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Chapter Three - Potential

Flashes. Screams. Death. Agony. Monsters. Faces that contort and change into something hideous. Fangs and growling; blood, death. The air is heavy with the stench of both victory and defeat. Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Greece, Rome. New girl. Different girl, different death. More monsters. Snarling and ready to devour. FLASH. FLASH. FLASH. Never stopping.

Japan. A monster and a dragon. Sacrificial death and the feeling of dread. Blood stained kimonos and a wicked laugh that echoes in the darkness. FLASH.

"Cassia!" then a rambling of Greek words followed by a scream.

Teeth sinking; skin pierced. Blood flowing. Drinking, drinking… FLASH. Monster. She's the monster now. Face distorted into a mask of hatred and bloodlust. FLASH.


More screams, more death. Neck snapping; a tiny little boy cries for his mother. Too much death, too much blood, too many monsters. Flashing, always. One after another and leaving no room to take a breath. To stop and think. To process. Then one girl, one girl above the rest.


Faith tries not to think of her nightmares as she walks towards Sunnydale High. She decided that after that mess of fuckery in her head, it's probably best if she just stopped drinking all together. If she's gonna have dreams like that every night she passes out wasted than clearly she's got more issues than a box of magazines. Probably her brain just trying to tell her to slow down, take it easy. Breathe, just for a second. Because more often than not she's been having weird dreams lately.

But it's hard. All of this is really hard. She barely got any sleep last night and she still had to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn to get her mother dressed, ready, and presentable so they could go look for a job. Thankfully she did end up getting hired at The Doublemeat Palace, so it was worth it. But she's just so tired. So goddamn sick and tired of everything.

Faith has learned to disassociate though. It's about the only thing that keeps her sane. What happens at home stays at home, and when she's not there? It doesn't exist. So she stops thinking about it as she strolls through the Library doors. Giles looks up from his many books, giving her a smile.

"Ah, Faith. Come in." he looks surprised though, glancing at the clock. "I wasn't expecting you to come early."

Faith just shrugs and plops down in a chair. "Was already up," she explains shortly.

"Really?" Giles asks, surprised. But he doesn't comment anymore on the matter, instead he sits across from her, looking slightly overwhelmed with something. Faith raises her eyebrows at him.

"So what's up?"

"Faith…" he says slowly, fiddling with his glasses a little. He looks up at her. "Do you trust me?"

Well that's a weird ass question and not what she was expecting. She looks at him for a minute before shrugging a bit. "Yeah, I mean… you ain't givin' me any reason to think you're about to screw me or anything."

Giles looks a bit disgruntled at her choice of words, but doesn't comment. That makes Faith narrow her eyes. Giles never passes up a chance to scold her for her lack of tact. "What's going on?" she asks.

"This would be easier if you were Willow," Giles mumbles, though mostly to himself. He pinches the bridge of his nose. He takes a deep breath. "Faith… you know what Willow and I are always discussing? Magic… demons and the like?"

"Yeah…" Faith looks at him like she's not sure if he's gone a bit crazy.

"I know you do not believe in all of that stuff, but it's time you started," Giles tells her as he slides a book over to her. Faith blinks and looks down at the title.

"The Slayer? What is this, some kind of horror novel? You know I ain't big on the reading for pleasure, G."

"That, Faith… could be your destiny," Giles says, clearly apprehensive on how she's going to take this. But as of right now, nothing seems to be piecing together. She just stares at him as he goes on. "There is one girl in all the world that is Chosen to be the Slayer. She alone fights the forces of darkness in this world; protecting it from vampires, demons, and otherworldly creatures."

Faith blinks at him for a long time. Then she snorts before she starts laughing. "So what? You're saying I'm this superchick now? Cause I gotta tell ya, I think I need to get your dealers number for my mum."

"Faith!" Giles exclaims, infuriated with her for a moment. It makes her stop, staring wide eyed. "Do not talk about your mother in such a callous way. She is in a lot of pain; lost, in need of your help, and she is most definitely not a joke."

"Sorry," Faith mumbles automatically, feeling instantly ashamed of herself. She already knew Giles knew. He comforted her one day when he found her crying behind one of his bookshelves about all the shit in her life. She respects him for it; for coming over and caring; helping. She knows not many people would do that. "Sorry," she repeats, softer.

Giles calms down a little and clears his throat. "And… no. You are not the Slayer. You are what we call a Potential. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of you all over the world. And when the current Slayer dies, then and only then will one of you be Chosen to replace her. I am to act as your Watcher. I will be training you, preparing you, in case you do end up being Chosen."

"And who is Little-Ms.-Special right now?" Faith asks, almost with a mocking tone, but it's too curious to really be a mock. She still thinks Giles may have gone insane, yeah, but… but she trusts him. She has to. There ain't many people in this world who bother with her and he's one of them. She can tell by the look in his eyes that he's serious, that he believes in what he's saying, and it makes her a little uneasy. But only cause it makes her wonder if it's really true.

She kinda wants to slap herself in the face for thinking that though.

"Her name is India Cohen. She's in San Diego at the moment with her Watcher, Kit. She is usually stationed in Tokyo, however. A mission brought them this way."

"A mission," Faith says flatly. But then she repeats the name as something dawns on her, "India? That's wicked weird cause I totally—"

"Have been having odd dreams?" Giles finishes for her knowingly. She looks up at him surprised. "You've been having dreams of other young women. Different times, different places. You see monsters and horrendous death."

"Yeah…" Faith says softly, her eyes wide as she stares at him. How could he know about her dreams? She's never told anyone about them. Not Willow, not Xander, not her mother. No one.

"And you saw India, the current Slayer."

Faith blinks, just trying to process all this information. It sounds crazy, all of it. Some shit you make up while trippin' on shrooms. But her dreams… she knows they're not normal. She's never remembered any of her dreams so vividly. It's almost like they're real; like she's living them. And Willow… Willow believes all of this exists. Xander swears he's seen odd things. And fuck, it's all so fucking insane that she just wants to laugh. But there's another part in her, a larger part, that hopes that he may be right. That she was… meant to do something besides being a Southie screw up. That she has a purpose.

But it's all so fucking stupid, right? Vampires, Slayers, demons, magic… it's all smoke and mirrors and fantasy, right? This is the real world.

Giles can see she's trying to deal with everything, but he continues. "I am a Watcher, Faith, from The Watcher's Council in England. We watch over the Slayers and the Potentials; training them, preparing them. I was transferred her a year ago to watch over a Potential that was said to reside here. But it was most difficult finding her."

