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Even after all these years, a shiver had run through Faith as she passed the "Sunnydale" sign. This town evoked so many bad memories. Everything had begun and everything had finished here, in the pain of a glittering blade plunged into her entrails, in the ultimate treachery of body shifting. The Hellmouth had once again opened the wound of her personal hell.

She had wandered for a while in the streets, eventually finding herself unwillingly in one of the numerous cemeteries of the town. It was a sufficiently quiet place to allow her old demons to resurface in her tortured mind.

Perched on the back of a bench, Faith lit a cigarette and watched the somber alleys of the cemetery. Nothing stirred for the moment; the Slayer would have to wait for nightfall to have a little fun. Faith took a long pull at her cigarette and exhaled at the darkening sky. She adjusted her leather jacket, put a hand through her long dark hair and threw the cigarette butt away.

 


 

Buffy thought the cemetery was far too peaceful. Her Slayer's senses on the alert, she listened carefully and finally detected a noise in a thick bush -- one which would have been imperceptible to anybody else. She approached slowly.

"So what? You're spying me?" she said to the vampire as she kicked him and threw him against a tree.

The vampire rose to his feet and rushed at Buffy, who easily avoided him, casually holding out a stake on which he promptly impaled himself. Buffy could not help smiling at the vampire's amazed expression before he exploded into dust.

"Mmm... blondie, you'd better not smile like that..." warned a hoarse voice behind her.

Buffy abruptly turned around to face about ten vampires of the quite unattractive and antipathetic variety.

"I think I'm gonna run out of stakes," she thought while pushing back the first attack with a punch to a grinning vampire's face.

Four creatures charged at her; she aimed a roundhouse kick at the first one's head and hit the second one in the stomach before finishing him off with her stake. The third grabbed her from behind while the fourth stroked her chin. Lowering her center of gravity, she threw the vampire who held her above her head and he landed directly on his mate. The other six headed towards her, threatening. Blows fell thick and fast from both sides but the vampires outnumbered her and Buffy began to weaken.

Caught up in the fight, Buffy could not see the shadow which flashed past her, but she understood that she had just escaped from the knife above her when the vampire holding it disappeared into dust. Two, three, then four undead died this way, wondering who their second adversary could have been and especially why they had had to pitch into the Slayer and not a frail young woman terrified by their fangs. Buffy got rid of her last vampire, abruptly realizing who had just saved her life.

"Hey B, need some help?" the dark Slayer teased, her hands on her hips.

The memories of all the years of killings, betrayals and unhappiness came back immediately in Buffy's mind and she felt a flow of hate filling her head and making her fists clench so hard that her palms hurt.

"What are you doing back here, Faith?"

"Homesick, maybe..."

"You have nothing to do in Sunnydale, so what are you coming back for? To hurt us again? To kill us?"

"I've changed, B. You won't believe me, but I've changed."

Faith could see the doubt and rage in Buffy's hazel eyes. She obviously could not expect the blonde to forgive all the harm she had done to her and her friends.

"You'll never change, Faith. You had all your chances and you screwed everything up."

Frowning with a dark and determined gaze, Buffy got closer to the entirely black leather-clad woman.

"Leave, or I kill you," Buffy threatened, daring the other to move.

Faith stayed still. She shoved her hands in her jacket pockets and kept her dark eyes fixed on Buffy.

The first attack surprised Faith: a high kick smashed into her chin and made her roll onto a grave. She got to her feet, blood dripping from her cut lip. She touched it with her hand and tasted the red liquid.

"Woh! B, you haven't lost the knack!"

The older Slayer rushed at her. Faith avoided a kick to the stomach and blocked a few punches, but she did not strike back. She merely took the blows and at times pushed the other woman back without hurting her.

"Why don't you fight back, Faith? I thought you liked it!" Buffy challenged, out of breath and confused by the passivity of the woman she had thought to be her friend before the Mayor's appearance.

In a way, this passivity made her even angrier.

"I don't wanna fight with you any longer. I don't wanna hurt you any more, B."

Buffy kept on kicking her. A stronger blow made Faith fall and Buffy followed her to the ground, pinning her onto the cemetery's fresh grass and holding her hands above her head. Buffy was sitting on Faith's body and the two women silently looked at each other. Only their breathing, loud from intense fighting, was perceptible.

"I saved your ass and that's the way you thank me?" the dark Slayer finally accused, trying not to pay attention to the burning sensation of Buffy's body on hers.

"I could've easily gotten through it without you. I've always done it."

Faith knew Buffy was lying but she carefully refrained from replying with one of her usual smart-ass and sarcastic expressions.

"I could kill you, y'know, Faith...?" Buffy's eyes were glistening with hate, a hatred repressed for months and which could at last be released on the responsible party.

"Sorry, but not tonight," Faith replied, and easily escaped Buffy's hold with a wrist lock. "Not tonight," Faith repeated and just walked away, leaving a confused Buffy on the ground, frustrated by the fact that Faith had not fought, and had not even given Buffy a good excuse to kill her.

