by Liz M
"What's going on?" I asked, looking around, seeing all the confusion.
"It's Jayme, she killed someone."
I looked into the swarm, the madness. I could see the girl, Jayme, in the center, surrounded by everyone, being put on trial already. I pushed my way through the crowd, making a straight path to the girl.
I touched her, getting her attention, stared intently into her indifferent face, then peered deeply into her eyes. I held her gaze, finding what I was looking for. I nodded, grabbed her hand, turned and made my way away from the chaos, pulling her behind me.
"Where are you going Faith?" Willow asks.
"Away from you all." I state, pissed off.
"We're not finished here." Buffy says.
I stopped, glared at all of them, saying, "yeah, you are."
"Faith!" B yells. " You don't get it do you? She killed someone; you can't just pretend that it didn't happen."
I pushed Jayme and myself into a nearby room, shut and bolted the door. I turned, looking at her. "What happened?" I asked, dread building up inside of me.
"I killed him." She said flatly.
"So you meant to kill him?" I asked. "And don't give me none of your bullshit, talk to me, tell me the truth. Now, did you mean to kill him or was it an accident?" I grabbed hold of her, shaking her, pushing my point across.
She buckled under my stare, sobbing. " I didn't mean it.... I didn't know.. I didn't know."
"Shhh." I soothed, pulling her into a tight embrace. She slid downward and I went with her, refusing to let her go. I pulled her tighter to me, adjusting myself to hold her. I sat down on the floor and rocked her back and forth, letting her cry.
As her tears subsided, I asked. "What happened?" I pulled her from me so I could look at her face, into her eyes.
"I don't know. I was walking back form patrol and a couple of vamps started after me. One minute, they'd be behind me, the next they'd be in front of me. Everywhere I turned there was one. I couldn't shake them. I started running. They'd touch me from behind, claw at me. I couldn't get in any hits. I couldn't stake them. I ran down an alley. I felt one grab me, I turned, he wasn't there. I turned to run and ran right into one, head on. He grabbed me. I staked him and he didn't dust....he didn't dust." She started crying again. "I'm a killer, no better than the demons."
"Hey." I forced her to look at me. " You killed someone, yeah, it sucks but you're a slayer. You're fighting a war and sometimes accidents happen. You can't forget. It stays with you and you'll always feel like nothing, like some murderer or something. You know you fucked up. You know people are gonna point fingers at you and lay blame cause nobody wants to be a part of or around something so bad. This is it though, now you got to decide if you're gonna be what everyone says, prove them right or are you gonna learn from it, atone, use your mistake to become a better slayer, so that it doesn't happen again. I'm gonna tell you something. You killed someone but that doesn't make you a killer. What makes you a killer is how you think about it and what you do about it. Ask yourself, do you care? Does it bother you? Did you like it? Are you scared or excited? Would you do it again? Answer them honestly, then you'll know."
"So, are you a killer or what?" I asked.
She looked up at me, big blue eyes brimming with tears, looking all of fifteen. "I killed him but I didn't mean to. I didn't like it, it makes me sick to think of it and I can't stop thinking about it. I'm scared, Faith... so scared."
"Good." I sighed. "It'll make you be more careful and make you think before you act. You stay here. I'm going out to get rid of all these people, okay?"
She nodded. "Promise?" I asked. She nodded again.
I got up from the floor, made my way to the door, unlocked it and stepped out into a crowd of judgment. I walked to the center of the room, turning around to make sure everyone heard what I had to say. I took in a deep breath, preparing myself. I looked into the waiting faces, scared, my mind taking me back in time to my past.
"Somebody died." I squared myself, stepping up, taking a stand. "It's bad. It's the worst thing you can ever imagine happening. It could've happened to any-one-of-you." I said the last part slowly, looking into numerous eyes, making sure they got my point. "It can't be taken back, it won't go away, it won't get any better. It's there forever. If it were you and it could very well have been you, could still be you one day, how would you want others to treat you? Look around, look what you've already done. You've put yourselves into different classes of people. You've judged yourselves and each other by where you come from, whether you're rich or poor, what you look like, hell you've even put some into a group so low, you've basically already thrown them away. You think you're better, just because this time you weren't involved, that somehow shit can't ever touch you. You're wrong! Until the day you die, there will always be something that messes with you, it's who you are, who you were chosen to be. You need to come together, quit segregating yourselves, look after one another, be there for each other regardless of who, where or what you are. You want to judge something, well judge yourself."
"Faith, you can't sweep it under the carpet." B said, moving towards me.
"I'm not trying to, all I'm trying to say is, Jayme's got enough shit to deal with right now. She doesn't need you or anyone repeatedly telling her what she did. Believe me, she knows! She needs support and encouragement; she doesn't need to be pushed into becoming a monster, just because what happened was monstrous."
"A man died, Faith." She said low, remembering.
"Yeah, I know and it sucks. He's gone but she's still here, so are we gonna bury the one or are we gonna bury the both of them?" I asked anxiously.
"We can't act like nothing happened." She reaches out and touches my hand.
"No we can't ." I answer. "But we can support her, love her and let her know that we understand; that we don't judge her or think less of her. It was a mistake and could've happened to any of us, it did happen to me. We don't really need to make her into something she's not ready to handle." My voice started to crack.
I stepped back from her, my eyes welling up with long past tears. I turned, yelling to the others, " you all need to decide. If it were you. Would you want us to support you, be there for you, knowing that we could be in your spot or would you want us to call you names, throw you away and treat you like shit?"
"You'd have to atone, make amends, no question on that but how would you want us to treat you? Think about it, remember that when you look at Jayme. Treat her the way you'd want to be treated." I drew in a shaky breath, sucking in old pain that became new.
I walked back to where I came from, slowly opening the door. I motioned for Jayme to come with me. She took my hand and I led her out into her peers. The others immediately came to her, hugged her, kissed her. They were choosing and they were choosing her. She was gonna be okay. She was gonna make it. I watched her, being held, accepted and I smiled, making my way to the exit.
I opened the door slowly, slipped out into the quiet night air. Tears were slowly streaming down my face. I pulled out a cigarette, lighting it with shaky hands.
Absently, I wiped at the falling tears, remembering the past, my past. I inhaled, choking out sobs that had been lying dormant for too long.
I sat alone and cried.
I'm not sure how long I was sitting there, alone and crying, it felt like days. I was startled by everything that had taken place. It hit me too close to home. I was so caught up in my rampant feelings, lost in the past, I didn't even realize that I wasn't alone anymore.
"Faith." I jumped, turning around, finding myself looking into the eyes of all the originals, staring right through me, knowing more about me than I ever wanted them to.
To my surprise, it was Willow who offered me the first olive branch. She moved slowly over to me, sitting next to me. I kept my head down, can't really say why I couldn't raise my eyes up to meet them, survival instinct I guess, well that and the fact that I was left wide open at the moment.
As she reached over to touch my hand the others drew near, surrounding me. "You felt like that, didn't you?"
I couldn't speak. I just closed my eyes, trying to will myself not to cry.
"I'm sorry, Faith. We're all sorry."
God, I didn't need to hear that, I never really wanted to hear that. "Don't okay, what happened, happened, it's over, I made my own choices. I can't excuse what I did, I did it, everything, I killed once by accident and I killed again with intent, so I deserved what I got. I just want to make sure that history doesn't repeat itself and that's what I'm gonna do."
I sucked in a deep breath, steadying myself. Yeah, I knew what I needed to do. I put on a smile, knowing I was finally going to make a difference.
It was pure and simply really. I walked back to the group of newbies, got their attention, called the names of the lost girls, the ones nobody wanted, gave a damn about, threw away. "Come on, follow me." I smiled and led them to privacy.
Once there, I scanned over my group of misfits, looked them each in the eyes. "Stand up tall, proud, you're representing now. The days of your hiding and feeling like nothing are gone. Look around. We're family now and our family doesn't fall, we endure. You are my team, my back up, each others backup, family. We're gonna train, we're gonna know each other, love each other and be there through good and bad. We're gonna be the things the 'things' fear. We're gonna make Blade look like a bible toter." I smiled, nodding. "Who's with me?"
"You want us?" One of the girls asked. I nodded confirming.
"Why?" Several asked at once.
I steeled my eyes and voice, saying, "because, I'm one of you." I raised my voice and my excitement level, trying to bring the girls attitude into play. "so, are we doing this or what?"
"HELL YEAH!" The girls yelled out, excitement building around them.
"Ok, we start training tomorrow, bright and early." I looked at my girls, smiled. "Go on, get some rest." I watched them as they left, feeling good about themselves. Hell, even I was feeling all about the good.
"You up for this?" She asked. I turned around and found myself face to face with B. She's got a half smirk plastered over her face and a cocky stance.
"I don't know, we'll see." I sighed.
"What exactly are you trying to do?" She asked.
I laughed and gestured to a bench. I walked over and sat down, watching as she followed me. As she sat, I gave her a full on smile, laughing a little. She smiled back.
I repeated her question. "What am I trying to do? Well, let's see.....basically I'm trying to give them a sense of belonging, acceptance, maybe some type of family ties. I don't think any of them have had that. Hell, I've never had that." I looked expectantly at her.
