her 6 week course of radiotherapy after removal of the brain tumour when things had come to a head with Glory, and had been relying on both daughters to keep the household functioning while she suffered the fatigue and sickness caused by the treatment. Buffy's death was a painful blow at a difficult time, and Willow and Tara had offered to move in to assist with housework, cooking and grocery shopping until Joyce's health had improved.

Lately, however, it had meant Tara needed to plan her visits with Dawn for times that she knew Willow had classes. Most of the time that was a frustrating necessity, but knowing that Willow was unlikely to take their upcoming conversation well, Tara was relieved. Willow living at the Summers' home meant Buffy, Dawn or Joyce would be around to prevent things going too badly.

Decision made, Tara didn't see any point in putting it off. She collected her defensive charms into a large carry bag and leaving the dorms, began the walk to Revello Drive.

 

“Tara, hey!” Dawn greeted happily as she answered the door. “Did we make plans? I've completely forgotten.”

“No, that's alright. I was actually wondering if.....Willow was home.” Tara focussed carefully on sounding her ex-girlfriend's name, not wanting to give away her nerves by stuttering. It was mostly for her own benefit. Dawn had noticed very quickly how uncomfortable Tara was discussing their break-up, even if she didn't know exactly what had caused it.

“Sure. She seems really tired though, she might be getting sick or something.” Dawn tactfully described what looked a lot like a hangover.

“That's okay. I don't think I'll be too long, I just...needed to speak with her.” Tara felt the butterflies rising in her chest and considered bolting. “Are Joyce and Buffy here?”

“No, mom left a note saying she's visiting Giles, and Buffy's gone to the Magic Box to stand guard so Xander can take Anya on a surprise date.” Dawn stepped back, letting Tara in. “It's just me here. So if you want to take longer talking to Willow, I can make myself scarce. I'll stay down here and watch TV really loud!” She suggested hopefully.

“No!” Tara answered too quickly. “I mean, no. That's okay. Just a quick conversation...separate-room private, not loud-music private.” She smiled weakly to try and make up for her overreaction.

“Alright. Well, she's in your room. Her room. Sorry. Upstairs.” Dawn grimaced.

Tara nodded, gripped her bag more tightly, and walked up the stairs.

 

It took a while for the door to open after she knocked.

“Dawn, I told you, I'm not feeling....oh!” Willow's eyes shot wide. Tara's resolve was instantly challenged by the familiar cute expression. “Tara, hi!...um, come in.” Willow opened the door wider and stepped back, looking frantically around the room and quickly picking up some clothes off the floor.

“I could come over another time, if you're not well.” Tara's decision took a back seat to her concern. Dawn was right, Willow did look terrible. She was pale, and dark under her eyes, squinting like she did when she had a headache from studying too long.

“No, I'm fine! I mean, okay.” She shrugged and dropped to sit on the bed. “I'm not fine, but I'm just a bit tired. What...brings you here?” She fidgeted, not sure how to speak with Tara now their previously comfortable dynamic had been shattered.

“I've been thinking about us.” Tara started, knowing she would be doing Willow no favours by drawing the conversation out with small talk. “Dawn and Spike both asked me how the ritual would affect our relationship.”

“Spike!?” Willow looked confused, stuck on the same thing that Tara had been.

“Apparently.” Tara smiled a little before becoming serious again.

“That's not a 'good news' face.” Willow observed sadly.

“No, I...Willow, I love you. But I can't trust you. I've spent a lot of time wondering whether we could get back together,” Tara explained, “but part of me would always wonder if the good times were real, or if I had just been made to forget.”

“Because of the magic?” Willow had curled up to hug her knees. “I could stop...” she trailed off, knowing how the last promise had turned out.

“Even if you could,” Tara bit her lip, “magic is just a tool. You are the one who chose to use it like that, and there are other tools. I would always wonder if you had found some other way to change my mind, or keep secrets from me. I'm sorry, but...I can't ever be your girlfriend again.” Her eyes were welling up with tears by the time she finished, the finality of saying what she had been thinking hitting hard.

Tears were rolling down Willow's face as well, and all Tara wanted to do was comfort her girl. Not being able to do that made her chest ache, and the knowledge she had caused that pain was even worse.

“I understand.” Willow said once she could speak without her voice breaking. “But you should go,” she continued, “before I start begging you to stay.” She smiled weakly, but couldn't look in Tara's direction.

Tara nodded. If she stayed any longer, she didn't know if she would have the strength to leave. She walked away.

 

“Sugar Daddy.” Giles heard as he and Joyce left Faith's motel room. Turning to see Tony, the manager, he narrowed his eyes.

He never enjoyed spending any time in the company of those who would take advantage of others' desperation, and the way he was already feeling after the day's events meant he would find it difficult not to simply kill the man.

“Wait for me in the car?” Giles asked Joyce. She just nodded and left, likely still too overwhelmed by everything that had happened to ask questions.

“Well?” He demanded, walking closer to Tony.

“I understand a bit more about your arrangement with your hot brunette.” Tony smirked.

“I doubt very much that you do.” Giles disagreed calmly.

“All I'm saying is, why spend all this money on a motel room? I'm sure you've gotta make a profit just like the next guy. It'd be a lot easier to just offer payment in kind, right?” the manager proposed. “An hour every other day won't take up too much of her time, and – ”

Giles made a grab for the bastard, but Tony was ready for it this time, and danced backwards with the speed of a born coward.

“None of that.” Tony demanded. “I'm being nice offering to call it payment for the room, but if you want to be nasty about things I could charge you full price and take payment from your girl for something else – not telling the cops.”

Giles considered this carefully. His first impulse was to maim the arsehole horribly, possibly beginning with that very body part. But if the manager disappeared it would be noticed quickly, and eventually one of the other guests would see fit to mention it to someone.

Sunnydale's police force had been a lot less intrusive since the Mayor had died, but still needed to be seen to go through the motions. Giles needed time to come up with a plan that did not interrupt their schedule, their access to the motel-room, and obviously, did not allow the cockroach in front of him anywhere near Faith.

“Give me a day to think about it?” Rupert requested. Tony wore the arrogant smirk of an idiot who believes he's clever. Giles wanted badly to turn it into a look of genuine understanding – and pain.

“Sure thing. I'll see you this time tomorrow. Just come past my office.”

Chapter Text

Willow's head hurt. The boost she got from Amy's friend Rack had been incredible, and way beyond just getting enough energy to enchant the handcuffs. After fucking Faith she had felt invincible, capable of anything she put her mind to.

She had gone to spend the rest of her evening with Amy, who understood better than anyone how useful Willow's power could be, having been returned to human form by it.

The two witches had gone to the bronze, and inspired by her time with Faith, Willow had flirted openly with anyone who seemed interested.

After a few drinks she found her admirers became more honest. “What have you always wanted to do, but never dared?” She asked them. Or, “If you could do one thing with a guarantee of no consequences, what would it be?”

So she and Amy had spent the night making people's dreams come true. Not the boring ones, of course, like buying a house or taking their crush on a date. But the others. The dark sexual fantasies, the unfair criminal acts, the humiliating public spectacles or adrenaline-inducing acts of bravery, Willow and Amy had spent the night making them possible, making them happen then in most cases, making them forget.

Not all consequences could be prevented by magic of course, but without remembering the cause there was nothing for participants to regret and nowhere to lay blame.

They had both been completely tapped out by the end of the night though, and when Willow finally woke up she discovered her nose had bled heavily across her pillow.

The witch had never really overindulged in anything more than mochas, so the throbbing headache, over-sensitivity to stimuli and extreme exhaustion were the worst she had ever felt. Although she had pushed her limits with magic before, Willow had never felt this poorly afterwards. She wasn't sure if it was a result of casting using the energy gained through Rack, draining herself so completely twice in close succession or possibly the complexity and extent of the spells she and Amy had cast the night before, but the feeling was utterly miserable.

And then Tara came over, and broke up with her again. Or, confirmed they would not be getting back together anytime soon, technically – but it felt almost the same as being dumped.

When Buffy and Xander came back after his date with Anya, Xander came up to see her. His company usually cheered her up, but the way Willow was feeling that minute, it wouldn't take much to drive her out of the house in the hope of avoiding everyone.

 

Once Faith had finished her shower she was ready to leave the motel. She almost stepped on a note that had been slipped under the door before noticing it.

Dear Faith,

There's a slight problem. Don't listen to anything that rotting sack of offal who calls himself a manager tells you. Call me when you feel up to it.

Rupert Giles

Faith snorted slightly in amusement and picked up her phone.

 

“Hey! How's everyone's favourite genius?” Xander stuck his head round Willow's door after gently knocking. “Dawn-guzzle said you weren't feeling well.”

The witch looked up from her book and smiled weakly, cocking her head at the previously un-heard term for Dawn.

“Drank all the custard intended for tonight's dessert.” Xander clarified. Willow nodded.

“Not feeling the best.” Willow admitted. “How was your date with Anya?”

“Excellent.” Xander walked in and sat on the end of her bed. “In years past I might have felt some embarrassment at her loud discussion on the benefits of sex in public, or disturbing revision of history as I knew it, but now it's just kind of cute.” He shrugged, a man smitten.

“Dawn mentioned something about it being a 'relationship-saving' date? Has Anya been getting jealous of you spending time with us?” Willow tried not to sound accusatory, knowing it would only make her friend uncomfortable.

“Not jealous about my time, as such. And 'relationship-saving' is a little melodramatic, but yeah. We both overreacted to what we needed to do for the ritual I guess. At least we were both there together. Can you imagine Anya hunting Faith down to question her for details if we had, ah, performed separately?” He joked.

The thought struck Willow differently than Xander had intended. Tara's visit earlier had been unannounced and relatively unexpected. Today was the day after Willow's liaison with Faith. Had the ex-con said something to Tara about what had happened? Had she twisted things like she always did, and pretended that she had not agreed to Willow's plan?

“Yeah.” She nodded distractedly at Xander's joke. “That would be bad.”

It was difficult to concentrate and consider her options through the throbbing in her head, but Willow decided she would need to speak with Faith.

 

“Okay, so what's the problem?” Faith dropped down onto Giles' couch, wanting to know the situation before doing anything else.

“That useless bowl of excrement, Tony, who manages the hotel.” Giles narrowed his eyes in anger. “He's under the impression that I'm...well, pimping you out.”

“Oh, right.” Faith nodded her understanding. “Sorry, I may have accidentally caused that. He was making some stupid threat about telling you I was cheating on you.”

“Purulent little snitch.” Giles murmured. “It isn't your fault, obviously there are a limited number of explanations for what's been going on.” The former watcher pulled his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Unfortunately he's now threatening to go to the police. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but if you were to be locked up, or if our access to the circle were removed, it could seriously delay us in closing the hellmouth, making it a lot harder when the spell is eventually complete.”

Faith only had to think for a half a second. “He wants a freebie. Okay, sure.”

“I'm sorry?” Giles checked, unsure what she meant.

“You don't have to look so guilty about it,” Faith smirked, but wouldn't look at him, “I get what you're saying. World ending, people to save. I'll do him.”

“What!? No!” Giles clutched his glasses so hard the frame bent. His outburst caused Faith to meet his eyes.

“...no?” She asked eventually. “No the world isn't ending?”

“No, he's not going anywhere near you. I would never...” Giles trailed off, stuck on the realisation that he couldn't think of any way to finish the sentence that wasn't a lie, given what the ritual actually was requiring of her.

He sat down on the edge of a chair. “I only proposed this spell because there was absolutely no other way to prevent the apocalypse.” Giles explained. “But that manager...there are dozens of other ways. You are not just some...commodity to be traded for convenience!”

Faith stood up, reacting to the disgust in his voice. “Bullshit. If he had asked to use me for some heavy lifting or some fighting you'd be all for it. This is no different. I've traded sex for all kinds of things, making sure the spell goes right is a no-brainer.”

“It is different.” Giles insisted. “Even if you genuinely believe there is nothing more to sex than a physical function, you have to acknowledge it's a very personal physical function. It would never be okay for me to encourage you to sleep with someone you otherwise wouldn't, and it would never be okay for someone to demand it through blackmail. What you have chosen to do in the past does not dictate what you choose to do in the future.” He took a breath, willing himself to calm down and not alienate Faith by ranting at her.

“Rather than debate this,” Giles held up a hand before she could respond, “can I tell you what I had planned?”

Chapter Text

Faith had gone slaying after her conversation with Giles. By the end of their discussion, Faith was smiling just thinking about the plan for Tony that Giles had shared, but some of the things that had been said when he first broached the topic left her completely off-kilter.

Faith's emotions were completely tangled, and she couldn't pick apart what she was feeling – when she thought Giles was asking her to hook up with Tony, she had been disgusted and a little disappointed, and then angry with herself for having high enough expectations that she was able to be disappointed.

It only got more confusing after that. She was relieved on seeing Giles' reaction, since it meant she would not need to screw the manager. But he had gone further than just correcting her assumption - Giles had seemed almost offended by the idea that he might make a request like that.

It was not a big leap to realise that Giles being offended by the idea meant he found the suggestion disgusting or immoral, and she had been offended in turn. Because the deal Giles was calling inappropriate was something she'd done dozens of times before. For the first time in a long time Faith had felt shame regarding her approach to sex, and it was awful.

The slayer had always tried to undermine any suggestion of sex being somehow important. If she took sex seriously, it would mean taking all the times she had previously had sex seriously, and the weight of that would crush her. It had seemed a lot smarter to make light of it – the more she did it, the less it meant. She wanted to treat it like eating or breathing – utterly unremarkable.

Except that was getting more difficult. Faith thought she got her shit together in prison. She didn't hook up with anyone in there, knowing that if she used sex to pass the time or avoid her thoughts she may as well still be in that alley begging for death, because nothing would have changed. She had needed to work out a new way of doing things.

Spinning around to decapitate the beast she had been fighting, Faith paused to catch her breath as its body dropped, and realised she might have changed more than she realised. Back in the day she would have jumped from fight to fight, avoiding her thoughts. Now, even if it felt like she didn't know her ass from her elbow emotionally, she was thinking about things as she patrolled, and was able to put it on hold during a fight.

“Hoo-fucking-rah.” The slayer muttered. As soon as she thought about how far she'd come, she couldn't help but think about how far there was to go.

It didn't help that the sex-pocalypse was forcing her to take a step backwards. Being out of prison and having regular sex again seemed to have kick-started her libido. Even this relatively short patrol had left her far more worked up even than slaying used to do.

Glancing around her surroundings and searching them with her slayer senses, Faith could tell there were no more nasties in the immediate vicinity and decided she'd give herself the night off at home and phone Tara to line their session up for the next morning.

 

Willow got Faith's number easily enough from Giles. He apparently saw no reason for her to lie about leaving her bag in the motel room by accident the day before.

Willow wasn't really in any condition to confront the slayer in person. Even tricks like making her fingers spark were beyond her at the moment, and her chances of intimidating Faith without using magic were obviously zero.

The witch wasn't even sure she was up to the kind of shouting an argument over the phone may entail, considering the pain her head was in. But she couldn't get rid of the rising fear that Faith might find a way to turn Tara or the rest of the Scooby gang against her. Tara, Joyce and Giles had been particularly sympathetic at the thought of Faith performing the ritual, and Willow couldn't help imagining how the slayer could use that by telling half truths about how she'd shared essence with the witch.

Her fear and anger overcame the pain in Willow's head and she dialled.

“'lo?” Faith's familiar voice answered quickly.

“Faith. It's Willow.” The witch spoke up, and the kind of intense focus she usually reserved for learning took over.

There was a brief but noticeable pause as Faith processed who was calling. “Okay. What can I do for you, Willow?” Her voice was cautious, and lacking its typical arrogance, which bolstered Willow's confidence.

“What did you tell her?!” The red-head demanded.

“What? Who?” Faith asked.

“Tara! We've barely spoken since we broke up, and then suddenly the day after I fuck you she's coming over to say she doesn't trust me. What did you tell her? Did you pretend that you didn't agree to my protective measures?” The witch worked herself up even more and continued before Faith could answer. “Did you pretend that you weren't soaked and begging me, or that you weren't getting off on having my fist inside you?” She listed the litany of justifications and reassurances she'd used regarding her approach to their session.

There was silence for a few moments. “I didn't tell her anything, Willow.” Faith denied flatly.

“I don't believe you. You're lying and twisting things like you always have.” Willow felt the hot ball of anger rising in her chest at how unfair it was that anyone might believe the slayer's act.

“I didn't. Don't you think she would have said something about it, if that was why she visited you?”

Willow actually considered that for a moment. Tara had never shied away from confronting Willow with her concerns in the past, their disagreements about magic being a case in point. And maybe if Faith had said something Tara might just not talk to her ex at all, rather than break things off entirely without mentioning it.

“Fine.” She hissed. “Just remember, I've had you tied up and begging before. I can do it again.” Willow hung up, slightly reassured. Faith had no way of knowing how badly the magic use had exhausted her – and the slayer obviously knew now that Willow had changed and was not the weak nerd who could be threatened, controlled and lied to.

 

Willow's voice and her words had swamped Faith in feelings she had been trying to forget. Trapped, powerless, a toy, a whore put in her place. Partly in an effort to fight the feelings, the slayer considered the other implications of Willow's call – how Tara might be coping.

When she had told Faith about the break up, she had definitely not seemed to be in any mood to face Willow.

Arriving at home, Faith rang Tara to distract herself from the feelings she didn't need, and at least one feeling that she couldn't really explain – concern for how the witch was going after the unpleasant conversation with her ex.

Chapter Text

Dawn didn't want to admit it to anyone, but she was starting to get nervous. She hadn't really been kidding when she told Buffy it had been hard to stand up against hormones. In the heat of the moment with a couple of exes it would have been much easier to let her body do what it wanted. There had been no nerves then.

But sitting around waiting like this was giving her too much time to think and worry. Intellectually she knew Faith wouldn't be expecting a virgin to have 'mad skills', but Dawn couldn't help wanting to impress the woman she had admired for so long.

And more than that, she couldn't help worrying that Faith would be comparing her to Buffy. Or God, even her mom.

School had been particularly unhelpful on the topic of how two women might achieve orgasm together. To be fair, it had been almost equally unhelpful on the topic of how a man and a woman might achieve orgasm together, focussing more heavily on how they might share diseases or DNA.

At least Giles had said there was no chance of STDs with the spell. Because neither school nor Willow's romance novels had been particularly forthcoming on the topic of how lesbians avoided them, and while it was one thing to say, "show me what you enjoy” during your first time, it was probably something else to say, “show me how to protect myself from your possible infections.”

Dawn could obviously think of a few things women might do together that weren't all that different with guys. Mouths and hands were kind of gender non-specific. She was more worried that Faith would suggest something she'd never heard of and she'd look stupid, or that she'd just go with the moment and Faith would be like, "What the fuck? Why are you sucking my elbow?" or something.

A knock at the door broke Dawn from her increasingly unhelpful thoughts, and she opened it to discover Spike on the other side.

“Evening, Nibblet.” He grinned, and she could smell the alcohol on him.

“Did you get into a fight at Willy's?” She asked, nose wrinkling.

“Nah, just...hanging out with the lads, you know? Sick of spending all this time with...whiny...girly-girls.”

Dawn gave him an unimpressed glare, but it seemed to be wasted on the vampire.