But she was even more amazed by the lack of hatred in Faith's eyes. In its place there was simply a kind of weariness and sadness she would have never thought she would see in Faith.

 


 

"Giles, we have a problem."

The former librarian, looking sleepy, pushed his glasses back on his nose and eyed the blonde girl who had yet again rushed into his house very late at night.

"Huh, is this a kind of problem which couldn't wait until tomorrow morning, for example?"

"Nope. Faith is in Sunnydale."

Giles watched Buffy's stubborn and resolved face for a while, and then invited her in with a sigh.

"Faith came back to Sunnydale..."

"Thank you, Giles, but that's precisely what I've just said."

Giles frowned for an instant.

"Yes, huh, actually, I knew she was out of jail but I wouldn't have thought she would be back... Did she tell you something?"

Buffy thought back.

"Huh, really, not quite much, huh... I...in fact, we... We fought a little, well, I did mostly, but..."

"She didn't say anything."

"I didn't give her enough time to speak anyway... She just told me she'd changed and..." Giles nodded.

"That's what Angel affirmed."

"Huh?"

"Angel informed me of her release and ..."

"'Cause you talk with Angel and... When did you intend to tell me? Before or after she cut my throat?" Buffy asked angrily, confused to learn that her former boyfriend and her Watcher were in contact with each other behind her back and, moreover, about her sworn enemy.

The fact that Giles knew Faith was free again and that he had hidden it from her was extremely upsetting.

"Huh, yes, indeed, I often talk with Angel and he assures me Faith has changed. After being released from prison early for good conduct, she..."

"For good conduct?" Buffy interrupted him in a contemptuous tone. "How did she do that? Screw the director?"

Giles, who had just poured himself a cup of tea, nearly choked.

"Buffy!" After giving her a disapproving look, Giles continued his explanations.

"After her release, Faith took shelter with Angel and helped with investigations for a few months. Angel told me her behaviour had evolved and that she tried to... how can I say... to make amends, to redeem herself."

"That's typical of Angel to help a psycho who once tried to kill him! But she's pretending, she's lying as always, waiting for us to lower our guard. And when our backs are turned, she'll start with the evil tricks again."

Giles looked hesitant.

"I don't know. I think we can trust Angel. Even Wesley and Cordelia seem to be convinced she is sincere."

"And since when Barbie and Ken have been reliable examples?" Buffy commented, frowning.

Giles hid his smile behind his cup of tea and mutely watched as Buffy thought it over. Finally she decided, to the watcher's relief, to make her way to the exit door.

"Ok, Giles, but tomorrow, we have to gather everybody. They have to know the psycho-bitch is in town."

 


Faith rolled over on her shabby bed. Though, after the jail cell, this sordid motel seemed luxurious, almost welcoming. Her body still ached from Buffy's blows but above all it was the memory of the hateful and contemptuous look on the other Slayer's face which hurt her the most. She remembered the times before the Mayor when they patrolled together and were friends; it was a time when she could have talked to Buffy about what she felt. But, as usual, Faith had fled, unable to deal with her feelings and desires, and instead she had turned to hatred and destruction, allowing the dark side of her personality to overwhelm her. She had so envied Buffy's life: a real home with the love of a mother, a Watcher, faithful and sincere friends, a lover. She had ardently desired Buffy too, but Buffy had been and still was unaware of it.

She remembered Buffy's body on hers, the warmness that had invaded her then. Slaying always made her hungry and horny and she assumed the other Slayer should feel the same. Sighing, Faith tried to ignore her arousal and let sleep envelop her.

 


 

"It seems that Faith really has changed... Angel assured me of it," an anxious Giles informed the gathering of young people in front of him.

"And how is broody boy so sure?" Xander sniped, settled in the couch with Anya who seemed, as usual, completely indifferent to the Scooby Gang's issues.

"She spent a few months with Angel and Cordelia in Los Angeles and she helped them out. He thinks she's really sincere but that she's tortured by something."

"Psycho." Buffy merely said, her arms folded on her chest.

"Angel pleads with us to give Faith a chance to explain and work things out," Giles argued, trying to be convincing in front of the hostile gazes.

Even the two witches, Willow and Tara, who were hanging their hands, seemed to disapprove.

"Just wait and see what she has in store for us... at least we're warned." Xander concluded resignedly, the evocation of Faith's name giving him thrills of anguish.

 


 

Faith was invisible in the darkness of the trees which surrounded the campus. She had just slayed a vampire, and now quietly smoked a cigarette while waiting for the next vamp to wander by. She heard approaching steps and soon caught sight of the blonde witch, presumably on her way back to her dorm room. What was her name? Yes, Tara. And she was making out with Red. Faith could not help but smile mischieviously while imagining the two women together. Who would have guessed it about the shy little naive redhead?

