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147 Days

by Shamrock


Rating: PG
Summary: Faith is living life behind prison bars. Buffy isn't. Like that's going to stop the Chosen Two from picking a fight. Written for Oral's Prison Fic Challenge.
Notes: Daf is awesome. This has been duly noted? Good. For all the input, the feedback, the title suggestion and for not kicking my behind-scheduling beta ass, I thank you. And to all the folks at Oralfxatns for reminding me why we do this, I salute you.



Chapter One

You know how they say the worst thing about prison is the food? They're right.

Not the actual eating cause hey, three squares a day is more than I've had for most of my life, but when you pull kitchen duty and you gotta clean the slops out of what these girls leave behind... well that's just nasty. It's like trying to clean a Chaiken demon out of your hair, only with more peas. I'm pulling the last load out of the dishwasher when the buzzer goes, signaling an end to my stint in the kitchen and the start of the couple of hours we get in the yard. Weather's been good lately and everyone's eager to get out there and catch some rays. Days like this are easier to handle - a good mood's kinda contagious in here, and even though I know it might flip to an all-out riot on the turn of a dime, for right now I'm just gonna soak up the sun and make the most of it.

The girls are already lined up by the time I scoop the last handful of the unidentifiable crap out of the bottom of the sink and join them in the corridor outside. The guards are running a count before they herd us out and I nod to Eddie as he passes. He's got a new guard in tow, one of those clean-cut fresh-faced types. New Guy looks nice enough, he's wearing a smile that I bet gets him all sortsa female attention in the bars, but there's a coldness there in his eyes that makes me think I don't want to get on the wrong side of him. Not that I make a habit of pissing off the badges. These days I'll let a lot of things go for the sake of an easy life.

Satisfied we're all present and accounted for, Eddie tosses the door open and the mood of the crowd picks up when the sun streams in. We file out into the yard, some of the girls going over to start a lazy pick-up game on the court while others just hang out, trading cigarettes, phone cards, drugs - whatever they got to pass the time. I take the long way round to the bleachers, avoiding Deb and her crew who are leaning up against the fence. They're huddled together and eyeing up the fresh meat, and that can only mean trouble. Still, not trouble for me and like I said - anything for an easy life. I grab a seat on the bleachers, tilt my head up to the sun and close my eyes.

After a minute or two I find myself falling into a slow pattern of breathing exercises Angel showed me. It's less about meditation and that kinda shit, more about giving myself some time to think. I know, right? I'd figured on the inside I'd have nothing to do except sit around and think but turns out even with all this time on my hands my first instinct is to react, not to make with the cogitatin'. So this is good for me, taking some downtime with just me and my head for company. Between Angel's 'Murderers Anonymous' pep talks and some of the stuff the prison shrink says to me, I'm actually getting to a point where I can just let my brain run, remembering all of the shit that happened without instantly feeling like a complete fuckup and then going and doing something stupid to distract myself from feeling like that.

So when I hear the sounds of a fight starting up I take a really slow, deep breath and tell myself it's not my problem.

Release the breath. 'Just stay out of it, Faith.' Breathe in. I try and push down the adrenaline twitch that comes with the change of mood in the yard, focus on keeping my eyes closed. Sure, sometimes I play peacemaker if someone's stepping out of line, but I can't go jumping in every damn scrap that breaks out. Not enough hours in the day. So I ignore the sound of one woman crying while another voice - I recognise it as Deb's - cuts across her. Calm. Focus. Breathe out.

"Aw don't cry little fishy. Pretty thing like you ain't gonna have a problem making friends in here," Deb growls out from somewhere to my left by the end of the bleachers. Her latest victim sobs a little harder.

"Just l-leave me alone. Please."

Breathe in.

"Fuck you think you're talking to, newbie?" This accompanied by the very quiet but distinct sound of a shank coming out of a sleeve. If you weren't a slayer you probably wouldn't even have heard it, but I am, and I did - lucky me. And now cause I am a slayer and some bitch just pulled a knife on someone, I'm gonna have to go save the day. Not sure if that's an actual clause in my contract but I gotta figure I put myself in here for a reason, and trying to keep some sort of balance between right and wrong in the world - or at least my little barbed-wire fenced corner of it - well, that's reason enough. With a sigh I open my eyes, take in the sight of Deb and four of her crew standing around a crying blonde. And not a guard in sight - typical. I stand up and start a slow stroll towards 'em.

"Leave it, Deb."

She spins to face me and I see the glint of metal in her fist.

"Stay the fuck out of it, Lehane. Ain't none of your business." She's not even angry, just putting on a show for her crew.