"You said 'her', not 'me'," Faith points out. It's the only thing she can really find herself to say. That, and she hasn't been in Sunnydale for a year yet, but the words don't come out of her mouth.

"Yes, well, there seems to be two Potentials on this lovely Hellmouth. I was originally sent to be hers, but the Council has chosen to assign her to another Watcher," Giles tells her.

"…Hellmouth?" Faith asks. Her voice sounds disbelieving and weak.

"Yes actually, Sunnydale is built on one of the many mouths of Hell," Giles says, sighing a bit. He takes off his glasses and cleans them thoroughly.

"Seriously. You. Drugs? Chill," Faith says, but it doesn't sound like she means it. It's distant; detached. She's not sure if she even does mean it. She can't really think properly. All her head keeps doing is replaying her dreams over and over.

"Faith," he says seriously as he puts back on his glasses. "Do you trust me?" he asks again.

Faith nods slowly. It's automatic. She does, but after this she has no idea how she still can. It's too surreal to be… real.

"You are a potential Slayer, Faith. This is your destiny. I am going to help you fulfill it," Giles tells her seriously. He speaks to her in almost a fatherly tone, if she even knew what that was supposed to mean. She can do nothing else but trust his judgment.

Because hey, her life can't possibly suck any worse. And being destined for something? That sounded… actually kind of cool. She's still not in the realm of believing in demons and vampires yet. She's one of those 'see to believe' types, but she's starting to get a little excited, despite everything. It doesn't make sense why; every logical part in her brain is screaming for her to run, get away from the psycho. But the lost, lonely girl inside? She wants to stay. And that's who's in control her right now.

"So who's this other chick? The other Potential?" Faith asks, trying to keep the shake out of her voice; trying to be strong, collected. Giles smiles a little, seeing her take this better than he expected.

"It would be best that you two never know of each other, I'm afraid," Giles tells her. "You see… there's something you need to understand, Faith. Being a Slayer, even being a Potential Slayer… it puts a target on your back. Those who wish to eliminate the Slayer line will stop at nothing to destroy you all. And this other girl is being targeted by a large demon clan called Zan'Hurrak. They believe she will be the next Slayer in line, though it's impossible to tell if she really will be. We don't know exactly what they want with her, but they have been careful in not killing her. Instead they have been killing off every Watcher that has been sent to her. Maybe to weaken her, leave her unknowing and relatively defensive without the knowledge we bring if she finally does become Chosen. We do not know their intentions… yet. But I will not have you mixed up in that. I much prefer you alive."

"Killing her Watchers? Why are you still alive then?" Faith asks suddenly. But then she winces as she realizes how harsh that sounded coming out of her mouth. "I mean, you were supposed to be hers before me, right?"

Giles sighs, shaking his head. "I don't know why I was spared, possibly because I did not know who she was until yesterday. The Council had apparently decided to keep me in the dark once they found out her identity, for reasons they have yet to divulge." He looks a bit unhappy about that, but Faith isn't sure why. Keeping him in the dark obviously kept him alive. "But," he says, his voice more cheerful now. "Now I am to watch over you. And I must say, from a strictly non-professional standpoint of course, that I am… I'm very proud to have you as my Potential, Faith. No one deserves this more than you."

Giles smiles at her and she can't help but smile back. This is why she had no choice but to believe him. It was this; all this mushy shit that is so not who she pretends to be, but still is. He cares about her. He wants to see her succeed. He's like the father she always wanted but never got. The little girl inside of her is screaming, jumping for fuckin' joy and back again, and the logical part in her head is getting more drowned out by her by the second.

"Just so we're clear though," Faith says, cocking an eyebrow. She had to at least voice it out loud. "You do know I'm still thinkin' this whole thing's a mess of insane, right?"

Giles laughs a little, but it's fond. "I would expect nothing else from a bright young woman such as you. Tonight I will prove it to you though, if you'll give me the chance."

Faith cocks an eyebrow suspiciously. "How?"

"There is an abandoned warehouse not far from here. The Council has trapped a vampire inside. Chained, of course. Sort of a… show and tell for you and the other Potential, I guess you could call it. To help let the reality sink in," Giles tells her. Faith just blinks at him a couple times.

"Can I kill it?" she asks finally. It's more of a general curiosity, but she knows she has a spark in her eye at the thought.

Giles grins a little. "I will talk to Merrick. If he has already shown his Potential then I see no reason why you couldn't."

Faith's lips widen into a grin at the thought of being able to destroy something. She wonders how powerful it'll make her feel. But Giles notices her look and immediately becomes concerned.

"Faith," he says seriously. "Killing is not something that one should indulge in. If Chosen, you will slay evil and help people. You will be saving people. But you must remain grounded. You must realize that your actions will always have consequences and that, if this may be your calling, it is not an outlet to express your anger and inner-hatred."

Faith looks up at him surprised, almost defensive. "Hey, you know me. Lovin' myself." She says it in a cocky tone, almost pushing to have it be accepted as a fact.

"You may be many things," Giles says softly. "But you've never been a good liar. You are terribly unhappy, Faith. I can see it in you every single day."

Faith averts her eyes from him and sets her jaw. She doesn't say anything for fear of either screaming at him or crying. She didn't know which and she'd rather not do either. She stays silent.

"But we are going to change that," Giles tells her, patting her knee a bit as he stands up. "I am going to teach you of a whole other world. I will teach you how to defend yourself. And if my master plan works…" he smiles a little as he looks down at her. "You will learn to be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished instead of dwelling on your failures."

Faith purses her lips together, but she nods. It's still a lot to take in; all of it. But she's curious by nature, she can't help it. Besides, something inside her keeps telling her that he's not lying to her, that this is all for real. Instead of fighting that, she decides to go with that instinct, and her instinct to be curious.

"So what's the life expectancy of these girls?" she asks. She can tell Giles takes note that there is no fear in her voice; only curiosity.

"Unfortunately… nineteen years old."

"Damn," Faith breathes out. Part of her hopes she isn't the next one, but the other part of her is telling her that maybe it'd be worth it. Just to do something with her life that actually means something. Do something cause no one ever expected her to amount to anything.

"But there have been cases…" Giles starts, trying to sound optimistic. But he just sighs, "Well, only few that have lived past that age. The oldest was twenty one when she died."

"So, first rule of slaying is 'don't die?' I take it?"

Giles laughs a little, softly. "Yes, that would be an important rule. You also must realize, Faith, is that this is a burden that you alone have to carry. Even being a Potential, it is important that you keep your secret. The Council functions with secrecy."