“Is Buffy in?” Spike decided to push on. “I think I was s'posed to meet her for slaying.” He waved a hand vaguely and Dawn could see he was carrying a bottle of whatever he stank of.

“She left like an hour ago.” Dawn answered. Seeing an opportunity, she stepped back in an implied but unvoiced invitation, never sure of how welcome Spike was considered in the house.

He stepped in.

“So Spike...how much do you know about lesbians?”

 

When Tara had suggested that she come over to Faith's place, it had seemed like a good idea. Faith could see how the witch was doing, know that Tara was safe from Willow and distract herself with relaxing company.

It was not long after they had hung up, however, that Faith began to regret agreeing to hang out. While speaking to Tara she had forgotten how worked up she already was from slaying and her conversations with Giles and Willow, but the manic sensation of having too much energy quickly returned.

Pacing around her living room Faith wondered whether she should cancel on Tara and go slaying again, or possibly see if Buffy was available to get some training in. Faith had often felt like this in the past, and knew it had previously led to both the most fun and the worst decisions she had ever made. That didn't seem like the best combination for maintaining any kind of friendship with Tara - or starting any fights with Buffy.

By the time the witch knocked on her door Faith hadn't come to any decisions.

“Hey.” She greeted Tara, opening her door wider to let her in. “How you doin'?” She took in the other woman's appearance, looking for clues about her mood.

Tara's smile was wide and genuine, but she seemed tired and a little defeated. “Hi Faith. I'm alright, thanks. I'm a little curious how you knew I visited Willow, though.” She asked, following up on the topic Faith had raised when the slayer called earlier. She walked in, toed her shoes off and sat down on the couch Faith gestured to.

“She called me,” the slayer admitted, perching on the edge of the seat next to her, one knee bouncing automatically, “she doesn't trust me. I s'pose she's worried I put you up to it.” Faith explained honestly.

“That doesn't make any sense.” Tara frowned in thought. “Does she think we've already done our part of the ritual?”

“Nah, but I've done my part with her.” Faith looked away, trying to work out how close she could come to the truth without causing further questions. “She's probably worried I've told you some bullshit story to make you end things, like that she was calling you a crap lay or something.”

Tara's eyebrows lifted skeptically, but she let it slide. “Are you alright?” She asked, noting the hyperactive body language.

“Yeah, I just...” Faith stood up and stretched her arms behind her head before shaking them out. “Sorry. I shouldn't've agreed to you coming over.” Faith began to pace again. “I was out slaying earlier and then Willow called and gave me shit...” She shrugged and grimaced apologetically. “Guess I'm kinda worked up.”

“Worked up how? What would you usually do if I wasn't here?” Tara asked, and Faith was relieved that she didn't seem offended.

Faith ran her hands through her hair. “More slaying. Bronzing.” She figured that probably clarified what she meant by 'worked up'. If she were talking to anyone else, Faith would have said 'fucking or fighting'. But Faith could hear Willow and Riley in her head, and in spite of not wanting to care, still didn't want Tara to see her as a slut too.

“Do you want to go back out slaying?” Tara checked.

“No, I...” Faith blew out a breath in frustration, trying to think how to avoid saying she was really fucking horny.

“So what about sex?” Tara suggested in the same thoughtful tone of voice.

“Huh!?” Faith spun around at having her thoughts spoken aloud, preparing to deny that she had checked Tara out a good five or more times already.

“I know Willow doesn't know a lot about you, but from what she's said you've never been shy about using sex to take the edge off.” The wiccan answered comfortably. Reasonably. As if she weren't talking about alley-way hook ups and drunken bathroom stall encounters.

The mention of Willow's name brought a stab of the helplessness she had felt earlier, and Faith shook her head to clear it.

“I've been trying to avoid random hook ups since jail.” The slayer admitted. She didn't get into how fucking everyone who had ever pretended to be her friend wasn't turning out that much better.

“I've already said I would like to get closer to you before the ritual.” Tara pointed out. She made it sound incredibly obvious, but the suggestion stopped Faith in her tracks.

“What?? No! You were talking about sex to get to know each other, and teaching me lovey shit.” The slayer looked like she was about to panic.

“I also said there might be time for fucking. Obviously caring is not what you want right now. Faith – I know how to appreciate rough sex.” Tara was using that reasonable tone of voice again, and Faith found it made her want to kill someone.

“Someone hurt you??” Her face had drained of colour, and the slayer's knuckles were even whiter through the fists she was making. “Willow...?”

“No. Faith. Listen to me.” Tara stood up and took one of the slayer's fists in hand, trying to relax her and gain her full attention. Once the other woman finally met her eyes, she continued. “No-one hurt me like that. I'm not talking about assault – I'm talking about consensual rough sex. Biting, scratching, passionate abandon. I'm not fragile, and I enjoy the feeling of someone giving me everything they've got. Taking me, or being taken by me.”

Faith's breathing had picked up, and staring down at the beautiful woman in front of her, she was terrified of what she was capable of doing.

“I...I can't hurt you, Tara. You matter, you're nice. I...” She tried to back up but found herself blocked by a coffee table.

“You care about me.” The witch added simply and confidently. “I care about you, too. And Faith? You actually can't hurt me, even with your slayer strength. I have a spell that essentially mimics a slayer's constitution.” Tara smiled up at her through long eyelashes, and the slayer was lost in the wicked look.

Tara pulled what looked like a cinnamon stick out of her bag and snapped it, causing a yellow glow to wash over her before being absorbed into her skin.

“That sure I'd want it?” Faith asked cynically as Tara stepped forward into her personal space.

“Not at all.” The witch murmured. “Just absolutely wanted to be prepared if the opportunity arose.”

Faith's resistance crumbled and, giving into the lust she had been forcing away, she pulled their mouths together, one hand holding the witch's head firmly in place and the other cupping and lifting her thigh. Tara had both her hands woven behind Faith's head giving as good as she got, and using the leverage from her arms on the slayer's shoulders as well as the strong hand on her thigh, she lifted and rolled her hips against Faiths, breaking away from her mouth to lick and bite down her neck.

“Tara...” Faith had closed her eyes briefly, trying to take it all in. Tara couldn't tell if her name was said as a request or warning, but she could tell with her whole being that Faith wanted her, and she knew for sure she wanted Faith.

“What do you need?” Tara whispered in her ear. “Show me.”

So Faith forgot her concerns and lost herself in her need for control, distraction, and the unusual feeling of touching someone she trusted...someone she chose.

Picking Tara up, she leaned forward and dropped them both lengthways onto the couch without losing contact for more than a second. “Pants.” She growled, stepping back and tugging the sweats and panties down and off over Tara's bare feet while the witch tried to multi-task and pulled her shirt and bra off. Throwing Tara's pants aside, Faith stripped off her own top before resuming her place between the other woman's legs, running a hand up along one hip and Tara's ribs to roughly palm her breast, while Faith tasted the hot skin of the other.

Tara groaned and tried to press her body harder into the slayer. While her break up with Willow had been emotionally exhausting, it had also meant she had been a while without physical satisfaction, and every single part of her body was completely focussed on how good Faith felt.

The slayer moved her hands underneath Tara's knees and lifting them up and spreading them as wide as the couch would allow, she opened the blonde in a way that was driving her wild before pushing her stomach against Tara's exposed sex. Faith didn't really care that she was still partially clothed. All she knew was that she felt driven to make Tara orgasm, to lead this dance while the other woman fell apart with pleasure.

“Yes....shit...” Tara thrust upward as hard as she could while bent mostly double, digging her nails into the slayer's back.

Faith manoeuvered a hand down, positioning her fingers be able to enter the witch. “Do you want this?” She checked, images of Willow's threats to make her orgasm in spite of herself pushing into her mind.

“Yes. Please, Faith, fuck me.” Tara begged unselfconsciously, and Faith groaned at the incredible sight before thrusting quickly inside. In spite of how turned on Faith had gotten, she was still afraid of hurting the other woman and was using two fingers at a quarter of her real strength.

“Damn...” Tara gasped and moved a hand to pinch and twist one of the slayer's nipples hard. “Stop holding back Faith, I told you – slayer constitution. Give it to me. Everything you've got.”

The words, combined with Tara managing to find the perfect amount of pain on her breasts, made Faith practically sob in pleasure before giving Tara what she had asked for.

“If you need me to stop...” She began, only to be interrupted by a groan from the wiccan. “No, seriously. If you need me to stop just say, no matter what. Okay?”

Tara nodded desperately, knowing that Faith needed the reassurance to be able to let go. The witch's face flushed as she kept pace, focussing on the feel of Faith inside her. She knew she would give almost anything for the brunette not to stop.

Seeing the other woman completely vulnerable underneath her, and feeling Tara's wet heat stretching and clenching around her fingers, Faith swore to herself she'd do everything possible to make sure the witch never regretted trusting her.

Chapter Text

“Lesbians? You make them sound like some exotic animal.” Spike grinned and flopped down onto the Summers' couch. “I've got to point out there are at least four people you know more qualified to answer that question than me.” He tilted his head, waiting for her explanation.

“Four?” Dawn asked, puzzled.

“Well, the witches obviously. The dark slayer - and the demon.” Spike smirked. “No-one could live that long and not at least give it a try.”

“Hah!” Dawn began to look a little mischievous, “But you've lived really long, too...”

Spike just raised his eyebrows, waiting for her to draw her own conclusions.

“...Oh! Really? Oh.” She let that sink in for a moment. “So when you said you were 'out with the lads'...”

“No.” Spike answered scornfully. “Just because I've given it a go doesn't mean I'd hook up with any of the misbegotten bastards in this town.”

“Hmm. Okay then. Anyway...I thought if I asked Tara or Willow they'd be afraid to explain anything good because they'd be telling me stuff about themselves. And Faith's most of the reason I'm asking at all.” She responded to his earlier observation.

“Right.” He shrugged. “Well the other problem is they're all different than each other.”

Dawn sighed in irritation. “There has to be some stuff all of them do.”

“Enjoy sex with women?” Spike suggested. “Although that would be true of your bisexuals, too.”

She rolled her eyes. “Apart from that.”

“Give us a break, Nibblet – most of what I know about people is how to stalk and kill them. And Buffy'd dust me if I told you that.” He paused. “You aren't trying to find out how to kill lesbians, are you?”

Dawn groaned in exasperation. “You sound like Buffy. No, of course I'm not. But you've been undead forever. Haven't you...I don't know. Learned stuff?” She gestured vaguely.

“No matter what the internet says, most lesbians aren't exactly lining up to put on a show for blokes, alive or undead.”

Dawn slumped back in her seat and nodded her understanding.

“You're asking because you're worried about sex with the slayer, right? What're you actually afraid of?” He asked, tipping his bottle up to refresh himself after all the talking.

“I don't know. What if I'm lousy at it....or act strange...or have a weird-looking vagina!?” Dawn panicked. Spike spat out his drink. “Oh, gross...” Dawn wiped some of it off her shirt.

Once he had gotten over coughing the liquid out of his lungs, the vampire shook his head. “Look, little Bit. Acting strange is part of your charm. And as far as how your body looks...well, I reckon Faith's like a doctor - she's seen it all before.” He shrugged. Dawn stood up, leaned over and punched him in the arm.

“Jerk.” She muttered, and sat down next to him on the couch, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Virgin.” He tried to sound like an insulting teenage girl.

“Poet.”

“Hey! That's personal.”

 

Faith revelled in the taste and feeling of Tara's sex against her tongue. She often didn't bother with oral when hooking up with women – it generally required a more tangled position than with guys, especially in a bathroom stall, or if you were worried about catching something and needed to fuck about with dental dams.

But Faith couldn't ever remember going down on a woman feeling like this – whether it was a result of being at her home, her position on top with Tara on her back, being with someone she trusted, or the fucking incredible noises the witch was making as Faith flicked, rubbed, swirled and sucked, the slayer couldn't decide whether she wanted to make Tara cum or she wanted the moment to last forever.

“Faith...oh...goddess, I'm close...”

“Fuck yes.” Faith groaned, pulling away just long enough to encourage her. “Cum in my mouth. All over my face.” The slayer quickly moved her fingers to rub tight circles against Tara's clit with supernatural speed and thrust her tongue deep into Tara's sex.

The witch arched up, muscles tensing as pleasure rushed through her uncontrollably. Faith prolonged the other woman's orgasm as long as possible, continuing to set off aftershocks with her fingers and tongue until Tara began weakly pushing at her head to stop.

Moving up the bed alongside Tara, Faith relaxed on one side, her frantic energy finally spent.

 

“I'd usually run off or kick you out by now.” Faith admitted, once Tara had caught her breath.

“I can leave if you'd like.” Tara offered. “Or stay on the couch, maybe?” She had realised that Faith may not be comfortable sharing her bed, although now the moment had come found that she really didn't want to leave.

“Nah.” Faith shrugged. “I want you to stay, I just...don't really do cuddles.” She narrowed her eyes, waiting for disagreement or laughter.

Tara's smile was relieved, fond and a bit sexy. “Don't think of it as cuddling,” she suggested, pulling a blanket over the two of them, “think of it as staying warm between sex.”

Faith snorted her amusement, slid an arm over Tara's waist and didn't pull away as the other woman curled against her.

 

“So, I was thinking we could do our part of the spell a bit later this morning.” Faith explained the next morning once she finally had a coffee in hand. “I just got to take care of some stuff first.”

Waking up next to Tara could have been awkward, but Faith had decided that she had enough uncomfortable shit going on without adding to it herself, and put off thinking about how it made her feel for another time. There was a good a chance any awkwardness would be far outweighed by Tara's upcoming attempts to teach her about 'caring sex' anyway.

“I'll be free.” Tara confirmed, and they finished their breakfast with light, easy conversation.

 

Giles sat down opposite Tony in the manager's office, carefully eyeing the gun in the other man's hand.

“This,” Tony wiggled the revolver slightly, “is just a bit of insurance, in case you came by with some friends hoping to change the conditions of our arrangement. I'm glad you've taken the sensible option.” Tony lay the gun down on his desk, close at hand.

Giles was more than ready to have this meeting over with. He and Faith had considered all the angles and were confident everything was covered. Now all that remained was to let it play out, but any time speaking to the pond-scum in front of him was its own kind of torture.

“So what's your answer, Old Man? Is it a couple of free tricks or trouble with the cops?”

“I'm interested in your offer, but would like to hammer out some of the specific details.” Giles lied calmly, knowing the man would soon get what was coming to him.

This was Faith's cue to waltz into the room, dressed to distract. The only sign that Giles was surprised by her wardrobe was raised eyebrows – she figured he might get all stuffy about so much skin being on show, and knew that their plan would work best if Tony was barely able to think, so she didn't bother mentioning it to her co-conspirator.

Tony's hand moved quickly to his gun, but seeing Faith close the door after her he relaxed again. The slayer leaned against the wall behind Giles, seductively drawing one leg up to prop against the wall and letting her knee hang wide to draw his attention to his goal.

“So what specifically were you hoping to do with my employee?” Giles asked. “Everything has a different cost, you know. We're going to agree in advance on what exactly your silence is worth.”

“I want everything.” Tony's eyes roamed freely over Faith's body. “Standard fucking, oral, anal, all bareback.”

“Hmm.” Giles appeared to write this down. “Just once?”

“Shit no. Three times each, at least.” He smirked, clearly believing he had them over a barrel.

“That would usually be very costly.” Giles pointed out.

“I'm sure you'd lose a lot more money having your girl in prison.” Tony responded, eyes still fixed on Faith.

“Alright then. I've written up a list of...services...for your signed agreement, and have another standard document for you to sign confirming you are clear of any sexually transmissible disease or infection, given your preference not to use protection.” Giles lay two pieces of paper down on the table and spun them round for Tony's consideration, handing him a pen.

Tony snorted a little, apparently amused by the flimsy safeguard offered by documents that weren't worth the paper they were printed on, but he happily signed each, ready to remove the small amount of clothing Faith was wearing.

As soon as he finished signing the second document, Faith dived, taking down the manager and his chair.

Chapter Text

By the time Tony even thought to move his hand from the pen to his gun, he was on his back.

“The fuck?” He threw a punch and twisted to throw Faith off, but was at a disadvantage on his back and trapped by the chair, even before the slayer's powers came into play. Catching his punch, Faith just grinned before headbutting him viciously in the bridge of his nose.

Tony screamed in shock at the pain that exploded through his face.

“C'mon Tony,” Faith moved to her feet, “I remember you have a nice, soundproof bedroom right through that doorway where we can spend some quality time together.” She hauled him across the office while he tried fruitlessly to protect his broken nose from jarring.

She and Giles had spent some time talking over exactly how much damage they could do the bastard, both in terms of the plan as a whole and at Faith's hands specifically. She had no wish to lose hard-won ground by lapsing back into the person who was able to torture Wes.

But that was in the calm environment of Giles' living room – being in Tony's office and knowing what had already done and still wanted to do to her was entirely different.

She pulled him through the doorway and dumped him on the floor in his bedroom, pulling the door shut behind them.

“You gonna try and stand up and defend yourself, pissant? Or just lie back and take it?” She lifted him by his shirt, although Tony was trying to pull himself away too frantically to stand properly.

“Bitch.” He hissed defiantly, struggling in vain to free himself from her grip.

Faith let him continue just long enough to work out it was futile before throwing a quick jab followed by a knee to his gut. He dropped to his knees with a choking gulping noise that was particularly satisfying. Faith wasn't trying to break any bones yet, just demonstrate how thoroughly he was outmatched.

Tony held out as Faith lay half a dozen more solid hits around his torso, designed to ensure he could not lay comfortably, but it wasn't long before Tony was begging for mercy.

“Fuck, alright! You've made your point...” He began, cut off by another fist to his ribs. “Alright, please...I get it, no more!”

Faith ignored him, delivering a brutal kick that shattered his kneecap. The resulting squeal made her smile.

Blunt. Her mind whispered. If only I had sharp, hot and cold. Loud had its uses in the long game, but this one was meant to be quick and messy.

It was part-way through imagining how the man would look with a face carved up far beyond pretty that Faith stopped cold.

She was enjoying it too much, exactly what she had been afraid of. It was always going to be satisfying, but what was justified and what outright sadism?

She narrowed her eyes in fury at the knowledge that she would need to stop while she still could. Lashing out with a quick grab and twist, she broke some of Tony's fingers as a parting gift.

“Fucker.” She growled and spat on him, then knocked on the door in her agreed-upon signal to Giles, glaring at the manager who lay on the ground gasping in pain any time he tried to move.

Giles opened the door and entered, taking in the scene at a glance.

“I'll leave you alone, I swear. Just let me go.” Tony plead desperately, hoping for a more sympathetic audience than Faith.

With Giles now looking after Tony, Faith took the opportunity to start rifling through cupboards, looking for the receiving hardware of the camera she had heard humming quietly in the background the last couple of times she had needed to visit this room.

“This woman,” Giles ignored Tony's pleading and gestured to Faith, “is a person. Not a tool or a toy to be used by you or by the Powers that Be.” The former Watcher looked over at Faith just long enough to emphasise that this message was for her as well as the bastard on the floor in front of them.

She had paused in her search at the mention of the Powers long enough to meet Giles' eyes, but quickly returned to her task and kept tossing the room while Giles said his piece.

“We both warned you to leave us alone. But you assumed we were as desperate and vulnerable as your usual victims.”

Tony groaned, not interested in the moralising.

