Buffy Visits Faith in Prison
The prison was one giant magnet and Buffy was metal.
You're all about control, you have no idea what it's like on the other side where nothing's in control, nothing makes sense. There's just pain and hate and nothing you do means anything.
She knew now. Those words - the last Faith had said to her were now the nightly voiceover to the dream. In the darkness they were swimming - always, but the wave was always moving, its rip tide luring them into murky depths, threatening to overtake them. The only escape was clinging to one another; using their combined strength. Yet every time one of them reached out, they missed the other.
Uninhabited; the road stretched before her oozing the scent of California sun beating onto asphalt. As she walked, both the brightness and odour were jarring to Buffy, who felt she no longer belonged in this world. But still couldn't believe she'd actually said it. Well, sung it to be more precise. After her friends brought her back they'd been oblivious, Willow especially - revelling in realised power and status.
Buffy had become accustomed to the sensation of not belonging here. She'd seen that her best friend had something like a goddess-complex derived from the ability to resurrect. This was the phrase Giles had used, as he chowed down on a Snickers bar during training - when had Giles started eating Snickers? But the look on Will's face, when Spike had stopped her spinning! Buffy knew she'd ruined the illusion for all of them. The singing fiasco had happened last week and Buffy had been feeling guilty ever since. She knew logically it was ridiculous, that all she'd done was tell the truth. Yet still she felt she'd denied her friends their sense of accomplishment in thinking they'd done something good; that for once it had been them doing the rescuing.
Her belly fluttered with the usual anticipation of seeing Faith. The butterflies had continued even when Faith had been evil. Or was that “evil”? When Buffy had received the news that the other Slayer had woken from her coma, Buffy's stomach had flipped over. And this was the weird thing; during the body swap as she'd entered the church she'd felt the same fluttering from inside Faith's body - how freaky was that?
Nothing had been reaching her. Not the usual banter with her friends or her sister's overly eager concern; delighted to have Buffy alive and home. Not even seeing Angel had made a difference. The comfort and safety, she used to feel in his arms, wasn't enough, after the true ensconce of Heaven. She'd hoped kissing Spike during the finale song would make her feel something, even disgust or lust. Why had she done that? When she got back to Sunnydale she'd have to clarify so as not to fuel his little crush. But Faith - what was she doing here again?
Of anyone who'd been in her life, Faith had stirred the strongest and widest range of feelings. There had always been fire in the other Slayer (the non-freezing kind she hoped).When she slayed she was all shoulders and elbows, rapid and enraged. Dancing with more abandon and energy than Buffy had ever seen. Seducing her conquests with aggression and zeal. And kidnapping her friends with a fervent almost joyous malice.
Faith felt relieved that at least tonight was the distraction of movie night. Not much to do or look forward to. She lay on her cot flipping through the same comic book for the third time. She kept expecting the ending to change but somehow it never did. When they got some yard time it was a little easier, at least she was outside and there was some space for her to move. Her restless body never wanted to stay still and there were only so many push ups, sit ups and butterin' of the muffin one could do in the confines of her cell.
Faith sighed and looked around. Usually four women would have shared this space but she'd fixed it. It hadn't been difficult frightening the other cons enough that none of them wanted to share with her. Along with a few sexual favours to a couple of the guards. Presto! As fast as you could say hand-job, Faith had her own room. It sucked though that the wall facing the corridor was no wall at all. Only rows of bars, meaning no privacy whatsoever. The room was kinda Spartan, not that it did her any good as she wasn't exactly going to be some great warrior now she was stuck in here for the remaining hot years of her life. She wondered momentarily whether she'd end up the oldest Slayer in history? Not many chances of losing that final battle, behind concrete walls, that's for sure. It would be kinda ironic if she who had cared so little whether she lived or died. Having led the most reckless life were to become the oldest Slayer to have lived. Huh.
Thinking of Slayers her mind turned to Buffy as it had a habit of doing. Previously she'd spent vast amounts of time wishing Buffy dead, relishing the thought of being the Chosen One, as it was meant to be. Now she hoped Buffy waited a while before kicking it. Faith was not ready to be out in the world, with all that responsibility on her. She had enough trouble keeping up her own will to live let alone having the citizens of Sunnydale's lives in her hands. Buffy could keep that job!