"Yeah, yeah," Faith says, dismissing that with a hand wave. She leans forward, putting her elbows on her knees. "So when do we get to the you teaching me how to fight part?"

"After you read this," Giles says, pushing the book about Slayers towards her. "And once I feel that you are ready." Faith puffs out her cheeks as she lets out a disappointed breath. But she takes the book anyway. She could do with a bit of light reading… apparently. The book is old and smells like death though, so she's sure it won't be the most pleasant of reads. Though at least it'll probably more interesting than homework.

"Alright, fair enough." She leans back in her chair, the curiosity getting the best of her again. "So this other Potential chick… she's about my age, right? Or do you get chosen to be one of these at random ages?"

"Fifteen is the approximate age, yes. But this girl is a bit older, through fault of ours for not getting to her fast enough; being more prepared about the Zan'Hurrak."

"So she goes to this school then," Faith says, putting the pieces together in her head. Giles looks at her disapprovingly.

"Faith, I do not want you to go snooping. It is for your own benefit that you stay away from her right now. I mean that."

Faith holds up her hand in defense. "I won't go lookin'. Promise. Just wanted to know a little about her, that's all. I mean, what if she ends up being the next superchick? Gotta be in the know."

"Slayer," Giles corrects in a tired tone. He rubs his temples a little. "And the only thing I will tell you about her is that you are by-far more accepting of your potential destiny than she is. She's giving Merrick one hell of a migraine, or at least that's what he said when I spoke with him this morning."

Faith smirks. "Well, you know me. Been hangin' around you and Willow too much, I guess."

"Yes, quite," Giles says, trying to act like he's offended by that, but Faith can see the hint of a smile making his lip twitch. "But to get back on track; if you are Chosen you will be instilled with special abilities." That makes Faith sit up straighter in her chair. "You will have superhuman senses, strength, speed, endurance, agility, and healing. But that does not mean that you will be… Superwoman" Giles says, mocking the term. "You are still human and therefore are easily killed if you do not learn how to use these strengths and abilities to your benefit. But we needn't worry about that now. For now, you are still just a girl."

"Can I vote myself next Slayer? Like stick my name in a hat a couple dozen times? Cause that sounds wicked."

"Yes, well, as wicked as it may be, that is not how it works. And while I am officially supposed to tell you to embrace your destiny and hope that it is you, I must tell you the truth," Giles says. He looks down at her, worry on his face. "And the truth is that I very much hope you do not become the next Slayer. I hope you are able to live out a long and prosperous life, away from all of this."

Faith feels something tug around her heart at that. No one has ever said that to her. Most people assume she's gonna die young. Hell, even she is half convinced she will.

"So…" Faith starts, slowly. "Is there like, an expiration date on this whole Potential thing then?"

"Yes," Giles says. "If you reach your seventeenth birthday and have not been called as the Slayer, it is unlikely that you ever will be. Of course, anything is possible. But Slayers are usually called when they are sixteen."

"So I'm still in the clear for like… a couple weeks," Faith says, trying to figure out how long it is until her sixteenth birthday. Giles nods.

"Yes, which is why I must prepare you quickly. The current Slayer could die at any moment."

"That's comforting," Faith says flatly.

"That is the life of a Slayer," Giles tells her. He takes a breath as he seems to collect his thoughts. He looks back down at her. "Take this book, go home and read it; study it. I will stop by your home around nightfall."

Faith looks at him for a long time, still trying to have this sink in. But she smiles, grabbing the book as she hops to her feet. "Don't know about callin' that shitty ass motel room a home, but alright. I'll see ya on the flip, G."

She starts to walk away before she hears Giles call back, affirming, "I will see you then. Oh, and Faith?" She turns around to face him. "Please refrain from swearing, it makes you seem... uneducated, and I know that isn't true." Faith smirks and shakes her head as she leaves, clutching the book to her chest.

Vampires, demons, magic… maybe it is fairytale shit. But right now? Now Faith's wondering if maybe fairytales are real. Just stories that were passed down. And it all sounds so insane, so god damn fucking crazy, but she can't help the feeling of hope that maybe she is destined to do something.

To be somebody.


Chapter Four - There Are No Secrets, There Are No Lies

Faith was almost off campus when she hears her name being called. She furrows her brow, noting that it was most definitely a female voice but not Willow. She turns around, coming face to face with Buffy Summers who is making her way over to her. What the fuck? She raises an eyebrow at her, defensiveness written all over her face.

"Hey," Buffy says as she walks over to her. She stops a good distance away though, probably in fear of what being so close to Faith could entail. Like massive pain, for instance. What kind of nerve does this bitch have to come up and say hi?

"What the hell do you want?" Faith asks flatly.

Buffy looks down, stuffing her hands in her jeans a bit awkwardly as she rocks on the balls of her feet. "I uh," she starts, her eyes flickering up to look into Faith's cold eyes. "I just wanted to apologize… for Cordelia, last night. She shouldn't have said what she did to you."

Faith laughs. She can't help it. What the hell? "What are you, tryin' to get my vote for Homecoming Queen early now? Cause I gotta tell you, Twinkie. It ain't gonna work. You seem to fail to grasp the concept that I don't like you."

"No, that's not—"

"Lemme tell ya something, B," Faith says, getting closer to her. Buffy takes a step back instinctively and it makes Faith grin. "I don't know what the fuck you're playin' at here, and frankly? Don't really give much of a shit either. But I don't need or want your little apology so you can go shove that back up your ass where it came from."

Buffy narrows her eyes at her, obviously getting a little more than annoyed. "Fine, sorry I even bothered to be nice to you. God, that's the last time I try to help out the underprivileged around here." Faith's eyes flash and Buffy has the decency to back up a little more as Faith starts to advance on her.

"You wanna say that again?" Faith dares her. She drops the book she was holding and lets it land in the grass before she cracks her knuckles and tries to control herself not to just pound the snot out of the bitch. She was still on school property and suspended at the moment already.

"A-And for the record," Buffy says, still walking backwards, trying to look strong but the shake in her voice in undeniable. "My name is Buffy, not B, not Twinkie, and not whatever else you think you can call me."

"I think I'll call you whatever I feel like, Princess," Faith mocks with a grin. But Buffy's eyes have fallen downwards to the ground, landing on the book that was lying face up in the grass. An odd look crosses her face before she almost stumbles backwards. She reaches out her hand and it lands on a tree, keeping her upright. "Run along now," Faith tells her in a sweet voice that in no way is meant to comfort. She doesn't notice what Buffy's staring at. "Go back to your little herd of sheep. Just stay the fuck away from me."

