A/N: Under a month for this one! Hot damn!
It was not a big ship, and not one particularly designed for passenger comfort. Faith found Buffy in a small room in the center, sleeping on a bench in the glow of readouts from a host of electronics she didn’t understand. Buffy’s tunic was wrapped around her once again. She was curled on her side. Her brow had the slightest furrow.
Yoda was there, leaning back against a wall, watching Willow from half-lidded eyes.
Willow sat on the bench next to Buffy, glancing up at Faith when she came in. Between them, several identical, metal spheres hissed around and over Willow and over the sleeping blonde.
Faith’s brow furrowed. “Didn’t know we had more of those.” She’d worked with just the one training remote before. And now Willow was able to manage multiple at once? Without a weapon. “And, what, Yoda’s got you bending back the blasts with your mind?” Yoda may not look like he was teaching anything right now, but that was the thing about teachers, you couldn’t ever tell. Faith found the familiar metal hilt in her hand, willing to pit her old fashioned skills against the redhead’s mental ones.
“Don’t worry,” Willow was whispering, her hand on Faith’s wrist to keep the weapon lowered. “I don’t have it in firing mode now. And only one of them is really here.” She waved a hand at the spheres in the air. “It’s more like we can just see the others, but they’re not really here
Faith wasn’t sure it would’ve made any more sense spoken at regular volume. Actually, she was sure it wouldn’t.
The redhead glanced down as Buffy stirred restlessly in her sleep and then whispered even more softly. “It’s physics.” As if that cleared it up. “And a little bit of the Force, too.” She cut her eyes in Yoda’s direction, clearing her throat. “Anyway, this
one is the one in this world.” She tapped with her finger at the sphere right in front of her. “But a whole bunch of them exist in alternate universes where someone ate bran flakes instead of cornflakes or decided to turn left rather than right or was allowed to shoot Boba Fett instead of letting him….”
“Is there a point to this?” That last had had some sting to it.
The redhead started again, glad to see she’d made her point. She had been right about that, after all. “So, anyway, I’m trying see if I can follow the Force to find them in the alternate universes.” Seeing Faith’s still-raised eyebrow. “You know, like Sunnydale.” She sighed, frowning now at the other floating balls of metal. “But I can’t get the wormholes stable enough to actually bring
them here, just to show where they would be if I could
get them here, to show they do
exist, which I already knew
….” One of the spheres hovered right over Buffy’s head. “Dawn’s blood might make it easier, but I’m trying to see….” She wrinkled her nose. “I’m just not good enough with the Force yet, I guess. It’s like when all you have is a chiclet and you can only make a little bubble that pops against your lips before it can get….”
Willow and Faith both jumped. Even Yoda made a sound. A now-very-awake Buffy was half-sitting up, staring cross-eyed at the metal object right over her. She limbo-ed underneath it and came up standing next to the bench, staring at the sphere and then between Willow and Yoda and Faith. Seeing the lightsaber in the latter’s hand, she pulled out and lit up her own and, in a second, had sliced one remote neatly in half.
Or she would have, had it been the one present in this universe. As it was, it just made a slight hiss and moved several inches to the left, unperturbed.
“Okaaay.” Buffy stared at it. “Someone changed the rules on me.”
“Eh, Red’s just tryin’ to learn to juggle.”
Willow rushed over, and her loss of concentration caused the remotes in other universes to fade from view and the one that was actually here to clang to the ground. Buffy jumped again, suddenly without a target. Willow put a hand on her arm. “Don’t worry, the wormhole wouldn’t have hurt you—“
wouldn’t have hurt—?”
Willow was still trying to explain, prodding the sphere on the ground with one toe. “And I’m working on something that actually, you know, works
as a link to that other universe.“
Buffy looked to Faith for help. Faith just rolled her eyes. “She lost me at worm. You wanna get outta here?”
The blonde nodded, trying to clear the fog of abruptly interrupted sleep from her head. “Yes?”