Buffy hadn't made this journey solely in the hopes of the other Slayer rousing some emotion in her. She'd had a whisper of curiosity for a long time. Since coming back from the grave and all, the whisper had become a scream inside she couldn't ignore. She had questions. Many many questions. Buffy wanted to understand. What had gone wrong? How could Faith have turned out this way? For so long Buffy had fought with Angel. She had insisted that Faith was simply evil. But she'd never truly believed that. But if she wasn't evil, then why? How?
In the past couple of weeks her mind had been turning to the bad Slayer with increasing frequency. She'd felt a kind of sympathy or empathy even, which hadn't been there before. Curiously, leaving Heaven had connected her more strongly with her own internal darkness, as well as that of the world. The clawing her way out of her own grave thing hadn't helped. These past few weeks she'd stood amongst her friends - integral to the group, yet had felt more on the outskirts than ever before. She didn't belong. This wasn't her world. She wasn't meant to be. It wasn't her time. She felt in touch with something harsher, scarier and more ominous than she could ever admit. Her friends giggled at one another's quips and researched how to destroy the latest Sunnydale nasty. Buffy sighed. The longer she'd spent feeling apart from those around her the more her mind had turned to Faith. What must it have felt like to never quite fit in, feel like she didn't have a place, know a world of pain and shadow and hurt that none of them had been able to relate to in their halter tops and California kissed skin and to be called. Chosen, when it wasn't your time.
She kept kinda wondering if Faith was ok in prison, what it was like for her, if anyone besides Angel ever visited…Buffy knew the answer to that. Of course she could have just gone on visitors day, made up some lame ruse but it would never have worked. On seeing Buffy, Faith could easily have refused to speak with her, or worse. The things she needed to say to Faith were difficult enough without an audience, and she needed to not be behind a screen when she saw her. If anything could make her feel joined to another human being it was, however fraught, their Slayer connection. She needed to be near her, close to her, and even if it was only in combat she needed to touch her skin and feel that tingling sensation again. It was this realisation that her led her to visit Rack yesterday.
She'd stumbled upon his dubious magical racketeering entirely by accident. She'd been chasing a rather elusive vamp through the back streets and thought she'd cornered him in an alley. But as she moved towards him with her stake she found herself in some kind of mystical building in a haze of vampire dust.
It was weird, Faith thought about Buffy more than she'd care to admit. But since being in prison had never actually felt the Slayer tingle - except a few months ago when they'd woken her up as she tumbled out of her cot. But it hadn't been the tingles which had woken her, it was something way more frightening Faith didn't care to think about now. Again, last month she'd felt these really intense Slayer feelings, without even thinking about Buffy. Maybe she'd been in here too long and was making up shit? But now she was getting an old but very familiar feeling, anxious horny and revved up anticipation - the proximity of her fellow Slayer. Faith assumed it was her imagination, especially when an icy cold clung to her despite the Stockton heat. Her skin had turned to goose flesh and she noticed that suddenly there was no sound apart from her own breath. Since she'd been in the prison there had not been a moment of silence, and she partly welcomed it and was also kinda freaked out. Not that she'd ever admit it to anyone. Something was going down and she'd make sure to be ready for whatever it was. Maybe there was an escape happening or an evacuation?
Swiftly she decided to change into her regular clothes. She never wore them here, it wasn't allowed and all but after a hand job Eddie had retrieved her stuff. It wasn't like he didn't get anything out of it. Faith pulled on her leathers, their feel almost unfamiliar as they clung to her skin. She slithered into a black and red top, with a denim jacket to fend off that eerie chill. Bending over to pull on her boots, a voice she heard only in her nightmares and dreams said; "Nice View."
Faith looked up astounded.
Whoa! The spell actually worked. I'm in Faith's cell.