Buffy doesn't say anything; she seems to be in some sort of trance as she turns and practically runs away from her. Faith watches her run off before rolling her eyes a bit as she turns away, picking her book up off the grass. Man, like today couldn't get any fucking weirder – Buffy fucking Summers needs to come over and act like the patron saint of the popular kids. Whatever.

She finds herself looking back at her though. Her eyes narrow as she realizes she's not alone anymore on the other side of campus. She seems to be arguing with an older guy. No doubt the dude her mom's dating or something. Fuck it. She turns away from her and starts walking back towards the motel. She really didn't want to think about that girl. She always gave her a weird feeling.

Knowing the day she's had though, that probably means she's like… fuckin' evil or something. Go figure.

Reading the book wasn't as boring as she originally thought it was going to be. While yeah, it still looked more interesting than homework, it still was a dusty old book. But she learned about the history of the Slayer, which she was more than a litter curious to know about. A long ass time ago in Africa, this group of dudes called the Shadow Men took some chick and used all this voodoo to put the heart, soul, and spirit of this demon in her. It sounds creepy – knowing that if she's Chosen that she's gonna end up being like, part demon, but it was still kind of cooler than hell.

She found herself immersed in it almost immediately, reading about each Slayer that came before the current one. She didn't even realize how much time had passed until she heard a knock on her door. She looks up from her position on the bed. Well, it couldn't be Giles, it wasn't dark out yet. She stretches her legs before they carry her over to the door. When she opens it she's greeted by the sight of Willow and Xander. She smiles.

"Hey," she says, stepping back so they could come in.

"We thought you were going to meet us in the Library after school," Willow tells her as she comes in. "You're always there." She pouts a little.

"Sorry, G-Man gave me homework of his own," Faith says as she plops down on the bed. She watches Xander close the door and she says, "You're never gonna fuckin' believe who tried to apologize to me today."

"If you say Cordelia, I'll have a stroke," Xander says, wide eyed.

"Ha, no. Like that bitch even has the word sorry in her vocabulary," Faith says, snorting. "Fuckin' Buffy little-Ms-Perfect Summers. She came up to me and had the nerve to actually say she's sorry for what Cordelia said last night. I swear the bitch is going for sainthood or something. Told her to fuck off though." Willow looks a little disapproving at that and Faith raises her eyebrows. "What?"

"N-Nothing…" Willow stammers, looking down.

"Come on Red, you can say whatever you want to me, you know that," Faith says, making sure her voice is soft. She knows she can sometimes scare even her friends with her intimidation problem she's got going on.

"Well, I…I just don't think you should have done that," Willow says, trying to put on her resolve voice. "B-Buffy can be nice… she was trying to be nice to you."

"Dude, she makes fun of us all the time," Faith says flatly. Why the heck was Willow defending her? And why the hell wasn't Xander jumping in with his two cents? She looks over and he's scratching the toe of his shoe on the floor.

"Only when she's around Cordelia," Willow says, looking up at her now. "Otherwise she's… she's kind of… nice. She says sorry to me all the time." Faith blinks, then looks at Xander. He's gotta have an opinion on this.


Xander shrugs, choosing not to look Faith in the eye. "She's said sorry to me a lot too."

Faith huffs. She leans against the headboard of the bed and crosses her arms across her chest. "Well this is the first time the bitch has ever said word one to me about being sorry, so excuse me if I thought she was tryin' to play some kind of game. Besides, really doesn't fuckin' matter anyway, cause that still means she's a two-faced little hooker and I don't play around like that."

"Faith, this has probably escaped your notice… but you're kind of scary," Xander points out, which makes her glare at him. "Like that! See, like that. That's… scary. But! What I mean is that… maybe she was scared to say anything to you before, which is why she never did anything until now." Faith's narrows her eyes even more. "Hey, don't look at me like that. I'm not advocating for Buffy-love here. I was just saying."

"Whatever." Probably not the most intelligent answer, but she doesn't care.

"What's this?" Willow asks, picking up the book Giles gave Faith to read, thankfully changing the subject. "The Slayers? Ohhh!" Willow says, eyes widening. "I've read about them! Wait… you… you don't believe in any of this. Why do you have it?"

"Just… reading," Faith says lamely. She doesn't even know how to begin to explain what went on this morning.

"But… you don't… OH!" Willow says, excitement clear in her voice as her smart little brain pieces everything together quickly. She's bouncing a little on the bed. "Oh, oh, oh!! You're the Slayer, aren't you?! That's why you're all with the fighting and stuff!"

"What's a Slayer?" Xander asks, coming over to the look at the book.

"I'm not the Slayer," Faith mumbles, but they aren't listening.

Willow's talking excitedly to Xander, "There's one girl that gets Chosen out of the whole world to fight all the demons and stuff. Girls our age!" She turns to Faith now. "And you're it, aren't you! Oh my god this is so cool! And that's why Giles is so British and knows all of this stuff! He's a Watcher, isn't he?!"

"Hey, hey, slow your roll, Will," Faith says, trying to get everything to just back up a few steps. She didn't expect Willow to know so much about it. She vaguely remembers Giles telling her to keep it a secret, but it's kind of pointless now. "I'm not the Slayer. I'm just… a Potential, or something. I might be, I might not. I don't know. Not until some chick bites the big one."

"Whoa," Xander says, looking just as fascinated as Willow does. He's not even usually up to speed with all of this either. Yeah, he gets the weird that goes on around them, but he never actually believed like Willow does. "Wait… so Giles stalked you all the way from England so he could… watch you?"

That makes Faith laugh. Of course that's what he'd ask. And damn, the way he said it made it sound totally pedo. "Nah, he… I dunno. He didn't come here for me. There's some other girl, but he won't tell me who. But I guess he's my… Watcher now," even as she says it, it sounds insane out loud. "And not in the nasty pedophile way," she adds pointedly to Xander. "He says he's gonna train me how to fight and stuff." Then she looks at Willow. "You really think this stuff is for real?"

"Totally!" Willow says, excited.

"So he's gonna make you even more of a lethal weapon than you already are?" Xander asks, wide-eyed. Then he grins. "Oh, Cordelia is in so much trouble…" he snickers. Then he pauses as something dawns on him. "Wait. Giles knows how to fight?"

That makes all three of them stop and look at each other. The thought seemed kind of funny, which is why all three of them collapsed into a fit of giggles as they imagined proper, stuffy Giles doing kung-fu. The mental image was just too much. "You need to video that!" Xander says through his laughing fit.

Faith's inclined to agree.

After their giggle fit has subsided, Willow's back to being her curious self. "So how… how do you feel… about all this?"