Tara was tired and was hurrying back toward her room and bed, leaving Buffy and Willow quite far behind her. In her haste she stumbled on a stone and fell to her knees, her books scattering on the ground. Cursing, she quickly began to pick them up and did not see the grinning figure approach her.

"D'you need help?" the vampire offered as he leaned in and grabbed Tara.

She smashed one of her books on his head. The vampire loosened his grip but it was just a caress for him and he violently seized the wiccan's arm, twisting it until Tara felt a sharp pain in her shoulder and screamed. She saw the sniggering vampire bending over her neck and she shouted again, calling for Buffy, who should be close by now. But it was not Buffy who pulled the astonished vampire back and who heavily kicked him in the face, breaking a fang off and sending it skipping across the grass.

Faith finished the vampire and came close to Tara, who was still shocked, not only by the attack but also by the appearance of her unexpected rescuer. Indeed Faith had not been nice with her either and past humiliations added to her confusion.

"Are you okay?" asked the dark Slayer with, Tara could hardly believe it, real concern in her voice.

"My...my arm is aching, I... I think... he put ... my shoulder out of joint."

Faith nodded watching the improbable angle of Tara's arm.

"Ok. Don't move. It's gonna really fucking hurt for just one second and then you'll be five by five." Faith warned while standing behind Tara and taking her arm.

With a quick and firm move, she put the shoulder back in its joint. Tara screamed as Buffy and Willow appeared. Willow's eyes were wide with horror.

Buffy rushed at Faith and gripped her by the shoulders, forcing her to let Tara go. They rolled into a bush, Buffy finding herself again sitting astride the other Slayer, and Faith, surprised, could not manage to avoid the fist which crashed into her temple. Close to fainting, she waited for the other girl to make her next move.

So much hatred, so much pain, so many regrets lay in the blonde's eyes. As Buffy rose her fist to strike her again, she heard Tara call out with such unusual determination that she paused in mid-punch.

"Buffy! She didn't hurt me! She saved my life! A vampire attacked me and dislocated my shoulder. She... She was putting it back when you arrived..." Tara explained all at once for fear that Buffy might hit Faith with the still threatening fist.

An expression of incredulity went through Buffy's eyes, which were still fixed on Faith's, immobile under her. Blood was running from her orbital arch and was disappearing in her thick hair. Buffy still saw sadness and resignation in Faith's eyes, where there would once have been challenge and wickedness. She also perceived some other thing, something that embarrassed her: she felt lust. She lowered her fist and got up on her feet at once, releasing Faith from her grip. Faith picked herself up and staggered, stunned by her blow to her head.

"I give you two seconds to explain why you're back." Buffy said, still confused by what she had caught in Faith's eyes.

"I came to make things right, to make amends for what I did... for what I did to you."

Ignoring the blood dripping onto her face, Faith tried to convey the sincere regrets and remorse which had oppressed her for so many years. But Buffy, remembering her many treacheries, was hard to convince, let alone Willow. The petite witch sent daggers at her while hugging Tara, a fiercely protective look on her face.

"You'd better go away now, 'cause you won't change anything," Buffy said with anger.

"Buffy," Tara intervened, "We could give her a chance to prove she's able to do something other than hurt people, and besides, she already proved it to me tonight."

Faith gaped at Tara in astonishment, surprised that the young woman, who was usually so retiring, had defended her again. Apparently, the same thought had crossed Buffy's and Willow's minds, for they were staring at Tara with such intensity that the shy girl lowered her head, hiding her blushing face.

Willow was wondering with horror if Faith, while putting Tara's shoulder back, had not somehow corrupted her girlfriend. Buffy, knowing her friends would follow her, was trying to make the right decision. Buffy had hidden the fact that Faith had saved her life in the cemetery. This was now the second time Faith had risked her life to save people that, in the past, she would have let die, watching with a smile of sinister enjoyment on her lips.

Buffy silently fixed Faith with an appraising look and the dark Slayer felt with an unpleasant thrill that her life and death were at this very instant in the balance, held in this simple gaze. She had no doubt that an angry Slayer paired up with two infuriated and powerful Wiccans could kick her arrogant little ass out of the world of the living. Faith was still wondering which terrifying spells Red could cast when the verdict finally fell.

 "Just one chance." Buffy said harshly. "Try one of your tricks and I kill you."

 


 

Giles could feel the tension in the group of friends gathered in his house. The cause of this tension was standing in front of them, seemingly embarrassed, and was swinging from one foot to the other, her hands dug into her leather jacket's pockets. Apologies were not her strong point and Faith tried with a few clumsy sentences to convince the others that she regretted what she had done to them and that she had come back to help and put things right. Actually she did not give a damn about what they thought or even about being forgiven. The only person she really cared about and who could give her absolution was her sister-in-arms. She had come back only for Buffy.

