Wednesday 13th August
The guard stopped outside her cell, and rapped on the bars with his baton. Faith looked up in surprise then shrugged, figuring the guard was after her cellmate.
"Come on Mackenzie, you got a visitor. Get a move on."
"You sure it's me? There's another Mackenzie over on D block." The guard looked down at his clipboard.
"Your name's Faith isn't it?" She nodded in reply, wondering who could want to see her after so long. Even Angel had finally given up on her.
"Then it's you. Come on, we haven't got all day."
As they walked down the grey corridors and through the various security doors, Faith wondered who her visitor might be, considering and discounting various possibilities. She decided it was most likely someone from the Council of Watchers, with another 'offer' for her. However, as they approached the visitor's area she suddenly knew she was wrong. This close, she could... feel her visitor's presence: she knew exactly who it was. She paused on the threshold, suddenly nervous, her mouth dry. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside.
On the other side of the glass sat Buffy, offering her a wan smile as she sat down. 'She doesn't look so good' mused Faith as she pulled her chair closer and picked up the telecom handset. 'What the hell is she doing here?' She stared at the blonde Slayer, marvelling at how even after all this time Buffy could stir up such a violent mix of emotions inside her. Finally she spoke.
"B." Faith kept her voice deliberately flat; without due care she knew she might easily lose control. If that happened she might just burst into tears, or try to get through the Plexiglas to attack her old comrade in arms. She felt the reassuring weight of the shank in her pocket, and willed herself to relax.
"Hi Faith... er, how are you? It's been a while." If anything Buffy seemed even more nervous than Faith, who shrugged.
"Oh you know B... same ol' same ol'. It's not so bad. Nobody's stupid enough to mess with me in here. Not twice, anyway." She grinned at her one time friend.
To Buffy, the smile looked more like a rictus. There was no warmth there; Faith's eyes remained cool and calculating. She wondered what she was doing here at the prison. Did she really believe Faith would agree to help after everything that had passed between them? There was only one way to find out though.
"Faith I... I need your help."
"Well shit, B. Much as I'd love to be of assistance, I'm kinda tied up at the moment, you know? In fact, I seem to remember my being here was your idea. You want me to break out? Or you just wanna wait a few months until they let me out of here?" Buffy shook her head.
"The Council owes me a few favours, and they seem to have some influence in this kind of thing. They believe they can get you an early release."
"If I agree to help?" Buffy nodded, not trusting herself to speak. "Tempting as that offer is Buff, reckon I'll just see out the rest of my time here. Sorry I couldn't be of more assistance, but you know... it's a hard life 'n' all. I should know." She moved to hang up the intercom but halted in amazement as tears began to roll down Buffy's cheeks. The little blonde's face almost seemed to collapse as she began to sob. Faith put her head in her hands. 'Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck fuck' she thought, 'How do I get myself into these situations? Hang up; walk away, do not even think about it. She left you to rot in prison, and now she comes crawling, asking for help. Fuck!'
"Buffy... what is it?" The other Slayer gasped, trying to stop herself from sobbing. After a moment she seemed to regain some of her composure, and whispered into her handset.
"They're all gone, Faith."
"What? Who's gone Buffy? What are..."
"Everyone!" Buffy interrupted the brunette. "The old gang. Giles, Willow, Xander.... they're dead. They're all dead!" This last was screamed down the intercom. Faith could see heads turning their way, and a guard heading in their direction. Buffy calmed down again and waved the guard away.
"Wha... what? How? What about Angel? And Wesley and Cordelia..." Buffy shook her head.
"All of them. Anyone I've ever loved, who could help me out. It's all happened so quickly. They even..." She broke down and started crying again. Faith felt a cold grip tighten round her heart.
"Oh God B, not Dawney too. They couldn't..." Buffy just nodded mutely, incapable of speaking further. Faith felt light headed. How could this be happening?
A guard rang the bell to signal the end of visiting hours, and Faith made up her mind there and then. "Buffy! Get me out and I'll help you. We'll find the bastards who did this, I swear. Just get me out." The guard signalled impatiently at her as the prisoners began filing out. "B? Just get me out." Buffy nodded, staring at her as she was led away.
Faith fingered the cold weight of the shank in her pocket. She couldn't afford to get in any trouble before Buffy secured her release, but more than anything at that moment she knew she wanted to kill somebody. She resolved to hold onto the fury roiling inside her until she could use it constructively, until she could use it to help Buffy.
Monday 30th June
An imposing skyscraper in Chicago, second only to the Sears' Tower, the Braithwaite Plaza loomed over the city skyline like a gargoyle of glass, steel and concrete. High above the streets two men were meeting in a darkened room protected - both technologically and magically - from eavesdropping.
"Are you really sure you want to do this? We both know what happened to Richard." The owner of the rasping voice was a barely discernible, hulking figure. The voice managed to convey the idea that you would be better off not knowing what the figure looked like.
"We both know that Richard was an idiot, as well as a traitor. She did me a favour killing him." This voice was far more cultured, without an identifiable accent or distinguishing characteristic. It belonged to a slight figure seated behind a massive desk.
"Taking on the Slayer will be risky. By all accounts she is even more dangerous now - she's even died a couple of times, but keeps coming back. She has succeeded in every challenge she has faced."
"Pah! I wasn't planning to take her on personally. There are ways to beat this Slayer - she has friends and family. She also has strong morals - she refuses to kill humans. These are strengths, but also weaknesses. If we kill her supporters first, we substantially weaken her. Particularly the Witch, she is very powerful. Our task will be much easier with her out of the way. However, the sister is the important one. We kill her, and the Slayer will crumble."
"What if she runs?"
"All well and good. I'd rather the Slayer were dead, as I may need some considerable time in Sunnydale, but it is of no consequence as long as she is out of the way. Sunnydale appears to be the key to my plans, and Elizabeth Summers is the key to Sunnydale."
"What about the other Slayer? The one in prison."
"That's the beauty of it. Summers is no longer the Chosen One - we can kill her, and not have to worry about another Slayer being called. For the time being, Faith is in the perfect place. Leave her alone."
"Yes sir. I will begin preparations immediately, and await your final go ahead. She won't know what hit her."
"Good. Remember, I only want humans used for this operation. It will hinder the Slayer if she cannot use lethal force. And if she kills one of my men, even better. I want her off balance. You are excused, Asthnach.""Sir!" There was a shifting of weight, suggesting that the hulking figure of Asthnach had attempted to snap to attention. He turned and left the room, leaving his master alone in the gloom.