Faith shakes her head, letting out a breath. "Still think it's insane," she starts. "I mean, it's just… fuckin' nuts. I don't know. But… it's like the sane part of my brain is getting overpowered by like… my gut. Or something. It's hard to explain. I guess I still can't figure out how to take it. Reality hasn't sunk in or whatever. But Giles is gonna try to fix that tonight, I guess."

"What's he going to do?" Xander asks, his voice filled with suspicion. She couldn't blame him; she had the same reaction.

"Show me a real vampire… apparently. It'll be chained and shit."

"That is so cool!" Willow squeaks, and both Xander and Faith look at her funny. She reiterates, "W-Well, okay, not cool as in like something that could possibly kill us all is awesome, just… just that it'd be cool to see one? A-And maybe run screaming after. But you know…" she blushes a little from getting a bit too carried away.

"I might get to kill it," Faith says, a little smile lingering on her lips and a spark in her eye. Willow's eyes go wide, fascinated.

"Am I the only one who wants to stay firmly camped in the land of denial?" Xander asks. "It's one thing thinking your teacher was eating students… another to know it."

He had a point. Faith saw it, even if Willow didn't.

"Look, I dunno, man," Faith says, shrugging. "I mean if this is really my destiny, or you know, whatever, it's not like I can be chillin' in denial-land with you. Not saying I wouldn't prefer it though. It'd be easier."

"Well I can't be in denial-land alone," Xander says, waving his hand about. "Because if you end up being this superchick and you're hanging out with us we'll see…. super-non-human stuff, right?"


"This is messed up," Xander says. Faith nods in agreement.

"Well I think it's cool, Faith," Willow says with a little smile. "You could be all save-the-world, girl! And we could be like… your sidekicks."

Faith raises an eyebrow, "Sidekicks?"

Xander raises his hand, "I don't want to fight things that could kill me. Just so we're clear."

"Guys, I'm not even the Slayer yet so I think we're speeding across this bridge way too fast," Faith says pointedly. Willow makes a face but relents.

"Fine, I just… thought it would be cool, if you were." Then she adds quickly, "Not that you're not cool already! ...that is." She coughs a little and looks down, blushing again. Faith smiles; the girl's adorable.

"Don't worry Red, I know I'm the shit," Faith says with a cocky smile and a wiggle of her eyebrows. Willow blushes more. She knows she shouldn't be doing this, but it's just too damn fun to embarrass the girl.

Then there's a knock on the door. Faith looks out the window. Damn, dark already? It must be Giles, then. She gets up and opens the door, and Giles smiles a little at her before his eyes wander to Willow, Xander… and the open book about Slayers in front of them.

"You told them, didn't you." It wasn't a question, more of an annoyed statement.


"This is so cool!" Willow blurts out again, getting up. "We could end up being friends with the Slayer! The Slayer!" She's running over to the door, making Giles back up instinctively because of her excitability. "A-And Faith didn't tell us anything. I just saw the book and… and sort of guessed. So don't be mad. Canwegoseethevampirewithyou?" Willow lets out the last sentence all in one breath.

"This is exactly why the life of a Slayer, or a Potential, should be kept secret," Giles tells Faith with a disappointed tone.

Faith raises an eyebrow at him and leans against the threshold of the door. "G, come on. You give Red all these books on magic and demons and shit and you didn't think she'd find out? Seriously, dude."

"First of all, I am not a dude. Secondly, a vampire is far too dangerous and—"

"But he's chained," Willow pipes up. "Faith said he's chained. So he's not going to hurt us."

"Actually, it's a female vampire, and I don't think—" but Giles can never get a sentence out, apparently. Willows already halfway to his car, Faith in tow and Xander following behind them like he's not sure if he should really be going.

"Bloody hell," Giles says, mostly to himself as he turns and walks towards his car himself. Faith smirks. He should have known better than to dangle something mystical in front of Willow and not have her follow like a puppy.

Once he gets in the car, he says, "Fine, but I must stress the importance that you all keep Faith's identity a secret. That you keep what you are about to witness a secret. And you must arm yourself in case of… extenuating circumstances."

Xander's eyes go wide. "On second thought, I think I'm just going to—" he makes a move to leave, but Willow holds his arm.

"No, stay. Y-You have to stay. This'll be like our thing, you know? You know how some people have a thing? This can be ours," she gives him a little smile that Xander can't possibly resist. Faith smirks and turns towards Giles.

"So we get weapons? Wicked."

"You, Faith, get a stake. As do I. They… they get holy water and a cross because I wasn't expecting to be hosting such a large gathering," he narrows his eyes at her, but all she can do is grin at him, unashamed. He sighs and turns on the ignition, starting the car, before pulling out and heading down the street.

It only takes about ten minutes to get to the warehouse. When they step out of the car, Giles hands them all their respective items. Xander looks like he's about to pass out from the thought of getting out of denial, while Willow looks excited. Faith… Faith was nervous, but she couldn't stop the little ping of excitement in her belly either. She licks her lips in anticipation.

This was where it was all going to come together or fall apart. But either way, something was going to change tonight.

"Do I still get to kill it?" Faith asks as they make their way into the warehouse. She can see Giles fighting with a smile.

"Yes. Merrick has already shown his Potential. She… did not take it so well. But according to him, she's managing okay now."

Faith's barely listening to him though; her heart is pounding in her chest as they walk into the large, open room. On the other side, a girl who could barely be above twenty years old was chained to the wall. Her eyes flash as they come into the room and she snarls. Faith didn't know what she was expecting… but it wasn't that. She looked so… human.

"Dude, this is way past bordering on kink," Faith tells him softly as she starts to get this weird feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Giles sighs, exasperated. "Faith… meet Lucille; a vampire."

"Another one?! Just stake me already!" the girl screams, tugging at the chains that bind her. "I am not show and fucking tell for snacks!" She screams, tugging more furiously on the bindings that held her. But Faith is more entranced by the girl. She was beautiful, that much was obvious. But even with how human she looked, something in her gut was telling her that she wasn't. She steps closer to her hesitantly, keeping a firm grip on her stake.

"Vampires can appear to be human, until they are ready to feed or feel threatened," Giles explains calmly. Faith looks behind her and notice that Xander and Willow were off to the side, just watching wide-eyed, not knowing what to expect.

Giles turns to them and holds out his hand, "Xander, the holy water, please." Xander just holds it out to him, looking kind of lost, and Giles takes it. "Thank you." He walks up to the snarling girl and tells Faith, "Watch." He then uncorks the bottle and throws the water in the girls face.