“You haven't realised the extent of your mistake, yet.” Giles opened the door behind him and a demon which could only be described as a wall of muscle squeezed itself into the room.

It best resembled the mythical minotaur, with the head and shoulders of a bull – if that bull had been spawned in hell. It stank of wet fur and rotting meat, with drool or something worse dripping from its mouth. While its chest and arms appeared human albeit massively larger, its hindquarters were some kind of mix with heavily furred human-shaped quads leading down to thick calves ending in wide hooves.

The centre of attention though was easily the naked demon's cock. Far closer to demonic bull than man, the straining erection was almost as long and thick as Giles' arm. The minotaur-thing walked toward Tony, who seemed frozen in terror, eyes bugging out.

“We still have an agreement to fulfil.” Giles spoke up. “I believe you requested standard fucking, oral and anal, all bareback – at least three times each.”

 

Giles and Faith waited outside.

“You would have made one bad-ass Greengrocer.” She broke the silence as they waited to hear whether Tony had passed out from pain or terror first. Giles chuckled, realising Buffy must have passed that conversation on.

“You will make an incredible whatever you want to be.” The British man smiled at her. Before that bizarre thought could sink in for the slayer, he continued. “I'm very impressed by the control you showed in there. You should be proud of yourself.”

Faith just shrugged. She couldn't help wishing Simon was torturing Tony as badly as he had been led to believe the demon would, and knew that as long as she wanted revenge so badly control would never be easy.

Eventually there was a knock from the inside of the office door. The two of them walked forward and ducked inside, to make sure the minotaur-demon was not visible to any possible onlookers.

“How did it go?” Giles asked the demon, who was now wearing a large towel of sorts around its waist.

“Passed out from fear first.” The creature explained in a gentle tenor.

“Bugger.” Giles handed Faith a twenty. “Thank you for all your help, Simon.”

“No chore to teach a prick like that a lesson.” Simon shrugged his massive shoulders. “But I desperately need a shower or Celia won't let me in the front door when I get back.”

Moving around behind the manager's desk, Giles grabbed a set of keys off the wall. “Here, use one of the rooms. The shower won't exactly be roomy for you, but better than nothing.”

Simon accepted the keys, and with a wave and a quick check for witnesses, jogged out of the office and across the carpark to his room.

 

The Sunnydale police were not known for their case closure rate. So, when a bound and gagged bloodied heap appeared out front of their station with a large envelope pinned to its chest reading 'I blackmail underage girls for sex, evidence and signed confession inside', they figured it was about time the weirdness in Sunnydale worked in their favour for once.

There was in fact both video evidence and a signed confession in the envelope, and the bloody mess it had been pinned to would apparently heal, given enough time. If any doctors noticed that many of the breaks in his limbs would have to be caused by inhuman pressure unlikely to occur accidentally in their specific patterns and locations, they were wise enough not to speculate on record.

When the man was well enough to regain consciousness and began screaming about being in danger of being raped by a bull, they reassured him there was no damage to indicate that anything of the kind had happened, but didn't bother promising it would stay that way - the police were going to take him to prison as soon as he was well enough.

 

Some days later, the old man from room 208 shuffled slowly to the motel office, readying himself for an argument with Tony about getting his TV reception fixed. Stepping in through the open door, he stopped short at the sight of a perky blonde behind the desk.

“Uh...” he cleared his throat. “Tony?”

“Not here! Sold up to pursue the American dream! He's probably travelling across our vast country and writing a novel about meaningful cultural experiences as we speak.” She suggested with more enthusiasm than conviction. “I am the new manager – I have signed documentary evidence of the new ownership beyond any reasonable doubt, would you like to see it?” She went to reach into a drawer.

208 held a hand up to prevent her continuing, more than a little overwhelmed.

“TV's bust.” He explained.

“Oh, is that all. Someone will come round to fix it tomorrow.” Anya waved him away, another happy customer.

Chapter Text

At the start of the night Buffy couldn't decide if she was pissed off or relieved that Spike hadn't shown up to help with the slaying. Now that she was dragging herself home by pure force of will covered in mud, blood, dust and various forms of vegetation she had settled on 'pissed'. The demons and vamps had been so numerous there would have been no time to be tempted to screw Spike anyway.

If she had been less exhausted she may have overheard the argument in full swing inside her home with enough time to escape it, but instead opened the front door to find Xander, Willow, Spike and Dawn facing off across the lounge room.

 

Faith knew that she needed to get the sex part of the ritual over as soon as possible so they could close the ever widening mouth of hell. But her memories of her last unintentional attempt at 'caring sex' left her hesitant. If she freaked out as badly with Tara as she had after Riley said he loved her (albeit in Buffy's body) then they may well end up trapped in the magic circle for a long time to come. It would be easy to just fuck Tara like they had the night before, but then it would leave her entirely unprepared for the ritual with Dawn. Faith rubbed a hand over her face, took a deep breath, and rang the blonde witch.

When Tara arrived at the motel room, Faith was pacing. Glancing across the room, the witch noticed a pile of canned food inside one end of the circle.

“I heard about the whole hungry and horny thing,” Tara noted, “but didn't realise you wanted to satisfy both at once.”

“Huh?” Faith looked confused, clearly lost in her thoughts, and followed Tara's gaze to the cans. “Oh. Just, you know. In case I kill the mood by freaking the fuck out and puking all over myself.” She rolled her eyes in self-deprecation. “That way at least we won't starve to death before we can try again. Or something.” She bounced on the balls of her feet a little, and Tara bit back a laugh at just how much Faith looked as if she were going into battle.

Tara wasn't entirely immune to nerves either. The last thing she wanted was to have things go wrong and make Faith and Dawn's time even harder than it might otherwise have been.

As Faith started pacing again, muttering something about possibly needing extra supplies, Tara took the opportunity and stepped up behind the slayer, wrapping her arms around Faith's waist. The brunette froze, but relaxed slowly as Tara didn't try anything disastrous, like declaring her undying love.

Once the wiccan felt Faith begin to relax, she started stroking her hands over the tight stomach they were resting on, and gradually slipped a hand inside the robe the slayer was wearing, moving up to palm one of Faith's breasts. The brunette immediately started teasing her other nipple herself, clearly used to a much faster build up. Tara knew the difference in sensations would work just as well as if Faith had let her tease, so made no comment.

“Oh shit.” Faith sighed after a few moments. “It's all gonna be this soft and slow stuff, huh?”

Tara chuckled against the slayer's neck as she began to run her lips lightly along the skin. “Not all.” she reassured. “It's more about the attitude than how...vigorous...you are. But there's no rush, and I want to touch all of you.” She husked, finally licking and sucking at the neck she was speaking into.

Faith shuddered slightly at the combination of her words and actions. 'All of you' was a desire she'd heard before, but Tara wasn't saying it to stake a claim or intimidate, she said it like a promise – like she was amazed at being allowed to.

“Isn't this meant to be about teaching me how to get my 'care' on?” Faith asked, trying not to be unnerved. It was still just sex.

“Trusting someone enough to let them explore your body is showing them you care.” The blonde pointed out. Faith could tell she was right just by how unsettled she was feeling.

“But,” Tara continued, “if you'd rather lead and just try things out on me, that's fine too.” She stepped back slightly, letting Faith turn to face her.

“Try things out on you?” The slayer asked suggestively, trying to cut through the serious atmosphere.

“Sure.” Tara answered immediately with a shrug. If Faith's mouth hadn't already been dry from nerves, the calm confidence of this reply would have done the job. Tara just stood there, completely certain the convicted murderer and torturer in front of her wouldn't try anything unwelcome.

Faith stepped forward and kissed her entirely on impulse, somehow actually turned on by Tara's confident trust and feeling driven to experience it further. She had to consciously tone it down eventually, however, and tried to mimic the way Tara had first kissed her only nights ago. Eventually she broke away.

“What do you want?” She asked, wanting to reward Tara somehow for the feeling. “I mean, what do you enjoy?”

There was a pause as Tara seemed to be considering how her answer may be received. “I want to taste you.” She admitted finally. “I want to bring you off with my mouth so badly.” Tara said, her eyes drawn down Faith's body at the thought.

Faith was surprised to actually feel herself throb at the idea. She had never particularly enjoyed getting eaten out, but apparently the thought of Tara doing it pushed all the right buttons.

“Dawn won't want to do that, though, right?” While talking, she moved forward slowly, and Tara took the hint by sitting down then laying back on the bed.

“She might.” Tara shrugged, watching for Faith's reaction as the slayer moved over top of her. “But Faith, making it good for Dawn doesn't mean doing everything she wants.”

Faith stilled for a moment in confusion as she tried to process this. “What d'you mean?”

“Well I know you would never expect Dawn to do something sexual just because you enjoy it,” Tara said with conviction, “but have you considered that she feels the same? That she – that none of us - would never expect you to do something sexual just because we enjoy it, or want to try it?”

Faith sat up a little straighter, frowning in thought. She wasn't convinced that Tara spoke for all the slayerettes – Riley and Willow sure hadn't thought twice about taking what they wanted – although she was probably right when it came to Dawn. But something about what Tara said was sticking in her throat.

“It doesn't matter what I want, it's not about that.” Faith objected. “The whole ritual thing is your standard self-sacrificing slayer shit. So why not do whatever you-all want? I mean, I can't hate it so much I don't get off but isn't the point of this,” she gestured between the two of them, “about how to make Dawn happy and fuck how she needs and stuff?” She shifted to lay down alongside Tara.

“Goddess no.” Tara looked horrified. “I mean, yes I wanted to give you a chance to practice sex with someone you care about, but showing Dawn or me that you care, that she matters and you respect her doesn't mean just having to meet her every whim.”

Faith was becoming sufficiently uncomfortable with the conversation that she tried to deflect and distract “You say that like you know. She ever ask you to help out with something?” the slayer smirked. “You tryin' t'warn me she's into some kinky shit? The things that woman does with food she's gotta be into experimenting.”

“There. That.” Tara looked actually angry for the first time Faith had ever seen, sitting up and frowning down at her. “That is disrespecting her. Making her an object, the butt of a joke, making her about her sexuality. You've never done that with Dawn before. She'll be hurt if you treat her that way.”

“Fuck.” Faith threw up her hands in frustration. “It's nothing personal! Sex is a joke, why d'you all got to be so serious about it??”

“I'm not saying you can't find any humour in it, Faith – but shrugging it off like it doesn't matter won't work with Dawn, because it would mean acting like she doesn't matter to you. And I know she does.”

“You can't expect me to suddenly act like sex is some big sacred thing.” Faith felt the vestiges of her frustration from the argument with Giles return, and put an arm over her eyes, trying to will away the headache that was forming.

“That's not...” Tara trailed off, remembering her first impressions of the younger slayer. Tactile and proactive. Always doing. Trying to convince her with words alone would never work. “Can I try to show you what I mean?”

“If it means one or both of us blows our load, I'mma say sure.” She sighed and dropped her arm down.

Tara resisted pointing out that Faith was doing it again, and anatomically poorly at that, and moved to stand next to the bed, eyeing the barrier of the circle to make sure there was space to kneel. With a nod to herself, she spoke up. “Here, sit on the side of the bed for me?”

Faith sat up and Tara would have sworn she saw the facade settle into place as Seductive Faith bit her lip, shot her a half-lidded gaze and slid the robe she had been wearing off, making sure to touch nipples and hips on the way.

The difficult part was that it worked – of course it worked. Faith was gorgeous, and had perfected a facial expression that seemed to suggest she wanted to be taken and that she wanted Tara to do it.

The easy part was remembering how scared Faith had been of hurting Dawn, or even last night of hurting Tara herself. Of how intent and honest the slayer had looked last night as she fucked Tara to multiple orgasm. And of how clearly awkward and uncomfortable she had been putting an arm round Tara to try and comfort her about Willow when she had shown up a few nights earlier.

Tara let her eyes wander and her arousal flare, and she saw the act that Faith was showing her, but she remembered the real person putting on the performance.

“You sure you don't want me on my hands and knees?” Seductive Faith asked. “Or maybe over your lap. You can teach me to be good a different way.” She smirked, and if Tara thought Faith actually wanted to be spanked it might have turned her on.

“Just sitting on the edge of the bed will do fine.” She waited until Faith was in place before dropping gracefully to her knees. The Seductive Mask dropped for a few second, and Faith looked concerned.

“You don't have to...” The slayer began, thinking of the times she had put guys in their place by pushing them to their knees before letting them get what they wanted.

“Neither do you – would you rather not?” Tara asked.

Faith wanted to mock the question. After all, she wasn't the one 'on the bottom' for once, what was to not be okay with? But there was an unsettled feeling in her chest. “'s'fine.”

Tara looked at the legs either side of her, and dragged her fingers lightly up the backs of Faith's calves, wondering idly if the slayer was ticklish. Lifting the left leg and directing it over her shoulder, she kissed the inside of Faith's knee, before sucking and licking a meandering line toward her centre.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Sex, coarse language. Scooby angst.

 

If this was getting head, Faith decided she'd never had it before. Even a couple of hours ago she would have said she wasn't that into having anyone go down on her. A handful of people had tried, but not many – she tended to use it to make overeager guys work a little for what they wanted, and none of the women were so set on the idea that they didn't agree if she offered be the one on her knees.

But this was utterly unlike anything she'd felt. Whether because of the Caring thing that Tara was trying to show her, if it was being with someone she'd actually chosen to fuck outside the spell requirements, if it was having a bed and plenty of time or maybe just that Tara was apparently Witch-Master of the Pussy-Slaying Cunt-Assassins, the result was the same. Faith couldn't remember ever feeling as good. She put a fist to her mouth and bit down, stifling a shout.

 

Tara had begun by gradually working Faith up with a not-quite-tease for both of them, but inevitably started flicking and stroking her tongue through Faith's arousal directly, finally feeling like she didn't have to pretend. Words had never come easily for her, and speaking to Faith about the Ritual was a conversational mine-field. But now that she had a way to express the volatile combination of gratitude, admiration and white-hot desire that had been building it seemed ridiculously easy.

She had known she would enjoy pleasuring the slayer with her mouth, but the reality was overwhelming. Faith's actions didn't seem practiced or false anymore, in fact her reactions made Tara wonder if anyone had ever done this for her before.

The partially muffled moans slipping past Faith's fist and the uncoordinated thrusting and sliding of her sex against Tara's mouth were working the blonde up far more quickly than Faith's seductive act ever could, and Tara put her spare hand to use on Faith before she gave into temptation to use it on herself.

Spreading the wet and swollen folds wide as she continued to explore, massage and stimulate almost everything her tongue could reach, Tara was careful to avoid Faith's clit for as long as possible. Given the other woman's reactions so far, she suspected it wouldn't take much direct attention to the bundle of nerves to send her over the edge.

Eventually Faith's legs were hooking her in so tight and her hips were jerking so hard that Tara was impressed Faith hadn't tried to take matters into her own hands. She continued anchoring Faith's hips as well as possible with one arm as she moved the other to expose Faith's clit. Tara sealed her lips around it, flicking with her tongue and humming before sucking hard.

Faith's fingers slid into Tara's hair as she gave up on restraint and shouted her name as she came.

 

“Fuck. Holy fuck.” Faith muttered, moving further back onto the bed in a daze as Tara moved over top of her.

“You alright?” Tara asked, noticing but not wanting to draw attention to tear tracks on Faith's face.

“Yeah, just...fuck, woman.” Faith shook her head slightly. Tara laughed a little and leaned down to kiss her, doubting that the slayer would object to tasting herself.

It felt amazing, and while Tara had known the dangers of opening her heart wide enough and fast enough to do her part of the spell with Faith, the reality of it was still painful. The reason for their closeness was almost over, just as Tara was getting used to the passionate responsiveness of the woman underneath her.

Faith accepted the slow pace of their kiss but kept breaking away to flick her tongue out of Tara's mouth and across her chin and cheeks, gathering the wetness Tara hadn't bothered to remove.

“I've never done that to anyone,” Faith explained as she broke away to catch her breath, “fuck, you're covered in me.”

Tara couldn't help initiating the bruising kiss that followed. Everything Faith did was making her heart feel bigger and lighter, but she had almost reached her own orgasm out of sympathy when Faith did and she couldn't put it off any longer. Reaching down she adjusted and spread herself so that she was finally in direct contact, and couldn't help grunting slightly as she thrust forward against Faith's slick heat.

“Fuck yes.” Faith groaned, reaching down to grab Tara's ass and pull her in tighter. “So wet.”

Tara didn't know which of them she meant, or just both, and she didn't know if she could keep how she was feeling off her face. Cupping one hand against the side of her lover's face, she buried her own in Faith's neck as she set a hot slow grind that didn't stay slow for long.

Faith might have felt that any warm body could be substituted in her place, if it wasn't for the whispering. She wasn't sure if Tara knew she was doing it, but there was a constant stream of barely voiced need with her name attached.

“Faith..Faith...please, god, Faith...yes....Faith...”

And the fingertips lying against her temple, lightly moving with their bodies, occasionally flexing and tracing her face. Tara knew it was her, and was here with her, not just to orgasm. It was enough, and not too much, and Faith shifted to kiss Tara as she hit her peak and the light flared around them, with Faith following soon after.

 

 

The arguing quartet didn't seem to register Buffy's presence, although she was sure if she tried to back out of the room she'd be caught up in it faster than a slayer could run.

“I was...reassuring Nibblet here about her body.” Spike grinned as he intentionally wound Xander up, annoyed that the Zeppo thought he had any say in what Spike chose to do or who the Summers ladies should spend time with.

“You're sick!” Xander shouted, stepping forward with an obvious desire to harm. “What is this, some kind of game to you? Start stalking Dawnie because Buffy won't give you the time of day?”

“Hey!” Dawn objected, hurt.

“She's given me a lot more than that.” Spike lashed out with the truth, and Buffy's quick inhale finally announced her presence.

“Please, Buffy would never...” Xander trailed off, sensing the shift of mood in the room as Spike looked guilty, Dawn looked horrified and Willow had moved away from his side. Looking over he saw Buffy in the doorway looking at Spike – looking betrayed.

“You've got to be kidding.” Xander shook his head after a moment of dead silence. “With him? Jesus Buffy, how long has it been going on? Was this sorcerer really as careful as Giles made out or were you just too distracted fucking the dead to notice him opening hell?!”

“Xander!” Willow hissed, eyes going to Dawn who had not taken hers off Buffy.

“That's where you've been?” Dawn asked in a choked voice. “When you said you couldn't stay in with me and mom, that you had to go patrolling, you've been hanging out and sleeping with Spike?”

“I...” Buffy glanced around helplessly without meeting anyone's eyes. “I can't deal with this right now.”

Chapter Text

Please see chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings

 

Even after their part of the spell was technically complete, Faith had continued touching Tara. She felt driven to make the other woman feel good, and not just to maintain her rep.

Later, as they lay tangled together catching their breath ('Keeping warm after sex' Faith decided, adapting Tara's excuse to explain away what looked a lot like cuddling) she considered whether she had learned anything.

“I never was any good at learning.” Faith spoke up, realising she hadn't experienced any lightning bolts of wisdom, and trying to break the news sort of gently.

Trailing her fingers along Faith's ribs, Tara considered this. “While we were having sex...and even now...I feel like I matter to you. Even if you don't see sex as being particularly special, you still used it to make me feel special.” Tara shrugged. “Which is all anyone could really want for their first time.”

