Blood and Dreams
by The Void
Chapter One: Blood and Dreams
Buffy collapsed on the bed, sweat on her brow and tears on her cheek. She was still trembling from it all - the ascension, the battle, the school, the fight with Faith….. Faith in a coma. She couldn't believe it. She kept hearing herself taunting the Mayor, each word biting at her heart…. "slid it into her gut….. just slid into her like she was butter….."She clutched tighter at the item in her right hand, trying not to die from the memory. She couldn't stop herself hearing those taunts, over and over again. It was like someone else had done it. Someone else had said those words, someone else had stabbed Faith. And she hated that person. She wanted to find the bitch who had done that to her Faith and hurt her… kill her. She felt the anger. She felt the Slayer rage, boiling like tears under her skin.
She brought the object up to her face and lightly ran her fingers over its sharp edges. Her skin burst and bled, but she didn't feel anything. She was numb as her blood trickled down the knife, mixing with Faith's. She brought it closer, choking back tears, feeling the cold, flat metal against her skin. It might be cold and dangerous, caked in sweat and blood, but it was the only thing she had left of her. Trembling, she lay down and slept.
"I didn't think you'd come."
Buffy stepped into the grey alley, the harsh rain whipping down. She was completely dry, but she could see Faith a few metres away, completely drenched.
"I had to."
"No you didn't."
"Neither did you."Silence between them. Faith just stared through the rain, motionless and expressionless. "Aren't you cold?"
"I can't feel the rain."
"Yes you can. More than most."Buffy looked up at the umbrella she was suddenly holding. "Do you want this?"
"You've never offered before."
"I should have done this a long time ago. I don't need it anyway."
She lowered and closed the umbrella, holding it out for Faith to take.
"I don't deserve it."
"TAKE IT!"Buffy lunged forward, forcing the umbrella towards Faith, into her stomach, piercing the skin and organs beneath. She shook with horror as she saw Faith's blood spilling over her hands.
"You're right. You should have done this a long time ago."
Buffy screamed as she woke. The vision of her bedroom fuzzed into her brain like a bad television signal. Her breath came in torn, ragged gasps. She still hadn't stopped trembling. She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep, so she grabbed her coat and shoes. She had to get out, go somewhere, and there was only one place she could think of.
Faith wasn't sure if she was asleep or awake. If she was dead or alive. It must have been a dream, but she was sure she heard Buffy in the room. She hadn't spoken a word, but it felt like Buffy. All her nerve endings were numb, but she could feel a hand clasp around hers, fingers intertwined. She could feel every tremble and goosebump slowly disappear, until it was just Buffy's smooth, unmoving skin against hers. Even though she was in a coma, she finally felt calm. She wondered why she had come now. Maybe she had had the same dream. Maybe she was just guilty. Too fucking late for guilt now. That's what she wanted to think. But she knew that it would never be too late with Buffy.
She could feel eyes watching her. Damn those eyes. She could feel them now. She wanted more than anything to wake up now and look into them one last time. She could feel hot breath coming closer, moving slowly towards her face, before lips caught lips, and for a second neither of them breathed at all. They parted, and Faith felt the breath move over her cheek and neck to her ear. Her lips her so close she felt the whisper before she heard it. A faint, terrified hiss of…
"I love you."
Faith opened her heavy eyes. She heard a faint hiss and felt a forked tongue flick her ear. The snake lay next to her on the bed, its warmth the only warmth in the room. She clung onto it because there was nothing else.
"I've already taken it."
Faith looked up, and the snake was gone. She looked over to the doorway of her tiny motel room to see Buffy, holding the snake and staring at her, slowly strangling the life out of it.
"I should have done it earlier."
"So am I."
Buffy lifted Faith's knife, and slashed it across her own throat.
"Your neck…"Faith looked up in horror to see blood flowing from Buffy's neck, flooding the floor.
"I'm sorry."She looked down to see her own blood spilling out of her chest.
"So am I."
The blood was gone. The room and the snake was gone, and they were standing in the Bronze, in the middle of the dancefloor. It was completely empty, and there was no music to be heard.
"Are we supposed to dance?"she asked.
"I think we're supposed to fight."
"Do we have to?"
"Isn't that why we're here?"