She had hardly said the word when Faith took her hand. Willow opened her mouth, but Faith was first, staring pointedly at the now-grounded sphere and back at Yoda, who had watched the whole exchange with that same inscrutable gaze. “Don’t you have some Force stuff to get better with?” Before the redhead could think of anything to say to that, the two slayers were gone.
The best they could find was a gunner’s compartment at the top of a narrow ladder.
“Well, this is cozy.” Buffy leaned back on the instrument panel, almost pressed into the glass that, if you were in battle, would let you see out to what you were shooting. She was still shaking the sleep from her brain.
“You’d rather back with floating ball girl?” Faith set herself on the edge of the chair, looking past Buffy at the space rushing past them.
The blonde shook her head and her hair fell down like a curtain around her face. “No…this is fine.” She glanced up at Faith, who was looking a little green. “This is okay, right?”
The younger slayer decided maybe looking out at the disappearing stars was not the best thing for her stomach. She popped up off the end of the chair and found herself only inches from Buffy’s nose. “Um, look, do you mind…?” She indicated the switch with two fingers.
Buffy made herself not smile at the thought of Faith as having a delicate stomach. She squeezed by, ending up for a moment with Faith’s leg in between her own. Okay, now she was lightheaded. She probably should’ve kept going, but she stayed there and picked up Faith’s hand, turning it palm-up. She focused on the twin ropes of tendon there and, right where they disappeared into Faith’s palm, she pressed the ball of her thumb.
“That didn’t hurt, did it?” Buffy looked back down at her thumb, the other fingers curling around to hold Faith’s hand in hers. And while she was doing that, for the moment she wasn’t thinking about Boba Fett, or revenge, or anything but the wrist she was holding, that attached to someone she knew as well as she knew herself—which was to say instinctually, like a reflection in a fogged mirror. Yoda had said that Faith wanted something. Wanted it and was unwilling to give it up.
Buffy realized she was still holding Faith’s hand and ought to be saying something. “Glamour had this article once about sea-sickness and they said it was some ancient Chinese thing to just press right here….”
“Not that I don’t appreciate the small-scale savin’, but your hands are freezing.”
Buffy let go and looked at her hands and realized that if Faith had felt that warm, she was probably cold by comparison. She tucked her hands into the sleeves of her tunic. “Oh, right. Sorry! Bad circulation. I never really thought about it on Tatooine because it was all hot all the time and….” She trailed off, because maybe Faith did want something else and it wasn’t her. Maybe it was being a Jedi, saving the Rebellion. And then what? She watched as Faith hopped up to sit on top of the control panel across from her. “I hope you didn’t just sit on the eject button or anything.”
Faith eyed the buttons around her. No alarms were going off. “If we hadn’t gone flyin’ off yet, we’re probably alright.”
Faith watched Buffy. She looked older than she had in the glow of their forest training. And Faith might have gotten it wrong, but she looked a little unsure of herself.
“So…anyway, I just wanted to say Dawn thinks you and me are something.”
The blonde blinked. “Something? As in…?” She gestured with a finger between the two of them.
“What’s the matter, B? Can’t say bring yourself to say it?”
Buffy’s brow furrowed. “Hey, I’ve said! In fact, I seem to remember that, right before everything happened with faux-Vader and real-Boba Fett in the forest, I was telling you about feeling something for you—“
“Feeling something because I might decide to stay here instead of runnin’ back to Sunnyhell with you.” Faith raised an eyebrow. “Not sure how big that qualifier is.”
“Wait, you think I only want you because I can’t have you?”
“Wouldn’t be the first.”
“Except for the fact that you didn’t tell me you were planning on staying until after
we did the sleeping together thing!”
“You can fuck without feelin’ anything.”
Buffy’s tunic suddenly looked too big for her as she shrank back a little. “Is that…is that what it was with me?” She almost hated herself for even asking this question of Faith, because maybe she was crazy to even think Faith had changed since Sunnydale when they were—
But Faith was simultaneously kicking herself for letting this conversation fall into familiar patterns, when she’d really tried to get Buffy up her to tell her….what? Something that wasn’t about fucking without feeling. “Nah, that was Red.”
