Passing of Time
Rating: R - Ish
Notes: I really hope this isn't "I hate you" worthy.
To find that she had woken up wasn’t exactly a shock. To find that, after eight months, she was alive and well wasn’t something I wasn’t expecting, you know? Although, I can’t really say whether she was well, because I never saw her again after the night we shared in the hospital—the night that I stabbed her and tried to feed her to Angel.
Even though I was listed as Faith’s next of kin on her medical information chart, thanks to Willow, and was called the night that she came out of her coma and decided she wanted to have another violent outburst, it was as if she had completely vanished by the time that I had gotten to the hospital, which is pretty much what she had done. I checked her old apartment, the cemeteries, and anywhere else I thought she might go, but she wasn’t anywhere; at least not anywhere that I could find. She took off to New York, I found out later, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
As soon as she had awoken, Faith had beat up a girl, taken her clothes, and walked out of Sunnydale General. That’s Faith for you, though, the poster child for aggressive tendencies. I should have figured.
I spoke to a few nurses, and even the police, but the only information I was given, was that the Wilkins heir’s hospital bills had been taken care of, and that the girl, whose clothes Faith had taken, had been compensated. The lawyers hired to clean up Faith’s mess, Wolfram and Hart, had been the Mayor’s legal representation. They had been assigned to Faith when he had died. So she was gone, clean slate, she had an obscene amount of money and the freedom to do as she pleased, but she was out of my town. That should have been the end of it. It wasn’t.
Was I angry? Of course. Jealous? A little. How could I not have been? She had joined the side of evil and was handed a ticket out of this life, her destiny, and what did I get? I got spat on by the Powers that Be. I had risked my life time after time for the sake of the world and I got nothing in return.
I let it go though, and went on with my life only to have my boyfriend leave me, my mother die on me, and my little sister taken and nearly sacrificed. Not to mention, I had died again and was torn out of heaven by my friends.
So, I was good enough to get into heaven, but not good enough to stay there. Oh, but if that wasn’t bad enough, I also had an affair with a soulless demon if only to try and find some solace, some way to cope with the mess that was in my head. Then, my friend was killed by a bullet that had been intended for me, and after that, my best friend tried to end the world. And finally, I had the honor of being hunted by the First Evil.
Faith hadn’t bothered to come for that one either. She mustn’t have thought that cause worthy enough of her presence.
None of us could have trusted her though even if she would have come. How could we have? She had lived a lush life courtesy of evil, while I was flipping burgers. But that wasn’t the point… Christ, why hadn’t she bothered to join the fight when her own life was on the line? She was a slayer, too!
We knew she was out there. We knew she wasn’t dead; there was no new slayer, but I guess she just didn’t need or want anything to do with us. We sent her a letter, I sent her a letter. She didn’t respond. Willow had tracked her down, kind of, first with a spell that couldn’t tell us where she was, then with her hacking skills that gave us a New York address. It seemed Faith had all but forgotten about us. What could we do, really, other than make do without her against the First?
When the fight was over, and the dust had settled, I was finally free. We took the wounded to LA to have them treated. Shortly after that, I packed up Dawn and myself and moved to Rome. That was certainly the last place on earth I had ever expected to see Faith again, but there she was, glass of wine in hand, and seated next to my Immortal.
“Faith,” I said unevenly. “Going for the boyfriend, again? Getting a little old, isn’t it?” I was livid.
“Buffy,” she said. Her eyes looked so old, and sad, as though she had seen a few life times in the few years we had been apart. “I haven’t seen you in over four years. Don’t you think your little outburst is slightly uncalled for?”
“Uncalled for?” My voice sounded shrill, even to my own ears. She just looked up at me as she put her wine glass down, though.
“Yes,” she said. “And, just so we’re clear on this, he’s not your boyfriend. He’s been my companion for the past three years,” she squinted a little. “When I found out you were in Rome, I asked him to introduce himself to you and get you here.”
She looked at the Immortal and nodded at him. He stood and left without a word, or backward glance. I stood up to leave, but she placed her hand on my forearm, stopping me. She was playing with me again and I hated it; I hated her.