She smiled. "So you think they're ready for, 'this'?"
"Well, truth be told, I saw your team in action, by the time they finished sticking their stakes in that poor bastard he looked more like a horny little devil than he did anything else." I smirked, mischief dancing in my eyes.
She hit my arm as she laughed. "He did have a lot of sticks poking out of him." She admitted.
We looked at each other again and burst out laughing.
When the laughter died, all of those long pent up feelings of mine resurfaced, digging deep into me, begging me to give in, tell all, win or lose.
I sighed out in exasperation. "B...Buffy.. I...I just...I mean... You..."
She interrupted me quickly. "Faith, I'm not ready for that, okay? I know, I've known. I wasn't ready then and I'm not ready now, so don't."
I lowered my head, wanting to at least share something. "You know all those scooby meetings that you all had without me, well I used to sneak in, hide and listen. Mostly it was about some big evil or other but there were a few times, where I felt like I was nothing. I knew I really wasn't welcome or anything but all that was said about me, well it only confirmed everything I'd ever been told. I thought I was over it but hearing those kind of things about how I acted and looked it made me......it made..."
"Don't, Ok.... I get it." She stated lowly.
"What do you get exactly?" I asked becoming annoyed. "Do you get that you're like some kind of magnet to me. To me! The girl that has no ties. It's either we're good or we're bad but magnified times a hundred. I'm either pulled to you so hard that it smothers me, clings to me, almost waiting for any kind of scrap of something to be thrown my way and if you deny me, well then WHAM, it smacks me, repulses me so hard, with such force that I fly backwards getting hateful and crazy, wanting to just do whatever to get some kind of attention from you, doesn't matter if you're trying to kill me or not, just as long as you're there. It's the most terrifying thing I've ever felt and it's only around you. Call me crazy but..."
"Faith." She stopped my ramblings. "It's just you're always giving off so many mixed signals."
I'm shocked, really shocked. Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black or something. "What? Me? I give off mixed signals? Have you looked into the mirror lately, ever, at all, cause you....You're one big ball of mixed signal yourself."
"What?" She asked in mock shock.
I feigned distaste. "Oh come on. I saw the way you used to look at me, the way you still look at me at times." I cross my arms, giving her a challenging look, nodding.
"What? Are you crazy?" She stated a little too loudly.
I smiled a little too big. "You know it." I started to gyrate and jiggle my goodies, watching her turn colors, amusing myself.
"You want to kiss me." I taunted.
"You want to touch me." I shook my ass, smiling, almost laughing.
"Faith, stop!" She tried to whisper but it came out louder than she expected.
I grabbed my breasts, shaking them somewhat, saying, "You want my body."
"Shhh, be quiet." Her face was lobster red.
Oh man, I loved this. "You think I'm sexy." I danced around her, teasing her.
"Faith, I'm warning you." She said lowly.
I looked at her, challenging her. "You..."
"Stop." She said, her eyes getting big.
I smiled. "Want."
"Faith, be quiet." She edged closer.
I laughed. "To..."
"Don't you say it." She was getting ready.
I opened my mouth to speak. "F..."
She jumped on me, taking me and her to the ground, tickling me with one hand, the other clamped over my mouth. I squealed, squirming underneath her, laughter bursting through. I brought my hands to her sides, giving her as good as I got. Laughter echoed through the night.
As the game ended, we found ourselves breathing heavily, staring at each other, her still in a sitting position on top of me. My breaths became shaky, filled with arousal. My lips had started to quiver.
She sat there registering my appearance, my reactions. "Faith... uhm... I guess, I'm gonna call it a night." She removed herself from me, offering me a hand up. All I could do was lie on the ground, lost in a void of desperation and need, I couldn't speak.
She withdrew her hand, seeing as I wasn't responsive.
"Goodnight." She said as she turned and went quickly into the house.
I laid on the ground, panting, need flowing through every pore, blinding me, giving me a kind of tunnel vision. I put my hands over my eyes.
"Damn, she still gets to me."
Days had passed, turning into weeks, growing into a month or more. Time, you know, creeps up on you, anyway, I got my team started.
In the beginning, we started out with strength, stamina, agility, basic blocks, baby steps. Let me just say that these girls, well they're a lot like I was. They pummel the hell out of anything and everything, which from my standing, well I'm lucky I lived at all. We started some focal classes, anger management, trying to get past old pain so we could function as a troop, yeah, me included.
So anyway, the first night I took them out, we came upon a ten foot freak, kinda horny, looking for his lady love, if you know what I mean. Not one of them acted as a group, they all wanted their piece, theirs alone, left a lot of openings for death and destruction I tell you. I ended up diving into the fray before he plucked one of my girls. He wasn't at all about the killing, it was cherry picking time and he was ready to pick. Demon spawn, I guess it's true when the lights go out, it's all the same but ten foot tall, hey that's not a normal...uh,...pluck, ok, heh, anyway, we got back to business and they finally descended over the guy, freaking out cause he almost and I mean almost got one of our own. They screamed, yelled, cried and started slicing and dicing, chopped that sorry demon to bits.
That's when I realized, these girls would need a lot more time to work things out, become a team, deal, heal and move on and I needed some time away from Buffy. We hadn't really talked in weeks, just kind of just kept staring at each other on the sly, besides the few times we tried to talk.. we just kind of got all breathless and spazzed out. It or She rather, was making me nuts. So I threw myself into my team, my girls.
I decided to go the hard route. I loaded them up and took us all back to the ruins of Sunnydale. I gave them all picks, shovels, gloves and boots. They used to only think that I was crazy and now they new the truth, I'm certifiable.
"What are we doing?" They asked.
I blew out a quick breath followed by my first point to get across. "We're on a recon. You don't leave your team and we're all a team, all slayers. You don't leave them to fight alone." I looked at them, making sure they got my point. "And you don't leave them behind. We don't leave our people behind, in any capacity."
With that said, I muddled into the rubble and started digging, moving debris, searching.
It took us weeks. I grew, the girls grew. A fallen in hell hole isn't exactly the safest place to be. Damn looters, of the demon kind at that. We got proficient to say the least. We bonded, shared, because that's what we all needed. My girls got strong and not just mentally. This kind of recon makes you think, gets to your core, sends one hell of a message about what's real, what's important but most of all it reminds you that you're alive and others are not. That's one hell of a wake up call.
Our mission was pretty much a bust. The girls that died in the fight couldn't be reached. I was afraid to dig too deep for fear of reopening something. I know that was probably unlikely but me, chicken shit, okay. I can live with that.
Okay, now confession time. I kinda helped myself to a little.... money from a few local banks, okay, I happened upon one of those trucks that carry money and helped myslef, not to a lot, just enough so that my great, great, great grandkids could live well, enough so we could keep ourselves going, it wasn't like I was going to be greedy, much, rest assured I was gonna make sure I had enough to live off of just in case things went sour.
Anyway, back to here and now. After several weeks of grundging, we all agreed to pack it in, it was proving too hard and there was no chance of us looking deeper into that abyss. We loaded up and started the dreary ride back to the outskirts of L.A.
We stopped halfway at a dive of a motel, bought new clothing at a local shopping center, threw away the old clothing, cause lets face it, there was no way in hell they'd ever smell fresh again. I was beginning to doubt the same thing about us, I mean we reaked, we also needed rest and a few good meals.
I had called ahead to Angel, some things were only for his ears, you know? Actually, it was lucky for us, when Angel was head of the evil empire, he managed to divert a few properties away from them and that's where all of us had ended up. Angel had basically given us a large house complete with property, also a little money to help us out. I mean, we were left pretty much homeless after Sunnydale fell. When he finished he had titled the place to the originals, Giles, B, Xan and Red, the kicker was that he'd also put my name on the deed, heh, can't say that that didn't cause a stir but they moved on. The thing is, on our new property there was this spot I had in mind for something, so I had called ahead secretly for Angel to take care of a few things for me. It was something I needed, had to do and something that I needed help with, enter Angel. With that accomplished I felt at ease, more relaxed.
I decided to hit the local shopping center again, by myself. I found the coolest shirts for myself and the girls. Grey baby doll t's with a huge black X on them. You know I got each of us a couple. I went by the package store, I needed something to clean wounds with and not the outside kind. Six bottles of liquor later, I was window shopping and then I saw it. Perfect! I made my purchase, along with the perfect gift bag and coordinating paper. I couldn't help but smile.
My last stop was the arts n crafts store. I got a permanent paint pen to use on fabric. I had this idea and I thought it was kind of good.
When I got back to the motel, I gave the girls a bottle of liquor, come on, they earned it. Oh Please, give me a break, they're old enough to die, they're old enough to have a shot or two. "Enjoy but not foolishly, k? See you in the morning, we'll leave early." I went back to my room, laid the shirts out and began to work. Underneath the huge X, I wrote in treme team, cause that's what we were, The Xtreme Team, basically because we did what was hard and it had nothing to do with fighting, at least not the physical monsters, we had to beat the biggies, the internal beasts.