At least she's taken a step back from the crying blonde chick, give me a chance to get between 'em if I need to but right now all Deb's attention is on me. Deb's got herself a rep as the resident hardcase. She ain't top dog or nothing, no way near smart enough to play political, but she's there when somebody needs muscle. She pulled this same 'click up, newbie' bullshit on me my third day in here. I had told myself I was gonna keep out of trouble, walk away rather than kick off on anyone who hassled me, but something about her 'you're a piece of shit' attitude got my blood up. She said she wanted to introduce me to life inside so I introduced her face to my elbow.

We're not what you might call close.

She spits on the ground at my feet and throws a hard look in the girl's direction. The new girl's about thirty or so, pretty in that clichéd `girl next door' way. She's crouched on the ground, back to the bleachers, trying to keep an eye on the five women surrounding her.

"You know, I still can't figure you out, Lehane," Deb says to me. Her tone is light like we're just having a friendly chat, but her knuckles are white from the death grip she's got on that blade. "You got no time for anyone in here... no real friends, no crew, but soon as we want to have a little fun you're all up in my business like you're some kinda fuckin' hero?"

I try my best to keep my face blank. For all that I like to walk around not giving a shit about what anyone thinks of me, every now and then some fucking low-life con throws an insult my way and I'm back to being an eight-year-old kid trying not to cry in the playground.

"You know what most heroes got in common, bitch?" Her whole arm tenses, ready to swing that blade at my face. "They die young."

She takes a slight step forward and all I can think is 'don't kill her' as my hands come up to meet her, but in that half-instant between threat and blood one of her girls lets out a sharp, low whistle. Guards. Thank fuck.

Eddie stops a dozen paces away, hand on his nightstick. New guy is at his shoulder looking eager for some action.

"Problem, ladies?"

Both Deb's hands are empty as she holds them up to Eddie, the shank back in her sleeve. "Not a one, officer. Just getting to know the new girls."

Eddie's eyes slip from the new chick to me, and he raises an eyebrow a silent question. I shake my head.

"We're all good."

"Well keep it that way, yeah?" The new guard - his name tag reads Morris - smiles at the group of us. "I'd rather not have to go knocking heads on my first day."

He gets nods from us and a roll of the eyes from Eddie, then the two of them make their way back across the yard.

I blow out a breath and Deb turns to the blonde. "Count yourself lucky, mama," she snarls. "We'll talk again when you don't got your guard dog around." Then she turns on her heel, stalking across the yard with her posse in tow.

Which leaves me with a whole bunch of directionless adrenaline and a still-crying woman sitting in front of me.

I fumble a pack of cigarettes out of my back pocket to buy some time and to give me an in to the kind of conversation I've never been any good at having. I squat down beside her, hold out the pack. She just wipes a hand across her eyes and shakes her head.

"Word of advice," I flick the lighter and take a drag. "You wanna have a breakdown? Best to do it in your cell where you don't attract so much attention."

"Sorry." She won't quite look me in the eye. She's got that same energy about her that some of the girls do when they land here first - like they're walking through treacle or something. Everything they do or say is a couple of seconds behind what it should be. I guess they're still telling themselves that it isn't real, that any minute they'll be waking up back on the outside. "I just have absolutely no idea what to do here."

This brings on a fresh round of tears. I just stare at the cigarette I'm rolling between my fingers, I've never been good at dealing with crying people. Or people, I suppose really. I guess I could hug her or put my hand on her shoulder or something, but I always figured people could read the tension coming off me if I touched them when I felt like that. She'll have to settle for a comforting pep talk.

"Act tough." Great, I must be spending too much time around Angel - I'm starting to dispense monosyllabic words of wisdom. That wasn't much of a talk, and hardly comforting, but points for trying, right?

She laughs a little, like she didn't find that funny at all. "I'm a housewife from Silverlake, I have no idea how to be tough."

"Didn't say you had to be tough, just act it." She looks over at me, squinting into the sun. I guess she's sizing me up, trying to figure how much of what just went down with Deb was for real and how much was a front. "In here, bullshit's about all you've got.

She looks away, somewhere into the middle distance and I know in her head she's way the fuck on the other side of the fence. "I have two kids, you know? Danny's going to be four in a couple of weeks and I'll be in here. How do I explain that to him?"

Alright, I'm on board with the 'prison's a rough ride' concept - 'specially when you've got kids and families and hugs and fuckin' rainbows waiting for you out there - but let's get off the pity train already. "You think you're the only one? Most of these women got kids outside waitin' for 'em, families to miss 'em. How long you in for?"

She sniffs again. "Five months."