Buffy loved having caught Faith so off guard, her jaw and that cleavage gaping. Because she wished she had breasts like that. Her ogling was envy, right? Perhaps she shouldn't have made that comment about the other girl's butt. Seriously though, she couldn't resist and it wasn't like Faith hadn't said a million more explicit things to her. Only that was before. She watched as Faith tried to look all cool and complacent when clearly Buffy had flummoxed her. Hah!
Buffy's inner gloating dissipated the moment she noticed the starkness. She'd conjured her way in - great! Now, except for one wall, comprised entirely of metal bars; exposing them to the corridor of adjacent cells, she was enclosed by concrete and bare brick. Trapped. With Faith. The only hope; a glimmer of sunlight falling from a tiny window, along the length of the bed. It was more of a cot really, which, along with the sink and single chest of drawers, compromised the furniture of the cell. That was it. Buffy couldn't imagine what it was like living here so she didn't comment.
She watched Faith's throat become exposed as she flicked back her brunette curls and swallowed, attempting to regain her composure without looking as though she were trying. Surprisingly she was wearing regular Faith-clothes, exactly as remembered, and Buffy tried to blot out the flashes she'd seen of the line of skin between her top and her leathers that just begged to be licked, not by her of course, but some guy. The leather and fuck you stomp on you boots, usually gave Faith the sexy edge they were designed to, but here they looked out of place, dwarfed by the barrenness of the concrete. It reminded her of the last time she'd seen Faith; holding her wrists up to be cuffed, voluntarily holding back her Slayer strength. Buffy had felt triumphant, right. She'd been vindicated as Faith confessed to be being the bad slayer Buffy had always known her to be. And Buffy's desire for revenge, to hurt the other slayer as much as she herself had been hurt, was satisfied as she was led away. But Buffy had gone home that night and here Faith was, trapped in a grave of her own digging.
Faith asked; “How the hell are you inside my cell? And where the fuck is everyone else, B?”
Faith wondered if Buffy was checking her out. Why was that her first thought anyways? There wasn't much to look at let alone do in here, and Buffy always was fine. Tight assed and stuck up but fine. She looked prissy as usual - the girl could slay in heels and a prom dress for Chrissakes! “Uh, B? What the fuck?”
Buffy brandished her hand, as if holding a wand. “Magic.”
“The little witch been mixing potions again?” Buffy gave her this strange look and Faith wondered if she was still angry about the whole kidnapping her best friend thing. Of course she was still angry.
“No, I fixed it myself - with a teeny bit of assistance from dubious warlock guy. It's this cloaking spell. The other inmates or whoever are still here but they're in like this parallel dimension or something. We're here and they're here but we aren't here together. I don't fully understand this stuff but it'll wear off by tomorrow.”
“You're shitting me B!” Buffy shook her head. “But why?” Faith really did want to know this. “You didn't come here to finish off the whole killing me thing did you?” The look on Buffy's face told her immediately that this was not the reason - why hadn't she thought before speaking?
“The world about to end? Need another Slayer even if it's a wicked one?” Her tone was light-hearted but she needed to know if Buffy still felt the rottenness inside of her.
“Faith.” Buffy said gently, looking her right in the eye. Faith found her arms wrapped protectively round her own waist. She remembered green eyes wide with surprise and fear, more vivid than the knife in her gut had been.
“You're not evil Faith.” Buffy seemed to actually mean it, which was weird. What was she doing here?
“You seemed to think so way back when. Having a guilt attack, B? That why you've turned up now after all this time? Weren't so into the best-friend-slumber-party-tell-all-your-secrets thing when things went down in Sunnydale.”
“Faith, that's hardly fair.” Buffy's tone had shifted and she was starting to give off that defensive vibe.
Faith's felt a glimmer of hurt before her fists started to bunch. She was struggling to resist the magnetic draw of Buffy's face. Saint Buffy who'd let her down - had left her torn up worse than anyone. And yet she was still queen of the world while Faith, the lesser Slayer was in the doghouse or Big House in this case.