Morning came and we were all excited about going home, smiling even. I walked into the pack of girls, who instantly noticed my shirt. "Cool huh?" I instantly gave them theirs and they stripped and put them on right there in the parking lot. Kinda makes a girl proud. I think they were proud too. I called Angel again, asked him to meet me somewhere to get the truck, telling him of some other things I needed, he was more than happy to help. I was concerned about him being able to fix the area of land that I had wanted without cluing in the scoobs. He said he told them that the construction crew was pumping out the septic tank and that I didn't need to worry, no one wanted to be around that much 'shit'. We kind of laughed at that.
We finally made it to L.A., well our destination. Angel took the truck and deposited us back at home base. It took two more weeks for the workers to finish the area and by then, I was ready. And just let me tell you.. that dodging B and the scoobs those two weeks was an amazing feet of dancing around questions, hiding and just plain playing stupid. They must have thought me and my girls had become pods or something but all in all, I have to say we found the fun in teasing them all and the girls were true to me and kept my secret.
Anyway, finally, I asked B to go for a walk, telling her that I had a gift for her and I did, several. I just wasn't sure how well they'd be taken. We made our way up the path of a slight hill, to that special, secret place, with her constantly eyeing the gift bag I was carrying. When we reached the top, my breath caught, it was beautiful. The vast expanse had been turned into a garden. There were paths leading around the area, benches along the way, a fountain, even a gazebo. Daylillies were everywhere, daffodils and jonquils blew in the light breeze. Crepe Myrtles of every color had been planted giving the area nice shaded spots. It was more than I ever imagined.
Then she saw it, the stone markers. She moved slowly toward them. I could hear her sharp intake of breath, a gasp, acknowledgement and then sobs breaking through. I stayed back giving her privacy.
"Is it her, really, is she there?" she asked as she ran her hands over a marker for her mom. She turned and looked at me. I nodded, confirming her question.
She half laughed, half cried and it broke my heart watching her torn between crying and being happy. I walked behind her, steadying her. "We found your mom and Tara but we couldn't find Anya and the slayers that died in the fight." I pointed to a large stone. "The best we could do for them was to have their names put on the stone in memory of them."
"This is what you've been doing?" She asked.
"Yeah." I nodded.
She gave me the biggest hug, pulling me tightly against her, whispering in my ear. "Thank you." She tried to break the intensity of the moment by saying, " and I thought the gift was in that bag you were carrying." She laughed.
"It is." I said as I handed it to her.
She smiled shyly and made her way over to a bench and sat. I followed.
She opened the bag, eyes and smile widening.
"Mr.Gordo." She stated excitedly, hugging the stuffed pig.
"Well, Kinda but not, he's new, believe me you didn't want the old one." I added.
"You looked for it?" She asked.
"I looked for a lot of things B, just everywhere I looked, I always seemed to find you." I half smiled, feeling a blush slowly drifting over me.
"Faith, I don't know what to say." She looked at me, eyes soft, glazed.
"You don't need to say anything, your look says it all and it's all I wanted and all I need. Come on, let's go back to the house." I got up motioning her to come with me.
"Go?" She asked.
"Yeah, I thought you should get Dawn and come back, spend some time here alone, just the two of you."
She nodded and walked over to me. We made our way back to the house. As we walked she leaned against me, letting her hand fall into mine, lacing our fingers together.
We smiled at each other, finishing our walk home in silence.
A few days later I got an olive branch from Buffy in the form of an invite. You know I was all up on that.
We took off up the coast, finally stopping at a motel, hey, I was shocked myself but actually it was one of those places with a couple of double beds and a kitchenette but still, somewhere in the back of my mind, my wants and needs were screaming at me, let me just say, me and trying to play all coy, is laughable at best.
She took a good look at my face and slapped me on the arm, as if how dare I think 'that'. I shrug, as if I could help but think anything else. She pointed to the two beds, held up two fingers saying, "two". I had to just laugh, teasing, "so we're gonna use both of them, nice." I smile.
"You are so bad." She laughs. "But, no we're not."
"So we're gonna use one, sweet." I reply. She rolls her eyes.
"Oh come on B, you bring me out for what I think is a few hours. It turns out to be a night." She stops me with a look. "A weekend?" I half ask, half state, shocked. She smiles. "Ok, a weekend. I have no clothes, nothing to sleep in, no toothbrush, comb, personal supplies..."
She holds up a bag. "You have clothes, things you need, so lighten up, relax, just enjoy it, it doesn't have to be leading anywhere, it's just, doing what we should've done the first go round, get to know one another."
"Damn B, the only part I need to know about you right now is the parts that you've got covered."
"Is that right?" She asks, taking a step towards me. Her hands fell to the hem of her shirt. She smiled and started slowly pulling it up her torso. My breathing stopped. I froze, stilled, watching in awe, further and further she went, stopping only briefly as the shirt reached her breast area. She smirked and yanked it over her head and off, revealing a bathing suit top.
I gasped out from the anticipation build up, realizing that I'd been had. Her laughter is mockery at its best. She grabbed a pepsi and slowly started to drink it, watching me.
I reached down to the hem of my shirt, moved it slowly up, gave her a glance and removed it swiftly, throwing it to the side, revealing my breasts, that's right baby, no bra here. She choked on the drink, spitting it out forcefully, coughing as some of the liquid went down the wrong pipe. My turn to smile now. I touched the buttons on my jeans, "Wanna go again?" I asked. She turned beet red and turned around.
I got into the suit she packed for me, can't say it would've been my choice but what the hell, not like I'll run into anybody I know here and if I do, I'll just kill them and dump them.... Jeeze, kidding, anyway, we headed down to the beach. It was kinda nice, we walked down to the pier and back, took a swim, which I'm not fond of because I have this thing about water that I can't see through, guess I watched jaws one time too many.
"Stay here.' She said and ran to the room and back. We made a small fire as darkness fell, enveloping us. She opened a bag and produced a couple of towels, spread them out and sat down, giving the ground a pat so I'd sit down too, which I did. Marshmallows appeared before my eyes and I smiled, grabbed a stick and attempted to toast it, of course all I managed to do was catch it on fire but hey, I like them that way. I cooled it off and popped the whole thing in my mouth, the center rushed out everywhere all at once, leaving me kinda sticky but happy. We just sat quietly like that, roasting marshmallows, eating, listening to the sounds of the ocean; that is until I torpedoed a marshmallow at her head. We spent the next twenty minutes or so chasing after each other trying to knock each other out with them. You know, they kind of stung a bit, now that you think about it.
Once we were back in the room getting ready for bed, my nerves kicked in gear. We took turns showering and as I listened to the water run, I realized how much I was on edge. My hormones were killing me, combine that and nerves and you get me, a sweaty puddle of.....well, you get my point; not to mention my horror when I discovered the pj's she'd packed for me, white boxers with little small pink pigs all over them and a pink baby doll T with, of course, a pig on the front of it.
My horror turned into abject humiliation as I stepped out from the bath and into her view. "How cute!" She laughed. "You're so girlie." I took it in stride, giving her that one. I started to give her one of my 'eat shit' grins and had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I noticed her sleep attire. Holy fuck! She's wearing a lace teddy. Oh My God..... that's so unfair!
"Problem?" She asked.
For once in my life I didn't have a smart ass come back. My eyes and face took on a solemn look, one that showed the seriousness of the situation. Her smile faded as she realized that the teasing game just hit its peak. We stood there, each frozen, staring at the other, not able to talk or move.
"Faith..." She finally managed to speak. It broke the spell I was under and I crossed the floor instantly, only millimeters apart from her.
I moved slowly toward her lips, my head was feeling like it would explode, my heart about to burst from my chest. My hands shook as I slowly touched her face. I leaned that last bit, gently feeling my lips touch against hers. Our lips moved softly against each other, gently, slow, tentatively, testing each other and our own limits. We pulled back from each other, completely engulfed by emotion and compelled to cling together. We embraced, letting all the bad out, talking, repenting to each other, making amends, moving beyond our sordid past.
"I didn't think you'd be into girls." I half stated, half asked.
She laughed. "I've been dating dead guys, Faith, surely you think I'm open minded enough to date a girl." She smiled, continuing, "but it's not just a girl, it's you, only you. I don't want to rush things though, ok? I want to rebuild what we broke, is that alright with you?"
I nodded. "yeah, more than I ever imagined or hoped for."
The next morning I awoke to a maze of arms, legs and hair. Warmth wrapped around me, making me feel safe. It was an actual first, usually I leave way before the waking up period. I didn't really know what to think, how to act or what to do, so I stiffened up, froze, afraid of how B would react when she woke up to find that we'd fell asleep together, in the same bed.