“This is just your style, isn’t it? Playing with my life…”
“No,” she said. “Not anymore.”
“Right,” I scoffed. I could never stand when she wasn’t honest with me.
“It’s the truth. I’ve changed Buffy.” She looked up at me, but I didn’t speak. “When I woke up,” she said, “I was so angry. I left for New York that night, but left six months after getting there. I hated that city, so I went to Paris. The suits talked me into that one. Said they could get a house there for me. That was where I met him.” She smiles a bit at that.
“I hated him at first,” she said. “He was constantly following me around with that stupid face. I wanted to pound that look out of him, but he just laughed it off and blocked nearly every swing. After I had tired myself out, I thought he was going to kill me. I almost wanted him to. He didn’t. He showed me around the city, and after a few months he took me to Nepal. We toured most of Asia before he left me at a monastery for a year and a half. When I left there, he was standing outside of the gates, waiting for me.” She cleared her throat. “I’m a different person now. I’ve learned how to deal with what I’ve done, with what I am now…”
“Then why didn’t you come?” God, I was seething. “Why didn’t you help me?” I didn’t want to listen to her or her excuses. “Why didn’t you help me when I needed you?” She was living it up “finding herself” while I was dying? How could she possibly think that telling me that would make it better?
“I couldn’t,” she said. “By the time your letter had been forwarded, I knew what was happening. I knew about the watchers, but…”
“Then why?” She knew. She knew and she didn’t care? Why was I surprised? I knew she hated me, even then.
“If the First knew what I had become…” she said. I looked up at her sharply.
“What are you talking about?”
“Buffy, if I had gone to Sunnydale, the First would have known that the Slayer line had already ended. The Mayor took care of that a long time ago.” What?
“I’m immortal, Buffy.”
I yanked my hand that she was still holding away from her. But, her hands were so warm.
“You’re not a vampire,” I said. It wasn’t a question.
“No,” she said, “not a vampire. I don’t know what he did to me.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you…”
“The monks at the monastery that Aslan had taken me to knew what could happen; they had a very old mystic, he’s dead now. But, when I first met him, he knew about me even when I didn’t. He knew what would happen to you, but he never told me, not all of it. He did say that he would help me though, and he did, as much as he could. I didn’t want to live forever, I still don’t. He couldn’t reverse it, but he did use very powerful and extremely painful magick to keep anyone from finding out; to keep the First from knowing. I had to go back there when I got your letter. It was the only way. Your spell, the scythe—there were two prophecies, one with me, one without. The scythe would have released me from my immortality. It would have released The Slayer, not the power of the slayer within the potentials. It would have freed me from this curse; I wouldn’t have been able to help you.”
She looked so sad. I wanted to believe her, but this was too confusing and I was too angry. Finally, I looked at her. “Aslan?” I asked. She smiled at me.
“The Immortal,” she said.
Right. Of course she knew his name, he was her “companion,” right? I stood up and walked away from her table and toward the door.
“Buffy,” she called from behind me. I turned. “Can I see you again?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
She nodded and went back to her drink. She looked miserable, and I didn’t care. I walked out and didn’t look back, but I could still feel her watching me with every step that I took.
Although I knew that I should have stayed away from her, I couldn’t. I was drawn to her, same as I always had been. Two weeks to the day that I had first seen her again, I found a bouquet of unnaturally beautiful orange orchids on my doorstep. The note attached was signed simply The Immortal with a monogrammed F on the leaflet.
Now don’t get me wrong, I knew they couldn’t have been from Aslan, but I still wanted them to be. Anyone would have been better than her. Unfortunately, he had sent a bouquet of roses two weeks prior with a letter of apology. Sorry for the deceit, yadda, yadda, hope we can still be friends. Way to rub it in my face, right? It was signed, The Immortal complete with a monogrammed A on the stationary.
I hated them both.
A few days after her bouquet had arrived, I found Faith waiting on my doorstep, arms crossed over her chest. Once again she stood with that pathetic puppy dog look. I despised it. It always got to me, even before. Still, it wasn’t as bad as the wounded look she wore when I stabbed her. I don’t think I could ever stand seeing that on her face ever again.