I'm laughing. I swear I don't mean to but I'm laughing my ass off. Five months and she's looking like she just got handed life? I mean I know the worst sentence is always your own, no matter how long, but to a lot of us a stretch of under six months is pretty much blink and you'll miss it. She looks downright offended though, so I shake my head and point at a middle-aged woman playing guard on the basketball court. "See her?"

She nods, looking at me warily.

"Tracey - she's got six kids outside. She's been here five years already and she won't be getting out til she's old and grey, if she gets out at all. Five months isn't worth pissing on to her, so tough as it might seem for you, girl you've got it easy." I stub the cigarette out and stand up. "Just keep your head down, walk tall, and you'll be out of here and back with your kids before you know it."

She nods a little, shading her eyes as she looks up at me. "Thanks for that. Sorry, I must sound like a complete brat, I just..." she looks like she might start crying again but pulls herself back, shaking her head. "Anyway, thanks. I hope I didn't cause any trouble for you. I'm Carly by the way."

I crack a grin. "Faith. And Deb ain't nothing I can't handle, don't sweat it."

She smiles back at me. "Thanks. Again."

Yeah, for sure it sounds weird to hear anyone saying those words to me, even casually, and meaning it. Still, stranger things have happened. Just another day in NCWF - sunshine, death threats and a new friend.

I sit back down in my spot on the long bench and tilt my head up, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, close my eyes.

Breathe out.



Chapter Two

"Keep it moving, bitches!"

I drive down the urge to smack the prisoner mouthing off behind me and step forward in the cafeteria line. Carly rolls her eyes at me and shrugs.

"Like the lobster thermidor's gonna be gone by the time she gets there?"

I grin at her as we all shuffle another few steps forward.

It's been a couple of weeks since she got here and I have to hand it to her - girl's adapting. She keeps it friendly with most of the women, doesn't get involved in the bullshit and she's managed not to break down bawlin' in the yard again. Even Deb and her posse have pretty much lost interest in her now. If she just keeps her head down she'll be-

A scream cuts through the air and I'm looking around to see who just got stabbed when I realise it came from me.

I'm on my knees, tray clattering to the ground beside me and fuck, why can't I breathe? There's a weight on my chest that's tearing me up, slicing and crushing and I swear to god this feels like death - hard and heavy and slamming right through me. This is death, but not mine.

A hand comes down on my shoulder and I move. I'm on my feet like my life depends on it because right now, my sanity definitely does. Don't think, don't stop, lashing out with an uppercut that sends someone halfway across the room and crashing into a table of equally pissed-off and excited cons. Don't think about it just go. A kick and a left hook at whoever's nearest. Don't think about it, just don't fucking think!

Everyone's on their feet, inmate brawl turning into a full-scale riot with every punch thrown. Some of the girls are using the opportunity to settle scores, rehashing old fights, starting new ones. I don't care who I'm hitting as long as I'm hurting someone and not thinking about why I'm hurting so damn much.

Guards are comin', riot gear rattling as they storm the cafeteria. I grab hold of the nearest table, tear the fucker out of its brackets and use it as a shield to charge them down. I swing an elbow into the face of the first guard to climb over the upturned table, grab the second and throw her into the crowd of prisoners. There's the buzz of a taser that adds to the flow of sick energy coursing through my body but I can't stop, can't let it slow me down. Truncheons, more tasers, screams and shouts getting louder, more panicked. I see guards with batons and make right for them but another electric blast hits home first and puts me to my knees. I go down under a rain of boots and nightsticks and I keep my arms at my sides, head wide open to the blows. I hope to god the fuckers kill me.

If Buffy's dead, I might as well be too.

When I come to, there should be a moment - however brief - of blissful ignorance before I remember what happened and it all crashes down on me again, right?

There isn't.

I wake up to instant pain. Pain from the cracked ribs and swollen eye the guards must've given me in my post spaz-out beating, and the incredible, gut-wrenching pain of being alive in a world where Buffy's dead and I'm stuck in a state correctional facility where I can do the sum total of jack shit about it. Except beat the crap out of everyone in a fifty-foot radius of me when I get the mystical telegram of course. Stupid, Faith, really fuckin' stupid.

I crack my good eye open and try to pull myself into a sitting position from where I'm curled on the floor. I figured after the shit I just pulled they'd have me on my own in the hole, if I wasn't in the hospital - or the morgue - but I guess I figured wrong. Through the blurred vision of my one functioning eye I can make out I got a cellmate sitting on the bed on the opposite wall.

"Wasn't expecting company." I try to breathe without disturbing the cracked ribs, try to make conversation so I don't have to face that one overwhelming fact sitting square on my shoulders. "Surprised I'm not in solitary."

"You are."

