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The thing is, even after everything, she doesn't actually hate Faith.

It's all stupid and twisted up and turned around 'cause she's pretty sure she should hate Faith, but it's just that they're the same but different... well, sort of, maybe, if you squint the right way, and that makes it kinda hard to hate her. They're both vampire slayers, and somehow that means more than if they just worked opposite shifts at their local drive thru or some other kind of thing like that. They're not friends but they're still more than coworkers because the thing is, they were both chosen. And maybe that means something, even if they're not the only ones being chosen anymore. Maybe that means something, even if Buffy's not totally sure what that is.

She doesn't hate Faith but she can't exactly say she likes her, either. She wouldn't choose to spend time with her unless it was as some kind of a last resort, and she's pretty sure that last resorts don't really count as choosing - it's like jumping 'cause maybe the fall will kill you, but the horde of angry werewolves with the munchies running down the hall behind you definitely will. Faith's not her favorite person and her sincere, extensive doubts about that changing in the future are all totally fair. It's just you wouldn't guess that from the things that she's been dreaming lately.

She's not really found the time to talk about it because she's not sure how to talk about it, but lately she's been having some really weird dreams. It's not always somewhere she knows but mostly it is - she'll fall asleep after her nightly patrol and she'll be in the library or the high school gym or she'll be at the Bronze or the cemetery wandering by another mausoleum or in the Magic Box or any of a hundred places, Sunnydale or LA or anywhere she's been, but sometimes she doesn't know the place. Still, no matter where she is, there's one annoying constant in it: Faith is there, even if no one else is at all.

It always goes the same way: one of them says something smart-mouthed and really ill-advised that sets the other one off and then they're fighting like that makes any kind of sense at all. They're not friends but she knows Faith's trying to do better, and be better, and fighting never solved anything with them anyway, but they always go right ahead and trade punches together in spite of that. They both hit hard, like they mean to rearrange each other's faces, till they're breathless and their hair's messed up and sometimes one or both of them might even bleed, but then it changes. Buffy's heart races. Her cheeks are flushed. Faith smiles, and they struggle, and they fall.

It doesn't matter who ends up on top because in the end, Faith's always the one who starts it. Faith kisses her and for a second Buffy's too stunned to even shove her away, and then by the time she's gotten over it, it turns out she's surprisingly into it. She'd like to say it's just the adrenaline but Faith seems to know exactly what she's doing as she pushes her down, on the library table, on her old dorm room bed, and Buffy lets her, every time, though she's pretty sure she shouldn't and she's pretty sure it's the mother of all bad ideas, which is really bad considering the ideas they've had. She lets her do it anyway. It's a dream, after all. She figures she can let go there, if nowhere else.

Sometimes, she's wearing her old cheerleading uniform, and when Faith pushes up her skirt she's wearing nothing underneath it. For a long time, nothing really seemed important anymore, but these days she's trying to take better care of herself - she eats the right things and gets plenty of exercise, and she still dyes her hair blond, or at least that's halfway true. When Faith pushes up her skirt, all that's under it for her to find is smooth, bare skin, and Faith looks like she's gotten herself stuck halfway between horny and amused because she's Buffy, she's the good one, the nice one, not the one you'd expect to have the really good wax job. Still, in the end, Faith runs one thumb over the place where Buffy's labia meet. She parts them with it, then she uses both thumbs, ducks her head down, licks, and Buffy knows she should object except all she ever does is shift her knees a little wider. She gives her more room to manoeuvre. Faith takes full advantage of it.

She dreams Faith's hands against her skin and the ends of her hair trailing against it, too. She dreams Faith's mouth between her thighs, dreams the tip of her tongue that teases her, her fingers as they push inside. She shouldn't want it but it's so easy to want because she knows afterwards all that happens is she wakes, no fuss, no complications, no vampire there to lose his soul, not even in a dream. She grips at the table, or the bed, or else she slips her fingers into Faith's long hair, and she closes her eyes, and she lets herself feel all the things that Faith does. She pulls off her clothes and watches Faith pull off hers and they're alike but they're not alike but none of that really matters.

Tonight, they're in her bed. Faith kisses her and Buffy lets her, and she kisses her back, there's no point denying that she does it. She puts her hands on Faith's bare skin, slips them down her bare back, rests them at her hips as they kneel there together. Faith's fingers graze her nipples then move down, one hand between her own thighs, one hand between Buffy's, but Buffy's not okay with that - she slips one of her hands between Faith's thighs instead, feels her way between her folds and finds her wet already. She pushes her down on her back and Faith's hands find the headboard as Buffy's fingers push inside her, thrusting. Faith gasps, and she curses, and Buffy's on her side right next to her, watching as her hips shift, watching as her eyes squeeze shut and she rocks down against her hand. She's so tight around her fingers, hot and wet, her skin all flushed. She doesn't like her, but it turns out that doesn't mean that she's not kinda hot for her anyway.

She starts to rub herself as she's fucking Faith and she can feel it tightening up all her muscles, making her pulse race, making her skin flush, except in a flash it's over. She wakes, and whoever's knocking at her door better be halfway to dead or spreading good news of the zombie apocalypse because if they're not then she will totally not be responsible for the things her crushed libido might tempt her to say. She throws on a robe and she goes to the door. And, when she opens it, there's Faith. There's Faith. She should've known.

"Look, B, I know I'm the last person in the world you want to see right now," Faith says, "and I should've called first and all that crap, but I was sleeping in my car down the street just now, 'cause I figured I'd wait until morning, but..." She frowns. She leans against the door frame. She narrows her eyes. "Were you asleep?"

Buffy nods. "You woke me," she replies.

"Were you dreaming?"

Buffy nods again. "You were there," she replies. And now that Faith's here, too, with that look on her face and that flush in her cheeks, she can't believe for a second that that's even maybe a coincidence.

"You better come in," Buffy says, and she steps aside, and Faith moves inside past her. Buffy locks the door, as if door locks ever helped against the things they fight, and it's not like she's got a lot worth stealing. And she knows there's something wrong, but for once she's pretty sure that Faith's not the one behind it.

"Look, B..." Faith says, but when she turns, Buffy drops her robe. She does it deliberately though totally against her better judgment, knowing all she's wearing underneath is her bare skin, and Faith's brows rise just for a second before she starts to smile. The first place that Faith touches her is the smooth, bare skin between her thighs, and she leans in right up by Buffy's ear to say, "Weren't you meant to be the good one?" It's real, for once, and it confirms the dreams she's had have been the dreams they've had. So much for no complications.

"I'm really only good by comparison," Buffy replies, with her fingers in Faith's hair. Faith chuckles at that, against the side of her neck, and makes her shiver with it. Neither of them is really good, after all; they just try to do the best they can.

She figures she'll regret this in the morning, when they start to unpick who it is that's responsible, what's happened and why and how to undo it, but she doesn't regret it now. But the thing is, she doesn't actually hate Faith, even if they're not even close to calling each other friends. She doesn't hate her. These days, she thinks she might even trust her. These days, she's one of the only ones who understand.

So maybe, just maybe, they'll work together to fix this problem and they won't kill each other in the process.

Buffy leads the way to her bedroom. Faith follows, shedding clothes along the way.

And maybe, just maybe, there'll be no regrets between them after all.