“Hmm. The only thing anyone could want?” Faith asked, the exaggerated rise of her eyebrows giving away her thoughts.

“Okay. Feeling special and incredible orgasms.” Tara's smirk was positively filthy, and Faith relaxed at the sign that she hadn't screwed things up, regardless of whether she'd learned anything.

Faith waited for a moment before revisiting Tara's initial comments. “I'm glad you felt...you know, alright.” She muttered, unsure how else to express that Tara did matter to her and that showing it had been intentional, without getting into the uncomfortable realm of Emotions.

“More than once.” Tara smiled as she gave Faith the out. “How about I help you change and clean this bed before I let you go plan the rest of your day?”

“Shit yes - please!” Faith groaned before rolling away from Tara's comfortable body heat. “This ritual is hell on laundry.”

 

The two made their way carefully but amicably through the streets of Sunnydale. They were just rounding the corner onto Revello Drive when they saw Dawn racing away from the house in their direction.

“That can't be good.” Faith observed, looking around for any hellspawn in spite of the daylight.

“You didn't mention to Dawn you might be coming past, did you?” Tara asked hopefully, while casting a brief detect un/life charm that showed nothing - visible or otherwise - was chasing the incoming runner.

"No. Something's up."

Dawn was almost on top of them before she even noticed she had company.

“Woah, hey D, slow it down. What's wrong?” Faith put a hand out to halt and comfort the visibly distressed young woman.

“Buffy!” Dawn spat, curling an arm around her stomach in a kind of half-hug. “She's been fucking Spike!”

Faith and Tara both cringed for different reasons.

“Oh.” Tara glanced up toward the Summers' home, unsure whether she should continue on to speak to Joyce as she had initially planned, whether Buffy would want to see her or how her presence may escalate the situation if Willow were also present and upset.

“How bout we go grab a coffee or whatever and you can fill me in.” Faith suggested. “Should we walk you to your dorm, or...” she turned to ask Tara, trailing off, open for suggestions.

“I think that's best.” Tara cast a last look at her former home, deciding she could phone to speak to Joyce, Buffy or Willow if she wanted to check in on any of them.

 

“Pretty stupid of X to assume Spike was using you for B.” Faith pointed out after Dawn had finished most of her re-telling. Dawn sighed.

“Probably more stupid that I'm offended by it. Like, 'Hey, even if Spike was evil he could just want to murder me on my own merits!'” She joked a little weakly. “He really was being reassuring, you know."

She stirred her milkshake absently with the straw, and Faith waited for her thoughts to come tumbling out.

"I realise he mostly helps out because of the chip, and I know he's into Buffy – hello, creepy Robot facsimile – but he's...around." She sniffed forcefully, using a napkin to wipe irritably at her nose. "Xander's out with Anya, and Willow's out with Amy, and Tara left because of Willow, and Buffy's always out patrolling.” Her face crumpled a little. “Or, I thought she was. I guess she had to be sometimes at least because she's out even when Spike has been around. Unless she's screwing other vampires, too.”

Faith was aware that Dawn was very smart. There was nothing she could really say that Dawn hadn't considered. But knowing something was clearly different to dealing with it.

“Well, I'm here.” Faith redirected the conversation. “And if I'm going to put out, you should probably take me on a date.”

Dawn looked surprised, but was too intrigued not to take the bait.

“Shouldn't you take me?” She asked.

“Never been on one, I wouldn't know what to do.” Faith shrugged and put down her empty slurpee cup. “But you're from 'round here – show me the hot date sites of Sunnydale.”

Dawn decided to let the 'never' slide until another opportunity to ask arose. “Hmm. The cemeteries are out...the parking spot has had too many murders...”

Everywhere in Sunnydale has had too many murders.” Faith pointed out.

Dawn conceded this point with a nod, before making a show of drawing herself up for an official pronouncement. “I hereby ask you, Faith...wait, what's your last name??” Dawn looked suitably shocked that she didn't actually know this.

“Lehane.”

“Huh. Faith Lehane, will you go see a movie with me?”

“You want to be my first?” She fluttered her eyelids in an exaggerated swoon. "I'd love to." Faith shot her a wink and they both stood. “So, you like action movies, right?...Dawn?"

 

The group had all flinched as Dawn slammed the front door shut behind her, but rather than cooling things off it only added fuel to the fire.

“Look what you've done!” Xander shouted, unclear if he was more angry with Spike or Buffy.

“Me?” Spike demanded. “You're the one going off half-cocked shouting instead of having a civilised conversation like reasonable people.”

“Civilised? Reasonable? You? That's rich. I don't know what you did to trick Buffy into this...”

“How do you know she didn't trick me? She might have pretended to be the 'bot.” Spike pointed out, more than a little bit sick of people assuming he was in the wrong. Even if he mostly was.

Willow was just staring at Buffy, who was staring into space, apparently checking out for a holiday in her own mind.

“The robot you created to screw her in effigy!”

“Jealous you didn't think of it first?”

“Enough.” Willow's voice echoed slightly through the room.

“I would never take advantage of Buffy like that. I didn't during the love potion thing!”

“And you didn't while you were possessed by the hyena! Oh, wait. Only because she was strong enough to flick you off. Whereas I've been a demon the whole time I've known her, and she'd still rather fuck me! Burns, does it, Harris?”

“Spike!” It was Buffy's voice this time, and the vampire grimaced at the realisation he'd gotten riled and gone too far.

“Whatever.” He shrugged dismissively, never understanding why Buffy cared so much what her friends thought of her sex life. “They would have found out anyway. Now maybe we can use a bed once in a while.”

“It's over Spike. I told you before. I'm...I've been taking advantage of you, ignoring how you feel about all of this.”

“Maybe I don't care.” Spike spoke up forcefully, willing for his dignity to be the price he paid to convince her not to walk away.

“I do. I don't want to be the kind of person that would treat someone that way. I'm sorry.” Buffy walked back out of the house, wanting time alone. Somewhere she didn't need to face disappointing the people she loved.

Chapter Text

Buffy would have panicked at not seeing Dawn anywhere in the street, except she had felt her phone vibrate with an incoming message. Checking it, she was surprised to read a text from Faith briefly assuring Buffy that Dawn was with the other slayer and safe.

She had only just read the text and had not gone more than 20 steps out of the house when Willow called out behind her. Buffy slowed, and turned, but continued moving. She felt as if stopping would leave her trapped, although she couldn't face thinking about why that was until she had some space and time, neither of which were easy to come by on an open hellmouth.

Willow walked up to her slowly, and Buffy wondered whether she looked to her friend like some kind of frightened animal, ready to bolt.

“I...can I ask why?” Willow asked, genuinely uncertain of which questions she could ask.

Buffy had begun pulling away from her, unintentionally, when Joyce first became sick and Buffy had started missing classes to help take her to medical appointments, get Dawn to school, run chores for the art gallery and myriad other necessities.

The grief and loss Buffy's death caused all of them meant there was no-one unaffected to be strong and support the others, but Willow wanted to be that person regardless. Wanted to make things right, to have the answer, to be responsible and take care of things in the way she always had.

The knowledge that Glory had come from a hell dimension and had been seeking to return ate at Willow. The terrible things that Tara had experienced while lost in her own mind seemed likely shadows of the horrors of Glory's dimension, caused as they had been by the anti-goddess' abilities.

None of them liked to say it, but they had all wondered at the time if Buffy was trapped in a hell dimension as Angel had been, suffering decades of torment for every minute that passed in their world.

So she had publicly worked toward finding a way for the group to keep on slaying, and privately worked toward a real solution – removing the problem; bringing the slayer back – saving Buffy.

But it had all gone wrong, and Willow still wasn't sure how. She was incredibly relieved to have her friend back, and proud that she had been able to achieve it. And while she felt bad that she had ended Buffy's happiness, she could never understand why Buffy would believe she was better off dead.

Buffy's resurrection was a gaping wound in their relationship that both tried to function in spite of, but neither knew how to fix.

Willow used to feel like she could say anything to Buffy, and like she would understand anything Buffy had to say. Now she didn't know how to ask why her friend would have sex with an animated corpse who had tried to kill each of them at different times and who Buffy had professed to hate.

“I don't know why.” Buffy threw a hand up, clearly upset not to have an answer. “I just...I came back and it was like...Groundhog Day. Just the same thing, over and over and over again, after I had thought I was finished. Death and violence and blood and dust. And then Spike was there, and...it seemed like anything was better than constant nothing. Like if you were walking through a hallway that never changed for so long, and then suddenly you had the chance to burn it down.” Buffy stared into space, remembering how she had felt when fucking Spike was new and different, not a routine with diminishing returns.

“Did it help?” Willow asked, absorbing what Buffy said for future consideration.

“For a while, maybe. But then it was just another hallway.” Buffy wanted to admit she was disgusted with herself, desperately ashamed. But she already knew her friends found the thought disgusting and couldn't bear the thought of Willow transparently lying to reassure her. Or worse - Willow not trying to reassure her.

“And is everything still...a hallway?”

Buffy smiled slightly at the use of her own awkward analogy. “I've finished things with Spike, but with this apocalypse everything's even more about the slaying than usual. Ask me again once the hellmouth is closed?” She asked hopefully, encouraged that they'd been able to have any kind of conversation.

“I will.” A shadow of Resolve Face appeared, and Buffy was relieved to see it.

“So you've looked kind of sick lately. Are you okay?” Buffy asked, and they walked together, uncomfortable but determined.

 

Dawn wasn't sure what to expect from Faith during their 'date'. The entire thing came as a surprise, and given their...accelerated timetable...she didn't know whether to expect first date behaviour, third date behaviour, dating so long you barely keep track anymore behaviour, or something else entirely because Faith may not even know what each of those were.

It soon occurred to her however, that Faith may be just as uncertain. Dawn had been taking some reassurance in the knowledge that Faith would take the lead when it came time for their session and was struck by the idea that in the context of dating, Faith may be relieved if she did the same.

So, on their way to the cinema, Dawn confidently reached out and took her hand. She was amused to see Faith stop mid-sentence and snap her head around to look at their hands as if they were possessed.

“I know there's lots of demons and stuff around,” Dawn spoke up, partly to save Faith from needing to, “I'll let you go if you need to fight.” She smiled and hoped she hadn't made a colossal blunder as Faith continued to look bewildered, holding their hands completely still as if Dawn's may break.

“Date thing, huh?” She asked finally, experimentally running her thumb along the outside of Dawn's hand.

“Yeah. Too weird?”

“No it's...kind of nice.” Faith admitted. Five days ago she would never have said it, even to Dawn. But over the last few days she had felt what it could mean to make someone that mattered to you feel good. She wondered if causing that bright look of happiness it seemed to evoke was addictive.

 

“Who's the guy?” Amy asked, sipping her drink.

“Huh?” Willow asked, tearing her eyes away from Spike, who appeared to be brooding in another corner of the Bronze.

“David Bowie reject you've been staring at.” Amy clarified.

“Hm.” Willow cocked her head. Without the leather jacket Spike did look a bit Bowie-ish. It was draped over the back of his chair. “Buffy's...friend.”

“Sex friend?” The other witch asked, nodding. “She always had good taste.”

“Terrible taste!” Willow argued. “He's a vampire!”

“Blood-play? Kinky. Forget about Buffy and Bowie. This place is duller than dirt without magic – let's go see Rack.” Amy dropped the suggestion casually, but the need to feel the power Rack offered was intense.

“Why wouldn't she talk to us? I mean, I know we took her out of heaven which has sort of caused what she's feeling, but arguably Glory caused that by making her die in the first place.”

Amy itched at the reminder of Willow's power. It was infuriating that Willow didn't realise just how powerful she was. She seemed only interested in discovering and learning new things, how magic could be used to solve specific problems. She almost never considered what it meant that she was more naturally powerful even than Rack, whose unique gift lay in 'trading magic' – tapping into and transferring the magic of one user to another. Those he took from experienced bliss, and those he gave to experienced power. The downside – if anyone could call it that – was to take your turn as a donor.

Amy, like Rack, had very small natural reservoirs but a great deal of skill and subtlety in how to use what she had.

“Wouldn't it cheer you up if we made some changes in here? Got one of those homophobes who threatened you sucking his friend's cock in front of everybody, or give that bitchy cheerleader over there some sort of embarrassing deformity?” She prompted, trying once more to redirect Willow from the funk she had been in all night.

“I wouldn't want that.” Willow frowned thoughtfully, a bit surprised. “I mean he was really cruel and awful but the other night we were giving people things they wanted to do, just without consequences. I wouldn't make someone do something they didn't want.”

Amy sighed, thinking that they should have gone to Rack and then the Bronze instead of the other way around. Willow was a lot more fun when the magic was practically crawling out of her on its own. Rather than pointing out that granting some people's wishes had come at other people's expense, she just agreed.

“Sure, you're right. What do you think of the band?”

When Willow turned to look, Amy cast. A direct attempt on Willow's mind would never work, but there were ways around it. Amy knew the spell she chose well, but adapting it on the fly was a bit trickier, and instead of only affecting Willow's drink in the way she intended, she noticed all the bottles behind the bar and the glasses sitting on top of it glow briefly as well.

Shrugging mentally she decided it would just mean the place was a lot more interesting when they came back. A Bronze-full of people with seriously low or even no inhibitions was something she'd like to see.

 

“That was the worst movie I've ever seen.” Faith decided. “But I had fun.”

“Me, too. I'm glad I asked you out.” Dawn grinned.

“Oh, so I'm not a crap date?” Faith was joking around, but had wondered at different moments if there were things she should be doing and just didn't know about.

“Best date.” Dawn reassured her. She slowed down as they approached the door to the motel room, allowing time for Faith to get the keys out of her pocket.

“Here, got it.” Faith popped the door and gestured Dawn in, closing it behind them. “So, I know it's kind of crappy...”

Dawn turned to face her, stepped closer and leaned in for a gentle kiss, testing Faith's reaction.

She was mostly surprised, but went along with it, relieved that Tara had introduced her to this whole different type of making out already. She was sure she would have made an ass of herself, something she was hoping to avoid doing in front of Dawn.

Chapter Text

The kiss had slowly become more serious, but eventually Dawn broke away looking a little flushed.

“Okay so...that's usually where the first date ends.” She explained.

“So I guess we're skipping a bunch of steps.” Faith commented. “Are you...I mean, we don't have to do this now.”

“No, it's okay.” Dawn was hyperaware of Faith's hand, which was resting on the skin of her lower back after sneaking under her shirt while they were kissing. She swallowed hard. “Now is...good.”

“Okay well...not to kill the moment, but I just needed to say...” Faith trailed off, kicking herself for not actually planning anything. “Well, everybody's different, right?” She tried.

“If you're about to tell me you're not 100% lady-parts under there, I'm going to admit that's a plot twist I did not see coming.” Dawn said, mostly joking.

“No, you little smartass.” Faith moved her spare hand to tickle her stomach, a weakness identified years earlier. “I'm try'n'a...be all responsible and shit! What I mean is, everyone likes different stuff. And just cause I've done this before doesn't mean you have to like something just because I suggest it, or...”

“Got it. Faith is sometimes wrong.” Dawn nodded, deadpan. She hurried on when the slayer glared at her. “Seriously, I get it. I'll tell you if anything bothers me. You don't have to worry, you know? I trusted you enough to ask you about sex years ago and you gave me good advice.”

“I don't remember.” Faith admitted, overwhelmed that her words had an impact that she hadn't realised and terrified at what could have happened if Dawn had caught her at a bad moment. “Did I tell you to save yourself so I could swipe your v-card to stop the apocalypse?” she joked.

“Please, I turned down three guys who tried that line just last year.” Dawn smiled. “Actually, you told me to wait until I was ready and to masturbate as much as I liked.”

Faith bit her lip, gathering up her courage. “That is good advice. Maybe soon you can show me what you learned?” She saw surprise and heat flare in Dawn's eyes, and leaned forward to kiss her again, slow and deep.

 

Buffy had continued on to go slaying after her talk with Willow. For all that she'd been glad it was possible, she was still angry about all the things that she wouldn't let herself say, the things that might destroy a friendship. And now she was feeling just as grey and bitter and off-key as she had before, but without Spike to fall back on. So it was showing up in other ways, in how she fought and slayed. With the hellmouth opening it seemed like there was a never-ending supply of tough opponents to throw herself into battle with, and rather than fighting smart or graceful, she fought raw and brutal, taking intense hits if it meant she got an opening rather than waiting for the moment to come.

A slayer could take a lot of damage and Buffy knew her limits well. Even beaten and bloody she knew how much energy she needed to have left in the tank to make it home.

 

Spike was drowning his sorrows at the Bronze, trying to silence the cacophany of heartbreak, anger and humiliation in his head. After all they'd been through together, Buffy still didn't believe his love was real, didn't believe a vampire could love. He didn't know what else he could do to prove it – Spike thought it was obvious, their passionate intensity, the violence, darkness and even danger they represented to each other were all what he knew Big Love was about.

Buffy could lie to her side-kicks all she wanted, but he knew she felt the same. One more drink and he'd go talk to her about it without the audience there to get in the way.

 

In all the thinking Dawn had done about the spell and having sex with Faith, she somehow hadn't given any real thought to how it would feel. Or maybe she just could never have guessed.

She didn't plan to let Faith do all the work but with her back against the bedroom wall, her shirt open and the slayer licking and sucking a hot path from her neck towards her breasts, Dawn felt like it was an achievement just to stay standing.

Faith was clearly trying to drive her insane, her lips, fingers and tongue only tracing around the edges of Dawn's bra and refusing to push under the cups where she was needed. It felt too good to pull away long enough to get rid of her shirt and bra, but Dawn couldn't stand the tease.

“Please.” She asked, not really sure if it was intentional or if Faith was just being too goddamn chivalrous and trying to take it slow for her.

“More?” Faith asked with a smirk that suggested it was somewhere between the two, and tugged her forward lightly before pushing the shirt off her shoulders and letting it drop. Faith then grabbed the hem of her own tank and pulled it off over her head.

Dawn was too fixated on all the skin that Faith was showing to be thinking much about her own body, and couldn't help groaning at the press of flesh as Faith stepped forward to reach her back clasp.

Urgently wanting to feel more, Dawn would have happily dislocated a shoulder trying to twist in the right ways to hurry Faith up in removing her bra. “You too.” She insisted not really caring if she seemed pushy or desperate. The slayer just grinned at her enthusiasm and was very quickly dropping her own bra on the floor.

“Oh god.” Dawn stepped forward only trusting her hands as high as Faith's stomach. “Can I?”

“Sure.” Faith hid her amusement, unable to remember the last time someone had asked before copping a feel. Then Dawn surprised her by stepping in tight against Faith, tilting her head to lick and suck at her neck while Dawn's hands moved up to trace, knead and stroke around and between where their breasts pushed together.

“You feel so good.” Dawn whispered. “Can we...bed?”

“We can bed. Let's bed.” Faith answered breathlessly.

 

Once Dawn was settled on her back in the middle of the bed, Faith shimmied out of her pants slowly, allowing plenty of time for her audience to get used to the view as her panties soon followed. She crawled up the bed alongside Dawn, pausing on her knees with one hand resting on the young woman's thigh.

“Are you ready for these to go?” She tugged lightly on the denim. “You don't have to lose the whole lot – well, you don't have to take the jeans off either if you don't– ”

Dawn popped the button and unzipped her fly. “Do you mind if I keep my underwear for now?” She lifted her hips to try and push the jeans down, and Faith moved to help.