I freeze - forgetting to cradle the bruised left hand side of my body, forgetting to breathe, forgetting to think, forgetting everything except that voice.


"In the... well," she falters, gestures down at her body. "Not the flesh, obviously."


Okay. Okay, so I got hit on the head - a lot. Except concussion and me are old friends, and this isn't your garden-variety 'seeing stars' hallucination. Maybe I really am dead? And the afterlife is Stockton? Maybe not so much. Pretty sure you don't hurt this damn much when you're dead either.

Right. So any possible explanation for the fact that dead Buffy is sitting in my cell right now? Because this is Buffy. The way she holds herself - sitting cross-legged on the bunk, the way her hand is clasping the v-neck of her sweater, fidgeting nervously; the way she's sitting there taking up a big, Buffy-shaped space in the middle of the room. And oh yeah, that special Summers brand of hate and rage that's coming my way courtesy of the narrow eyes and hard stare.

When unconsciousness comes round again, it's almost a relief to sink into it.


When I was thirteen I flushed my Mom's stash. Look at me sharin' – prison shrink'd be so proud. Anyway, I knew where she kept her gear and when she left that evening to trawl her usual bars, I emptied the baggie into our scummy toilet and flushed til it disappeared.

When she fell back in the door next morning and saw what I'd done she flipped the fuck out. Started screaming "are you crazy?" and laying into me with anything she could get her hands on. Left me black and blue for a week, and she still got high the next night. After that I figured it just wasn't worth it and she was right, I musta been crazy to think dumping a couple of hits could make her lay off the gear and transform into the mom most of the other kids had.

Cut to a couple of years later, when I found out about vampires and Slayers and my place in it all – Faith Lehane and her Special Destiny – well, I figured I was all kindsa crazy then. And lets not even get into the psycho murderer days.

So after all that, I'm not entirely sure how I feel to find out that crazy isn't dumping a junkie's stash when you know she'll thrash you for it, or believing that vampires and demons are real and you've been chosen to fight the forces of darkness. Nope, turns out crazy is waking up to find a dead girl chatting to you in a prison cell.

Okay `chatting' might be the wrong word. Glaring, we'll go with `glaring'.

"What is this?" she says, like I've got a fucking clue.

"Me finally losing it?" I wince as my attempted shrug plays all sorts of merry hell with my busted ribs.

"I'm dead," her brow creases up. "Or at least I should be." She looks around the room til her gaze finally settles on me and goes from murderous to slightly panicked. "Oh God. I am dead. I'm dead and I'm in hell. This isn't fair! I've saved the world a dozen times over and my afterlife is some sort of hell with you here to torment me?"

And she's back to murderous. I'm still stuck on crazy.

I close my eyes, willing reality to kick back in when I open them. Well, one of them. "You're not real. She's… you're not real."

"Look, I jumped in the portal and next thing I know I'm stuck here with an unconscious psychopath…" she trails off, casting a glance over the blood and bruises. "What did you do to earn that beating anyway?"

"Felt you die, freaked out, busted up some shit. And some guards. What do you mean `stuck here'?"

She shrugs. "Can't leave. Tried to. Really tried to but… I just can't." She narrows her eyes. "What do you mean 'felt' me die?"

My turn to shrug. "Lining up for chow and I just felt it. Felt you go. Like being called only in reverse – big mystical sucker punch to the gut."

We're both quiet for a minute, letting the back and forth sink in.

"After everything you… after everything Buffy did there's no way she gets anything but an express pass straight to the pearly gates. You're not here, you're just some fiction of my imagination."

"This is not about you being crazy which, sidebar, you totally are. Something's gone wrong. I shouldn't be here."

"Agreed. So go- go wherever crazy hallucinations go to when they're not wanted."

"Jesus, Faith!" She's extra-pissed now. "I can't, I told you. And I'm not some – by the way the word is figment – of your warped imagination. And how would I know to correct you on that if I was just in your head?"

That's… a good point, actually. Fuck me, is she actually some sort of ghost? Vengeful spirit of Slayer Past come to rub in the error of my ways?

She paces from the wall back across to the cot and slumps down on it. "I'm too tired and too dead for this, Faith. Just call Giles, get him on it."

"Hate to break it to you, B, but they're not going to be letting me make calls any time soon. I just started a mini-riot and I'm pretty sure smacking the guards down is gonna get me some privileges suspended."

That earns me another patented Summers' glare. "So what? I'm supposed to just sit here and wait for your good behaviour to kick in?"

I have my mouth open to answer with absolutely no idea what to say when she disappears. All righteous anger one second and then she's just gone.


If she was ever really there.

What the fuck have I got myself into now?



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