She must have felt my anxieties. "What's wrong?" She asked, turning toward me, wrapping herself around me. I was a little taken aback, not really able to form any rational words or thoughts. "Why does being intimate scare you so?" She pulled back to look at me, waiting for me to answer. "I guess because I've never really done that before, the intimate part." I answered softly. "You've had plenty of practice though, right?" she asked. I laughed at that, "well, you've heard the saying, those that talk the most, do the least." That got her attention, she sat up smiling, slightly shocked, amusement playing lightly behind her eyes. "Really?" She asked smiling. I took in a deep breath, getting ready to reveal myself. "I've had sex about five or six times on my terms, most you know of, anything that happened before that, well, it wasn't something that I chose to do." I looked away from her, not really wanting to elaborate further on what I had said. I continued, "It all left me with the wrong ideas about myself and I guess it showed more than I knew." She laid back against me, arms finding their way securely around my body, her lips gently kissing my face. "Why didn't you tell someone? Why did you act so...bold and well... active?" I closed my eyes, I really hated talks like these but I knew it was something I was gonna have to do, like it or not. I blew out a breath, nervous. " I guess I just didn't want anybody to know that I was..... damaged... that I could be.. hurt." She squeezed me tighter, kissing my neck. "You ready to start the day?" She asked. I mean come on, do I really have a choice?
After a huge breakfast, she drug me to a bike rental place. I looked through them, picking one, throwing my leg over it. "Make sure you get the right size." She called out. No need for words on my part. My face telegraphed everything I thought. Size? Hmmm... Adult? She laughed. "They have different frame sizes, you need at least two inches between the bike and you." I gave her a quizzical look. She sighed saying, "take two fingers and measure from the bike to your groin." Ok, I looked down at the bike and back to her smiling. "You want to check this one out for me, make sure it's the right fit?" Yeah, it was a challenge, kinda funny if you think on it. I threw her a dazzeling smile. She nodded, smiling, a slight blush creeping over her. I saw her glimpse at the rental guy, who's really paying attention to us now.
She moved toward me, all cocky, strutting over. My heart started pounding as I saw her move two fingers toward me and the bike. I watched her hand creep closer toward my center pocket, the movement almost in slow motion. My mouth opened, I held my breath, waiting, so close, closer, almost. She grabbed hold of the bike, inches away from my center. "Yeah, it looks good" She stated casually. "Mmmmm." I exhaled loudly. "That felt so... good." I said louder than needed. Her mouth dropped open, half shock, half smile, she glanced at the rental guy. "She's kidding, I didn't." She shakes her head NO. I throw my head back lazily, smiling. "Yeah she did." I nod confirming it. "Faith!" she laughs, hitting me on the arm. She quickly gets on her bike, taking off, leaving me with nothing to do but follow her.
Ten minutes later we realize why we don't own bikes. Speaking for myself, it's gonna take a crowbar and a tube of K.Y. to pry the damned thing out of my ass and believe me that's actually a nice way to put it. We walked the bikes back and exchanged them for a scooter. Brilliant plan, I thought; I should actually question my intelligence, cause here I was letting B do the driving. Before I even sat down good, she revved it to the max, tumbling me off backwards on my ass, stopping only long enough to tell me, " you know, you're supposed to hold on." I got up dusting off my butt, a little weary. "You do know how to drive that thing, right?" I asked, sitting in behind her, locking my hands round her waist. "Just like riding a bike." She stated and with that she gunned the motor, taking off.
The actual trail we were supposed to ride on was a little off from the shop. She decided to take a short cut. Here we are, at top speed, weaving through the parked cars. She barely cleared the cars, heading straight for the curb, jumped it and drives downhill through a bunch of trees. In and out, dodging obstacles, trees whizzing past my head and me hanging on for dear life. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh." I let out a constant scream.
Through the trees and right onto the opposite curb leading to the path. We jumped it. My ass actually left the seat, landing hard against it as the wheels touched the ground again. We hit a little sand and skidded, finally coming to a stop. "Made it." She called out and there ends that ride, cause there ain't no way in hell I'm doing that again. I'm off in a flash, shaking my head, NO, eyes large, just looking at her. "What?" she asks.
"Oh come on, it wasn't that bad." She stated.
"Damn B, there's more speeds than just STOP and FAST AS YOU CAN GO!" I say loudly.
She laughs at me and after a little bit I laugh too.
"Ok, how about you drive." I nod agreeing. After I get my nerve up, we drive around, looking at the local sites, doing a little shopping. It was nice, her arms wrapped around me, every now and again she'd let her hands get a little playful, just a little. It turned out to be a nice day.
We finally made our way back, checked the scooter in, God, I hate that word, scooter, what a laugh and returned to our room. We had to get back, we'd had a nice break, a wonderful breakthrough and now it was time to go home.
We finally got on the road home, only stopping long enough for a nice dinner and a last stroll along the shore. The rest of the trip was spent quietly holding hands, listening to music, just being.
You know the saying, all good things must come to an end, well that's an understatement, as we pulled up to the house a familiar form came out the front door, waiting for us. One of B's ex's. Riley.
"Well, isn't that just.... Special?" Oh Great! Now I'm the fucking church lady.
You know things went from wonderful to shit in as little as sixty seconds. Here we are; me, B and the toy soldier, facing off. I know what he's thinking, big stupid ass smile, inbred asshole. B, she's pretty much thinking, oops... I did it again; no pun intended. Me, well I'm thinking that I can't go through this again. I can't watch her with someone else;... so after a few minutes of soul searching and self realization, I turn to leave them.
Imagine my surprise as she grabs my arm, holding me, giving me a look, giving me that smile of hers before she takes my hand in hers, holding it, holding me. Surely you can sense a shit eating grin here, right?
Yeah well, we may have both been grinning but he certainly wasn't amused. I saw that tiny glint in his eyes, just a squint, full of spite. I know the look well, I perfected it but this is the new, improved me. I'm all about doing the good deed, just as long as no one pisses on my turf, you know what I mean and I had a feeling the clean marine was fixing to whip it out and piss all over what was mine.
We made our way into the house, pleasantries and all, with me keeping my mouth shut and smiling like a good host. B decides she's gonna leave us to check on Dawn,..... and let me say, I did an instant replay of Arnold, not the bodybuilder but the kid, "what you talkin bout, B?" She pried my fingers off of her arm, gave me a sweet smile and an even sweeter peck on the lips. In that moment, in my reality, I took it and used it as a 'HA, Fuck You!' My eyes gave me away, we whispered our arguments back n forth between us, with her winning and me stunned into silence. "Play nice," was the last thing she whispered before she smiled and left abruptly. I watched her retreat, not really wanting to turn around and acknowledge Dudly Do Right.
"So... Buffy's decided to go slumming?" He asked icily.
I pulled in a slow, deep breath, bracing myself, praying that I didn't snap and beat his uptight ass. I turned slowly, eyeing him, sizing him up.
"Yeah well, she decided to leave the 'boring' parts behind. She finally found out that there truly was an orgasmic side of life, one she'd never experienced before... until me that is." I smiled, talking casually, as if it were fact.
"You bitch! I touched her in ways you never could or will." He stepped closer, annoyed.
I threw myself into a chair, stating, "and that's why she didn't want, love or need you."
"You're trash, nothing, a whore!" He snarled, glaring at me.
I gave him a pointed glare, a challenge. "Don't be jealous, just because she said that my dick's bigger than yours."
He laughed, moving closer. "Regardless of what you might think about yourself......You don't have a dick." He snickered in disgust.
"Exactly!" I raised my voice, smirking, raising a brow. Boy's a little slow on the uptake there.
He stepped into what I considered my personal space, getting a little too up close for my taste, so I jumped up, giving him a shove across the room. "You don't' want to do this." I stated, adding. "I don't want to do this."
He got up brushing himself off, relenting, nodding his agreement. It's not like it would do either of us any good. Right?
"Truce?" He asked, smiling. I nodded, confirming it.
We relaxed, welcomed the tension leaving the atmosphere. I blew out a breath, letting that pissed off feeling leave me. "You want a drink?" I asked. He gave a nod and I walked to the bar, making us both a drink. I noticed a note by the phone. "You know anything about this?" I asked, waving the note in the air. "I think it was something about Angel needing to be picked up. Daylight, I believe. I'm not sure, I only heard half of it" He shrugged. "Who took the note and directions?" I questioned. He laughed, not knowing what to say, "I'm guessing the girl who's tinted blue." He gave me a look, knowing he sounded crazy. I laughed. It had to be Illyria. "Probably Illyria. Her and Angel are in town, they've been in investigating a case somewhere close by."
I was on my way out as B came back in. "Where are you going?" She asked. "I'm going to get Angel. He got stuck out in the light." I laughed. "Be back later. Oh yeah, I'll be hungry." I gave her a wink, a small kiss and I left. I laughed as I looked at the directions, I mean leave it to Angel to get caught out in the middle of nowhere on a case. Man, I was gonna get to tease him months over this one.
I watched Faith leave and realized how she must've felt when I left her alone. I looked to Riley.
"So...." I nodded.
"So.... You and Faith?" He nodded back, questioning.
I nodded, confirming, that's about it. Yep, we're done here.
"How's the wife?" I asked.
"Gone." He answered. "Left." He explained further.
"Oh, sorry about that." I nodded a few more times.
Illyria came in, walking around in that way she has of doing things, watching, looking from one of us to the other. She killed me at times, the way she'd cock her head to the side, just like a cocker spaniel. She acted like we were test subjects at times, made me feel amused and uneasy at the same time.