Buffy took a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. The stars were going by so fast outside. “So, I’m going to just say this.” Her eyes slid over to meet Faith’s dark ones in this dark little part of the ship away from everyone else for the moment. “And if I’m off-base here, we can just pretend that I didn’t say anything, but…I think I might be falling in love with you, and I think maybe you are, too. I mean, feeling something for me.”
Faith’s eyes widened a fraction, unable to believe she’d actually seen those words coming out of Buffy’s mouth. Love. She reached out a hand to Buffy’s tunic and tugged her closer until she was right in front of her. “You say that here.” She nodded to the cramped area they were in, where the two of them couldn’t have been far apart even if they tried. They weren’t really trying. And Faith hadn’t denied anything. “But what about out there?” There was a ship full of other people who might have different ideas.
Buffy felt her hands cup the undersides of Faith’s thighs, holding on. “Well, apparently Dawn knows. And your head is still attached.” One corner of her mouth tipped up, but then she looked straight into Faith’s eyes. “Although maybe the question is what you’re going to do about the Jedi thing. I know you want that and Yoda says….”
The younger slayer noticed the question was what was Faith
going to do. She filed it away, her brain not ready to puzzle it out when here was Buffy, only inches away. “If Yoda wants a hero, he’ll deal.” She slid her hands up underneath Buffy’s tunic, taking her hips and pulling her closer still. Her voice dropped into a whisper on its own. “Right now, I want you.”
Buffy let herself be pulled in and pulled herself in closer, moving her hands up the backs of Faith’s thighs, smiling at the leather and at this moment, when her fingers hit the control panel Faith was sitting on and did a detour to follow the curve of leather instead up to the tops of the legs that were now curling around her. Where they bumped into something hard in one of Faith’s pockets.
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Happy to see me?” Her fingers felt in the pocket, enjoying the dilation of Faith’s pupils as she did so. Tight leather pulling in sensitive areas. Until those fingers pulled out a half-full vial of eldratz, the same from that rooftop on Tatooine.
Faith froze, her mind doing the cussing quietly inside, blaming itself for leaving that vial there when she could have gotten rid of it somewhere along the way. She watched Buffy—Buffy who had thrown away her own vial in the forests of Dagobah right before she had crawled across that firelit hut to Faith. Buffy who had come face to face with Boba Fett since then. She watched Buffy. Watched as Buffy didn’t say a word and pushed the vial back down in Faith’s pocket as if she’d just found a penny that had been forgotten in there and might as well stay.
Faith’s brow furrowed, one hand reaching up to touch the side of Buffy’s shadowed cheek. “Y’alright?”
The older slayer leaned into the touch and closed her eyes. “Here? Why wouldn’t I be?” She smiled into the hand. “Maybe you should be the one worried. I don’t have a great track record, you know.” Lips parted to kiss the palm of Faith’s hand, first in the center and then down over the inside of that wrist, the sensitive, thin skin there.
“Pretty sure I’m tough enough to handle it.” At least, that’s what Faith meant to say. In actuality, she got out something closer to “Pretty sure…handle…” in between gasps at the sensation of those cool lips on her. Faith’s hand still under the tunic traveled north to the undercurve of Buffy’s breast and then drew a radius to the center’s erect nipple, making circles around it as Buffy leaned further in and hummed in the back of her throat. Faith brought that humming mouth up to hers and took a lower lip gently between her teeth. Buffy’s hand slid back down to the taut muscles of Faith’s thighs, the pockets of her leather pants, sliding up between and then underneath Faith’s top while Faith’s hand was sliding down to the waistband of Buffy’s pants, mouths more insistent as Faith’s fingers rushed ahead with the stars outside, finding warmth.
She dipped inside and felt muscles clenching around her, holding her, and her legs pulled Buffy closer and pushed her fingers deeper as both of their mouths were open now against each other, gasping for each other as Buffy’s hands found Faith’s breasts and held them, thumbs brushing across nipples as the fingers moved inside her and her hips rocked closer and a moan caught in the back of her throat.