“We could probably leave 'em on the whole time,” Faith offered, “only they'd end up pretty ruined.” She shrugged.

“Just for now.” Dawn kicked her jeans off finally, and since she seemed more relaxed while they were actually touching, Faith lay down alongside her, and leaned in to kiss the ribs that were next to her face, gradually dragging her lips up the side of one breast and letting her hand trace a route from Dawn's knee up to cup the other.

Relaxing more herself as Dawn's breath hitched in pleasure and she didn't move away or ask to slow things down, Faith sucked soft skin into her mouth, laving with her tongue before letting go and starting again nearby.

Even though Faith had gotten straight to the fucking pretty early in her own experience, she'd still heard plenty of teens as well as the SunnyD crew talking about the bases. She figured that even if Dawn had passed some of them a while back, she'd probably find it easier to work through them again with Faith rather than just diving right in. So, instead of leading Dawn in doing something new, Faith started with where she knew Dawn had been.

The slayer's mouth and hand massaged and teased Dawn's breasts in tandem, until her nipples were hard and her hips starting to rock up from the bed even with nothing to move against.

“You want to show me what you learned?” Faith husked. “About touching yourself?”

“God...really?” Dawn groaned. “Cruel. Finally have someone to help...and you want me to do it?”

Faith chuckled and tweaked a nipple. “Nah. Even playing with yourself is more fun with someone else. And this way you can show me how you like it.”

“You seem to be doing okay at guessing so far.” Dawn sassed, but started sliding her right hand down her own stomach.

 

Spike didn't have any luck at the cemeteries, and guessed that if Buffy had been slaying since she'd stormed out earlier in the afternoon she might have headed home for the night.

Knocking on the door when he arrived at the Summers' home, Spike couldn't be bothered to wait on social niceties for more than a second or two, and let himself inside. He could hear movement on the second floor and started walking up.

“Buffy?”

“Spike? What are you doing here?” She stepped out into the hall from the bathroom, wearing a robe that, like her designer clothes and even her goddamn winter jammies, couldn't hide how beautiful or how dangerous she was.

“We need to talk.” He started, only to be cut off.

“Spike, we've been over this. I've said everything I can.”

“Then you need to listen!” He insisted.

Chapter Text

Dawn bit her lip, trying to stave off her anxiety by faking a confidence she didn't feel. Like Faith said, she'd done this before – but having someone watching was definitely new. Feeling herself blush and damning her pale skin for making it obvious, she slipped her fingers underneath the waistband of her panties and was relieved she'd asked to keep them on.

Faith had intended to use the suggestion of Dawn touching herself as a way to slowly introduce, and eventually be replaced by, her own touch. But watching Dawn's hand moving under the cotton, she was mesmerised and completely forgot what she had intended to do.

“If you're going to just watch, shouldn't you be tucking bills in my underwear?” Dawn asked, a little short of breath.

“Not exactly what happens at a strip club.” Faith corrected, but was grateful to be reminded that she wasn't just here for fun. Throwing her leg over Dawn's closest thigh, Faith returned to licking and sucking at Dawn's breasts. When she could tell that Dawn was getting lost in sensation and her hand was speeding up, Faith slid her own down and cupped it over the top of the last remaining clothing and Dawn's hand which stopped abruptly.

Faith could feel from the position of Dawn's hand that she had been working her clit. She moved her own down further to press soaked material against and between slick folds. Dawn inhaled sharply and her legs tensed before gradually relaxing and shifting wider.

Propping herself up on her opposite elbow, Faith checked Dawn's face for any signs things were going too fast, and started lightly rubbing back and forth.

“Ung. That's...” Dawn's hand started moving again slowly, and she was angling her hips up into Faith's fingers.

Faith watched her enjoying it, and felt a mixture of pride and awe that she was actually causing Dawn to feel good, and that Dawn trusted her enough not to spend the whole time worrying. She hoped to god she could manage to get through without giving D any permanent hang ups, and made a vague mental promise to chip in on therapy bills.

“Are you ready for these to go?” She asked, cupping and rolling her hand, heel to fingers, in a brief demonstration of how much more she could be feeling.

Dawn started pushing her panties down over her hips in lieu of agreement, so fast that Faith didn't really have a chance to help. Instead she lay her hand back down against Dawn's sex and gave her a second to adjust to the direct contact.

“I won't go any further without asking.” Faith commented.

“What if I'm asking?”

“Then we'll go further.” Faith began to work her hand back and forth again, watching closely for signs of discomfort – but also, she had to admit to herself, just watching. Pushing in a little more, Faith held her hand so a finger would be rubbing back and forth over Dawn's entrance.

“I'm not asking to tease you, just so I know what you're used to. Do you ever go inside when you touch yourself?”

“Uhn, Faith! You're killing me. It's a secret slaying method.” Dawn groaned. “I...sometimes. Only one finger.” Dawn could feel a blush flame over her face again but with Faith naked and her hand doing things that felt incredible, she was past caring.

“Okay. I'll take it easy, but are you –”

So fucking ready!” Dawn cut her off.

Faith couldn't help grinning at Dawn's frustration, but readjusted to give herself a better angle, her body more directly centered above Dawn's. Finally Faith kissed her and began pushing in. Dawn's body was clearly on the same page as her mind, and Faith's intentions to go slow were shot when Dawn thrust up against her.

“Told you,” Dawn said with a breathless chuckle at the expression on Faith's face, “I've done this much.”

“Fine, if you insist, I'll act like an inconsiderate asshole.” Faith answered, her continued gentleness making it clearly a joke. “You feel incredible.” She added more seriously.

“I do.” Dawn groaned. “I mean, you do. You're making me feel incredible. More.”

Beginning to trust that Dawn knew what she wanted and not intending to drive her insane, Faith carefully added a finger. Something about how slow they were taking it, or maybe knowing it was new for Dawn was making her notice everything she was feeling in more detail.

When Dawn seemed ready, Faith started thrusting more firmly, using her thigh for leverage. Giving in a little to temptation while still focussing first on Dawn's pleasure, Faith rode the thigh she was straddling briefly, groaning appreciation when Dawn got the idea and lifted her knee to help.

“Yes...want you to enjoy it too.” Dawn panted.

Faith could only hum her agreement, far too distracted to talk any more.

 

 

“I love you. I know you feel the same no matter what you say in front of your pals.”

Buffy sighed, feeling like Spike had found the worst possible time to insist on this conversation.

“I have feelings for you. I do. But it's not love – I could never trust you enough for it to be love.” She explained, thinking not just of the times Spike had helped, but of the times he had betrayed them or put people's lives at risk through self interest.

“Trust is for old marrieds, Buffy! Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous. It burns and consumes.”

“Until there's nothing left.” Buffy pointed out, finding it ironic that Spike was using the same analogy she had used with Willow, but intending it to be positive. “Love like that doesn't last.”

“I know you feel like I do.” Spike shook his head, frustrated that she was sticking to this story. “You don't have to hide it anymore.” He had thought that after the initial explosion from her friends, Buffy would be able to see reason, but it was as if she had convinced herself with the same lies she'd been telling her friends.

“Spike, please stop this.” Buffy was exhausted, and injured, and hadn't been in the mood to deal with this hours before, let alone in the middle of the night.
**************************************************************
Stepping forward and taking Buffy by the hips, Spike brushed aside the muted alarm bells going off in his mind. “Let yourself feel it.” He insisted, hating to see someone incredible like Buffy trapped by her own inhibitions.

“No...” Buffy answered, annoyed and trying to manoeuvre away.

“You love me.” Spike said, confident he was right.

Buffy stepped back, only to jam her injured back into the sink behind her. “Ow! No, stop it!” She was starting to panic, the slayer in her screaming that she had already used everything she had out slaying tonight and that if this became a fight, she would not win. “Spike, don't!”

Thinking of the times they had connected in the past, Spike ignored the parts of his brain that disagreed and knew that if they could just connect like that again, Buffy would see. She would would feel what he did, and wouldn't be able to lie about it.

Spike ripped her robe open and slid a hand inside, impatient for the passionate connection he knew they could have.

“What are you doing?” Reaching out to anchor herself against something, Buffy got only the shower curtain and fell with an agonising jolt onto her injured back, Spike following to straddle her.

 

Joyce had unpredictable sleeping patterns since she had been sick, but always slept more soundly after her mind registered Buffy returning home from slaying.

Already in that deeper level of sleep after hearing Buffy come in the door earlier, Joyce surfaced slowly, confused to hear arguing and thuds – nothing really loud enough to be a demon in the house, but much too loud for Buffy's usual nightly routine. Getting up groggily, she grabbed a baseball bat she kept by her bed just in case.

“No, please!” She heard, coming from the bathroom. “Spike, please! Stop! Please don't do this!”

The distress in Buffy's voice made Joyce start to run.

“You'll feel it again, Buffy. I'm gonna make you feel it!”

Before she reached the bathroom, Spike came sprawling out of it onto his back, and overcharged on fear and adrenaline, Joyce cracked him over the head with her bat. Spike hollered in pain.

“Ask me again why I could never love you.” Buffy spat.
**************************************************************
“....Buffy? Joyce. My god, I didn't...”

“Because she stopped you!” Joyce shouted.

“Something I should have done a long time ago.” Buffy muttered, stepping over Spike to get out into the hall. Spike scrambled to his feet away from both of them looking shell shocked, and ran.

Buffy was in no condition to give chase, even if she wanted to. Her eyes met her mother's, and she roughly wiped away tears. “I'm sorry mom. Oh god.”

“Sweetheart, are you okay? Did he...”

Buffy couldn't work out what an honest answer would be. She had said no tonight, and Spike had tried to...force things. But after the things she had done to Spike in the past, with Spike, the things she let him do to her...she knew it was her fault. She couldn't bear explaining it to her mom.

“I'm fine.” She settled for. “I stopped him. But...I need to go. Somewhere. I'm so sorry mom.” She ran to her room at slayer speed, and Joyce was left in the hallway wondering if she was having a nightmare.

 

Spike ran. There was something wrong with him. He was a monster, but usually he decided to be a monster. He never just...did things. He felt wrong, like that time...

He slowed and stopped, on the edge of realisation. Like that time...he and Buffy had ended up engaged while they still hated each other. Because Willow had cast a spell. Willow, who he had seen with her other witchy friend at the Bronze right before he decided to see Buffy.

Changing direction and starting to run at vamp speed again, Spike headed back to the Bronze.

Chapter Text

Giles sat on his couch, pouring over another ancient tome in the hopes of finding any other description of battles held on or near an open hellmouth.

In addition to the sorcerer who opened the seal being very likely to try and stop them closing it, Giles knew a variety of monsters had probably bunkered down surrounding it, not to mention any denizens of hell still coming out of it.

It wasn't just the enemies that concerned him, however, but the effect and power of the open hellmouth itself. As a mystical convergence it was both very powerful and very unpredictable in its effects on demons, witches and warlocks and of course the slayers with their mystical nature.

 

The unease which Tara had been feeling ever since seeing Dawn so upset earlier in the day coalesced into a ball of fear when she saw Buffy sitting in the hall against her door, hugging her knees.

“Buffy? What's wrong?” She asked, scanning the slayer for injuries and noticing with growing concern that she was wearing comfortable rather than stylish clothes, something she almost never did outside of her own home.

“Tara. I was worried cause I couldn't hear you inside and it's the middle of the night. But then I thought you might be with Faith, or friends, or a special lady friend so I didn't know whether to go out and look...”

In contrast to what she was actually saying, Buffy was mostly expressionless, seeming disconnected from the meaning of her own words. Tara remembered seeing her this way before - immediately after her resurrection it had been her default state of being, and Tara pushed down her growing panic at the realisation, certain that she would have heard if someone had been badly injured.

“How about we go inside and talk?” She suggested.

Buffy just nodded and stayed seated, apparently not making the connection that she would need to move until Tara stepped forward and began going through her keys. Finally she stood slowly, supporting herself against the wall and favouring her left side.

“You're hurt.” Tara realised, ushering Buffy inside. “What happened? Do you need me to...”

“It's late.” Buffy was focussed on the dark outside Tara's window, and the witch wondered if she had even realised that it was night when she came over. “Why were you out? There's demons.” She looked genuinely worried, and Tara was a bit reassured to see any kind of emotion.

“Don't worry, I used protection.” Tara joked lamely, trying to earn at the very least an eye-roll, but Buffy didn't seem to get the reference. “What are you doing out? You came to see me?” She tried.

“Dawn found out.” Buffy explained, looking anywhere but at Tara. “And Willow and Xander.”

“About Spike?” Tara asked. She had known Buffy would be upset at them finding out, but she and Faith had found Dawn running out of their home hours ago. Tara wondered if Buffy had been in this state ever since.

Buffy nodded. “Just that we'd been...together but weren't any more. Not the rest.”

She had never gone into detail about their liaisons with Tara, only implying that they were particularly violent (enough that Spike's chip should have responded) and that there was more left unsaid that Buffy was intensely ashamed of.

Assuming those aspects where what 'the rest' referred to, Tara decided to find out what had happened before seeing whether Buffy might open up about the shame that was clearly plaguing her.

“What did they say?”

“They were hurt. Angry. Disappointed.” Buffy glanced at her briefly, gauging her own reaction. “Xander asked if it was my fault the hellmouth got opened, if I let the sorcerer get away with it because I was too distracted with Spike to notice.”

Tara was very fond of Xander, not least because she knew and respected how much he cared about Willow, and the ways he had supported her when she had no-one else. But when his anger got the best of him it often burst out as accusations, which happened to be the worst approach to disagreeing with Buffy.

“You didn't let the sorcerer do anything.” Tara reassured her. “You're stronger, faster and smarter than most, but there's no way you could have known it was going to happen. No prophecies or portents. It's amazing we even worked out something was going on in time to be there when it was opened, we were totally unprepared for the kind of defences he had set up.”

“I'm the slayer. He should have been too afraid to even try.” Buffy clenched her jaw, and she seemed to be almost shaking with the effort of holding herself together enough to speak. “It's my fault.”

She took a deep breath and shook her head in disgust. “Of course he thought it was okay.” She spoke her thoughts aloud. “Just like all the other times I said never again, just like before we fought, so just like before he thought we would fuck.” Buffy finally looked over at Tara, eyes shining with unshed tears. “So why does it feel so much worse?”

Gradually working out that they definitely weren't discussing the sorcerer, and that Buffy could not have been talking about anyone but Spike, Tara pieced her words together.

“Spike raped you?” Clenching her fists, Tara could barely remember ever feeling so angry.

“No!” Buffy quickly corrected, looking alarmed. “He...tried to force things. I couldn't fight very well because of my back, but...I threw him off. And he stopped.”

Tara tried to consciously relax, knowing that her fury at Spike did nothing to help Buffy and may be misinterpreted. “It's not your fault Buffy, I promise.”

Tara wasn't sure how open Buffy might be feeling to physical comfort at that moment, but as soon as she lifted an arm to test, maybe with a reassuring hand on the shoulder, her friend collapsed into the offered arms and buried her face in Tara's shoulder

“You don't know everything I let him do.” She mumbled into Tara's shirt.

“Did he ever...force things...after you said no, before?” Tara asked, careful to use Buffy's own words so that her answer was based on what had happened, not whether she felt she was to blame.

“No. I mean...I often said I was breaking things off and then I'd see him and we'd get into a fight and...” She trailed off.

“One thing led to another?” Tara suggested.

“How sick is that?” Buffy asked bitterly. “You say 'We were kissing and then one thing led to another...' or, 'We were lying on my bed and one thing led to another...'. You don't say 'We were beating the shit out of each other with bricks and rebar and one thing led to another.” She pulled away and pressed a fist against her temple, apparently trying to drive her thoughts out by force of will.

“I guess that's where the word bloodlust comes from.” Tara suggested. “It isn't something I've ever felt, but Buffy – I don't think you're sick. And I still know it isn't your fault.”

“How can you say that?” The blonde asked. “I kept changing my mind, and I let violence and sex get all mixed up together, and I let...” she paused, still unwilling to share some of the details. “Well. I let him hurt me. I hurt him. How could he have known that I really meant it this time?”

“I know it for a lot of reasons.” Tara answered, calm and firm. “But first, you're still injured. How about I take a look at your back while I explain?”

Buffy considered this for a moment, twisting her shirt in her fingers as she thought. Instinct was screaming at her that a prone position with back turned and skin showing was far too dangerous. She could imagine, she knew the many ways someone could kill her like that. Or what kind of use Spike may have found of it. Looking over at Tara she could see that her host was simply sitting patiently and waiting for her to decide.

Feeling a rush of appreciation for Tara's willingness to let her choose, even if it meant leaving her to nurse an injury in stubborn silence – she lay down.

 

“Dear lord.” Giles dropped his book and grabbed the phone, dialling quickly then cursing under his breath as there was no answer at Willow's home. Tara, then. No – they were on the outs. He must contact her too, but she tended to use far less magic than Willow. Xander, he would know where she was. He was dialling even as he thought it through.

“Y'ello?”

“Xander, thank goodness. Do you know where Willow is? I've just discovered a most disturbing distinction between accounts of a previous attempt on the – ”

“Woah, stop. Willow's at the Bronze. Short version?”

“Er...magic bad.” Giles cringed at his unconscious Buffy-ism. “I'll come past and pick you up, and -”

“ - explain on the way. Got it.”

Chapter Text

“Is it weird that I'm thinking about my sister?” Dawn sat against the headboard of the bed.

“It's weird that you're awake.” Faith pointed out. “And it depends how you're thinking about her.”

“Ew!” Dawn slapped a shoulder near her hip. “Gross. I meant how messed up she was when I found out about Spike.”

“So you're not mad anymore?” Faith asked, working out what not to say.

“I still don't get it. Like, if she's feeling bad about coming back to life why didn't she just spend time with us?”

Faith considered how she had felt when Mrs Summers said she was proud. “I guess sometimes it's like something is so good or so important that you don't want to fuck it up.”

“How could she fuck it up by being there? It's worse when she's not.”

“I dunno. I'm not sayin' she's right, but...bad stuff follows us. We do some heavy stuff when we're slaying. I guess she doesn't want you all to see that part of her.”

“But Spike can.” Dawn drew the conclusion. “Because he won't be as judgy about it?”

“Maybe. Maybe just 'cause she doesn't care what he thinks.” Faith shrugged. “But you should probably talk to Tara. I'm not really great at being sensitive chats girl.”

Dawn looked down speculatively. “You and Tara were hanging out when I ran out of the house earlier.”

“Yeah. We'd just been...uh, doing our bit of the spell.”

“You can have sex with me, and you can talk about Buffy fucking Spike, but you won't say you were fucking Tara?” Dawn probed with interest.

“It wasn't like that.” Faith frowned, wondering why it mattered what it was. She had said herself that she hadn't experienced any lightning bolts of wisdom, so why did it seem wrong for Dawn to call it that? What made it seem different if at the time she hadn't thought it was? Looking up at Dawn she could see the younger woman hiding a grin, probably already jumping to conclusions about her answer.

“Whatever, it just wasn't.”

“You both seemed pretty relaxed.” Dawn hadn't been paying a lot of attention to her surroundings, but knew she would be able to remember awkwardness, tension, or nerves from Tara.