We sat, talked, laughed, caught up until something occurred that made me uneasy. Angel came in. I knew I had a confused look playing over my face. "Angel.... Where's Faith?"
"What do you mean?" He asked.
I sat up, getting everyone's full attention. "She left to get you, maybe thirty, forty minutes ago. She said she was going to pick you up, that you got caught out on a case after daybreak."
"Maybe you misunderstood." He offered.
I shook my head, stating NO. "She had directions, a note."
"A note like this?" Illyria asked, holding up the notepad.
"Yeah, just like that." I answered.
"That was for Angel, not from him." Illyria informed, then asked. "How'd she get the idea that Angel needed a pickup? All the note had on it was coordinates. That is strange, indeed."
"That was my fault." Riley answered. " I thought it was from Angel. All I had to say was Angel and she took off. All I heard was half of the conversation, she assumed the rest." He admitted, sighing.
"Well, we might as well start dinner, she'll be mad and hungry when she gets back." I said.
"Yeah, she will." Angel added and laughed.
Dinner came and went, still no sign of Faith. She wasn't answering her cell. It just wasn't like her to disappear, well it was but I didn't think she would now.
Three hours later, we were all worried, upset, my fears growing with each minute that went by.
Willow came home and basically saved my sanity. She took the notepad, rubbed some lead over it and picked up the imprinted coordinates, we loaded up and headed off to find Faith.
Two hours later, we found her car. The windshield was cracked, so was the drivers side window. The door was open, blood splatters adorned the glass, the seats. There were signs of a struggle and then nothing. She was gone.
I sat in the dirt, in shock, fears creeping to my surface, tears threatening to fall, thinking to myself, 'where are you?', as the others gathered around me, dread filling the air.
"We'll find her Buffy. We will!"
I'd been driving, too damned long, to the middle of nowhere it seemed. These directions were pretty fucked up I'll admit but still it should've been easier than this, basically this damn place was a maze, cause I knew I'd passed that same stump there like twenty times already.
I felt a sharp pain to my forehead right before I heard the glass shatter. Don't really know what happened. One minute here, the next minute there, it's a pattern..... driving, not. I think I stomped on the breaks, not sure at this point, then I gunned the gas as instincts took over, a little too late if you want my opinion. The window next to me caved, the car spun out, adding a new depth of dizziness to what I already had. I kicked the door open, hard, connecting with someone or something, not much luck there either. I was weak, injured, couldn't see shit and my perception was off as well. Give or take forty minutes of fighting, I passed out. At least I took a few of those fuckers with me.
The light glared threw my closed eyelids, making me wince as I came back from oblivion. I couldn't help but groan as my body and head protested against any movement. I collected my thoughts, remembering, opening my refocused eyes and mind. I looked around. "What the fuck?"
I felt sick and amazed by my surroundings. I was bolted down on a slab, appeared to be a makeshift lab of some kind, scary thought there. What was truly upsetting was someone was playing doctor and I wasn't the first. There were other.....things there, not really one or another, combined kind of.
I pulled against the restraints, jerking, trying to break free. "It's no use, not even one of you can escape."
I jumped, looking toward the voice. "What's going on?" I asked, not really wanting an answer.
"Some one thinks you've forgotten your place. You're going to remember....and then they'll play with you a bit."
I snapped my head up. "You mean play with me with like they played with .......those" I shrugged to those poor things chained up.
She nodded. "And I think I'm going to be your new playmate."
I blew out a shaky breath. "Well, at least you're kind of hot, in a dangerous, gothic, kind of way. What are you, a vamp?"
She laughed. "Not really, I don't partake... blood. I can go out in daylight. I'm like them but not, although I do hunger."
"Huh? All I need to know is are you good or evil?" I gave an annoyed, confused look.
"Both, as are you." She smiled.
The lab coats came in, can't say I was glad. I hated to admit it, cause it's a first for me but I'd much rather live with the .. .monsters than deal with the mad scientists right now.
I watched in awe and horror as a hypodermic was prepared, instantly fighting the restraints as they brought the needle toward me.
I screamed out in frustration as the warm liquid entered my bloodstream. I felt my eyes glaze over, felt my body get hot, felt every nerve come to life, tingle.
I watched quietly as they brought over that girl. I shook my head, pleading with them to stop. Words wouldn't form, couldn't. I felt the needles, probes, electrodes, whatever they were, as they attached them to me. I closed my eyes, sucking it in, it's just pain, just pain. I groaned as I was mainlined. I looked following the lead. I was connected to that girl. Oh fuck me!
"Relax, it'll make it easier. They're going to bleed us together, an absorption of some kind." She looked sad. "I'm the last of my kind, you know."
I nodded. "What are you?" I asked again.
"Some used to call us brethren. We are like the vampire, only opposite, they are our enemy. You and I are alike, we are alone." She said lowly.
"You're going to be screaming soon." She added. "They're going to break you first, then they'll make you, me, into something...." She trailed off in thought before continuing. "The shot, it'll make you relive your worst nightmares. You'll get everything fifty fold. Remember that. Everything you feel, that you are, will be amplified. Use it wisely and use it before they start the absorption. I really don't want to end up like those things hanging on the walls." I glanced at the 'things', the man made 'monsters', gulping.
I looked back toward the ceiling. Past pains already starting to flash before my eyes. I closed them tight, trying to hold the images off.
"Good luck and good journey." She whispered, as I faded off.
My body jerked, my eyes opened quick, wide, set, steeled, teeth clenched, fists closed tightly, ready. "Fuck that!" I'll see you on the other side." I growled out, fighting against the tethers, straining.
I felt fear, helplessness, scared. A punch to the face, two. "You whore! You fuckin little whore, only good for one thing and that's not much. You always make me do this, don't ya. You don't know how to just leave things alone. You just beg for it, don't you bitch. Is this what you want? Huh? Answer me you slut!" Almost unconscious but not lucky enough. A slap, an elbow racking my body, blood flowing freely from my nose, mouth, face. Blood flowing from my ripped open center as he continues to thrust into me, shouting, hitting.
Tears fell freely, one memory replaces the former and another plays into view. Same story, different star.
Three abusers. Dad, uncle and mom's boyfriend, sometimes together, sometimes separate, each taking from me, hurting me, too numerous to count, over and over, again and again, innocence lost.
Ages 11 to 14, a complete loss, nightmare ending in alcohol, death and destruction. Their alcohol consumption, their death with overdosing and my destruction, day by day, slowly.
The metal bands, bolts, restraints, were cutting into my wrists and ankles, blood appeared, trickling over my limbs.
I arched off the table, eyes glazed an icy bright blue from the drugs, breaths whispered from my mouth, eerily. I heard whispers, her whispers. My skin paled, hair darkened, lips ran blood red as her blood slowly mixed with mine. She screamed at me, begged me to fight. I felt her, becoming disoriented, my slayer power overtaking her, giving her the needed healing power but still pulling her into me, seeping into my pores, in my head. I could hear the night, feel it. It pumped through my veins, relaxing me. Just as my body flexed, the pain and fear subsiding, he stepped into view.
"Kakistos." I hissed, he laughed.
He pulled the blade back. I felt it leave my body, felt as he cut skin off of flesh, winced as he sucked on the small piece of meat. I felt every bit, wrists, calves, thighs, neck, shoulders, breasts, defiling me the entire time. Weak, drained, scared beyond reason. "Drink!" He screamed, pouring his blood into my mouth. I spat, coughed, begging him to stop. "Drink!" He growled, putting his bloody wrist to my mouth, suffocating me, trying to make me swallow. I turned blue, gagging, coughing up the blood, throwing up on the floor. "You will be mine." He laughed as I fell limp onto the floor, cold, naked, torn. I could hear my heart faintly beating in my head, slow, almost dead, I hoped.
He drug in Emma, my watcher, my friend, my family, the only one I ever loved or ever remembered loving, the only one who ever truly loved me. I watched helpless from the floor. He drank her as she screamed for me, made her as she begged me to get up, stopping her pleas long enough to suckle his blood, swallow, collapsing to the floor beside me.
One day, two max, her eyes opened. I could hear that hoofed bastard laughing in the background. She hissed. I made my broken, weakened body get up, move away from her. Her hunger fueled her desire to attack. She circled, inching closer and closer as I begged her not to do this. She lashed out with her hand, her nails slicing my face, bringing slight trails of blood. Her lust took over, won control. She came fast, hard, unrelenting. I blocked, pushing her backwards, looking for something to help, to use. There, a metal rod, it would have to do. I ran for it, falling into a roll, coming up short when her hand caught around my ankle. I felt the skin rip, tear, felt the dizzy effects of blood flowing away from me. I kicked with my free leg, connecting with her face, breaking her grip, her bite. I pushed myself up, grabbed the rod, flattened on one side, drew it back, waiting. The flat part of the metal was sharpened, if swung fast and hard enough it would work, it had to work.
She charged. I screamed.
I swung, connecting with her, over and over, freaking out, until she fell, bloodied, dead again, dismembered.