As I walked closer to her she stepped away from the door, but didn’t drop her arms. “I wanted to see you,” she said simply.
“Well, here I am.” I stepped in front of her. The animosity was palpable between us. She lowered her gaze.
“Maybe I should go,” she said, “this was a bad idea.” She dropped her arms and rubbed her palms on her pants. I rolled my eyes at her and unlocked the door.
I stepped inside and left it open in case she wanted to follow me in. After a few minutes, I heard the door close followed by footsteps. I turned and leaned against the kitchen counter. She was standing in the half-light under the archway that connected the kitchen to the living room.
“Do you want something to drink?” I asked.
“No thanks,” she said.
She looked nervous even with the blank look on her face. It was her hands. She kept putting them in her pockets then pulling them back out until she finally put them behind her back and didn’t move a muscle. It was disconcerting to say the least. She had never been able to reign in her jitters that quickly.
“What do you want, Faith?”
“I just wanted to talk.”
“About what? About how funny it was to have your little boyfriend seduce poor little, Buffy? Did he give you all the sordid details? Did you two have a good laugh?” And can you believe that she had the nerve to laugh? She actually laughed at me.
“No, there were no details. I didn’t put him up to that. But he’s never gotten any complaints, so…” God, I couldn’t stand her sometimes. “Sides,” she said, but stopped herself and sighed instead. “That’s not why I’m here…”
“Then please, enlighten me?” I said. She nodded.
“I want to show you the city,” she said. I snorted in disbelief.
“No thanks,” I said. She pinched the bridge of her nose and frowned.
“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?” she asked.
“Is there any reason I should?”
“No,” she sighed. “Buffy, I… I’ve been led into a world older and more beautiful than you could ever dream of…” She sounded like a representative for some kind of cult.
“Right, and that’s your reason for me to trust you?” I asked. “Because if it is, think again. You’re probably trying to lure me into some order of demons older than time, right? Get out.”
“God, B! What the fuck is your problem? Is it because you fucked another immortal? Because I thought that was your thing, and from the way Aslan tells it, it ain’t exactly like you didn’t want it, right? Or is it because I don’t care? I’m not you, B. I don’t get jealous.”
Her eyes dropped and her shoulders tensed on the word jealous. I hoped she was lying.
“He and I, B, we don’t fuck each other anymore, so just… Look, I just wanted to share this with you, but whatever…”
“God, I hate you.” And I did sometimes. She turned and looked at me.
“I know,” she said. “But, you should really get over that.”
And she walked to the door. Before she stepped out though, she turned and said, “I’m taking you and Dawn out on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be here at one. Be ready.”
The look on her face was so intense.
I wanted to tell her to fuck off, but just set my jaw and looked away instead.
“You, Faith, are an idiot,” he said to me. I really can’t stand him sometimes, but this wasn’t one of those times.
“I know,” I said.
“She’s going to use you,” he said. My eyes felt hot. I blinked and they felt better.
“I know…” I said again.
“No, you don’t know! You think she’s some innocent? She’s not.”
“I know, Aslan. It doesn’t matter.”
“You’re immortal, Faith. It always matters. If you let her do this to you now… She’s not worth it.”
I turned and looked at him.
“Tell me, Aslan. How many people have you loved?”
“Four,” he said with a blank look. “That includes you,” but I already knew that. We had discussed it before. I knew them all by name, by their story; his first love, they Egyptian girl, the second, the gypsy, then the slave girl in Virginia, and now, me. He warned me about the damage humans could inflict on us. Sort of.
We’re different creatures. We feel too much all at once as it is. He once wiped out an entire city in a fit of rage. He wore their blood for days. That’s partially why he sent me back to that monastery… I know that there’s more that he won’t tell me…
Even the intensity of color is different for us. The monks helped. Aslan’s helped me dull it down some, too, but it’s still very painful. Everything is painful.