“Tara's alright.” Faith considered how to express that Tara was different than the nervous, scared, pure and perfect damsel she had seemed on first meeting while being B. “Helps that I never threatened to kill her.”

“A key factor in any... relationship.” Dawn said lightly, watching Faith for a reaction to her choice of words. It was a very fast narrow-eyed gaze of suspicion.

“Does thinking about killing someone count?” Faith glared.

 

“So you're saying the more Willow uses magic, the more of the bad mojo she'll build up?” Xander asked, grateful for once that Giles' grandpa driving gave him time to explain the situation.

“Not just Willow, anyone using magic within a certain distance from the hellmouth. I just didn't have reason to think dangerous proximity was more than, say, the grounds of the high school. The account I just read strongly suggests it's more like the size of Sunnydale.” He answered grimly.

“And it will do what...make her evil?” He asked, skeptical.

“No, no. Given enough time or build up it might make darker magick easier than light, but mostly, it will make a user sick. A kind of...gradual smothering of their lifeforce, if you will.”

“So, a kind of magical emphysema.”

“Well, yes.” Giles sounded a bit surprised at his choice of analogy.

“Don't get Joyce started on the dangers of smoking.”

“Oh. Right. Well, I don't imagine Willow has been casting enough yet to cause harm, but I am concerned that it will be difficult to convince her to abstain from its use when not absolutely necessary.”

“Yeah, about that.” Xander answered. “When we get there, let me do the talking.”

“Pardon? I hardly think...”

“I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. I heard what you said to Willow after she brought Buffy back. I get why you said it. You might be library-guy when it comes to magic, but I'm the expert on Willow, and what you said to her was the wrong thing to say and far too late to say it.”

“I know that you care for Willow, Xander, but you don't understand the possible consequences of what she was doing.”

“And you don't understand that saying something is dangerous or impossible, or just insulting her, won't stop Willow, it won't make her think twice. People have been telling her things like that since she was 5, and what they usually mean is 'for someone your age', or 'for someone of average intelligence', so they've always been wrong. Willow got used to disregarding what people said, because she knew she could do it. I won't go into how she got used to ignoring people who insulted her." He added with a dark look before continuing.

“The time to actually help her was back when she was starting and would have respected that you knew more than her. But you were so busy worrying that she'd end up like you, you forgot that she's nothing like you. With all due respect, you and your Eyghon pals were using magic as some rebellious phase, like idiots toting guns to impress each other.

“Willow is interested in magic like it's nuclear physics or something. She's calculated the pros and cons and risks and safety measures and studied the theory and run tests and built herself a nuclear power station.

“And when you tell her off as a rank amateur, she knows you see her as an idiot poking around inside an atomic bomb, not as the nuclear physicist. And you both don't get that it's really somewhere in the middle, 'cause she's not you, but magic isn't science.”

There was a few moments of silence as Giles absorbed this, looking across the street to the Bronze where he had pulled up while Xander was speaking.

“You know saying 'with all due respect' doesn't actually make what you're saying more respectful.” He pointed out with a rueful smile to show it wasn't a complaint.

For once, Xander didn't smile. “When it comes to how we've handled Willow and magic, maybe not much respect is due.”

 

“What?” Dawn asked, holding her hands up in mock surrender. “It's good. I'm glad you guys get along.”

“Yeah right.” Faith snorted, not buying the innocent act. “Weren't you all pissed off at Tara for leaving Willow, anyway? How come you're try'na start gossip?”

“She told you?” Dawn grimaced. “There was a lot going on. A lot going wrong. I was upset that she was leaving because it meant things were changing, I guess. Just one more thing I thought would always be there was ending. Like Buffy dying, or mom getting sick. I still miss having Tara around so much but I guess I've gotten used to her not being with Willow. And Willow's been so sad and weird without Tara, always spending time with Amy.”

“What's weird about it?” Faith asked, trying not to let on how invested she was in Dawn's answer.

“I don't know.” Dawn shook her head. “I guess maybe it is normal to be sort of sad and distant or spend time with different people after a breakup.”

“She's different than when I was here before.” Faith prompted. “Pretty big with the magic now, huh?”

“She's amazing. I mean, she got Tara back to normal after Glory brain-sucked her. She was able to like, punch Glory away with the air. And she and Tara made that thing Buffy used to swap your bodies back. ”

And she used it to steal Tara's memories, Faith added mentally. So maybe all the magic stuff wasn't all that out of character.

“What's Amy's deal?”

“She turned herself into a rat to avoid being burned at the stake.”

“Fucking Sunnydale.” Faith shook her head. “But she's human now, right?” She asked, not convinced Dawn wouldn't refer easily to a rat by name.

“Willow fixed her. I don't know, she seemed nice back when they were at school. Pre-rat.” She clarified. “But now...I don't know. There's something strange. Maybe she remembers the whole time.” Dawn shuddered.

Faith didn't push any further, not wanting to get Dawn wondering about why she wanted to know.

“Hey.” Dawn frowned in thought, and Faith's heart seized for a moment as she thought she'd given it away. “You totally distracted me from talking about you and Tara.”

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Blood and violence, and some discussion of abuse and attempted rape.

 

Over the many years he had lived in Sunnydale, Xander had developed somewhat of a sixth sense for the supernatural. Admittedly, hot (possibly demon) girls were his kryptonite in that area, but in most other scenarios he had hard-won experience in 'not as it seems'. Subtle signs that might pass most people by, caught Xander's attention.

For that reason the tableau inside the Bronze didn't just catch his eye, it screamed at him in technicolour horror.

One vampire seemed to be showing off his fangs to groupies, while on the other side of the bar a vampire tossed his now-dead snack to a demon whose diet did not require his human-food to be living. Several demons of the same species were playing sheepdog to a group of terrified humans they seemed to have claimed as their own.

Practically as soon as they had stepped in the door, without any conscious decision, Xander and Giles ducked behind an overturned couch where they both tried to get a handle on what they were seeing, look for Willow, look for people they could help and critically, look for a clear route of escape.

The chaos in the room had covered their entry, but could not be relied on to hide their exit.

“ 'Dear Lord.' ” Xander quoted sotto voce, taking in the fear and bloodshed. Giles closed his own mouth forcefully, to hide any indication he had been about to say the same.

 

Spike slipped in the back of the Bronze, a habit born of years living as a predator. It was immediately obvious that something unusual was going on.

 

Tara gently lay a large ice pack against the vivid bruise covering almost half of Buffy's back.

“You can feel all your fingers and toes, right?” She checked, concerned not only by the impact to Buffy's spine, but the dangers of the consequent swelling around and beside it – particularly if any bone had chipped.

“Yeah, all appendages feeling normal.” The slayer's hands and feet wiggled in what passed for proof. Tara suspected it may also be a sign that Buffy was beginning to come out of her fugue, and revert to her more usual glib approach to any and all problems.

“Did it happen while you were patrolling, or...?” Tara left the alternative unsaid, not wanting to poke emotional bruises any more than physical ones.

“Patrolling, but...Spike pushed me, and the sink was at just the wrong height. Probably didn't help.”

Unconsciously, Tara traced a finger around the edge of the bruise, thinking again how unfair it was that slayers were forced to use their bodies as both weapon and shield to protect the world.

Buffy bit her lip hard as tears welled up suddenly and unexpectedly at the gentle touch. It was a reminder, not just of what she left behind in heaven, but of what she was not allowed – could not afford – as a slayer. It had seemed for so long as if anything gentle, whether romance or friendship, would either break her or be broken by her.

“It wasn't your fault,” Tara restarted her line of thought from before Buffy had laid down, “because Spike has no right to your body – for sex, violence, or anything else. It doesn't matter how often you've had sex or how many times you've fought, or how many times you've changed your mind about whether or not to do those things.”

“But if he thought I didn't actually mean for him to stop...because last time I said it was over, I came back a couple of days later?”

“Just because you changed your mind and went back doesn't mean you didn't mean it when you said it was over. Any time anyone involved says it's over, it is. If you're willing later, you can consent again later. The indecision might be frustrating, maybe even unfair, but it's no excuse to attack you, to try and force you. It's his fault.”

“And the violence?”

“I...don't think I know enough about being the slayer or being a vampire to give you advice on that. But plenty of people enjoy rough sex - I suppose you and Spike are both able to give and take it rougher than most.”

Buffy nodded slowly, trying to analyse why that didn't feel like the whole story.

“But there is probably more to it, psychologically and emotionally, that that doesn't really cover.”

“Like?”

“Well...” Tara had given the topic some thought when Buffy first told her about the relationship, but eventually abandoned the subject as it was complex, not something she had experienced, and Buffy had not asked for her advice. But she was asking now.

“I could be wrong, but fighting Spike very literally demonstrates that you're his equal, which seemed to be a point of tension with Riley. And the other thing...well, you clearly felt guilty about sleeping with him when you first told me. Maybe you could only bring yourself to have sex with him by fighting against it, alleviating some of your guilt by resisting what you felt bad for wanting.”

Buffy felt stripped bare by the brief points. On their own the observations still didn't fill all the gaps, a lot of her feelings and actions remained unexplained and tied up in an enormous mess of instinct, fear and desire that Buffy didn't want to face.

But Tara's comments were accurate and insightful enough that Buffy felt, for the first time, as if her actions weren't totally irrational and brutal. That maybe they were just human – and that was something she hadn't really felt since coming back.

Buffy tried to stifle her sob of relief, biting into the pillow she was resting on, but soon it was all mixed up with her grief and shock and she was crying. As Tara lay down alongside and gently hugged her, Buffy felt less guilty. And, unlike when she had first confessed the situation to Tara, she thought maybe letting go some of the guilt might be okay.

 

Amy and Willow teleported directly into the Bronze, to save the hassle of walking back across Sunnydale, and were immediately confronted with a whole new take on 'body shots' as vampires drank from a naked party boy who was tied to the bar.

Before the vampires even noticed their arrival, Willow raised a hand, blew apart a wooden barstool and shot large shards of wood into the hearts of the pack, the dust of their former bodies floating down to rest on pools of blood across the floor.

“Huh.” Amy cocked her head, taking in the new décor. “Dylan, I take it back. You weren't lying about the size of your dick.” She lazily cast a spell to undo his bonds and turned to Willow. “Between you and me, I still wouldn't take his word for it about the vasectomy, though.”

“Witches!” A grotesque demon shouted in apparent fury. “To arms, Gurshnakii! There are unnatural she-beasts to exterminate.” Four more of his kind stood, drawing heavy swords.

Willow looked around the room, taking in the chaos, and realised there was far too many and varied enemies for subtlety.

“Unnatural she-beasts?”Amy asked. “Seriously? As opposed to natural, benign she-beasts or dangerous but proper ladies?”

“Transport them to another dimension.” Willow suggested, smothering a pang of guilt at the memory of a similar conversation with Tara.

“I don't think we'll have much fun if they stay here. Sure.”

They grabbed hands, and a black aura slowly grew around all the demonic beings.

On the second floor of the building, Spike had only half a second to notice and react, and dove for the nearest window. The crash was mostly drowned out by sucking and screaming noises, as the black auras condensed and twisted all the demons out to another dimension.

“There.” Amy dusted off her hands unnecessarily, glancing over the wounded and subdued people that remained. “Much better.” She strolled over to grab a bottle from the now-unattended bar.

Giles and Xander both stood up from behind their cover and were moving to assess and help the wounded, when the door burst open to reveal a vamped out Spike, shaking glass off his jacket.

“Oops, we missed one.” Amy raised her hand while taking a swig of her drink, before pausing and swallowing. “No, wait. Bowie, the sex friend, right?” She looked at Willow for confirmation.

“What the bloody hell did you do to me?” Spike demanded, walking in.

“Well you're not in the dimension of Pravgabog, so...nothing?” Amy suggested.

“Don't play stupid." He sneered. "When you two were here earlier. You did something. Not just to me, but all of this lot.” Spike gestured at the rest of the Bronze. “Vampires and demons work alone or in small groups. We trick victims and take them out in the shadows. We don't just show up to a bar and start killing for the hell of it in a town with two slayers!!”

“You're claiming something magical caused this attack?” Giles spoke up. “And you were involved...in hurting these people?” His eyes narrowed.

“Not these saps, I...it was something else. But I'm under the same spell, and I want it gone.”

Giles considered that for a moment, until his concern for what may have caused the attack at the Bronze overrode his distrust of Spike. “It should be easy enough to check.” He turned to Amy.

“No, wait.” Xander spoke up. “What about that thing? The emphysema? Willow, we came here looking for you. The open hellmouth is messing with everyone's magic.”

“Seems to be working fine to me.” Amy conjured a fire ball to demonstrate.

“Oh yeah? Scores of unrelated vamps who were hiding in the crowd earlier tonight suddenly decide to hold a bloodbath – that's normal to you?” Spike demanded.

“Well it is Sunnydale.” The witch shrugged.

“This is simple to clear up, we'll go to the Magic Box.” Giles broke in. “I can test Spike for spells there, and Xander will get a chance to speak with Willow. Yes?” He waited for agreement, then realised what he'd forgotten.

“Oh. First, perhaps we could arrange some first aid, or transport to the hospital?” He turned to the groups of people in shock scattered around the Bronze and wondered, not for the first time, how people foolish enough to go to a bar during an apocalypse had lived long enough to be there.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Discussion of attempted rape, briefly touches on Spike's violent past

 

Xander watched as Giles dialled Faith. He couldn't help feeling like he had taken all the right steps but that things had still gone wrong.

The attack at the Bronze earlier in the night had been bad enough, but Spike had gotten even more unbearable when Amy slipped away on their way to the Magic Box. Xander wasn't putting up with any of the vampire's shit and gave as good as Spike was giving, but even he could feel the charged atmosphere around Willow. It felt like spells and storms, and gave him the uncomfortable impression that there might be some truth in what Spike was saying.

Xander had hoped things would be a lot easier when he got Willow alone to explain their hellmouth problem. He had carefully planned to explain that every magic user in Sunnydale was affected, and that he wasn't trying to stop Willow doing magic, just suggesting she only use it in emergencies until the ritual was over. But the conversation had quickly derailed from there.

“Okay...” Willow had given him the hurt/confused/annoyed look that he usually earned when he guessed wrong about Ahn's haircuts. “So why are you telling me?” She'd asked.

Xander figured he could be forgiven for floundering a bit at that point. “Because....” he had paused long enough to realise he had no other words, “...you do magic?”

Willow waved that aside, and for a second he had thought she was casting something to make a point. “It isn't about the magic.” She was starting to look seriously annoyed. “It's about the hellmouth. We should have closed it already, then there wouldn't be a problem! Why is Faith taking so long?”

“It wasn't me,” Xander got a little defensive, “I finished first!” It only took a second to realise how that sounded. “No...wait! I mean– ”

Willow wasn't listening anyway. “We need to close it now. Faith has to finish tonight. I'm going to tell Giles.”

And Xander had followed Willow back out into the shop just in time to see Spike throwing a fit.

“What do you mean you can't lift the spell?!” He was demanding. “Make the red witch do it, then!”

“We don't even know what the spell is.” Giles insisted, his grip tightening on the round magical doodads he had found to test Spike. “You won't explain the symptoms to me! The magic feels nothing like Willow's, so she won't know enough to identify or lift it either. We can't just start throwing spells at you in the hopes of finding something that works! We could do untold damage, even without taking the hellmouth's current dark magic accrual into account.”

“Fuck!” Spike kicked over a display case in his fury. “Fat lot of good you are, Watcher, standing there holding your orbs! I'm gonna go find that witch and make her fix it myself.” He stormed out.

“They're globes of Arthenor.” Giles muttered with a frown.

“Do they come in a little sack?” Xander teased, trying to lighten the atmosphere. Giles had only scowled at him before Willow interrupted to insist on speeding up the ritual.

Regardless of the situation, Xander felt weird and wrong to now be standing around watching Giles call and tell Faith to go have sex, especially when he had gone into the Bronze that night expecting things to end up with Willow either agreeing to cut back, or shouting at him about the benefits of magic.

 

“What is it?” Tara asked, watching as Buffy hung up, looking worried once more.

“That was Faith – the others got into some sort of fight with vamps and demons at the Bronze. They rang to ask her how long it would be until it's time to close the hellmouth. I'm the only one left to...do the ritual with. She rang to see if I could go over in the morning.” Buffy was clearly trying for 'emotionless', but after everything that had happened, was not very successful.

Tara found herself once more wanting to scream at the unfairness of this apocalylpse-in-potentia, hating the idea of Buffy having to face up to undesired sex so soon after Spike had tried to rape her, and hating the idea of Faith's time with Buffy being even more complex than their history already made it.

She knew it would be redundant to remind Buffy that she had a choice and could put off the ritual for a day or more if she wanted. Tara didn't doubt that Buffy had already considered it and discarded the idea as too dangerous for the residents of Sunnydale.

“Things between you and Faith are already complicated.” Tara observed. “Maybe you could think about telling her what happened with Spike.”

Buffy looked incredulous. “So that she can take it easy on me or something??”

“So that she understands that there's more to what happens tomorrow than your shared history.” Tara explained.

 

 

The next morning, Spike lay in his crypt engrossed in guilt and self loathing. Looking for Amy the night before had been a total bust. He had been consumed by wanting to do something. To make up somehow for what he had done, or at the very least be able to say he had fixed the cause of his attack. But he had known all along, really, that it would make no difference.

Spike was so lost in his thoughts, constantly replaying the night before, that the point of a stake was against his chest before he realised he wasn't alone.

The scent gave her identity away. He just waited to see what she chose to do. If she decided to stake first and ask questions never, well – it wasn't as if he hadn't considered ending his existence often already that night.

“Guess what Mom told me when I got home this morning?” Dawn began, and the thick sound of recent tears in her voice made his eyes water. “You hurt Buffy. You hurt my sister.” She spat.

Spike thought about pointing out the magic involved, the fact he was a demon, the hundreds of times he had hurt Buffy before, the hundreds of thousands of humans he had hurt before. But none of it mattered – she was a young woman, his friend, and he had hurt her sister.

“Yeah.” He acknowledged sadly.

“Did I help you? Was Xander right and you were using me to hurt her? Was there some big plan to get her alone and I...”

“No. I promise.” He frowned at the knowledge of what his promise was now worth, but pushed on. “Little bit, I...”

“Don't call me that!”

“Dawn. There was no plan. I wasn't using you to manipulate Buffy into anything. Our conversations, yours and mine – I know they mean something different now, because of what I've done, what you know I'm capable of. But they were still just us havin' a chat. I did hurt Buffy but it wasn't like Xander thought.”

“Why did you do it?”

Spike didn't really know. He'd been asking himself the same thing all night. It would be easy to blame Willow and Amy - Rupert's orbs had proved he was under a spell. But at the Bronze the night before, nobody was doing anything completely out of character. No-one was doing anything that wasn't already there, inside them. Dawn deserved an answer – like Buffy did, if she wanted it – and not excuses or plausible lies.

“I don't know, lu- pe- ...Dawn. I was affected by a spell cast on everyone at the Bronze last night, but...things between me and Buffy've been complicated.

“I thought I had a handle on what we were doing, where we were both at and what it all meant, but – I got it all wrong.” He shifted slightly to look at her, very aware of the point of wood digging hard into his chest.

“You know I've been undead a long time. You've seen in Rupert's books that I've done terrible things. I murdered people, lots. I tortured. I raped. I also was murdered, I've been tortured, and I've been raped. I've done terrible things, and I've had terrible things done to me.