In shock, her blood on my hands, my body, I cried. He came at me, taunting me. "You ready?" He asked. I nodded no, he descended anyway, mouth and teeth ready. I pulled back, swinging the rod, pushing it toward his neck. His arm dejected it, making it miss its mark, settling for his eye. He screamed, grabbed at his face, shouting at me, promises of what was to come. Seeing a window, I ran, breaking through the glass, getting cut to shreds, falling into freedom, crashing onto reality, I picked myself up and ran.
I came to my senses, realizing where I was, what was happening, still too out of it to really know anything at all. I pulled against the restraints, pulling them slightly from the slab. Growling, gritting my teeth, I jerked them again, again. Blood flowing rapidly from the lacerations adorning my wrists and ankles. I couldn't focus right, couldn't hear shit, nothing but the echo's in my mind, haunting me, making my eyes and ears betray me.
The girl screamed in my head. 'Use your power before it's too late!" You didn't have to tell me twice. I pulled again, using amped up slayer strenth, breaking the bonds, sitting up. I pulled the needles, electrodes, sensors from me. They came, the lab coats, rushing in,trying to sedate me.
I went through them quickly, breaking necks, snapping bones, tearing flesh, pushing limbs, extremities broken, in one end and out the other, fast, hard, bloody, painful.
"You want her don't you. You can't have her, if I can't have her no one will." I twisted the last ones neck, sighing at the sick sound. Another vision, trying to break through, to make me fall, relive, I fought against it.
I released the captives. The girl first, we were kind of like family now, funny, well not so funny but at least she got me up before we looked like the swamp thing. Then I turned loose the beasts, laughing, "Have fun guys, kill em all." I screamed.
The man made monsters ran rampant. Screams echoed through the night, blood ran, no one made it out, no one made it inside. Bones cracked through the hallways, flesh ripped, bodies fell. A true night of the beasts.
It was only a matter of time before some of the man made beasts turned on their savior. They circled, the ones still more human than monster, we ended their misery, me and my new, sister I'm thinking. The true beasts weren't so easy to put down. Their howls pierced the night, shrieks ending their long suffering. I looked to the last few left, not many, only the ones still able to tell humanity from monstrosity, those few who fought by my side, those who didn't turn on me. "Destroy it all, burn it." I stated. They nodded and set out to do my bidding. Flames and sparks ignited, slowing encompassing the building, growing, becoming bright, a beacon in the night.
I walked through the front door, just as the house combusted, raining down embers over and around me. Flanked by a couple of unlikely allies, a new beginning to and old end.
"Be ready, more will come." I said as I shook my head, trying to shake off the images refilling my mind, taking over me, taking me back, to my past.
"I won't lose this time."
I sat there crying until I decided to get up off my ass and look for clues. Angel, Illyria, Willow, Ken and Riley searched the surrounding area while I looked through the car.
"Anything?" I asked as the others came back from their quest. "Don't know." Angel answered. "But, something big is happening. I can smell it." He was trying hard to keep his human face intact. "Can you smell Faith?" I asked foolishly, knowing how it sounded.
He nodded. "Yeah, kind of. She's not here but she's somewhere closeby, only different somehow."
An explosion sounded far off, lighting up the night sky. Sending a pungent odor flying through the air.
Angel pointed. "There! She's there!"
I started to get in the car but Angel put his hand on my arm stopping me. "It's death Buffy, a lot of death."
"Yeah. So who's coming with me?" I stated casually, like this was an everyday occurrence, well it was, but you know.
We piled in and took off toward the light, letting it lead us, fear and dread keeping us company.
We could hear more explosions, the sound growing louder, the smell stronger the closer we got. I gunned the engine, faster, pushing the SUV harder, driving over brush and debris.
"There, over there." Riley pointed.
I turned the car in the direction of the flames, faster still, until I saw the figures emerge from the light, three of them, two human and one... I'm not sure. I stopped the car, jumping out, running toward them.
I stopped as I neared her. "Faith?" I questioned. Angel broke in front of me, facing her, walking forward, talking to her. Her companions veered off the side, out of sight as we approached, the dark human one seemed as if she were trying to subdue the monstrosity that was trying to get away. It disappeared into the brush with the dark girl dangerously close after. I nervously began to look around for them, not knowing what to do.
"Faith." Angel said as he walked closer, holding out his hand.
She moved faster than I would have ever imagined, pulled two knives out from God knows where, slicing Angel, penetrating him numerous times in a matter of seconds.
As he fell she plunged the knives in, pinning him to the ground, stepped over him, heading for me. I stepped back, saying, "Faith, it's me, Buffy."
She smiled. "Look at you, all dressed up in big sis's clothes."
"Faith!" I yelled, trying to snap her out of it. She didn't or couldn't hear me, someone else was talking.
"It won't save your boy though." She circled me.
"Faith.... Please stop!" I begged.
"Think you can take me?" She laughed.
"Faith, it's me! Stop it!" I screamed.
She laughed. "Well then, give us a kiss." She winked, stepping in, swinging, connecting with my face.
I stepped back, stunned. She moved in faster, throwing punches. I blocked, dejecting her fists. "Faith... Stop!" She feigned a left hook, bent down and pulled a knife from her boot. "Faith!" I yelled.
She came at me full force, slicing the knife through the air with precision. I blocked and hit her, wincing as her mouth bloodied and dripped over the corners of her lips. She threw the knife at me. I caught it and as I looked back at her I saw her boot coming hard and fast. Down I went, with her straddling me. Her fists rained down on me. "How dare you! I'm here! I'm here! Why? You hurt me! You left me alone. How could you leave me like that. I wasn't good enough?" Tears fell from her eyes, her fists kept searching me out.
She reached for the fallen knife, grasping it, brought it back, getting it ready. "Time for the judge to be judged." She growled lowly, thrusting the knife downward, towards my chest, her screaming at the top of her lungs, echoing in the night.
"Faith... don't please!" I pleaded, tears of my own falling.
The knife stopped just as the point met my flesh. Her eyes watering, body shaking, breaths bursting forth in sobs, racking her body, fighting against whatever was going on in her head. "I can't .... I can't kill you B. I love you. I can't!"
"I love you too," I said between my own sobs. I touched the knife, removing it from her hand, throwing it to the side.
"You do?" She asked, tired, worn.
"I touched her face, smiling. "Yes, it's time we stopped hurting each other, ok?"
Confusion, mixed emotions? I don't know what.... but something was swirling around behind her eyes. She was about to answer when a foot connected with her head, knocking her off of me, to the side. She rolled with the force, onto her knees, to her feet, standing, waiting, ready.
I jumped up, looked to see what was happening.
Riley had Faith dead on, bead on with a pistol. I walked toward Faith, standing with her. "Put the gun down, Riley." I stated firmly.
Faith pushed me to the side, a feral growl replacing her voice. "Go for it, bet I'm faster." She smiled, smugly chuckling, desperately wanting a go at him.
He pulled the hammer back. "Riley! Stand down!" I yelled.
She stepped forward, glaring, her eyes burning brightly against the darkness.
Out of nowhere, a blur emerged, landing on Riley, tumbling him to the ground. The gun dislodged as he fell, the bullet grazing Faith, her head turned, rocked back from the force of the hit, then snapped quickly back towards the scene playing out in front of us.
Claws tore, ravaged. That, monstrosity, had Riley.
I went to help but she grabbed me, yanking me back, pushing me off to the side, eyes wild , smirking, blood running from the new gash across her cheek.
She walked close to Riley, not even trying to stop the beast, smiling, her voice cold, harsh. "Bet you didn't see that coming...... did ya?"
I felt avenged as I watched him squirm, yell, plead, get ripped to shreds. B was bound and determined to intervene. Angel stepped up to take her side as did they all. Well boo hoo. I'm not exactly myself at the moment and even if I was I still wouldn't give a shit.
I got in front of all of them, knowing things they didn't, what fools they could be at times. "Don't." I said lowly, glancing back over my shoulder to where Riley was fighting, poorly, I might note. "It's between the two of them." I dared them to step forward, readying myself for a fight, wildness flashing over my features.
"We can't just let him be killed." B protested, pushing forward.
"It doesn't concern us!" I replied, pushing back.
"Why?" Angel growled, game face in place.
"It's his wife. What he left of her." I deadpanned, hissing my disgust, shaking my head, fighting off the images trying to take hold, play out.
"It can't be." B stated in shock.
"It is." I smirked, "You should be shocked. It could've been you." I added.
I laughed as I went to retrieve the fallen gun. "It's his mess, mine now." I paused for thought then yelled, "Sam!"
She, the thing that used to be a vibrant, pretty woman, stopped, looked to me, removed herself from the dismembered body, blood soaking her altered features.
She shook her head no, saying, "but he did this to me,"
I nodded. " I know.... I'm sorry.... But you can't control yourself now." I paused thinking, hell, I can't even control myself. I shook off the thoughts. " You proved that in the house, you're more monster than mortal." I pointed the gun, pulled the trigger, pain shot through my head causing my arm to jerk at the last moment, watched as the bullet whizzed just over her head, she took off, hunting safety, sanctuary. I screamed out, "Next time, I won't miss!" frustration adament at not being able to end her, to end her misery. Truth is, I thought I owed her and she was due her revenge. I threw the gun into the flames and walked to the shadows, away from them all, memories pounding in my head, like daggers, getting louder and louder, getting harder to resist, making me feel like a scared kid all over again.