“And of those four, which did you love the most?” I asked. He looked down at his glass and it shattered as his fingers tightened around it. “That Egyptian girl, right? The one that was killed? The first one, from when you were still human.”
“That is exactly why I’m telling you to let this go.” He picked the shards of glass out of his hand and placed them on the table. He wiped his own blood away with a napkin and looked up at me.
“I love her, Aslan,” I said. “I love her and I’ve hated her.”
“You don’t know her, Faith…”
“I know everything about her.” I blushed at my last comment, and wanted to vomit at the same time. I’ve watched her.
My palms were sweating, and instinctively, I wiped them on my black pants. I’ve taken to wearing nothing but black, just like Aslan. I think it’s some type of tortured soul rule. I poked fun at him once, but couldn’t help but imitate. Vaguely, I was reminded of that song, “I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside…” I wanted to punch whoever wrote that song in the face and at the same time I felt so weak as though I couldn’t even bear to stand; as though all I could do was cry. But mostly, I wanted to get home and sleep.
When I got to my bedroom, I realized that what had felt like a lifetime to me had only been four years that had passed me by. I cried then. My body would stop aging soon, and would avoid decay. God, how could nature allow such an atrocity? My body felt so fragile, but it wasn’t. My existence felt so pointless, and it would never end. I needed to see Buffy, but it was only Thursday. I shut my eyes and tried not to think about what it would feel like when she died. My body shook in pain, and I knew why Aslan had torn those cities apart and finally burned them all to the ground. I knew that his pain walked right along side him. I knew it followed him step for step, and somehow it ran deeper than mine. And still, I didn’t care.
Sunday came sooner than expected, and with it came Faith. I found her standing on my doorstep close to noon.
“You said one; you’re early.”
“I know,” she said.
“Dawn isn’t here. She’s at a friend’s house, but she should be home soon. She knows we’re going out. I asked her not to be late.”
Faith looked slightly awkward but nodded anyway.
“I’m going to get changed,” I said, “you can wait inside.” Faith nodded once and crossed her arms as she leaned against the wall.
I opened the door and walked straight to my room. I placed my new sundress on my bed and walked into my bathroom for a shower. It was mean to have left her alone, but it gave me a sense of satisfaction to know that Faith was out there waiting for me.
When I walked out of my bedroom, fully dressed, I found Faith sitting on my sofa across from Dawn. I don’t know how long they had been talking, but Dawn frowned at me.
“So,” Faith said and stood. “You two ready to go?”
“Yeah,” I said, “Let’s get this over with.” Dawn grabbed one of Faith’s arms as we walked out onto the street. They always did seem to get along. Even when Faith went bad and went to the Mayor, Dawn blamed me for it. Guess she still does, even if she does know the whole story now.
Faith took us to a small café and from there we went for a walk through the city. Dawn met up with some friends along the way and asked if she could stay behind. Faith didn’t seem to mind and neither did I.
“Aren’t you hot?” I asked as I looked from my light, cotton sundress to her black ensemble.
“No,” she said and kept walking. It was nearly twilight when we arrived back at my apartment.
“Do you want to come up?” I asked. She shook her head. I nodded and turned to walk into my building, but she grabbed hold of my hand. I turned to face her and she stepped forward. I knew that she wanted to say something even before she had grabbed my hand. It was written all over her face, but the longer I waited, the more I knew the words wouldn’t come. And they didn’t come. Instead, she nodded, said goodnight, turned and walked away.
Two weeks later, I found Faith outside of my building with her hands in her pockets. I hadn’t seen her since the afternoon we had spent together. She looked up at me and smiled a half smile.
“Hi,” I said. “What are you doing here?”
“Just wanted to see you,” she said.
“Do you want to come up?” I asked. She shook her head.
“I should probably get going,” she said. I sighed and nodded. I didn’t know what to do.
I had a fairly good idea of what was going on. I’m not completely stupid. I couldn’t get into something like what she was doing though. Especially not with her… I couldn’t take the sorrowful, longing looks. I couldn’t deal with not being unhappy to see her. This was never supposed to happen.