A suspicious and dubious silence fell and lasted, each of the assembled recalling a painful moment with the dark Slayer. Willow could still feel Faith's knife at her throat; Tara remembered the hurtful words of Faith in Buffy's body; Xander imagined the brunette's strong hands strangling him; Anya pictured Xander sleeping with Faith; Riley saw himself making love with Faith in Buffy's body and telling her that he loved her; and Buffy carried the heaviest burden: Faith accusing her of murder, harming her friends, seducing Angel, poisoning Angel, kidnapping her mother, sleeping with her boyfriend, betraying her and hurting her over and over to the point of trying to kill her.

"Well," Giles said, interrupting their thoughts. "Tonight, Faith and Buffy are going to patrol together."

"What? But I don't need a chaperon!" Buffy protested.

"That's not the problem, Buffy. This is a full moon night, two Slayers won't be too much." Giles replied peremptorily.

Buffy sighed, cast a murderous glance at Faith, and rose, taking her bag full of various weapons. Faith raised an eyebrow and followed the other woman out into the night.

They remained silent for a long time, walking side by side, Buffy pretending to ignore Faith's presence. Without knowing it, both of them were recalling similar moments. The excitement before and after slaying, the unique impression of sharing something that nobody else but another Slayer could understand, the similarities of their moves and the way they complemented each other but refused to admit it out of pride. They had felt invincible, understanding one another without a word. Faith had even succeeded in the end in making Buffy feel the unhealthy joy she found in the fights and the power of slaying.

 And Faith had screwed everything up. Feeling rejected and frustrated because she did not share Buffy's life, she chose to destroy what she could never possess. Carried away by her desire for absolute power, she had turned to the evil side, where Buffy could not follow her. Faith had tried nevertheless to bring Buffy with her, and the blonde girl had to admit deep inside herself that she had hesitated. Something in Faith had always attracted her: her wild side, so different from herself, her darkness, her passion, her impulsiveness. Maybe it had something to do with her leather clothes or her tattoo, or with her way of dancing, so sensual...

Buffy found herself blushing. What was she thinking?! She forced herself to believe that it was envy and not attraction that had brought those images of Faith to mind. The other girl was free, free to leave, to live the way she wanted, whereas she was bound to this town and her friends for ever. The damn Slayer duty.

"Hey B, look out over there," Faith's voice interrupted her in her thoughts.

A group of vampires were getting dangerously closer to two young lovers who had had the bad idea of continuing their smoochies in the cemetery's darkness.

The two Slayers ran to the group and, in perfect synchronization, they stuck their stakes into the two closest vampires' backs. Faith looked at Buffy and grinned wryly. Buffy could not help smiling back. Old reflexes came back as if nothing had ever happened. The vampires were quickly eliminated.

"So B, just like in the good old days?" Faith asked with a mischievous smile.

Buffy shrugged her shoulders but smiled back.

"We'll see."

 


 

Weeks went by and Buffy and Faith kept on patrolling together. As the coldness between them began to fade, their technique grew keener and their renewed double-Slayer skills made the vampiric population suffer strongly. The rumor quickly spread among the undead that the official Slayer had teamed up again with her game partner, the Rogue. Many of them began to contemplate emigrating to a more welcoming place, far from the Chosen One's pre-mortem jokes and the Chosen Two's famous sadistic beatings.

Despite her initial reservations, Buffy found herself welcoming the presence of Faith at her side. Before the return of the Bostonian, Buffy had often been accompanied by Riley, but Buffy had to admit that the soldier, though gifted, was no match for the dark Slayer. Buffy even went so far as to think that she spent more time helping Riley out than being helped on her patrols, which she would never dare to confess for fear that he should be offended. With Faith, however, she fought instinctively and with silent and immediate comprehension. There was a connection between them which came, according to Giles, from their common status as Slayers. But Buffy knew that explanation was not sufficient, because she had never shared dreams or felt such a symbiosis with Kendra.

Gradually, Buffy began to trust Faith again. With the exception of Tara, the other members of the Scooby Gang stayed on their guards, but even they made efforts to accept her again in their group. Riley concealed his worry and his jealousy at seeing Buffy disappear every night with her former enemy. His male pride had been hurt when she ousted him from the daily patrols. In spite of his vehement protests, Buffy made him understand that the Chosen Two could cope perfectly well on their own and Xander, compassionate, confided to Riley that it was "a Slayer thing", as if it explained everything. Riley, even more puzzled, felt like he must have missed some chapters from How To Understand The Vampire Slayers In 10 Easy Lessons.

One night after a patrol punctuated by intense fights, Faith proposed that the two of them go to the Bronze in order to relax. Buffy thought for an instant about calling Riley or the Scoobies but she decided instead that the outing would be a good opportunity to talk with Faith and maybe work things out.