“I was never one of the gang; they were your real friends. You had your secret meetings without me - already had a Slayer, why include the wrong one? Was never meant to get chosen, just some fuck up by the Powers. But when we were alone, it wasn't like that, was it B? Nights in the cemetery, on the dance floor or whatever, you were all into being caring sharing gal pals. Until the shit hit the fan. Then where were you?” Faith was shouting now, she felt a little wild, out of control. The other Slayer always did this, unnerved her or whatever. “Where the fuck were you B?”
“Faith, you came into town looking for my help with that uh, kissing toast vamp.”
“Kakistos?” Faith flinched at the sound of the word on her own lips, “Look B, I didn't need anyone's help. I was five by five.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow at her and then said more quietly, “Faith…” as she placed a hand on her arm. Faith flinched. Buffy looked at her, “Angel said you were working on that defensiveness thing.”
“Yeah, working on B, Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.” God, Buffy could be patronising. What the hell did she know about anything anyway? It wasn't like she'd had such a hard life with the nice house, hot undead boyfriend and band of school pals.
“Rome? You know, I've always wanted to go to Rome.” Buffy seemed distant for a moment.
Faith looked at her, surprised; “Yeah? Me too.”
“Now there's a shocker, you and I wanting the same thing…well at least it's not a guy this time.”
Was Buffy here just to rag on her? Great. That was all Faith needed. It wasn't like she didn't hate herself enough already. Why did Buffy have to come here? Mystically force her way into Faith's space in fact, just to tell her what a screw up she'd been. Well, hold the front fucking page; she already knew she was worthless. She didn't need Buffy-I-have-a-perfect-life-Summers reminding her of the stuff she'd done. She was already thinking about it the whole time, or trying to avoid thinking about it. Faith wasn't going to get angry. She was not going to get angry. For real she'd hurt Buffy enough. The least Faith could do, was have this conversation. “I don't give a flying fuck about any of those guys B. You know me, have some fun, get some, get gone, all cool.”
“All cool with my boyfriends Faith! I'm sure it was all cool for you, what with the kissing and the doing and the Rileying and the flirting with Scott, and as for Xander…”
“Scott? Who the hell is Scott?”
“That's the problem Faith, you don't even remember. You know, you hurt me Faith and you don't even remember!” Buffy, sounded angry but then a smirk emerged on her face. “And what on earth did you say to Spike when he thought it was me? The vamp's been hanging around me like a little lost puppy ever since the whole body switch thing.”
Buffy was joking about this now? Faith felt relieved, sensing the mood shift. She grinned and let herself laugh a little, “I think something about riding him at a gallop `til his knees buckled and then making him beg.”
Buffy looked as though she was trying to suppress a giggle “Oh! No wonder then. Hmm, words like that might even be enough to get me going.”
Faith wondered if Buffy had really just said that. It had been so long since she'd really enjoyed teasing a cute girl. Faith looked Buffy up and down, then met her eyes; challenging and flirtatious. “Oh yeah?”
“Faith, I was kidding!”
“And that night burning up the dance floor? Were you kidding then? What about when I sprung you from chem class B? You figured the heart on the window was a joke?”
Buffy suddenly got real interested in the chipped concrete floor. “No, not a joke, just…oh God Faith, I don't know!” She sighed, plopping down heavily on Faith's cot. “Faith, you and us, and the us and the you, it's…confusing.”
Rewind. Had Buffy just acknowledged that there was something? Even owning up to a connection between them hadn't happened since that night. Faith had actually begun to wonder if she was `delusional,' or whatever the word the prison shrinks had used. But here, the other Slayer was behaving differently than she had before. “Well yeah B, `course it's confusing. We're hot slayer chicks existing at the same time, when there's only meant to be one Chosen One. It was never gonna be easy. Plus I've got that whole wrong side of the tracks chip on my shoulder what with you and your perfect mom and cute kid sister and…ya know?”
“You heard about my mom and Dawn though, right?”