It was blunt, and mean, I guess, but the only thing I could think to say was “I’m going to die.” She turned back around to face me. “Eventually,” I finished. She looked like I had just run over her puppy and she wanted to throw up. She winced, and her face flushed as she cleared her throat.
“I know,” she said.
“I’m going to get older, and you’re…”
“I don’t care,” she said.
“Not… I do,” I said.
“Then just let me…” Love you? Was that it? I shook my head.
“No,” I said. “You can’t keep doing this; popping up all the time with that wounded look, Faith. I can’t deal with it. You don’t want this.” I don’t want this.
“Yes, I do,” she said.
“We’re not doing this. I’m not going to let you do this to m… to yourself…”
“That’s not your call, B.”
“Faith…” She was shaking. “Faith, I spoke to Aslan, I’m not…”
“Christ! I don’t care, don’t you get that?! I don’t! Aslan is a fucking asshole. He’s had his whole life, Buffy. Why does he have to take mine too? God, he’s had ten lifetimes to learn, to know what this feels like, and I, I haven’t had anything… Fuck… he’s not God.” She took my hand. “I fucking love you, all right?” My eyes went wide. Surely she didn’t. Not really. I swallowed then grimaced. Who was I kidding? I knew. Of course I knew, but I was still stunned that she would actually say it; that she’d admit it. I didn’t even want to admit it, even after she’d spoken the words.
My head was swimming.
She loved me. I didn’t want her to, but she did anyway. And maybe I had feelings for her, too. I did, sort of, when we were younger. It seemed like she was the only person who could ever feel what it was like to be me then, to know me, to keep me safe when I couldn’t do it alone. I still couldn’t love her the way she needed though. I couldn’t feel much of anything right then; I hadn’t been able to for a long time. I didn’t want to love her.
“Faith, maybe… Maybe if things had been different…” Maybe if the Powers That Be hadn’t made me fortunes fool… Maybe if we had had a normal existence, we could have had what you want. What I wanted, what I was waiting for; maybe late mornings and strolls through the park.
“I’m not The Slayer anymore, Faith. Don’t you get that? I get to have the family now. I get to live a life that won’t end before I see twenty-five. I get to have the home with cookies and kids and grandkids. I’m not going to give that up again…”
I could see her blink a few times, but that was the only movement she made. Her hand was still in mine. She was so warm. She let my hand go. What could I do? This couldn’t end well. It wouldn’t. No matter how much she wanted it. No matter how much I was beginning to wonder. And stupid me, I didn’t want to let her go. I couldn’t. I knew it was wrong, but I retook her hand and led her upstairs anyway. She followed quietly all the way into my bedroom.
I hate everyone. I hate the world.
She’s with her now. Faith, my Faith, is with her… The Slayer. I wasn’t lying when I said that I loved her. Or maybe I was. Maybe I’m too selfish to love her. Would someone who claims to love so completely try to keep said love as their own, against their will, for eternity? And is that really what I’ve done? What I continue to do? This wasn’t my doing, not completely.
I offered my blood. I willingly gave myself for the ritual that would strip her of her death, her mortality, her life really, and replaced it with an eternal span of misery. But, how could I have known that it was to be used on such a beautiful creature? Had I known, had I laid eyes on her properly, I know that I… I would have done it anyway. I would have wanted to have her. I would have convinced myself that she would have me; that she, like all the others, would have followed on my heels… But she hasn’t, she won’t.
Part of me doesn’t want to help her. I almost want to keep lying to her…
Five years ago, Wolfram and Hart came to me with a proposition. I was indebted to them. Not quite so severely that they had any right to request my body, my blood, but that’s exactly what they asked for, for one of their higher end clients. I’m not stupid, I know the ritual. I remember it still. It’s by no means a fool’s task. At first I refused, but after meeting Wilkins, after learning that Wolfram and Hart knew nothing of where I had come from and how I came to be as I am now, after seeing a picture, after being told what she was, after being promised her companionship, after being fooled into believing that this girl knew what she was getting herself into, after being convinced that she wanted my company, after being convinced that Wilkins loved her… I couldn’t say no. I didn’t want to say no.