"Faith!" B called out.
I glanced back at her, seeing the future, feeling the past, the hate building inside of me, playing in my mind, making my adrenaline run on overload. Growling in pain, I stepped into the dark, the shadows, out of sight, trying to put distance between us.
"Faith!" She yelled again.
Several yards in, I grabbed my head, going down to one knee, the pain getting harsher, harder, blinding me to the present, pure agony. I felt everything ever done to me magnified ten times over, every punch, every thrust, every word, all beating me up inside, the things that hurt the most were the ones that kept replaying over and over, the things that cut me the deepest, the things I'd always tried to hide from view.
Blood trickled from my nose as I gave into the feelings, let them course through me, take me over. "AHHHHHHH!" I screamed, thrashing about, trying to get up and run, thinking I could outrun them, get away.
I eventually stumbled back out into view, eyes glazed, half aware, half there, lost in pain and barely sensing the here and now.
I glared at the blurry onlookers, surrounding me, feeling their unease, fear, distaste, same ole same, it never changes, not then, not now. "Put me down!" I screamed.
They just stared, not moving, not saying a word, just looking at the 'freak'.
"Put me down, NOW!" I yelled, threateningly, moving closer.
I could taste the blood on my lips, igniting me, empowering me. God, what am I? My head swam. I could hear my heartbeat, the heartbeats of all of them, give or take one or two.
"Faith!" She said loudly, I turned to look at her as she stepped out from the darkness, slowly moving toward me.
"You." I whispered, stumbling towards her, falling into her arms, making us both fall to the ground. "Help me." I pleaded, falling into unconsciousness.
"They're coming." She stated to the group, looking at them, wary for her own safety.
Buffy nodded quietly, sizing up the dark woman, the one from earlier, that ran after.... Well Sam. "We should go." She said lowly, calm, watching as the stranger comforted her girl.
Once the agreement was met, they carried me, laid me in the back of the SUV and took off for safer territory. No one talked. Quiet filled the void, no questions, only glances and concern as I struggled within myself, dreaming, as the stranger held me down.
Kakistos moved closer, behind me, growling, whispering in my ear, plunging the knife deep in my belly, drinking from my shoulder at the same time. "Scream for me." He laughed, moving around to face me. "SCREAM!" He yelled. With every ounce of energy I had, I raised my head up, looking him in the eyes, spitting in his face. "BITCH!" He brought back his hoofed claw, pummeling my face until I slumped. It got quiet, then I felt him, pushing his blood down my throat, making my mouth burn, my stomach churn. I fought. "No, Bastard!" "Swallow!" He commanded. "Never!" I spat, spraying his blood over him. "You will." He glared, holding up the knife, plunging it in, avoiding vital organs, making shallow, non fatal cuts. "Ahhhhhh!" I cried out, feeling each penetration, closing my eyes in pain. Over and over, again and again, I felt the blade enter and leave. Fear and adrenaline filling me with the need to fight, the need to die fighting. I opened my eyes, feeling the blade go in, same feel, cold, hard, only this time hazel eyes glared back at me. "You did it. You killed me."
My body jerked, I fought to get up to run but I was held firm.
"Fuck you!" I fell, sharp, hard, fast into the fight. Vampires were everywhere. Hit, jab, block, dust, over and over, living, killing, surviving. He stepped out into the fight and I plunged in my stake, deeper it went, sinking in, a wet sucking sound, real, blood and guts, I blinked away the confusion, the fear, the realism. " I didn't know... I'm sorry.. I didn't know... I didn't mean...." I cried violently, sobbing, being held still, until my cries subsided, becoming whimpers, draining from me.
"What's wrong with her?" Buffy asked.
"She's not without sin." The newcomer answered. "Hers and the ones against her."
"Wait, she's reliving the sins of the past?" Angel asked.
The woman nodded, confirming. "Only magnified."
"Are you two....?" Buffy tried to ask but wasn't able to form the question fully.
"Would that bother you?" She asked in return.
"Yes." Buffy admitted.
"Then why aren't you with her now, taking care of her, giving her something to cling on to?" She questioned.
"I don't know." She said firmly, climbing over the seat, kneeling beside me, touching me. "Is she turning into something... like you? And are you a vampire or something?" B asked.
"No, I'm not, really, and she's not turning, our blood mixed just a little so we're both feeling a bit of each others power but a vampire, no. She's been injected with a strong dose of chemicals, they never actually got around to making us like the others." She informed.
Buffy nodded. "So no biting then?"
She smiled. "Well, I think she'd bite you but I think that you'd like it."
Buffy looked at the girl, smiling, pink covering her face. "Yeah, I probably would."
We pulled up to the house, everyone piling out, checking the house and surroundings for safety. Angel and Illyria were going to go back to L.A. to see what they could find out about the drugs Faith had been injected with. We were safe for now. The stranger got out of the back.. and I followed turning to pull Faith with me. "Get her feet and I'll get her shoulders." I said. I felt a whisper against the nape of my neck and I turned and she was gone, vanished, disappeared.
"Damn!" Like I needed another mystery but at least I had Faith back, safe, sound and sane, I hope.
I groaned, shifting, my eyes fluttering slightly, wincing from the light. My body hot, wet with sweat, drained completely of all energy.
"Hey you." B said, her smile evident in the tone.
I grunted my displeasure, trying to wake up fully, shake off the grogginess, only managing to whisper, "tired."
"Yeah, but you'll get stronger and better." She said as she patted me. I jerked away from her touch.
"What..." I looked around the room, focusing. "What happened?" I managed.
"You don't remember?" She asked as she gave me some water to sip. "There does that make it better?" She smiled. I nodded wearily at her.
"So do you remember?" She asked again.
I cleared my throat, finding my voice. "Not really, I don't think so, maybe.... Sorta .... Not." I sighed. "I hope not. God, I hope not. My head is killing me though, things....those......"
She interrupted me, trying to calm me. "You've slept a couple of days, had a bunch of nightmares, you're exhausted and you're still feeling the affects of some kind of drug." She said adding. "Here take this for your headache, stronger than aspirin, should curve the pain. I'll get you something to eat. OK?" I nodded. "There's some fresh clothes over there. Do you think you can manage a shower by yourself or do you need my expert hands to help you?" She smiled.
"What?" I asked.
"Well, who do you thinks been keeping you all fresh while you've been out?" She laughed.
"You touched me?" I asked, voice low, even, flat.
Her smile faded instantly. "Faith.... No....No one here hurt you or did anything to you. We held you down a few times when you got violent but that was it. I did keep a cold cloth on you, wiping your forehead and you can see we stripped you down to your panties and T but other than that, you've been safe."
She walked closer, slowly. "You're safe." She repeated. I nodded that I got it and peered around the room.
"I'm gonna run some hot water for you. Can you manage?" She asked again.
"Yeah." I watched as she left me alone, feeling paranoid, raw, like a festering open wound. I finally managed to make it to the bath.
I submerged myself into the hot water, feeling the tension slowly but surely release itself from my body. My shoulders, neck and back were stiff as a bitch but the pressure in my head had them all beat.
Flashes filtered behind my eyes, my head jerked with realizations, old memories made new. Fists of the past revealed themselves, filled my head, hitting me like a ton of bricks. Terrors filled my head, tremors racked my body. Past and present converged, became as one. I noticed droplets of blood hitting the water, I touched my face, just under my nose, withdrawing to find my hand covered in blood.
I felt the warmth of the water engulf me, hold me securely, warmly, surrounding me.
"You okay in there?" Buffy asked through the door. I basically grunted a reply as I sunk deeper into the water, further away from here and now to there and then. "Faith?" She asked a bit louder. The water muffled her voice. I wanted to answer but the water was just so warm, so inviting. "Faith!" She yelled, busting through the door, running instantly to pull me up out of the water.
"Are you okay?" She cried out, concerned at my ashen appearance and the sight of the blood mixed in the bath water.
"Faith! Open your eyes, look at me!" she shouted. "FAITH!"
I forced my eyes open, coughing up water, my head again banging like a drum. I felt her hands on me and I started fighting. "Let me go. NO. Don't touch me. Please." Tears ran rampantly as she held on firmly, not breaking her hold, she fought me to stay still, until I was spent, tired and resting against her.
When I finally woke up, I was clean and dressed in comfortable clothes, feeling a bit paranoid. The room was darkened and I strained to look around.
"Faith?" I jumped up off the bed, ready to fight.
"It's me, calm down, you're safe". I tried to run but she went after me, tackling me, holding me against her. "No running Faith, You're here, you're home, you're safe. It's safe here." She whispered against my ear. I nodded and she finally loosened her grip, helping me to get up. "Lie back down and I'm finally gonna get you something to eat. OK?" She asked. "Ok." I nodded, breathing heavily.
I curled up on the bed as she turned on a light and left to get us something to eat.