…And she changed. Screaming in pain as her skin hisses and smoke rises from it. The girl – vampire – backs up against the wall.

Willow screams automatically and Faith can swear Xander just whimpered, but Faith just stares at her, blinking. Her face was deformed now. Bumpy around her eyes that have now turned yellow and she had fangs. Clear as fuckin' day fangs.

Faith knows she should probably be passed out by now, but she's just staring at it. It's like a train-wreck; you can't look away. Her whole world, everything she ever knew, everything she ever believed… was crap. This… this was for real. Her destiny… that was for real.

…It makes her feel powerful all of a sudden. A rush that comes out of nowhere and she can feel herself start to smile. She was somebody.

Giles watches her carefully as Faith walks over to the vampire. It hisses and snarls at her; taunting her. "Go on, do it. I'd rather be dust than be your little pet… unless you don't have the guts, little girl."

Faith's eyes flash and she finds herself backhanding the vampire because of her anger issues before she even has a chance to stop herself. It hisses, launching forward to retaliate but the chains make it difficult. Faith pushes it back against the wall hard, the stake to her throat. "Don't tell me I don't have guts," she hisses at it.

"Faith, heart," Giles reminds her. "You must stake her through the heart."

Faith grins a little as she trails the stake down the vampire's chest, finding something oddly erotic about it that she knows she probably shouldn't. She licks her bottom lip a little before placing it over her heart. "Where do you think you go when you die?" she asks her, tauntingly.

"Stake me and I'll find out, you worthless piece of—"

But Faith doesn't let her finish her sentence. She pushes the stake in, feeling it seep through flesh before suddenly its light. She watches the vampire turn to dust in front of her eyes… and then there's nothing. Nothing left of her. She just stares at the pile at her feet.

Holy shit.

When she turns to Giles she has a grin on her face. Giles smiles back at her. Her eyes flicker towards Willow and Xander, who are still standing there, mostly holding onto each other and eyes wide like they were shocked still. But Faith wasn't. Faith could feel the adrenaline pumping through her veins.

She just killed something.

Something evil, something so fucked up and so shouldn't be in this damn world but it is. Everything is real. All the nasty bad shit that Willow and Giles have been talking about. It should scare her, but it doesn't. Because if all of that's real, than that means that she could be chosen to be the hero. The protector. She could be Chosen to do something meaningful with her life.

It was the best feeling in the world.



Chapter Five - Danger: Do Not Open

Faith had been training with Giles for two weeks.

Willow and Xander would watch her after school – which she was now back and fully functioning in – and just be amazed at all the things Faith was learning. Hell, probably even more amazed that Giles was the one teaching her. Not with the knowledge stuff, they all pretty much expected that, but when Giles started teaching Faith how to fight… yeah, a bit weird to get used to Giles throwing Faith on her ass constantly. But Faith was getting better; quicker. She found that if she relied on her speed more than her strength that she could gain the upper hand occasionally.

Giles was proud of her, that much was clear. He couldn't hide it even if he tried. He looked down at her with all the fatherly affection that Faith ever really needed in her life. And she loved it, she ate it up. It helped her do better. It made her want to do better; to make him proud. They were starting weapons training and although Faith wasn't really the best with them, she did relatively okay. She was better with hand to hand though.

It was two days before her birthday, and after they were done training for the day, Faith collapses in one of the chairs in the library in a heap, sweating and worn out. All her muscles hurt and Giles nicked her shoulder with a sword (which he apologized profusely about) and she's not against passing the hell out right here. She's exhausted.

"So what are we going to do for your birthday?" Xander asks as he watches Faith wipe the sweat off her brow with the back of her hand… and then watch a bead of sweat disappear down her cleavage. She narrows her eyes and snaps her fingers in his face. "Sorry," he mumbles, embarrassed as he looks back up at her face.

"The Bronze?" Willow suggests, trying to ignore Xander's perverted behavior. "We can put up banners that say 'Happy Sweet Sixteen, Faith!' or something, maybe with streamers and balloons!" Faith looks at her in disbelief. "…Or not," Willow backtracks. "Streamers w-would be bad, obviously."

"There ain't gonna be nothin' sweet about my sixteenth," Faith tells her as she catches the towel Giles throws at her. She starts wiping off the sweat on her body as she continues, "I mean yeah, Bronze is cool. But it's just another night to get trashed, really. I ain't lookin' for no big party."

The phone rings and Giles excuses himself for a minute, stepping into his office.

"Can we at least wear party hats?" Xander asks, and Faith looks at him funny. "What? I like party hats. Can't a guy like party hats?"

"But Faith, this is your sixteenth birthday," Willow protests. "We have to do something special!"

"It's just a birthday, Will. Don't mean nothin' really," Faith says, not getting why everyone is making this into such a big deal. It's not like she's ever had a birthday party, ever. Not looking to start now.

"Of course your birthday means something," Xander says, looking at her, almost studying her. She hates that look so she stands up, rubbing the back of her neck with the towel before throwing it on the counter. She's not really looking for her friends to analyze her today.

"The Bronze is fine," she repeats, though her words are a little detached.

Xander and Willow exchange looks.

Giles comes back out of the office, looking a bit solemn. Faith knits her eyebrows together as she notices his expression, and so do Willow and Xander. No one says anything; they just wait for him to talk. They can all feel the tension in the room and Giles sighs, taking his glasses off as he begins to clean them. "The Slayer is dead," he says finally, not looking at any of them. Faith's eyes go wide; that only meant one thing.

That someone else was the Slayer now. More importantly; she wasn't. She was two days shy of becoming in the running. She doesn't know if she should be happy or feel like breaking things. She's torn on her feelings so she stays stock still. All her thoughts are rushing through her head and they're making her feel a bit dizzy, so she puts a hand on the counter to steady herself. Faith's never done will with overwhelming emotions, let alone conflicting ones.

"A new one has been called," he says, as he puts back on his glasses with shaky hands. Faith has never seen him tremble before.

"What's wrong?" she asks, finally finding her voice. She can see Xander and Willow out of her peripheral vision as they stare at Giles. Neither of them says a word; they can tell this is serious.

"They uh…" Giles says, seemingly losing his train of thought for a moment. He takes a breath, "The Zan'Hurrak were correct in their assumption of who it would be… and we have no idea what that means. If they possess a prophecy we do not; what it all means… what will happen to the girl…"

Faith blinks, trying to process that information. That meant… "Wait, so the potential that lives here… she's the Slayer now? Who is she?"

"I'm afraid I'm not allowed to reveal that," Giles tells her, though still seems to be lost in his own thoughts.