A year later, Wolfram and Hart contacted me and gave me a Paris address, her address. Wilkins was dead by then, just as he suspected he would be. I stalked her for days without her knowing, or so I thought. But, by the eighth night, she called me out, so I presented myself to her happily. I was surprised by the keenness of her senses, but I shouldn’t have been. She was after all mine, my creation, my soon to be equal, and she was a slayer.
As I stepped in front of her, I was convinced that she knew who I was, knew me by name, but she didn’t. She knew nothing of me, and I could see that she knew nothing of her kind, of herself, of what she had become.
She was in more pain than she could understand, and in that instant, I loved her more than my own soul, as I do still have one. She took a swing, and then another, but she was off balance. She couldn’t rein in her senses, couldn’t focus completely. The pain dies down with the years, or centuries really, but right then it was too much for her.
Even now, it gets to be too much for me to bear at times. I let her hit me until she tired herself out, then I took her in my arms and took her home. I sat with her until she awoke, and told her about myself. I answered whatever questions she had, and from that point on, I stayed by her side, and surprisingly enough, she let me. Maybe it was the overwhelming loneliness, or the feeling that she was a part of me that made her want to trust me, whatever it was I’m grateful for it.
We spent a short time in France with me as her guide before I took her East. I knew what I had to do. I knew that she had to know what she had become, but I refused to let her know how it had happened, and the part I had played in it. She had only just begun to trust me, and I couldn’t, I wouldn’t lose that. So, I took her to the only place that I knew could help her. I took her to the only place that had ever helped me. I took her to the monastery where I had spent several years of my life. It was a place that I had returned to many times; it’s a place that I will return to when my part in this is complete.
The ancestor of the very first mystic that had helped me took to Faith. He cared for her and helped guide her. He told her what he could, and kept to himself what I asked, and what she could not know. When she returned to me a year and a half later, she was more subdued, and in less pain. We traveled, until we gained word of the collapse of the Watcher’s Council of England. Soon after that a letter was forwarded from her, Buffy. That was the beginning of the end for us, I suppose, because soon after that we returned to Nepal and hid Faith from the First. The mystic died in the process, but Faith was safe. She wasn’t the same though. Her only thought, even in sleep, was of Bu- The Slayer.
When the fight was over and we were once again free to leave, we came to Rome and have lived here since. There was a bit of a buzz among the demons when we caught word that the Slayer was in our city. Faith completely distanced herself from me when the rumor was confirmed as she caught sight of Buffy with her own eyes. A week later, she asked me to go to her, to go to Buffy and to somehow arrange a meeting. I could never deny her anything, so I agreed. I went to Buffy and, unsurprisingly, she took to me. I seduced her, if only to show Faith what Buffy Summers could be, but she refused to see it.
So, night after night she watched her until their meeting. And as she looked at me, pleaded with me to leave them alone, I knew that I had lost her. So here I sit, on a bench on the street in front of Buffy Summers’s home. Faith is sleeping now, but is still in pain, is still wishing all thoughts of Buffy’s aging and death to cease. She’s still trying not to think about her twenty fifth birthday, she’s still trying not to think of the day her body will freeze in time and she’ll be trapped with that face forever. On her twenty-fifth birthday, she’ll stop aging.
I don’t know if this will work, it’s the oldest myth that I’ve heard, and I only heard it once, and that was on the lips of my… centuries ago as she lay dying. She tried to save me, but it was too late then.
Before her body stops aging, Faith will have to take my heart and lace it with practically extinct Egyptian flowers and seeds that once grew astride a long since dried up river. She’ll take my life, and who knows if it will be the death of me as well, but when she ingests my… When she ingests the heart of the creature that made her, she should be free. Only one more problem, though, telling Faith that it was me who did this to her, well that and getting a hold of the book which holds the ritual.
I stand and walk across the street to deposit the bouquet of blood orange orchids I’ve been holding all night onto Buffy Summers’ door. They’re for Faith; her favorite. She loves the vibrant color. A farewell before I go.
I have three years.