The universe saw the gunner’s compartment thrust out from the ship, a ready blaster idle for the moment. The stars slid by the flashes of skin exposed inside that small space that was suspended in the much larger space of the swirling galaxy itself: an upturned face, a bit of flesh stretched over a hip bone revealed by the clothing pushed aside, the swell of a breast, a hot tongue, tentative fingers that disappeared inside, cool at first against the fiery hot so that their progress was exquisitely marked, then drawing back to find the underside of a clit and send a shockwave before thrusting deeper again in time to match the thrust of another to match the universe. Dark and light moving within those cramped quarters. A hand pressed against the fogging glass, fingers curling.
******“…remember hearing his name in Mos Eisley.…with the Black Sun…?”
“…Xizor’s high up…smuggling…got more money than you can dream….“
The fragmented voices pulled Faith out of sleep. She was draped across the chair, Buffy lying across her chest. Blinking lights on the console monitored the radio transmissions coming in. and going out. “…sounds like you two must get along….”
“I don’t trust him….”
The radio crackled. Han and Luke. “….don’t get why Leia would deal with him if he can’t be—”
Buffy’s chest rose and fell. Faith watched her breathe. The stars had resolved themselves back into pinpricks of light. She could still feel the muscles inside of her trembling.“Kid, he’s into everything….name it. Empire wants…transportation company. They have him carrying parts….building….means he’ll have the manifests….Leia says she thinks she about to secure a….“
“But you just said….didn’t trust him!”
“…don’t. Wouldn’t trust me in that….something strange with Leia….”
“Strange how? What’s going…?”
A planet was coming closer. Faith gently shook the sleeping slayer. “…talk later…better to come in quietly, though….”
They sped down to the surface tucked into the traffic of other ships. Faith and Buffy fit into the back of the cockpit, behind the others who were already looking at the hundreds of other ships, moving quickly here and there, in and out on business. Great transport ships, smaller personal ships, some outfitted for fighting or at least projecting the image of being capable of it, if pressed. Willow glanced around as Buffy came up behind her, briefly at Faith, then back to Buffy, who was absently running her fingers through to clear a few tangles as she watched the strange world outside. Faith thought she recognized some Imperial ships in the crowded airspace. Luke was making an effort to fit them in, taking quick turns around the skyscrapers that studded the planet’s surface. Buffy perched on the edge of her sister’s seat in the co-pilot spot. Faith met Dawn’s eyes over her head and gave a little smile and shrug as if to say see, nothing bad happened.
Luke dipped them into the cover of a thunderstorm resting over part of the city and wound down towards the base of the tall buildings. It was a planet-sized city. It glowed from outer space with the lights of its business. There were more people and buildings and ships and lights than most of them could ever remember seeing. Even Luke was just a farmboy from Tatooine who had only heard
Yoda knew it well and said nothing as Luke followed Han’s instructions, making for a quieter, darker landing not too far from the Under City, where they would hopefully slip in unnoticed, as so many other things were there.
The ship set down in the shadow between three taller buildings. Advertisements shifted quickly along dark corridors that ran away from the small landing area. They all moved to the gangplank as it lowered, looking for Leia or Han or Lando.
“I do apologize for the necessity of your ignominious landing.”
At the base of the lowered walkway, a tall, green man with a razor of raised scales down his back spread his hands wide under his cloak in greeting. His black hair swept back from his face into a knot at the back of his head.
Under his breath, Luke muttered “Prince Xizor.” Faith could feel the moist air of the Under City clinging to her clothes and decided that she didn’t like the sound of ignominious, no matter what it meant.
Leia stood beside Xizor, diminutive by comparison, clad more like the bounty hunter she had pretended to be in Jabba’s palace, than the Rebellion dignitary she was. She was smiling. On the other side, Lando smiled, too, watching the slayers and Jedi and Jedi-in-training step off the ship. Han stood a little bit behind with his arms folded across his chest, next to Chewbacca. They were not smiling.
The prince, meanwhile, was still welcoming them to Coruscant. “Such are the times, I’m afraid. One can never be too careful.”