I closed my eyes and after a bit, sounds filtered through to my senses, not the usual sounds from my head but sounds from the hall. Those girls, my supposed girls, out there talking about me, what I am, who I am, I don't really like it. I mean who was I to think I could lead anyone. I'm a monster. They see and know it now. I jumped up off the bed, crossed the floor and threw open the door.
"What?" I growled, glaring at them. "Did you want to see a monster? Did you come to see a killer? Did you come to see what I am, or maybe you're just here to see what I'll turn into..... Is that it? Huh? Cause I can show you what I am!"
"Faith! Go back into the room." Buffy stood in front of me, herding me backwards into my room, pulling the door closed, to turn and look at the girls.
"Now is not the time to face her, We told you that, she's not herself." Buffy stated to the girls.
"We just wanted to know.....we." they tried to explain.
"Look, I know, you care but you have to understand these people hurt her, drugged her and gave her some possibly tainted blood. She's not safe, not to you and not to herself. I'll get you when she's ready to see you. She cares for all of you so don't take what she said so hard, she's not responsible, she can't control it." She sighed, turned and entered the room.
She huffed. "You didn't have to scare them so badly Faith."
"They wanted to know didn't they? Everybody wants to know, peeking in the keyhole at me, listening through the door. What is Faith, well I told them. I'm me, a killer, a monster, something to use and abuse and lose." Anger was rising in my voice, waiting for a conflict.
She feigned disinterest, saying, "You know what, just shut up, We're all tired, well I'm tired of you feeling sorry for yourself. Yeah.. you got fucked over, that's right, I said fucked! .... but it's over, you're home, you're here, you're safe so let it out, cry, yell, scream but whatever you do, just deal with it and move on!"
"You don't know what I see, what I feel, what I hear." I shot back.
"No Faith, I don't... and you know why, you won't tell me. Well here I am listening, so talk. You think no one cares, well I'm right here in front of you, wanting to help you, all you have to do is open up that trap of yours and let it out!" She challenged me.
My breathing increased. "You wanna know, do you really wanna know? I cried out, eyes wild, tears brimming over the edge. They're dead. All of em..... family, watchers, finch, a couple others.... So many I can't even keep score anymore.. and I did it... I killed them all. Are you happy. Is that what you wanted to hear? You want to know about me, well there you go. I got drafted, before I even knew it, vamps and demons fell over me and my entire family and they played with me.... And you know who led it... that fucking hoofed bastard.. every last one of em... dead, drained, turned.. I didn't even know what the fuck I was.... But I had the instincts... yeah... and they came and I freaked out and chopped them all to bits except for my sister.. yeah.. did you know I had a little sister... she's out there now, killing and making more 'things' for me to fight. A watcher showed up, I had no one so I trusted her, loved her and we ran right into kakistos and she got the same thing my family got, my family really didn't matter to me, cause they.....well after the way they used me up, I didn't really care about the abuse, it comforted me, I was used to it, but her, Emma, my watcher, she was the only family I had left and she was just another that I ended up hacking to pieces. I was so scared, I ran, I thought I got away.. but I didn't really, cause it was inside me, Finch, an accident, but it felt the same, the others I didn't feel nothing, just power and I liked it. Is that what you want to hear, huh? That's what's inside me, pounding loudly in my head and I'm trying to deal, I'm trying to pay for what I did but it's never enough, it'll never be enough! They just keep yelling at me, it hurts and I can't make it stop. It hurts B, it hurts." I broke down crying, sobs taking over my body, falling down to my knees.
She was there instantly, holding me, with me telling her the entire time, "don't touch me, I don't deserve comfort, Just leave me alone, like you used to do."
"Faith,.....God, I ....had no idea. We can help you, we can help ease the pain,ok, let me get willow we can do a spell or something, subdue all your emotions, dull them, until those drugs wear off. Please? It'll make it easier to take, ok?" She pleaded with me. I nodded.
She got up slowly. "I'll be right back with help, I promise." She went to the door, opened it and stepped out into the hallway, closing the door behind her.
Xander was in the hallway, waiting, obviously upset about the yelling coming from inside the room. One look from Buffy and he knew it wasn't good. "Don't let her leave that room." She said. "She won't go nowhere." He responded.
"Willow!" She yelled and ran down the hall. Moments later they were all back, Giles in tow, almost running into the room. "Faith?" No answer came.
They looked in the closets, the bathroom, even under the bed. "Forget it." B said, walking toward the open window, looking out into the darkness.
"She's gone. I think I know where she's going."
"I'm not leaving her behind this time. She taught her girls and this time she taught me too." She faced them, tears falling freely down her face.
"We don't leave our people behind. The first go around, we left her behind. I won't make that mistake ever again."
"I'm gonna prove it!"
The room closed in on me. My breaths came hard, fast, fighting for release, pushing me into a rising panic. I glanced around the room and saw relief in the form of a window. I crawled through, into the dark night air, scared, afraid to stay, afraid to go, fears pushing, spurring me onward, afraid the past would catch me, consume me if I stayed still.
I ran, away from the only ones left that I could still hurt; Away from the hurt that I was afraid I would eventually cause, trying to outrun myself, trying to outrun ghosts. Ghosts that I'd kept hidden, deeply buried for so long, that when finally confessed, released, literally, ripped me apart.
I'd never told anyone about my family, my watcher, what happened, what I'd done. The forced memories made everything new, up close and in my face again. They weren't much, my parents, well my mom and who ever my mom was with... and I'll admit I kind of got a sick satisfaction from cutting the guy up. Mom, she was more of an anger thing, spurred on by fear at what happened to them, that they died and rose up right in front of me and then literally tried to rip my throat out. I froze up when it came time to kill my sister, letting her escape, not really realizing what I was, what I'd become, much less what she'd become. The vamp, Kakistos, was only toying with me this time, "softening you up." He said. "Fear, it makes the blood so much sweeter." He added, laughing. "Next time, I'll play for keeps." And he kept true to his word.
My watcher found me, took me in, gave me comfort and shelter and while running from an enemy too big and numerous to handle, we ran right into Kakistos. He tried to turn me against her, he said it was all a set up, Emma, the watchers, that they had questions and needed answers, he repeated what they supposedly said, "Lets see how much a slayer can take. We got a spare, be a shame not to test her limits, to see how much they can take and still perform." We walked straight into an ambush, she watched as that beast defiled me, tortured me, tried to make me. I took it all and it made him so mad that he turned on her, turned her and I took her out , with basically no training, what skills I got, I got from the street, survival instincts baby, I got them but still, I was forever damaged by the horrors he put me through. I'd still never let that ghost out. I knew I'd eventually have to, if I wanted to break free of its hold. Sometimes you have to just run, in order to think , to get away, pretend you're getting somewhere.
I couldn't do anything for them, they were dust and I didn't have a clue as to where my sister might be, not really but I knew that one day we'd find each other again. I only hoped I could do what had to be done. All I had left was tears, tears for my folks, for what they'd meant and made of me, well tears and fear, fear of a reunion with the only family I had left.
Guilt. I had that left too, lots of guilt, for Buffy, her family, her friends, for the others too far gone to hear my, 'I'm sorry's', the ones dead and buried, the ones I killed, the ones who deserved better than to lie unmarked in a sunken hole. That was my only choice, my only place to run, the only thing I could still make right.
That's where I found myself or that's where I ended up rather, the ruins of the past, the very mouth of hell, cried out and humbled.
I was cold, tired from days of walking, running, with little drink or food, tired of no sleep, exhausted beyond physical and mental capabilities. I ignored the pain and trudged on into the mess, heading to where I thought my destination to be.
Once there, I fell to my knees and started moving debris with my bare hands, searching, beyond exhaustion, beyond mental awareness, digging, becoming frantic, trying to somehow right wrongs, thinking that by finding my victims, I could somehow, I don't know, put them in a place of rest, a place that they deserved, some place a hell of a lot better than a sunken in hole. I thought I owed them, at the very least, that.
I dug, rummaged, moved clutter through-out the night, hope wavering, sorrow hovering over me. Just as the day was breaking around me, just as the sun fought back the dark, the destruction showed itself, showed the decay, the lost cause. A single tear ran down my face as a shadow passed over me.
I didn't have to look, I knew. "I can't find them." I said, voice shaking, tears building again, shaking my head, no. "I can't find them."
She moved closer, kneeling beside me, bringing my face into view, burning my cheeks with her fingers, eyes reaching out to me. "I know." She said as she sat down and brought my head to a resting position in her lap, lightly tracing my face and running her fingers through my hair.
"I'm sorry, B." I whispered.
"Shhhh." She soothed. "It's gonna be alright. You're not alone, not anymore. I'm here and I'm staying as long as you need to be here. I won't ever leave you or let you down again. I promise."
She pulled me closer, cradling me, rocking us back n forth. Time stood still as she listened to me let go off all my ghosts, not once judging but accepting my past, accepting me. As time moved again, the sun moved high into the sky, casting light over the vastness, the wastelands, showing us where we were, where we came from, what we'd accomplished against all odds.
"I got you. I won't let you go. I'm here now."
"I got you."