Faith probably did not intend to talk at all, because no sooner had they arrived than she led Buffy onto the dancefloor. They danced face to face, closer and closer, Faith taking Buffy's hand at times. They emitted such a sensual energy that several boys came nearer. Faith cast a scornful glance at them and ostentatiously ignored them, focusing her attention on the petite blonde who was avoiding her eyes. They silently danced for an hour, challenging each other as they did during fighting until Buffy surrendered and finally sat. Faith disappeared towards the bar and came back with ten shots of tequila on a tray.

"Here are the refreshments!" Faith said grinning.

"What is it?" Buffy asked in a suspicious tone.

"Special mix for Slayers. Drink." Faith ordered, tapping her glass against the table and then draining it in one gulp.

She held out a glass to Buffy who imitated her and nearly choked.

"It always happens with the first drink! It's gonna be five by five with the second one," Faith reassured her, laughing and slapping Buffy on the back.

"But there's alcohol in it!" Buffy cried out in an outraged voice, once she had stopped coughing.

"Uh? Really?" Faith innocently replied, a mischievous smile planted on her lips.

Buffy gave her a stern look but finally laughed at her own naivety. Faith gulped down her second glass with a wink at Buffy who breathed deeply before swallowing hers. Alcohol was burning her throat and she felt the tears coming to her eyes.

Faith was watching her with a little smile.

"Come on, the third one together!" Buffy said, not wanting Faith to have the advantage over her.

They downed the third glass in one go. Buffy felt a flush in her cheeks and she was so relaxed that she drank up the last glasses in the following ten minutes. Buffy was not used to drinking so much; her mind was hazy and her moves slow and dull. She was afraid inwardly that if the two Faiths who were looking at her mockingly did not stop moving, she would be sick right there.

"I think I'm gonna go home Faith, I drank too much," she stammered, not knowing which brunette she should fix her stare on.

Faith nodded and the two girls left the club, Buffy clinging to Faith's arm. She was refreshed by the cool air but was still unsteady.

They took a route through the somber side streets, laughing all the while at Faith's exploits in Los Angeles.

"Stop bragging all... all the time, Faith, I know I can... I can take you whenever I want!" Buffy spluttered.

"You bet?" Faith stopped right in the middle of the deserted street, her hands on her hips, with a look of challenge and a small smile on her lips.

Buffy attacked first with a high kick which Faith easily avoided. Because of alcohol Buffy's blows were less strong and lacked precision. Faith, who restrained herself, swept her with a low kick but Buffy, instead of falling, jumped back high in the air and landed heavily on her feet, losing her balance for an instant. The fight went on for a few minutes, neither of them having the advantage over the other but neither of them pushing their capacities to the maximum either.

Faith suddenly decided she had had enough with it. She pushed Buffy violently back against the wall and, imitating Buffy's move from the cemetery, pinned the other girl's hands with hers. Their faces almost touched. Their hoarse breaths were the only thing which broke the heavy silence between them while their eyes were locked.

Buffy saw once again what had frightened her in Faith's eyes: a secret and animal desire. She could feel Faith's muscular body against hers, warm and keeping her from moving. She also felt a leather-clad leg pushing into her crotch. The contact made her sigh. A carnivorous grin appeared on Faith's lips, a smile coming from very far, from her dark and savage side, from the side which scared and attracted Buffy all at once.

Faith abruptly came even nearer and kissed her violently, her tongue forcing its way in and searching for Buffy's, who tried vainly to free herself but finally gave in, her body relaxing against the other and her tongue mingling with Faith's. She could feel the arousal caused by their fight growing and she rubbed herself unconsciously against Faith's thigh. Never breaking their kiss, Faith released Buffy's hands and unbuttoned the other girl's pants. She slipped one hand inside and without waiting thrust two fingers into the blonde Slayer's moistness. Buffy cried out, surprised both by Faith's violence and by the realization that she had always desired such dangerous intimacy with this unpredictable woman.

Faith let go of her mouth and cruelly bit Buffy's shoulder while continuing to fuck her furiously. Faith began to feel her control slipping, her lust finally overwhelming her mind after so many years of repression. Buffy's moans were only amplifying her passion and her violence. Her fingers were quickly thrusting in and out while her other hand gripped Buffy's hair and forced her to watch.

"Open your eyes, open your eyes..." she whispered in Buffy's ear as sweat began to trickle down her temples.

Buffy obeyed groaning louder and louder and she tried to look at Faith, divided between the shame and the pleasure of being watched while coming. Faith's eyes were darkened with lust and effort. But in these often fathomless abysses, Buffy could also discern, not without a slight anxiety, madness, triumph and power.

"Come... Now!" Faith ordered huskily while accelerating her moves inside her.

Buffy, flinging back her head, uttered a long and almost painful cry and gave way to the intensity of her orgasm, her fingers clutched at Faith's shoulders, leaving bloody scratches on them. Faith waited for the last spasms around her fingers to stop before pulling them out gently and taking them to Buffy's mouth. Buffy sucked them languidly, tasting her own intimate savor. The drinks she had had earlier made her feel outside herself, as if she were watching herself do things she would never have done before.