“Yeah…uh, Angel kind of told me.” She watched Buffy squirm uncomfortably and wondered if she should have avoided any mention of Soul Boy. “Look B, I'm sorry about your mom and all. She was always good to me, even when I fucked up. Even when I threatened her, she was a damn fine lady, right?” Buffy nodded. Faith wasn't sure if she should but wanted to show Buffy that she actually was sorry. She just wasn't good at this whole crying sharing thing, but continued; “Yeah my mom died when I was like fourteen, `bout the same age as the kidlet I guess. I mean, my mom was more about the drinkin' and passin' out and taking the frustration of her shitty life out on me, but she was still my mom, ya know? What can I say B? It sucks.”
Buffy looked up at her. She seemed to know that for Faith this attempt at sensitivity was a stretch. “Thanks Faith.”
She realised she had tonnes of questions. So much had happened and suddenly she wanted to know. “So B what's the what with the Key and shit?”
“Angel didn't tell you that?”
“Yeah but I thought maybe someone had given him `funny' blood.”
“No, it's all true; Mom's gone, I've gained a sister…”
“But you always had a sister.”
“No Faith, I didn't. That's the point.”
“But when we saw that gross Jabba demon in the paddlin' pool, we spooked Dawnie out about it afterwards - - I still remember her screaming.” Faith laughed. “She was there!”
Buffy looked at her, for once the one raising her eyebrows suggestively. Faith's stomach turned over and she felt a super Slayer shiver running along her arms. Despite her unease in not knowing precisely why Buffy was here, these were in the good family of tremors. “Don't tempt me with that look now B, I've been in prison for fuckin' years and I'm horny as hell.”
“Even without vampires to slay in here?”
“Uh huh.” There was so much Faith could have added but resisted.
“Are you telling me you haven't had your wicked way with half the women in here?” Buffy was giving her a teasing smile.
Oh my God, were they flirting? “Well, yeah, I mean `course, ya know, all the time.”
Buffy realised how endearing she still found Faith's `pretending not to care' bravado. “Seriously though, you must have some stories about the girls in prison?”
“Yeah, there's some stuff. I'll tell ya about it sometime.”
Buffy was unsure whether she really wanted to know. “Ok, so with all these women in here, you're still `horny as hell'?”
“Guess I can't blame it on prison, or the slaying, but uh huh, yeah. Without killing any vamps or demons…for fucking years B! You know what it'd be like, all that pent up frustration and violence. A girl's gotta get her jollies somehow.”
They dipped and dived beneath the surface of sea foam. Buffy becoming aware of the sheer depth and intensity of the ocean, finding that despite herself she was pulled along in the current which had drawn her here. As the waves began to soar slightly, her body responded in queasiness. She missed the sturdiness of solid ground, her sea legs handing over the side of the cot. She waited; desire, fear and indecision churning inside her stomach. Since returning from the grave she'd felt ungrounded, swept along by life, unable to act. She felt the prickle of anticipation as the other Slayer strode towards her. She came and stood right between Buffy's legs firmly laying a hand on her shoulder, reaching out to her in the midst of the ocean. Almost strong enough to push her back and drown her. In the momentary touch was a glimmer of the feeling Buffy had been yearning for since death. In its power, she shuddered.
Faith sneered and backed into the centre of the room. “Am I really that hideous to you B or is it the girl thing?”
“No!” It was gone. With its loss, Buffy was suddenly aware of what it was she wanted. “Faith,” she stood up. Walking towards her, she let her hand rest on Faith's cheek for a moment. Immediately she pulled it away, embarrassed and awkward. For so long the only connection between them had been fists pummelling already bruised skin. Buffy looked at the floor now; “Faith, you're not hideous.” Then trying to make light of the situation said; “How could you be? We're scorching Slayer babes remember?”
Faith could still feel the echoing sensation of Buffy's hand on her face but her usual defensiveness took the lead, “Ain't that the truth.”
Buffy smiled at her, seeming to relax again; “Anyway, I'm not freaked out by the girl thing. See? Me not freaking out. Anyway, Willow's gay now.”
“Some of my best friends and all that?” Faith grinned at her, mischievous, teasing. And then almost as an afterthought said “I knew Red wasn't driving stick anymore. Go Red!”
Then it was as if Faith left their current conversation and was no longer in the room, but inside herself or somewhere else altogether. With her eyes half closed and forehead furrowed she said, “I remember Dawn always being there. But…Buffy it's weird, I also remember before she was there, except I don't, but it's like I knew she was coming.”