"Why? I knew about India," Faith says, her curiosity making her tone border on annoyance since she really wants to know. She sees no point in not knowing now. They were after her as a Potential, right? But now that she's a Slayer she can probably take them down no problem.

"Faith, please do not argue with me," Giles says, his voice tired. "Not right now."

Faith sets her jaw and she knows she's pouting but damnit she can't help it. The Slayer lives in her town, goes to her fuckin' school… and she's not allowed to know who she is? That's all kinds of messed up. And all kinds of just not fucking fair.

It's also not fuckin' fair that this had to happen two days before she was sixteen. Two damn days. Yeah, it would have scared her shitless at first if she was Chosen, but in the end? This is what she feels like she was born to do. Without it she goes back to being no one. A nobody. Just another kid from the wrong side of the tracks. She doesn't want to be that!

It's a startling realization to find that she's upset. Her throat tightens and it feels like someone is pressing down on her chest; suffocating her.

"I gotta motor," Faith says, and she can hear the strangled tone in her voice because of how upset she's becoming the more she thinks about it. She grabs her clothes, not even bothering to change out of her workout ones as she starts to leave.


But it's just an echoed call in the distance from her friends as she leaves, pushing open the Library doors heavily and storming out. She just didn't want to be around all of that right now. She didn't want to think about how her life is never really gonna change no matter how much she tries. She's always gonna be stuck in this dirt poor hell, always going to be looked down on cause of where she comes from. It's never gonna matter cause she's not gonna ever be doing anything worth it now, right? Fuck it. Unless this Slayer gets offed in the next year, Faith's chance has come and gone.

And it ain't like she wants anyone to die just so she can get a chance. But that's just how it works. And right now? She was feeling a little selfish and having herself one grand fuckin' pity party.

She knows her eyes are brimming over with tears, but she forces them back. She doesn't cry. She just doesn't.

She's probably some girl that already has so much more than Faith does. Loving, non screwed up parents. Lots of friends. A house. A fucking life. God, it's just not fair. And yeah, she knows how much of a child she's being but it's tearing her to shreds inside because she knows she needs this in her life. She has to be doing something, something good; something right. She needs to make a difference, somehow. Otherwise her whole bullshit life seems pretty damn pointless.

It's like what people say; nothing worth having is ever easy, and she's never had it easy. Ever. So why couldn't this be the one thing that was worth it?


She feels the first tear sneak out and fall down her cheek and it just infuriates her even more as she pushes the double doors open that lead out of the high school. The hot liquid is followed by another and another, falling from her eyes with no remorse and making her vision cloudy. She wipes at the wetness furiously, clenching her teeth and telling herself to be strong. But her train of thought is stopped short when she turns the corner and almost trips over someone who's curled in a ball, hunched against the wall, crying their eyes out.

Faith stumbles, grabbing hold of the wall to steady herself. The girl looks up at her, surprised to almost be tripped over, and Faith's eyes widen. It was Buffy. The two girls just stare at each other, each seeing how upset the other is and not finding any words in them to fight right now. Usually there would be jests, torments; but they had nothing. It was almost as if the whole world stops from their shock. They just stare at one another for what seems like forever.

Faith had never seen Buffy cry before. Little-Ms.-Perfect was always so happy. Though, on the flip side, no one has also ever seen Faith cry before. Not even Willow or Xander.

They just stare at each other.

Faith feels a pull that she'd rather ignore. The nice person in her wants to ask her what's wrong, but the logical person in her is telling her not to care because Buffy's a two faced, stuck up bitch. Besides, she has her own problems right now.

But she can't move. They both just stare. Maybe worried who's going to make the first move. Who's gonna move this out of awkward and into the reality that they know – where they despise each other's existence.

"…Do you know?" Buffy asks her softly, finally, sniffing a little as she wipes her tears away with the back of her hand. Faith can see her smudge dirt under her eye when she does it, a result from her sitting on the ground and pulling up the grass as she cried. Faith wants to lean down and wipe it away, but controls herself.

Faith's momentarily stunned from the words being brought into this situation. "Know what?" she asks, hesitantly. She can hear her voice crack from the strain and she winces at the sound.

"Oh," Buffy says quietly, apparently realizing she doesn't know whatever it is that she's talking about; why she's crying. But she doesn't know why Buffy would even think she did – she never gave a crap about her life.

And she's not about to start now.

"This never happened; we never saw each other," Faith tells her finally, feeling the lump in her throat more than she'd like to. She just needs to get out of there, but she needs to make sure that Buffy won't go running and telling everyone she knows that she saw Faith crying.

"I won't tell anyone," Buffy practically whispers, too distraught to really make her voice go to full strength. Faith looks at her, trying to see if she's lying, but she can't see a hint of it anywhere.

Faith nods shortly before backing up a few steps slowly. The two girls' eyes are locked on each other and Faith feels that annoying pull that she needs to get away from. But she can't find it in herself to leave and she idly wonders when the hell she started caring about stupid bitches. But what goes on right now they agreed never happened after they part ways, so Faith gives into the nice person inside of her and bends down so she's level with Buffy.

Buffy looks almost scared of her, like she's just going to tear her down after all, but Faith gives her a small smile. She reaches her hand up slowly, tentatively, before she wipes the dirty away from Buffy's cheek. She watches the blonde's bottom lip tremble at the gesture and it makes her feel all kinds of weird that she's never really experienced. Then again, being nice to someone who she can barely stand was a weird experience in itself.

"Dirt," Faith says softly in explanation. Buffy sniffles a little as her eyes find hers. She then reaches up and covers Faith's hand that's on her cheek with hers, and Faith can feel a warmth go through her. That can't be good. This definitely never happened after she leaves here.

"Thanks…" Buffy says softly, curling her fingers around Faith's hand, holding it, before moving it away from her face. She doesn't let go of her hand though and Faith isn't real sure what to do anymore. This isn't exactly a situation she's ever been in before.

This is getting too weird, so Faith decides leaving would probably be the best option.

She untangles her hand from Buffy's as she stands up, but not before stupidly telling her quietly, "Pretty girls shouldn't cry." She has no idea where that came from and it freaks her out, so she turns to leave. Of all the things to say, that really shouldn't have been one of them. She stops though once she hears Buffy's soft response.

"…Then why are you crying?"

Faith swallows hard, feeling the tears well up again in her eyes as she thinks of the answer. She looks over her shoulder at the girl on the ground and tells her honestly, her voice cracking, "Cause I ain't pretty, B."

She wasn't. She might be hot, sexy, whatever… but she wasn't pretty. Pretty was something that runs so much deeper than the physical; something that she isn't and never will be.