Faith drew her fingers out and replaced them with her tongue. Her kiss was still brutal and Buffy thought to herself that Faith fucked the same way she lived: restlessly, violently and determinedly.

Still holding Buffy firmly by the hair, Faith made her kneel before her and unbuttonned her own leather pants with the other hand. Their eyes met. Buffy knew her submissive position aroused the other woman's desires of power. In Faith's eyes was shining the same understanding.

Faith pushed Buffy's face between her parted legs. Buffy realized she craved the sight of the same look of surrender in Faith's eyes, which gave her the courage to open her mouth and caress Faith's cunt with her tongue. She had never done it before but the moans she soon heard above her let her know she was doing something right. The hand clutched at her hair was hurting her and kept her from looking at Faith, whose moans were increasing and muscles were tensing.

Faith knew she could not hold on much longer, she had already been about to come just by watching Buffy's ecstasy. The warmth which was rising in her body began to overwhelm her, she could feel Buffy's tongue increase its rhythm on her clit. She felt like tearing Buffy's hair just for putting her in this state of weakness and vulnerability. Her grip tightened as she felt her climax build up, causing a delicious pain in Buffy. Then, a violent wave of pleasure abruptly surged in her and Faith, uttering a muffled cry, almost stumbled back.

She rested her back against the wall and pulled Buffy up. She kissed her, this time more softly, and hugged her. They stayed like that for a long time until Faith spoke.

"You see, B. You and me, we're alike. Except that you can't hold alcohol."

These words snapped Buffy out of her daze and the enormity of what they had just done suddenly struck her. She tore free from Faith's hold, her eyes wide with anger and guilt.

"You... It's not possible! You... You took advantage of me 'cause I was drunk and..."

Buffy could not bear the mischievous grin which took form on Faith's face. With tears in her eyes, she ran until she was out of breath in the streets of Sunnydale.

 


 

Back home in Riley's peaceful, comforting arms, Buffy could not manage to fall asleep. She played over and over the mental movie of her night with Faith.

How could she have been so naive?

How could she have been drawn into such debauchery?

How could she have liked it?, a part of her mind she could not prevent from talking reminded her. She immediately erased this thought, concentrating on her anger. Faith had taken advantage of her temporary weakness, and she knew perfectly well that she could not hold alcohol. She had made her drink, yes, she remembered it all. This girl was such a bitch, such a fucking bitch. She could not be trusted. She did harm everywhere she went and besides she hurt her. Buffy still had the sensation of Faith's fingers inside her, of their brutal and steady movements... But this had been so intense, stronger than with Riley or even with Angel. She had never come like this...

 Buffy felt the tears come back and she tried to muffle the noise of her weeping into the pillow.

 


 

Still leaning against the wall, Faith lit a cigarette. She watched the smoke float up from her mouth. The street was still silent, disturbed only from time to time by a rat brushing a trashcan. Faith felt empty at last: a sensation she had not felt for a long time. She felt at peace, almost happy, and she smiled a little as she remembered the events preceding Buffy's flight. She looked at her fingers and sucked them gently, trying to taste the salted flavor of the woman she had possessed.

 


 

 In the following days, Buffy, consumed with guilt, shut herself in her dorm room and spent the rest of her free time with Riley. When Willow became worried about Buffy's behavior and asked her why she was so suddenly distant from Faith, Buffy was evasive, pleading that she was tired and wanted to be with her boyfriend. As for Riley, unaware of the feelings which were tormenting her, he was delighted to see Buffy by his side again.

During the forced meetings at Giles' place, Buffy would carefully avoid Faith's eyes. Snuggled into Riley, she would exaggerately demonstrate their mutual love. Faith would merely watch them and smile, wearing her eternal façade of impassiveness and indifference. She knew perfectly well what Buffy was trying to do. Or more exactly was trying to pretend.

But Faith knew she had won, she knew it as soon as she had perceived the shared desire in Buffy's eyes the other night. This desire was as repressed and old as her own. She almost could have gone back to LA, but she needed to feel this desire again before she did; she needed to find this surrender again, this complete devotion in Buffy's eyes when she came.

Buffy had succeeded in convincing Giles that the patrols would be more useful if each Slayer patrolled in a different part of Sunnydale. And so, Buffy had managed to keep Faith away. But Faith was determined: she had waited for years, and she could wait a few more days.

 


 

Buffy spent one week trying to forget Faith and the memory of their bodies together. She tried to forget she had felt alive and powerful at last in her arms. She tried to convince herself that Riley loved her and that she loved him. She did not want to hurt him, he was so kind, so gentle, so... boring.

Why did she have to be attracted to gloomy, tormented and potentially dangerous people? After a hopeless vampire, a psychopathic and kinky Slayer... Why could she not fall in love with a normal person for once? Like Riley.