“And neither part cancels out the other. Torturing people doesn't make being tortured any easier. Being raped doesn't make it okay that I raped people.

“But I'm just all of those things. And Buffy, she came back from heaven, and her friends see her as a hero. Vampires see her as a predator, a scourge. Her friends see a happy blonde cheerleader, and vampires see death hiding inside a stereotypical victim. But she's all those things, and hundreds of years of slayer dreams and memories to boot.

“So while we were sleeping together, we were both fucked up and using each other for what we needed. She took advantage of my love and I took advantage of her self-loathing and neither of us did it on purpose.

“And then I hurt her, and I can't work out why. But I can promise, that whether you stake me or not, it will never happen again.”

There was silence as Dawn's stake dug in hard enough to draw blood. Finally she stepped away.

“Dusting you won't change anything. And Buffy might want to do it herself. But if I ever hear that you do try to hurt someone like that again, I'm cutting all your fingers and your penis off. Thumbs, too.”

“If it comes to that, I won't try to stop you.”

 

 

Note:This chapter covers some heavy stuff, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Discussion of, and scenes of, dealing with sex after attempted rape

 

Walking up to the motel, Buffy squared her shoulders and thought about what Tara had said.

Only a few days earlier she had been worrying about the one-up-manship that always featured in interactions with Faith. She worried about knowing what to do, about whether she could get Faith to orgasm, about whether it was habit-forming having sex with former enemies (her inner psychology student proposed that she might have formed some sort of redemption fetish to deal with her first time turning Angel evil) or how guilty she might feel touching the woman she had stabbed. She wondered how familiar Faith was with her body's sexual preferences after having lived in it and why the implications of that felt like more of a violation than stealing her entire body had.

But that was days ago. In the moment, pausing to stare at the door of 209, all Buffy could really think about were Spike's hands grabbing, tearing and pushing. The last time she had felt so helpless was fighting Glory, but the last time she had felt so worthless had been while living in Faith's body, kidnapped by the Council's operatives who made no secret of their contempt.

She wondered how having no choice about sex with Buffy was making Faith feel.

 

Faith could sense Buffy outside the room.

Thinking about what she could do to make this final session easier had been awfully reminiscent of preparing for her time with Willow, which only made things worse.

Even more difficult was how much she had always wanted Buffy. She had never really worked out whether she wanted to fuck her or be her, and somehow things had worked out so that she would end up doing both. Two years earlier she would have been delighted, revelling in simultaneously getting the girl and knocking the saint off her pedestal.

Now all she felt was a sickly conviction this would be the final nail in her coffin, and that Buffy would never really forgive her. It seemed inevitable and kind of appropriate – like looking down and seeing Buffy's hand sliding the knife in.

 

Buffy walked into the motel room slowly and, crossing into the circle, turned to sit on the bed. Legs crossed and hands in her pockets, Buffy watched Faith, who seemed to be trying not to fidget.

“Okay, so.” Faith blew out a breath, “Once I go over that line to step into the magic circle, we're both trapped until the sex is done.” She summarised.

“Please tell me there's no magic gourd involved.” Buffy deadpanned, thinking back to one of the stupider items at the Magic Box that Giles had briefly demonstrated.

Faith looked pointedly down at her own crotch. “I mean, no-one's ever called it that before...”

Buffy snorted lightly. “Not even Anya?” she asked before she could help herself. Faith actually laughed.

“She's not shy, huh.” Her smile faded, and Faith cleared her throat awkwardly and gestured toward the circle surrounding the bed. “So...are you ready for me to...”

“Cross the line?” Buffy asked, obviously aware of the irony.

Faith grimaced and hovered, apparently not wanting to start things that Buffy had characterised as 'too far' even if it had been a joke.

“Sorry.” Buffy offered. “I'm not trying to make this harder, it's just...”

“A shit situation.” Faith nodded. “So is this one of those things you want to plan all out like slaying?” She checked, remembering getting in trouble for rushing into things and playing it by ear.

“No.” Buffy had a horrifying flashback to their last argument about forward-planning which went largely along the lines of who would go in first. This time she had been sort of relying on the fact that Faith would jump right in, figuratively if not literally, and the hesitation was throwing her off.

Faith just nodded and stepped into the circle.

Buffy didn't realise she was expecting to be straddled until Faith sat on the bed next to her. Turning to face the other slayer Buffy's lips were caught in a hot but slow kiss that was the final straw in throwing off her expectations.

Planting a hand on Faith's sternum she pulled away with a frown.

“What are you doing?”

“Kissing you?” Faith guessed.

“But why?!” Buffy asked, agitated.

“Foreplay. This will go a lot easier if you're wet, and – ”

“No! I mean why are you being all slow and gentle? I'm not made of glass!” The fear she had felt the night before at being vulnerable, combined with the fear of being seen as vulnerable, drove Buffy to prove herself once more to Faith. She fisted the other slayer's shirt and pulled her in for a kiss of bruising force, ignoring the way their teeth sometimes clashed, or the occasional bite – intentional or otherwise.

Buffy couldn't bring herself to pull at Faith's clothes. It would be too much like him. But when Faith pulled away, Buffy gave her a shove that left Faith half-sitting against the headboard of the bed.

“Buffy, wait. What the fuck?” Faith asked with a confused frown.

Leaning down over her, Buffy bit and sucked at Faith's neck. “Come on, F. You always said fighting made you hungry and horny. It'll go easier if you're wet, right?”

“Well yeah but it's not the only thing that gets me... Ah! Fuck B, Giles will think I let a vamp get though.” She frowned and raised a hand to her neck where Buffy bit a little too hard.

“What, you're so good one never got through without your permission?” Buffy sat back glaring, aware that she was being irrational but feeling completely driven by her shame and fury. She knows you're not good enough. She knows he almost got through. She knows they've got through before. She knows you've let him in before.

“Okay stop. What are we even talking about? What's going on?? This,” she gestured in a wave which encompassed both of them and the bed, “is the last one of these fucked up little missions and I just wanted it to be not so fucking bad, okay!? Can't we just pretend we...met in a club and hooked up or something? No baggage or drama?” Faith demanded.

Buffy stood up and quickly began to pace the edge of the circle, one arm folded over her chest and the other rubbing the back of her neck.

You're gonna feel it again. I'm gonna make you feel it.

Looking at Faith's guarded expression Buffy remembered her decision of only a few days before that she would do everything in her power to show that she was grateful that Faith had stepped up for this godawful apocalypse. She thought of what secrecy had gained her in the past – nothing; and thought of Faith's attitude when she had first come into the room – willing to follow her lead, in spite of their history.

Finally she thought of Tara's advice and sighed.

“I'm...sorry. Some things happened last night, and I'm not...dealing very well.” Buffy summarised, chest tight at the thought of admitting her weakness.

Faith relaxed a bit at this concession. “You lose a fight or something?” she asked, her quick check over Buffy's stance showing concern that her tone mostly hid.

Buffy choked out a laugh as she was trying to swallow back her discomfort. “Something like that. Did Dawn tell you why she ran off yesterday?”

“Yeah. She found out you'd been hooking up with Spike.” Faith's expression was neutral, and Buffy was grateful not to see any of the disgust she was pretty sure the other slayer must feel.

“Right. Well I broke things off, but last night he came round. I'd been out slaying and was kind of banged up. He came in when I was about to shower and was trying to convince me to get back together, and then tried to...show me. What I was missing. Force me to take him back.”

“He tried to rape you.” Faith summarised, her voice flat with fury. Buffy grimaced, still not feeling that the description was entirely accurate given their previous liaisons. “And now the two of us gotta...” she gestured between them vaguely. “I get it.”

“Do you? I don't. Why would I attack you like that, so soon after he tried to hurt me?” Buffy dropped down to sit on the bed, looking defeated.

“You didn't cross any lines.” Faith reassured. “You didn't try and take things further, just got...a little pushy.” She smirked, able to relax knowing that she wasn't trapped once more with someone who wished her harm. But seeing the miserable look on the blonde's face, she couldn't help offering more. “What he did made you feel shit and weak. You, today...it helps to feel strong. In control.”

Buffy shot her a thoughtful look at the confidence of her claim, but didn't comment.

“So what do we do? We're trapped in here, I don't know what I'm doing but I don't think I can...”

“Be on the bottom?” Faith guessed, and Buffy's eyes slid away as she nodded. “Simple enough. You let me top from the bottom.”

“I let you what?”

Faith lay back and gestured for Buffy to follow.

 

Xander was worried. He could definitely understand wanting to speed up the closing of the hellmouth, but Willow had seemed to totally brush off the issues of a dark magic build up, and of Amy clearly casting something that may have contributed to the carnage at the Bronze. As a certain love spell or summoning of Sweet could testify, Xander knew that magic could go wrong and hurt people, regardless of your entirely innocent, understandable motivations. He wanted to let Willow know that he wasn't blame-guy, that he just wanted to make sure she was safe.

Willow had left to go home quickly after Spike stormed out of the Magic Box the night before, so Xander had decided to visit her at Revello Drive first thing the next morning to try again.

“Good morning, Xander.” Joyce opened the door, looking a little sleepy still.

“Morning Joyce!” He started walking in as soon as the door opened, knowing he was welcome. “I'm here for Willow, is she up yet?”

“Sorry Xander,” Joyce frowned, “Willow didn't come home last night. I assumed she stayed with one of you.”

And now he was even more worried. “Oh. Okay...maybe she thought we were meeting up at the Magic Box.” He fudged a little, not wanting to worry Joyce unless he knew something was actually wrong. “Well if you see her, let her know I came past?”

“Of course.” Joyce stood, holding the door that she hadn't had time to close, as he walked back out. “Oh, Xander?”

“Yeah?”

“If you see Spike...be careful. Something's going on and I don't think we can trust him right now.”

“I never have trusted him.” Xander grimaced. “But you're right, he was affected by magic or something last night. He wouldn't tell us what it was doing, but it made a bunch of other demons get pretty violent at the Bronze. As far as I know he's still under the spell because Giles couldn't work out what it was to fix it.” He stepped back toward the door and hovered for a second.

“How did you know? Did he hurt or threaten you or something?”

“No, no.” Joyce waved that away. She had wanted to warn Xander, but wouldn't give out any actual details until she had spoken with Buffy about what she had witnessed.

“I can wait here for Wills to come back, if you'd feel safer...?” Xander offered.

“I'll be fine Xander, but thank you. Go have fun with Willow.”

He was pretty sure that even if he managed to find her, 'fun' may not be the word.

 

Topping from the bottom was something Faith had done plenty of times. But her usual style of taking control during sex involved the kind of attitude that would definitely get Buffy's nose out of joint. Their relationship had always been so competitive, there was no chance Buffy would welcome being teased, shamed or commanded by Faith. She only wanted the younger woman to take the lead because she didn't know what she was doing but also didn't want to feel someone's weight holding her down.

Faith was beginning to worry that she didn't know of any way to take charge that wouldn't make things worse, but as soon as Buffy cautiously positioned herself on top, Faith's chaotic thoughts stalled and her longstanding attraction to Buffy took over.

She leaned up and caught Buffy's lips in a kiss that she had imagined during countless sparring sessions, and was relieved when, after a few moments of hesitation, the blonde seemed to relax and go with it.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: References to dealing with sex after attempted rape

 

When they had been making out long enough that Faith felt like Buffy was actually in the moment and not focussed on memories, she pulled back and caught her breath.

“Help me get my shirt off.” Faith lifted herself a bit, and with the balance and coordination that helped them invent synchronised slaying, Buffy shifted back to stay on top, while helping Faith get the hem of her tank up to her shoulders in the least enthusiastic way anyone had ever helped Faith undress.

Faith couldn't really bring herself to be offended by that, even jokingly. Once she had slipped the top off over her head, Faith moved her hands to the hem of Buffy's shirt.

“Wait.” Buffy said, stiffening up, and Faith jerked her hands back quickly in reflex. “Sorry.” The blonde apologised, looking a bit guilty.

“No, it's cool – you wanna keep your clothes on? Makes sense.”

“Just...for now, at least. I guess I'll have to eventually.”

Faith considered that for a moment. She remembered asking Giles for clarification on the rules of the ritual, and what exactly counted as a transfer of essence. He had emphasised an “exchange of fluids” and the need to orgasm, and Faith remembered deciding that oral or tribbing seemed like the best way to achieve that with the other women. She wondered now if a less direct 'exchange' might work just as well, and mentally cursed Giles for not having a mobile phone she could text to ask. She didn't like her chances of catching him at home.

“What?” Buffy asked, seeing Faith's distraction.

“Maybe you don't have to get naked.” Faith bit her lip. “I have an idea, but if it doesn't work we'll probably have to, uh... try again.”

“How will we know?” Buffy asked after a moment's thought. “If it worked or not? I mean...” she got a bit red in the face and Faith was sort of amazed she could be feeling embarrassment more strongly than any other emotion under the circumstances. “I mean how do we know it was enough for the spell, not how do I know if we've both, uh, peaked.”

Faith swallowed a smile at Buffy's awkwardness. “G said the wall of the circle drops when the 'transfer of essence is complete'. If my idea isn't enough to count for the spell, the wall won't drop.”

“And we'd need to try it again with my clothes off.” Buffy followed the logic, nodding slowly.

Faith was pretty sure the blonde didn't even realise she was tracing a finger mindlessly over Faith's abdomen as she gazed down in thought. It wasn't until much later that Faith realised Buffy was focussing on the scar from her own knife, caused when Buffy had put her into a coma.

“What would you prefer?” Buffy asked, locking eyes with her, and completely derailing Faith's train of thought.

It genuinely had not occurred to Faith that she would have a say, and if she hadn't thought of it, it blew her mind that it would occur to Buffy – especially so soon after Spike's attack. She coughed to clear her throat, which was tight with emotion that she didn't want to name.

“Either way is fine by me.” Faith managed to sound mostly unruffled. “But uh, thanks for checking.”

Buffy nodded then smiled a little. “Why is it that after years of flirting and sexual tension, we're now in bed, with you half naked underneath me talking about how we're going to have sex, and it's somehow almost the most awkward and least sexy conversation we've ever had?” She asked.

“We're cursed?” Faith suggested, only partly joking. Buffy gave a wry smile and nodded, before taking a deep breath.

“Okay. Explain your idea to me.”

 

After leaving the Magic Box the night before, Willow had gone to look for Amy. Something about the idea of her casting something on Spike without mentioning it to Willow, or without the redhad even noticing, sat wrong with Willow. And then there was the 'professional' curiosity of which spell had been used – not to mention the personal curiosity about the symptoms Spike refused to describe.

Her secondary goal was to get another boost from Rack, since Amy was a lot better at finding him. Getting Faith back on track to close the hellmouth quickly meant Willow would need to be ready for battle with whatever might be lurking in the ruins of the school. She could still feel magic surging through her from the power they received last night, but transporting a Bronzeful of demons had depleted most of it, and she needed to be at the top of her game.

Willow never wanted fighting a big bad to end with someone dying, ever again.

Hours later and well into the morning, though, Willow hadn't managed to find Amy or Rack, and was just about to give up and head home when she heard Xander call her name.

Not in any mood to face his well-meaning misunderstanding of magic, Willow turned and quickly cast an obfuscate spell between them that would cause confusion and prevent Xander really seeing her properly while she had a chance to duck away.

At least that was the idea, but Willow and Xander both froze and gaped in astonishment when her gesture and incantation instead brought forth one of the axe wielding demons that had been banished the night before.

If anything it was more pissed off than it had been at the Bronze, and charged immediately at the nearest target – Xander. The violent charge broke Willow out of her shock and she cast again, trying for the simpler goal of levitating the axe from its hands. Instead, a trashcan flew up from a nearby alley and smashed the demon in the shoulder, throwing it off balance long enough for Xander to dodge and make a run for it, toward Willow.

“Run!” He shouted frantically, as Willow stood in place, torn by the indecision of whether to try casting something else. She was immobile long enough that Xander reached her and tugged her along, in time for the Gurshnak to turn and start giving chase.

“If we get a car, can you start it?” Xander panted, shooting a look over his shoulder at the demon keeping pace. Willow bit back a sarcastic comment about the dangers of dark magic accrual, shoved down her worries about her magic going wonky and just answered, “Yes!”

She could think of a handful of ways to get a car moving magically, and hoped at least one of them might work before the demon managed to catch up.

They bolted through the mostly empty streets, quickly tugging the handles of every car they ran past. It had been a long time since Willow needed to flee the old fashioned way, and she was tiring quickly.

Four or five blocks later, and the demon's greater stamina was making up for lack of speed as they both started to seriously flag. Willow couldn't decide if it was a blessing or a curse that Sunnydale residents suddenly seemed to have the sense to stay indoors, as even in broad daylight there was no one and nothing around to distract the creature bearing down on them.

“Yes!” Xander shouted as a car door finally opened as he was running past. They were both going so fast it took a few long jolting steps to slow and turn, and Willow was already trying to cast to get the thing started before she was piling in after him.

Both hyperaware that the demon would now be gaining ground quickly, the next few seconds were a scramble as Xander checked the usual hiding places for keys.

“Shit shit shit shit shit come on....” he muttered.

The more subtle approach of starting the engine had not worked for Willow, whether because her magic was misfiring or some mixture of exhaustion and panic. She put the car in neutral and wrenched the handbrake off, and with all the raw magic she could summon she shoved the vehicle from behind.

“Shit!” Xander grabbed the steering wheel and looked over his shoulder, at first thinking the brutal shove came from the demon, who was now only a few steps behind, swinging his axe to try and get purchase on the car.

The car was now rolling about the same speed they were being chased, and Willow grit her teeth and magically reached out to wrench all the power she possibly could into keeping it going. She just needed to get them to the end of the street, where the road started to slope down and gravity could help them.

 

 

“Okay.” Buffy bit her lip, looking less convinced than she sounded. “Alright, we'll try that and if it doesn't work...”

“Then we'll try something else.” Faith suggested. “Do you think you'd be alright takin' your bra off if you leave your top on?”

Catching on to Faith's intention fairly quickly, Buffy agreed and made fast work of it, pulling it out one sleeve and dropping it to the floor. Faith leaned up to kiss her again, and it was as if Buffy's body suddenly realised it was in bed with a half dressed woman, making out. The awkwardness of discussing the situation fell away surprisingly easily at the soft wet heat of Faith's lips. Buffy had always loved kissing, and always sort of regretted that once you'd had sex with a boyfriend, making out seemed to become code for 'gearing up for sex' instead of a goal in itself. Of course, kissing Faith was leading to sex as well - but she seemed, like Buffy, to be enjoying making out for its own sake rather than as just a lesser part of getting laid.

Faith ran her hands down Buffy's back, smoothing her top down and then anchoring it lightly against Buffy's lower back with one hand while the other slowly but obviously moved to hold Buffy's breast through her shirt.

“Alright?” Faith checked. Buffy felt like it might be a little too alright, based on how quickly her nipples were tightening at the attention, but just nodded. She would put off both her discomfort and her fears that she wasn't uncomfortable enough until later.

It felt strangely erotic to be teased through her clothes. She generally didn't have the patience to leave them on long, and her previous lovers had all been pretty eager to take them off her too. Looking down at a topless Faith, she could kind of understand why – breasts were pretty nice. Ignoring the part of her mind that still expected Faith to mock her inexperience, Buffy slid a hand up to try and replicate what Faith was doing.