In a whisper Buffy said, “You did. You told me.”
Faith opened her eyes again. “What the what B? Are you makin' up conversations now? We never talked about that. I seem to remember not so much with the talkin' as with the knives and the fighting.” Buffy cringed and seeing this Faith instantly regretted her words.
Buffy pressed ahead; “Um, when you first were in the coma, we had a shared dream. You know, the Slayer kind?”
Buffy ignored Faith's loaded look. “Well you told me stuff, even though we'd been fighting. You told me how to defeat the Mayor and that Dawn was coming.”
“Was that the one when we were making a bed? Until you stabbed me with my own knife…again!”
“There was blood on the bed, coulda been kinda kinky if it weren't for the knife in my gut and all. Wait, are you telling me that I told you how to defeat the Mayor? I couldn't have, I mean, I wouldn't. I mean I know he was evil and all but...”
Buffy interrupted her. “You were kind of big with the evil yourself.” A pained look flashed across Faith's face and for the first time Buffy could see, actually visibly see, how devastated Faith was by her past. She took a step forward and placed a hand on Faith's arm.
There was a loaded pause before Faith started to speak again; “I know he was evil B, but he loved me, ya know? You've got lots of people in your life. Even though she's gone now, your mom really loved you; I mean she was like a mom off of TV or somethin'…”
Buffy's voice was barely audible, “I know.”
“Apart from my first Watcher, no one has ever treated me…uh…and well, ya know?”
Faith couldn't say the words, so Buffy said them for her; “Loved you.”
Faith slumped down onto the floor and leaned against the wall, eyes fixated on the bed opposite; “Yeah. And the Mayor, he like gave a shit, I dunno, he liked me, I don't get it but he did. He treated me like I was his kid, like I was special. Not even my own parents did that.”
They were both quiet for a while; Buffy sat down beside Faith. “Faith, about the knife…and the blood. I'm sorry.”
“Yeah sure, it's no big.”
“I put you in a coma! I think that's about the biggest of the big, in fact it couldn't get any bigger what with the bigness. Sorry.” As they sat side by side, backs against the bare brick, legs pulled up to their chests Buffy laid her hand on Faith's knee. Faith leaned her head back against the wall not looking at what she was doing, probably not wanting to seem like she cared. She began running her fingers lightly down the inside of Buffy's forearm, as it rested on her knee.
A rush of sensation flooded through Buffy, almost as intense as when Faith had touched her shoulder. This time she didn't noticeably respond. God, she'd missed this. She'd tried to forget, but even death couldn't erase the memory of Faith's skin brushing against hers mingling with the thrill of the slay, heightened because they were doing it together.
Even if she was tombstones away, I could always sense her presence. I knew; that she was feeling what I was feeling; the Slayer thing, the vamp dusting thing, all of it. Every damn patrol. I missed her. After having her there for just moments I've spent years feeling her absence in the graveyard. Even when I hated her I missed her. I tried to forget, boy did I try. But really, Riley was no Faith - and he wouldn't have looked nearly as good in leather pants.
She hadn't been able to admit it to herself until now, but the loss of Riley hadn't hurt because it was Riley, it hurt because she had a void in her life again, the void where Faith used to be. After the whole blowing up the high school thing she had focused all of her missing on Angel, gone to LA.
How could I say to Giles, to Willow, to Xander let alone myself that my real loss was an evil girl who'd tried to kill them, a girl I'd put into a coma?
Faith's fingers were tracing swirling patterns ever so gently along her arm making her skin tingle. Buffy was trying to ignore the fact that her skin wasn't the only thing tingling.
Still without looking at Buffy, Faith said; “Do you feel it?”
“Never mind B, never mind.”
“You mean the thing?”
“Uh, yeah the thing.”
Faith feels it too? Oh God! What am I doing?
This was the only thing that had made her feel beyond the numbness she'd been living since clawing her way out of her own grave. Again, Buffy shuddered at the thought.
My fingernails on wood. And earth. And being wrenched.