But her feelings for Faith had appeared before Riley, had actually been there the first time they met, Buffy realized. Since that day, a passionate link had been developing, a link which had brought them to share prophetic dreams, to fight together perfectly, to fight each other till death, and to fuck furiously in a dirty street. She could not deny this link nor her attraction to the other Slayer but she tried to persuade herself that Faith would draw her into a destructive passion whereas Riley would offer her a reassuring future.

She was almost convinced when one night the Scooby Gang decided to spend the night in the Bronze.

Buffy, Riley, Xander and Willow were dancing. Tara and Anya were sitting, sipping their drinks, and Faith was leaning against the counter, watching Buffy while absently smoking a cigarette. Buffy could feel the gaze on her, intense and disturbing. She felt it appraise each part of her body and undress her. It made her hot, much too hot. Making a discreet sign to Riley, she headed for the bathroom.

Buffy leaned over the sink and splashed water on her face. A little refreshed, she went into one of the small toilet rooms.

When she opened the door, she found herself face to face with Faith who, guessing her thoughts, blocked the door with one of her heavy black boots. She was smiling mischievously, almost viciously, with a smile which always made people feel uncomfortable. Faith feasted on the emotions she aroused in other people and which made her conscious of her power of seduction, of her sexual power.

Faith slowly walked inside, forcing Buffy to step back and to flatten herself against the wall. Faith could see Buffy's pupils dilating. Fear or desire? she wondered.

She locked the door behind her and put her hands around Buffy's neck, one of her hands gently caressing the blonde hair. Buffy tried to free herself but Faith caught her hands and wedged them behind Buffy's back. Faith leant her body onto Buffy's and got closer to her ear. Through this contact, she could feel Buffy's heart beating faster and faster.

"Tell me you want it..."

"You're... you're wrong... You... You made me drunk to have your fun with me! I... I... was not...in my normal state..." Buffy uttered with difficulty, hindered by the pressure of Faith's body on hers but also by the emotions rushing in her.

"Bullshit! You wanted it too. You wanted... me." Faith breathed, imperturbable.

Buffy was tormented by contradictory feelings, torn between her anger and her desire.

"Say it to me..." Faith repeated, her lips nearly touching Buffy's ear.

Buffy's breath sped up. She almost suffocated in this room which seemed to shrink around them.

"Say it..."

Tension was becoming unbearable. Faith had put her leg between Buffy's again and the least move provoked an almost painful wave of pleasure in her stomach.

"Say it..."

Buffy could not hold on any longer, beads of sweat were beginning to stand out on her forehead. She knew Faith took pleasure from this torture and she did not want to give in.

"Say it..."

Her hands locked in Faith's were getting moist and, she realized reluctantly, other parts of her body were becoming wetter and wetter.

"Say it..."

Buffy swallowed with difficulty. Faith could feel the blonde's nipples harden against her body.

"Say it..."

"Faith..."

"What?"

"Faith..."

"Just say it..."

"Faith... Fuck me!" Buffy whispered, a tear rolling down her cheek.

Faith's heart stopped for a second and then started its race again.

"Say it again..."

"Fuck me, fuck me like you did the other night, hurt me, do what you want but fuck me!..."

Faith freed Buffy's hands and plunged her dark eyes in Buffy's, a winning smile on her lips. Then, without a word, she went out of the small room and left.

Buffy collapsed on the cold tiled floor, put her chin on her knees and wept from frustration and shame, her body so full of unfulfilled desire that it was painful.

 


 

When she finally went out of the bathroom, she knew Faith had left the Bronze.

Without informing her friends and completely forgetting Riley, Buffy also left the club and headed for the closer cemetery. A sheer rage was emanating from her whole being. The poor vampire who stood in her way hoping to feed only had the favor of a quick and despising glance before he shattered into dust, probably never understanding how a stake could have been thrown so fast in his undead heart.

After a few minutes in the darkness, Buffy finally caught a glimpse of the red end of a cigarette.

"It's me you're looking for, isn't it, B?" Faith asked getting off her bench.

She had just enough time to throw her cigarette away before avoiding a high kick.

"Wow! Always need a little fight to make you hot, B?" Faith teased while pushing back a new kick.

In her rage, Buffy could hardly see and the tears which were flowing again blinded her even more. Faith stopped her fury with one punch in the stomach, knocking Buffy to the ground breathless. Faith sat astride Buffy but did not try to jam her hands. Buffy was breathing with difficulty but began to calm down.

"You're... You're such a bitch, you know?" Buffy finally spat.

Faith pouted provocatively.

"I know... And that's why you love me..." Faith answered while rolling up Buffy's top until her bra appeared.

Faith unhooked it and put her hands on Buffy's breasts. Buffy shivered but was too tired to protest. Faith gently caressed her nipples then pinched them suddenly, making Buffy jump. Faith lay flat against her body and she ran her tongue from the navel to the ear of the blonde Slayer who was moaning with pleasure. Faith's tongue came back to one nipple and she bit it sending painful stings in Buffy's crotch.

"Bitch!"