“Fuck, B.” Faith groaned and arched up into the blonde's hand, and Buffy thought it felt seriously amazing. Faith's breast, but also causing such obvious pleasure.

 

Note: To those ready for the ritual to be over and the fallout to begin, Buffy & Faith's session should be finished chronologically next chapter, although it will be revisited with some of Buffy's memories in future chapters to break things up a bit.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Violence (probably a bit more graphic than shown on the show but not more than implied on the show) and explicit sex. Like really for reals, earns the rating, 'wet and messy and sort of embarrassing to write' explicit. Yes, even compared to the fair amount of smut that's already in this story.

 

Amy lay on the floor being drained of her magic. Over the past couple of weeks she had taken turns giving and receiving magic from Rack, and while receiving was a whole lot less painful and more fun all-round, both had been equally useful in distracting her from the shitshow that was her life.

But it was starting to take more magic to feel a rush, and more pain to shut down her mind. She had already known that when deciding to visit Rack the night before, but her options were limited. Between the choice of going along with Willow's friends to have her spell investigated, and hanging out at Rack's, there wasn't much competition. No matter how pathetic it was to run with her mom's old dark user friends.

Magic was the only thing she had received a consistent (if warped) education in, after spending large parts of her life stuck at home in her mother's body, or stuck in a cage as Willow's rat. The only people she knew who understood why she had big gaps in her knowledge of the world, or who she could perform magic around without causing another literal witch-hunt, were Willow's group or her mom's old friends.

You didn't go to Rack's just to hang out, though. And Rack had not been very happy to see her sans Willow.

“Where's my Strawberry?” He had asked, and other such wanna-be cult guru bullshit. Honestly, get something other people want and you suddenly think you're the poet-god Jim Morrison. Rack reminded Amy a bit of the losers at school, like Levinson and Wells, always playing out a script in their minds where they were the hero. Except Rack had gone and found himself a niche and become his own favourite villain. The only thing more pathetic was her own life and how badly she relied on him. And the longer she relied on him, the more she needed him. The 'medicine' was making her more sick – it was nauseating to think how her spell could have turned out at the Bronze, and she needed to get back to the place where she didn't care.

Being a donor again sooner than usual, and more painfully than usual, seemed to be Rack's punishment for not bringing Willow. Amy wondered if she could make him more angry, to make it hurt enough to stop her thoughts, or if it would just push him over the edge and he'd kill her. Amy cared less about that possibility than she thought maybe she should.

 

They had eventually worked Faith's pants off, and she was seriously grateful that this would be the last time she would ever have to think about sex so much. She almost always previously chose to do it on impulse, and let the results play out however she was feeling it. Shoving aside the suspicion in the back of her mind that things would never be quite that simple again, she covered Buffy's hand with her own.

Buffy immediately stopped massaging Faith's breast, making it easy (if a bit awkward) for Faith to twist their fingers together and start guiding Buffy's hand down along her stomach. Buffy hesitated only a moment as their hands slid down toward Faith's sex, but when Faith stopped and didn't rush things, Buffy started edging them down again herself.

“Do you think there will be...enough? For it to work?” Buffy had asked as Faith shared her plan.

Faith finally moved their twined fingers down to rub along her pussy, and groaned at how slick she was. She could barely feel the first couple of gentle passes. Buffy seemed wide-eyed and fixated on what she was watching and feeling.

“What do you think, B? Reckon there'll be enough?” Faith bit her lip and tried to hold back the impulse to just fuck herself on their hands.

“Jesus...Faith.” Buffy looked back up at her, eyes serious and a bit wild, and she pushed the flat of her hand along the soaked folds, gradually working Faith's hand out of the way. Faith closed her eyes, tipped her head back, grabbed one of Buffy's thighs for balance, and decided restraint was mostly no longer necessary. She ground her pussy up into Buffy's hand and decided that for the rest of the morning at least, she didn't care how this affected the other Slayer's opinion of her.

 

Xander and Willow had made it to the hill, and were rolling down toward an intersection, picking up pace at a slightly faster rate than the demon could. Willow had stopped shoving the car as it began to move on its own, pretty certain that she would give herself an aneurysm if she kept trying to force the ambient magic of Sunnydale to do what she wanted instead of casting properly.

They were coming up to the intersection when Willow felt it. She had been looking for it for so long the night before, and wishing for it so desperately only minutes earlier while facing the demon, that she didn't pause to think. Willow grabbed the wheel and yanked it down, pulling the car into a hard right at the intersection to take them towards Rack's hideout.

The stolen car crashed into the magical foyer with all the wrong noises but most of the same effect. The users waiting their turn scattered as quickly as they were able, although a couple were pinned by overturned couches.

“Get out, get out, go!” Willow shouted, scrambling out of the car as quickly as she could, and not stopping to see if Xander was following her advice. They had fled evil so often together it wasn't really necessary.

Users who had barely missed being run over were still standing and staring in shock when she made it to the corner of the room furthest from where the car came in. She turned, threw her hands down and started chanting words they were all familiar with, but which should have been impossible to memorise.

Barely a second later a spray of blood announced the arrival of the Gurshnak as it decapitated one of the unlucky spectators. Xander kicked open the only door in the room and started trying to shove the shocked users through as the demon continued striding toward them.

Varying shades of monochromatic light started streaming heavily from the magic users in the room toward Willow's hands, where they seemed to be gathering into swirling, growing spheres. Everything seemed to slow – particularly the people Willow was drawing from, as the spheres grew large enough to mesh and stabilise between the red-head's hands before she suddenly, violently pushed the contents of the sphere in a lightning bolt of energy, with accompanying crack of thunder, at the demon, which exploded in a gruesome shower of gore.

Willow collapsed to her knees, where all the other users already were, and Xander could only focus on the pounding of his heart, the ringing in his ears, and the blood and pieces of Gurshnak dripping down the walls. Until the King of Junkies wandered into the room with no shirt on, and surveyed the carnage.

“Oh, Strawberry.” He said, shaking his head. “I let you into my home, share my power with you, and this is how you repay me? By stealing my spells??” With a flip of his hand Willow was launched up and trapped against the wall.

 

Faith didn't want to say it, but she was so close to coming their plan would be fucked if she didn't. “Stop, B.”

Buffy looked surprised enough that Faith figured she had also gotten caught up in the moment, which was a relief on a lot of levels even if it caused backlash later. “Swap.” Faith reminded her.

The blonde slayer bit her lip in a gesture which was far more nervous than sexy, and her cheeks flamed red as she scooped all the wetness she could from Faith's pussy before moving her hand away and sitting back on her heels. Faith could see the blush moving down Buffy's neck to her chest, but knew it was more extreme embarrassment at the fairly non-standard fucking than arousal. Faith hoped it would eventually move toward the other – after all, B had gotten caught up in the fun of fingering her pretty quickly.

Pulling pants and underwear forward to make room, Buffy wouldn't meet Faith's eyes as she moved the other hand covered in cum down toward her own sex. Faith's groan as Buffy obviously made contact was unintentional, but didn't seem to make things worse. The blonde thrust slowly into her own hand a few times, before moving upright with her spare hand bracing her next to Faith's stomach. Straddling Faith's hips as if she was riding her, Buffy finally opened her eyes and looked up at Faith as she started fucking herself with fingers covered in the brunette's cum.

Faith was already dangerously close to the edge, and couldn't stop herself bucking up into Buffy's hand under her shorts. The pressure on her already sensitive clit felt fucking amazing, and the thought that every time she pushed up Buffy's hand was spreading more of her cum inside almost sent her flying. The heavy-lidded arousal clear in Buffy's eyes just made it even more difficult. But knew she had to get ready for the next step – swapping back again – and so she stopped trying to grind up, and slid her hand down between them to touch herself in the most torturous but pleasurable mutual masturbation she could ever imagine.

Chapter Text

Please see Chapter 1 for disclaimer and general warnings.

Chapter warnings: Violence, sex

If Xander wasn't afraid for Willow's life, he would have been grossed out at seeing her flung into a wall covered in pieces of viscera. But the ease King Junkie had in throwing Willow around, and the way all the people who had been waiting in the foyer fawned around him – the ones left alive, anyway – implied that the guy was dangerous.

On a normal day, Xander knew Buffy or Willow would wipe the floor with him easily. Xander figured he could beat the man himself if it were hand-to-hand and no magic involved, unless he had as-yet-unseen martial arts abilities.

But it was not a normal day. Willow was clearly exhausted, Buffy was off getting naked with Faith (or naked, getting off with Faith? Whatever) at Giles' instruction, and it had been a long time since anything that felt like a normal day, even for a hellmouth.

The guy kept monologuing at Willow, and seemed to be hurting her somehow. Maybe it was how hard she was pushed against the wall, or maybe he was doing something invisible like turning her blood into sand.

Nobody turned Willow's blood into sand on Xander's watch. He grabbed a heavy chunk of wood from a broken couch, hefted it and swung it hard at Shirtless' head.

The impromptu bat connected with a satisfying thunk, and the guy staggered. Willow slid down the wall and took in a heaving breath as the warlock turned to look at Xander with murder in his eyes.

“Xander, run! Rack – no!” Willow shouted hoarsely, and tried to roll to her knees to stand up.

Xander was already two steps ahead in the direction of the door Rack had come out of. The instinct to prolong a deadly encounter was the result of years fighting tougher enemies. Distract, wear down, hide, run, hide behind, anything which kept you alive a little longer and gave you more options was worth a try.

Xander slammed the door in Rack's face before wedging his bat under the door handle in hopes it might delay him for a couple of seconds while he took in his surroundings.

It looked mostly like some sort of pimp's drug den, with a couple of users hiding behind various bits of furniture, and a body on the floor.

With Amy's body on the floor.

Xander had no time to check and see if she was even alive before the door burst open and Rack walked in dragging Willow by her hair, and shoved her over to stumble and sit at Xander's feet.

“Game-time is over, children.” He rasped, far too angry to worry about his aloof and all-powerful aesthetic any more. “I'm going to drain you dry, Strawberry, then sell all of you to vampires to drain you all over again.”

“Amy!?” Willow noticed what Xander had, and started crawling over to check on her, before Rack put up a magical wall between the two witches.

“Uh-uh.” Rack denied, apparently enjoying their fear. “She made me angry, too.”

“What did you do to her? Is she...” Willow trailed off, probably not trusting that Rack would give her an honest answer.

“Dead? She might be.” Rack shrugged and smiled. “You distracted me at a critical moment. I was in the middle of draining her when you destroyed my foyer. You never know, she might have a chance. She might just be brain-dead or magically null.”

 

Willow had been having a seriously bad year, a bad month and a particularly bad day. The possibility of losing someone, yet again... of losing one of the few people who saw her as more than Old Faithful, Nerd Willow... of Amy dying, so soon after she just got another chance at life... Willow snapped.

Losing her temper had never meant losing her rationality, for Willow. Rack had just given her the information she needed to beat him, in spite of her exhaustion. The method, though, would be 100% Buffy, who had taught her the benefit of the unexpected.

“A vampire always expects you to resist when they're going in for the bite,” Buffy explained as she fought a newly risen vamp, “so they'll be pushing their face in hard to deal with that resistance.”

The vampire in question seemed entirely focussed on his thirst, and was doing exactly what Buffy described.

“Sometimes, instead of resisting, it works even better to pull them in – not to your jugular of course.” She suited word to deed and used the grip on his hair that had been holding him away to tug him in, over her shoulder, where he got a brutal punch in the face from her other fist. He stumbled back, stunned, as Buffy continued her lecture.

“The point is, because they're expecting resistance, tugging them toward you in the way you want catches 'em off guard!” She spun around and finished him off with an efficient stake to the heart.

“Rather like the Judo principle of using someone's own momentum against them?” Giles broke in. “Which you insisted you didn't understand, and needed to practice by flipping me approximately ten times?”

“Hmm, maybe.” Buffy pretended to think. “Show me again?”

If Willow started trying to drain Rack immediately, he would simply resist, resulting in a drawn out magical arm-wrestle. Rack would expect the same thing when he did as threatened and started trying to drain her – he just knew he could outlast and overpower her to win the fight, given that he had just taken Amy's magic, and Willow had just expended all of hers plus most of what she pulled out of his flunkies.

So when Rack began his incantation and Willow felt the tug on her magic, she didn't resist. Instead, as he pulled at her power, she shoved everything she had left over to him all at once, with a bombardment of telepathy for good measure.

The effect was immediate. Rack's eyes flooded with black, and he staggered at the sudden unexpected overdose of pleasure from Willow's magic, which he had always found particularly strong and sweet.

There was no time to tell Xander the plan, but he knew an opportunity when he saw one. He ran forward and punched the warlock as hard as he could in the throat, followed by as many hits as he could land while the opportunity lasted.

Rack was now more than distracted enough, and Willow began to drain him.

“I didn't steal your spells.” She finally responded to the accusation, offended at the idea she would ever need to cheat at something. “I just worked them out myself. Then I improved them.”

Xander stepped back as the drain sped up, and black ropes of magic flowed quickly out of Rack. It was twice as fast as he could have drained Willow – because she was siphoning the power off to two different people. The magic flowed into Willow, but also Amy, who groaned, and coughed, and rolled to her knees before starting to laugh a bit hysterically.

“I wasn't sure if it was possible to make someone magically null this way.” Willow explained, beginning to hover to burn off some of the enormous amounts of magic she was absorbing. “I hope you weren't just exaggerating. Maybe it will kill you. Or I could blow you apart like the Gurshnak.”

That threat was given weight by the demon blood still splashed across her face and clothes, but Rack still seemed stunned and confused at how quickly he had lost control of the situation. He tried to struggle to his feet but seemed to be losing his energy along with his magic.

“Um...” Xander spoke up, looking between a laughing Amy and a hovering Willow. “Maybe you should send some of that stuff over to them.” He gestured at the other witches still lying around the room.

“They might try to defend him.” Willow explained simply, as the ropes of magic flowing out of Rack started to thin and fade.

 

“Ready to swap back?” Faith asked, a bit breathless and struggling to resist the temptation to make herself come the fastest way she knew. If there was ever a good incentive not to, the thought of being inside Buffy was it.

When she actually had been in Buffy's body, she had not been able to bring herself to touch 'herself' sexually. Stealing Buffy's life felt justified, like revenge for never being part of it in the first place, like compensation for the months she'd spent in a coma. Touching Buffy's old body sexually had seemed like it would be wrong, even if it was using that body's hands in what was technically masturbation. At the time Faith figured it felt wrong because she, the ghost in the shell, would be the one feeling it, even if it was Buffy's body's hands that were doing it. And she didn't have Buffy's permission to know what it felt like to touch her like that.

Which just went to show that her logic was always kind of fucked, because she sure as shit didn't have permission to inhabit Buffy's entire body either. But no matter which way she looked at it, Faith had not been able to get rid of that sick feeling low in her stomach at the thought of masturbating in her new body, or of fucking a couple of random Nice Boy types that Buffy would have been into. For years she had run on impulse and survived on instinct, so Faith had grudgingly ditched her original plan and gone for a ride on the Iowa Boy instead.

Buffy groaned lightly in pleasure as she moved above Faith, derailing her train of thought.

“Huh?” Buffy's eyes opened and struggled a bit to focus, apparently only just registering that Faith had said something.

“Swap. Are you ready to swap back?” Faith asked again, but suddenly found herself stuck in a memory of another time she was lying on her back under Buffy, after being Buffy, another time they had swapped back.

Her face had ached from the punches she had managed to connect while in Buffy's body, looking down at the life that she didn't want any more, the face of the disgusting murderous nobody that she hated but couldn't escape.

And then they swapped back, and she went from being on top, a hero and saviour, right back down to the bottom with Buffy above her as always. A defeated nobody.

The sudden burning pinch of her nipple was not how this memory usually ended.

Faith shook her head and reflexively tried to pull away. Buffy's head rose up from where she had bitten Faith's chest.

“Sorry. You kind of zoned for a minute, you weren't answering when I tried speaking to you, and both my hands are sort of tied up...”

Faith wasn't sure if Buffy knew where her mind had gone, or if she could just tell that it wasn't good. Clearly trying to lighten things up a little, Buffy added, “...wait, don't start imagining me tied up, or I'll lose you again.”

 

Buffy had lost a lot of the worries she'd had going into the ritual, mostly because of Faith's help and actions so far. So when she saw Faith space out for a minute, Buffy wanted to snapkick herself for being so selfish. True, she couldn't help feeling the way she did so soon after Spike's attack. And she knew the original 'less selfish' plan of just trying to push through feelings like that had almost caused their session to implode when it had barely even begun.

But now that she was feeling more stable and present, and had a bit of a grip on what to expect from Faith during this deranged apocalypse, she was ready to start helping right back.

“So...I'm doing okay.” Buffy spoke up, her tone more serious. “Keeping my clothes on is helping. I was thinking, if it's alright with you, can we try rolling over to swap positions?”

“As well as cum?” Faith asked, trying to cover her overwhelming relief at the suggestion with a joke. Their position was just too damn similar to the moment in that church.

Buffy rolled her eyes, silently happy to see Faith being her normal, crass self after the worrying minute of losing her to her thoughts earlier. “That too, yes.”

After a few moments of awkward manoeuvring they managed to roll over and readjust.

Faith had learned gradually after that day in the church that taking revenge felt good, but left her with nothing. And now, when she and Buffy swapped touching themselves for touching each other, she discovered that being given trust felt a million times better but left her really fucking confused about who she was. The hot slayer sex was nice, though, too.

 

Rack lay on the ground unconscious, where Xander was tying him up with his own bedsheets, and Willow finally had a chance to check on Amy.

“Are you okay?” She asked the witch who was now lying on her back taking deep breaths.

“For fuck's sake, Willow.” Amy sighed and draped one arm across her eyes. “You just beat Rack. You raised the fucking dead. Why was I a rat for three years??” She slammed her hand back down on the floor, with a bit of magical enhancement, leaving a crater behind.

There was an awkward silence as Xander and Willow cautiously tried to work out just how angry she was.

“I am so goddamn sick of being someone's pet or puppet!” She screamed and started sobbing, or laughing, or both, and pressed her fists into her eyes.

Willow and Xander watched in exhausted silence, starting to understand just how much Amy Madison was not okay.

 

It took Buffy a while to realise that the flashing lights she was seeing weren't because of her orgasm. Or, they were, but not in the 'so good I saw lights' kind of way. The barrier had flashed and fallen, and now a swirl of shimmering grey smoke was rising from the floor like a tiny, silent tornado with the slayers at its centre. It sped up, and when it seemed to reach momentum it shot from all sides straight into Faith's forehead. Her head snapped back like she had been punched, and Buffy's post orgasmic haze disappeared instantly as she sat up in a panic.

“Holy shit.” Faith blinked and opened her eyes.

“Are you okay??” Buffy asked.

“Yeah.” Faith sat up and went to rub her head, pausing as she felt the ridges of a symbol branded there. “Feel kind of fantastic actually.”

“So...” Buffy stood and slowly, experimentally walked out of the area the circle had enclosed. The symbols burned into the carpet had gone, and no barrier stopped her.

She turned back to Faith, silhouetted by the light from the gaps in the curtains behind her. “I guess this means it's time to save the world.”

Faith looked at her and cocked her head. “Maybe a shower and some clean clothes first?”