Faith knows she shouldn't turn back to look at her again. She knows she should keep walking and just forget about this interaction between them, but her feet are rooted to the spot. She wipes away another tear that falls before she turns back to look at Buffy, her chest heavy.

Buffy looks like she's having some kind of internal struggle as she picks herself up off the ground. She dusts her dirty hands off on her pants and leans heavily against the wall, playing with the hem of her shirt a little self consciously. There's a long silence, too long.

"What?" Faith asks, her voice strained. She feels like she's falling into some sort of trap and yet she can't help her feet that are slowly carrying her over to the blonde. It was almost surreal in a way; this whole interaction. It's not what should be happening right now and yet both of them are so caught up with being distraught that they throw everything else out the window. Maybe too caught up in needing someone else there while they break, for a change.

Whatever it is, Faith knows this is a bad idea. She knows that come tomorrow Buffy will be back with Cordelia and the rest of the Brady Bunch and taking shit behind her back. Just like Faith knows that tomorrow she'll be back to doing the same thing to her. But in this moment, right now, neither of them seem to really care. Faith's standing in front of her now, Buffy's back against the wall, but she's not trapping her.

It just is what it is.

It's this feeling that Faith's getting in her stomach. It's not like anything she's ever really felt before and she can barely find words to explain it. But it's like her body is instinctively reacting to the abnormal; pulling her in so she can find some sort of peace with it. It seems to be nerves more than peace, but she can still feel the calm that's settling over her from somebody new actually caring. Someone that she never thought would ever give a shit.

Buffy's looking up at her now and Faith can tells that for once she's not scared to have Faith close to her. Most people start to tense up, afraid that Faith is going to hurt them. Not that she can blame them. She knows she has problems with her anger. But she's not angry now, just upset. Buffy brings her hand up slowly, and Faith can see that it's shaking a little. Her trembling fingers touch the brunette's cheek softly and she tells her, "You're beautiful…"

Faith doesn't know how to respond to that. She feels like the whole world is turning upside down in front of her. Her voice is shaking from the reaction to Buffy's soft caress as she asks her, "What are you doing?"

"I just don't want to hurt right now," Buffy tells her softly; vulnerable. Faith feels her chest tighten and the hot sting of tears in her eyes as she watches another fall down Buffy's cheek. Faith wipes it away automatically with her thumb, taking in a shaky breath.

"This is probably a bad idea," Faith says softly, just needing to voice that out loud. Buffy smiles a little, sadly. She nods in agreement.

"Yeah…" she sniffs a little as she caresses Faith's cheek, wiping away a tear that's fallen. "But this never happened, so I just…" Her glistening eyes scan Faith's face for a moment. Fear hits the younger girl as she thinks Buffy's about to kiss her and screw with the balance of reality, but Buffy just wraps her arms around her neck and pulls her into a hug instead.

Faith's shocked still for a moment. She's still trying to process what the hell is going on, but her arms snake around Buffy's waist of their own accord as she pulls her closer to her. They just stand there, the two of them, embracing for what feels like forever as both of their eyes spill tears.

Yeah, this never happened. This is too weird for this to ever have really happened.

When they finally step away from each other, both of them have seemed to have calmed down a little. Buffy gives her a small smile, almost a thank you, and Faith returns it. She realizes her hands are shaking so she shoves them in her pockets, looking down at the ground as she steps further away from her. "Never happened," she repeats softly.

"I know," Buffy says quietly, and Faith's eyes flicker to hers before she takes another step back. It takes forever, but finally she's able to move more, and she turns, walking away.

She doesn't look back; she knows she can't. It was too weird, all of it. It wasn't supposed to happen. Girls like them are never meant to ever have any kind of moment of mutual understanding and respect. But they did, and Faith sighs as she speeds up her pace, running a shaky hand through her hair as she walks away from the school and back towards her motel room.

Well, that's one thing Faith's going to tuck away in the back of her mind and label 'DANGER: DO NOT OPEN.' She knows it would just confuse her life even more. She doesn't want to analyze what she just felt and what the hell that even means because it just… it doesn't make any sense. And if Faith can't rationalize it, she can't deal. She can say that yeah, they were both upset and they just needed some comfort, maybe from someone they won't have to deal with every day. It makes sense on the outside, but once you dig deeper… there's something she can't figure out. She's also pretty sure she doesn't ever want to figure it out too.

She doesn't like Buffy. She's selfish, annoying, two-faced, and just plain fuckin' mean most of the time. She never wants to ever look at her as something more than that. She never wants to see her as a person with actual feelings.

So she files it away, pushing it out of her mind. That never happened.

Faith walks into her hotel room and automatically grabs her mother's stash she had hidden away behind a painting on the wall. She needed to check on her; see if everything was okay. Give her mother her daily dose of disaster, whatever. She sighs as she looks at the tiny baggie in her hand and has the urge to set herself up a line, but pushes that away quickly. The last thing she needs to become is a drug addict. She's better than that. She has to be.

Faith opens the door that separates her and Caroline's room and her mother looks up as she sees her enter. She gives her a smile. Thank god it's one of her good days; she doesn't think she can deal with another bad one right now. "Hey," Faith says softly, shuffling inside.

"Hi honey, how was school?"

Faith just shrugs, not feeling much life in her. She hands her mother her drugs and sighs, flopping on the bed next to her. "It was school," she says flatly.

Caroline frowns a bit as she shakes her baggie, loosening the powder. She puts a hand on Faith's back comfortingly. "You wanna talk about it?" She can always tell when something's off with her daughter. Faith just shrugs again, leaning her head on her mom's shoulder. Caroline runs her fingers through her hair. "Tell me what happened."

"Nothing, I'll be fine. Just a fucked up day. Whatever," Faith avoids. Caroline doesn't push her. She starts setting up a line on her bedside table and then hands Faith back the bag, who shoves it in her pocket and hands her a dollar bill. Caroline smiles at her a little softly and starts rolling the bill.

"Turn around," she tells her.

Faith sighs heavily. "Mum, it's not like I don't—"

"Turn around," Caroline says firmly. Faith sighs and turns her back from her. This is always so pointless; she knows her mother does drugs. But Caroline never wants her to actually see her doing them. She hears the sound of her snorting up the cocaine and turns back around to face her once she's done.

"I got homework," Faith tells her, standing up. She just needs to be alone right now.

"Okay, sweetie. But if you want to talk…"

"I know, Mum. Thanks," Faith says with a small smile before she turns and leaves the room. After she closes the door behind her she leans against it, staring out the window on the opposite side of the room.

She hated today.



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