"Remember what you told me..." Faith said with a sadistic smile.

Faith quickly unfastened Buffy's pants and Buffy felt one hand touch her genitals, then two fingers enter brutally. Faith was gazing at Buffy, watching for any reaction, of pain or of pleasure, or even of the combination of the two. When she penetrated the Slayer, she could see a mix of outraged stupefaction and fulfilled desire in her eyes.

Faith kissed Buffy, violently, passionately, their tongues fighting. She bit Buffy's lower lip, her fingers going on their race inside the blonde. Buffy was moaning and was wondering how her body could be craving Faith's violence.

Faith inserted a third finger and felt Buffy's hips move in time with her hand. Faith did not like to lose control. She let Buffy know by grabbing the blonde's hair and arching her back. Buffy shouted and struggled a little but she could not break Faith's strong grip. Rage and lust were shining in their eyes when they met, challenging each other silently.

Faith sped up the movement of her fingers and Buffy felt the relieving warmness of her climax rise. As if she wanted to revenge, Buffy grabbed Faith by her neck and held her tightly against her preventing her from feeding on the sight of her surrender. Sinking her teeth in the dark Slayer's shoulder to muffle her ultimate groan, she let the pleasure invade her, her sweaty body shaking with uncontrollable spasms.

Faith pulled out her fingers nearly numbed by effort and got free from Buffy's hug, anger still shining in her eyes. Buffy gave her a vengeful smile. Faith smiled back accepting the game.

"Well..."

Still sitting on Buffy, Faith straightened up and took her black tank top off. Buffy, with her eyes fixed on Faith's tanned and pierced tits, said to herself that Faith had just confirmed some rumors: rumors about Faith not bothering with any clothes while sunbathing or about the dark woman liking, say, alternative sexualities. Faith's sexual behavior with her was sufficiently explicit, Buffy added to herself, a little worried.

Buffy stood up and looked for encouragement in Faith's dark eyes. Finding only a challenging look, she took one nipple in her mouth, gently grinding the steel ring with her teeth while her hands unbuttoned Faith's pants.

Her tongue was going from one ring to the other, her teeth sometimes nibbling the brown nipples, while her hand slided inside the pants and caused a first contented moan.

But Buffy was becoming too autonomous for Faith's taste, who, grabbing the older Slayer by her hair, violently pushed her back from her chest, almost tearing a ring in the movement. Faith cried out with pain and to punish Buffy she bit her lips while kissing. She pinned her to the ground again and, catching Buffy's hand, she shoved Buffy's shaking fingers inside her. Buffy could feel for the first time the wetness and the warmness of another woman, a woman who, at this very moment, was riding her with her eyes closed and a wince on her lips.

Buffy, fascinated, was following the sweat drops which were dripping down Faith's forehead, running along her neck, insinuating in her cleavage and getting lost in her innermost parts. Faith was still firmly holding Buffy's hand to give the rhythm she wanted to the fingers inside her. Never lose control, Buffy said to herself, never lose control, never give up, never trust. Such was Faith's credo, Buffy realized, and she had the impression, at once arousing and unpleasant, that she was being used as a sexual object for the other Slayer.

Buffy felt a wave of intense desire go through her as she silently observed the steady movement of Faith's hips, which were going up and down on her hand, almost crushing her; her arched back, one hand on the ground behind her to keep her balance and the other clutched at hers; her face half hidden behind her thick hair, her eyes desperately closed and focusing on her pleasure. Buffy wanted the other Slayer to look at her, to include her in her tortured world. Buffy moistened her lips with her tongue, hesitated an instant, then asked, like a prayer, "Faith, look at me, please..."

That voice felt like a knife in Faith's heart. She did know she isolated Buffy by ignoring her but she did not dare to watch her, it would be too... intimate, she concluded reluctantly. As she felt she was going to come soon, Faith tried to convince herself that she must not, she could not, let herself go.

Buffy pulled Faith's hand away, and Faith did not understand why or how she could let Buffy do that, but Buffy continued the movement herself, thrusting her fingers stronger and stronger and faster and faster, following the ecstatic rhythm of Faith's deep voice.

And when the pleasure overwhelmed her and Faith opened her eyes and let herself go finally in the other Slayer's gaze, Buffy discovered something unexpected in Faith's stare.

Love.

 


 

When Buffy arrived at the sordid motel Faith had been staying in, she knew the other girl had left.

In the cemetery, after freeing herself from Buffy's hug, Faith had quickly put her clothes on and, without a word, had run away. Nevertheless Buffy had perceived tears in her eyes. As usual, Buffy thought, Faith had fled.

She verified Faith's departure and went back home.

In her bedroom, after quickly ramming some clothes in a bag, she added a few stakes and left a note for her mother. Buffy was on her way to Los Angeles.

"You were right, Faith. We're alike." Buffy said without realizing she was speaking aloud.

"And that's why I know you love me.

 


 

 

To be followed in "The Choice"