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“It was Angel!”

Buffy’s sudden outburst hangs in the air between her and Faith, doing nothing to assuage the tension that had caused her to bubble over in the first place.

“You develop a sudden case of Tourette’s or something?” Faith asks.

“No.”

When Buffy doesn’t elaborate for a long moment, Faith rolls her eyes and then pushes a few paces ahead.

Buffy wonders if she gets far enough away if Faith’ll blend into the night, what with her slick leather pants and her dark bouncing curls. For a beat, she lets herself believe that’d be easier, letting Faith walk out of her life. But that’s about as long as she can hold off the roller coaster drop of longing in her stomach at the thought.

“You asked me what my hardest kill was when you came to town,” Buffy says, after she speeds up to fall into step with Faith. “The answer is Angel. I had to…well, it’s kind of a long, involved story. I’ll send you tickets to the live show when it comes out, save us both the trouble of blubbery Buffy.”

Faith grunts in acknowledgement, but doesn’t say anything.

“So now you know,” Buffy pushes. “My hardest kill was Angel.”

They glance over at each other at the same time, and Buffy doesn’t get the chance to read the emotion in Faith’s eyes before she throws up her barriers, ever inscrutable.

“Whatever.”

Buffy grips her stake tighter, her knuckles going white with the effort. “I only bring it up because that’s the reason for the tight-lippiness about him being—”

“Look, it’s done, alright? Now we don’t have to pretend like we’re friends.”

“But we are,” Buffy says matter-of-factly. Faith laughs like it’s the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard, and Buffy grabs her wrist to get her to stop walking. Ignoring the way her heartbeat catches at the contact, she sets her jaw and says, “We’re friends.”

“You got a funny definition of the word, then.”

At that, Buffy’s whole heart leaps up into her throat. “I don’t—I don’t know what you mean.”

Faith scoffs at her before pacing a few steps away, trying to continue with their patrol the graveyard, and Buffy drops her arm after only a moment of hesitation.

“Friends talk about the shit they have going on, B,” she calls over her shoulder.

“Oh,” Buffy breathes before she can stop herself. Faith isn’t talking about their—whatever it is. She shakes off the disappointment as quickly as she can and rushes to catch up. “Well look who’s talking!”

“Nuh-uh, don’t put this on me. I did the whole sharing is caring thing.”

“Not when it mattered,” Buffy says, thinking back to the last time she’d visited Faith’s motel room. To the sadness and anger that’d rumbled off her like aftershocks, the side effect of the earthquake that was Gwendolyn Post, leaving them miles apart and on opposite sides of some great void of miscommunication.

“Shut up,” Faith snaps, wheeling around to face her. “You screwed up. Deal with it.”

Buffy blinks, her nerves going haywire from the conflicting urges to punch and kiss that always come with having Faith invade her personal space.

“I-I’m not saying that I didn’t.”

“Didn’t hear you say you did, either.”

“Fine, I messed up not telling you or the gang about Angel. I know this. Are you happy now?”

Buffy thinks she sees Faith’s eyes drop to her lips, but before she can react, Faith’s already stomping off again.

“No,” Faith says, just loud enough for her voice to carry, “I’m not.”

“What would it take?” Buffy asks, the adrenaline from having Faith so close still surging through her veins.

“What?”

“For you to be happy,” she says. “What would it take?”

“And what makes you such a people-pleaser all of a sudden?”

“I just want things to be okay between us.”

The answer slips out so easily, it’s almost scary. She’s not used to being this candid, and—even though she didn’t even reveal that much—Buffy feels too cold all of a sudden. Exposed.

It takes Faith a moment to realize Buffy’s fallen behind, but when she does, she circles back. There’s a wrinkle in her brow, and she’s fidgeting agitatedly with the ring on her thumb.

“Yeah,” she says eventually, but doesn’t offer up anything else.

“Ask me a question,” Buffy says, overcome with a freeing sort of recklessness. If she chases after this newfound candor, maybe she can fix things—before she loses her nerve, before the void between them is too vast to cross. “Any question at all, and I have to answer honestly.”

Faith narrows her eyes. “What would that do?”

“I don’t know—prove that I trust you?” When Faith continues to stare at her, , her skepticism obvious, Buffy adds, “To prove that I care about sharing my life with you. Because I do.”

As the proclamation nestles between them, Buffy’s seized with chagrin. That had sounded way cheesier out loud than it had in her head, and Faith is definitely going to make fun of her for—

Her regretful thoughts are cut off by Faith backing Buffy into a crypt and kissing her.

Buffy lets out a muffled whine when her shoulder catches the corner of the building at the wrong angle, but the pain of that is quickly chased away by the feeling of Faith’s lips moving against her own. And once she’s steady, Buffy wastes no time grabbing a fistful of Faith’s hair and pushing into the kiss with all her strength.

Faith responds in kind, her chin bumping against Buffy’s as she changes the angle, and Buffy’s struck with the novelty of this no-feelings-barred kind of kissing. She’d had to hold back with Scott, who was human and not at all prepared to deal with a full-on Buffy kiss. Then there’d been Angel, who’d vamped out the first time they’d kissed, and then after that, she’d had to hold back because of everything last year…

As the thoughts start to swirl out of control in Buffy’s head, Faith slips her tongue, and then her brain goes completely silent for several, blissful seconds.

When Buffy’s eyes finally drift open after Faith pulls away, she’s gifted with the cockiest smirk she’s ever seen.

“Oh, shut up,” she says, but she can’t seem to stop smiling.

“You shut up.”

“So,” Buffy says, ducking her head and playing with one of the buttons on Faith’s jean jacket. Her kiss-hazy brain reminds her that she’d grabbed onto the collar in an attempt to tug Faith even closer, and heat rises in her cheeks. She clears her throat. “Did I answer your question?”

Faith bites her lip and, god, Buffy can feel herself leaning in again.

“Think I got all the information I need, yeah.”

“That’s good,” Buffy says. “Knowledge is power.”

“Uh-huh,” Faith says, and then she uses her thumb to rub at where her lipstick’s rubbed off onto Buffy’s lips.

Buffy feels her kneecaps turn to jelly.

“What about you?” Faith asks after a beat.

“Huh?” Buffy asks, just barely managing to drag her gaze up from Faith’s mouth.

“You got any questions for me? I’ll answer ‘em honest.”

“Hmm, I might,” Buffy says, and then before Faith can say anything else, Buffy jumps into her arms without warning, squeezing her hips between her thighs and laughing into another kiss even as they tumble to the ground.