The sun shone bright in her eyes. She looked around at an endless beach. She thought it was a beach, but there was no sea. Just sand and burning sun. It felt like fire, intense and horrible.
"Did you bring me here?"
"It's not my dream."
"I don't know this place. Where are we?"
"You know where we are. After all, you live here."
"I don't want to."
"Then come with me."
Faith looked over to Buffy's outstretched hand.
"Can I survive anywhere else?"
"I did, so can you."
Faith put her hand out, and clasped onto Buffy's.
"You should leave me here."She dug into her pockets and pulled out a handful of golden sand. "I carry it everywhere."
Buffy took her other fist and peeled it open. With one breath, she blew the sand fluttering away into the sun.
"Now let me see you."
"Don't worry. I've already seen it all. You can see me too"
Faith closed her eyes and breathed out slowly. Opening her eyes, she was still in the desert, and completely naked. She looked at Buffy's equally naked frame. She didn't have a scratch on her. Faith, however, was coated in scars and bruises.
"I can make them go away."
"Nobody can. I have to cover them up. I have to…"
"Shhh…" Buffy put a finger against her lips, and pulled their bodies together. The two Slayers wrapped their arms around each other, never breaking eye contact.
"You need to come closer."Buffy whispered.
"We're already touching."
"The touch isn't enough. You need to be inside of me."
Instinctively, Faith moved her hand down towards Buffy's crotch, but a hand stopped her.
"No. Not like that. You need to let me see you. Let me inside your head, and I'll let you in mine."
"I can't… It hurts too much."Faith could feel her scars burn, millions of them crawling over her body. The sand whipped against them, and Faith wished she was clothed again.
"Shh…"Buffy breathed, her lips dangerously close. "I can stop the pain."
"They're too deep."
"Then we'll go deeper."
Buffy's lips closed on hers, and silence fell across the desert. She held Buffy and Buffy held her as their mouths moved against each other, and their minds opened. A flash of light, and Faith felt it. She was inside Buffy's head. She could see her life, walk among her thoughts, and she could feel Buffy inside hers. The pain lessened, and scars began to heal as memories flooded their shared mind. Faith wasn't even sure which were hers and which were Buffy's, but she didn't care anymore.
"Are you inside my mind?"Faith didn't say the words, her lips were too preoccupied, but Buffy heard them.
"As much as you are in mine."Buffy replied without interrupting the kiss.
"And this is supposed to help?"
"If you let it."
She felt cool water lapping at her feet as wave after wave crashed over them. They kissed for days, maybe seconds, maybe years, she didn't know. All that mattered was that in that moment, she had someone. Not even just someone. Buffy.
"It's time to go."
Buffy's lips parted from hers and she opened her eyes. They were both standing in the Bronze again, fully clothed.
"I don't want this to end."
"I'll be back. You're still hurt."
Faith looked up, and for the first time, she could see scars, all over Buffy's arms.
"I never saw them before."
"You never looked."
Faith wanted to reach out and touch her skin, heal her scars in some way.
"I thought I was the only one. But you're hurting just as bad."
"No I'm not. I had this."Buffy held out a small black umbrella.
"I've always wanted one of them."
"Then you should listen to yourself once in a while. Want."She pushed the umbrella into Faith's hands. "Take."She leant over and kissed her forehead ever so lightly. "Have."
Buffy woke to the beeping of machines, the distant mumbling of hospital staff and the smell of Faith in her face. She blinked her eyes open. For a second, when all she could see was a mess of brown hair on the pillow next to her, she thought it might have all just been a dream. There had been no Mayor, no fight, and she was lying in bed with Faith, who would wake up any second, hungry and horny. Reality forced her eyes upwards, over Faith's scarred and swollen face, over the tubes twisting their way into her body. Buffy raised her sleeping head. She had fallen asleep in a contorted position, her head on Faiths pillow, her bottom on the chair next to the bed, her right arm strewn across her body and her left hand clutching her closest hand. And yet it was the best night's sleep she'd had in a long, long time.
"I don't know if you can hear me or not. You know, people say that you can hear everything around you in a coma. I never really believed it, you know. How are you?"Buffy scoffed at her ridiculous question. "I know, stupid question. I'm guessing you'd say you're five by five or whatever. I still don't know what that means. I kinda wish I'd asked. There's so much of you I don't know."Buffy fiddled with her fingers. "You know, I'd better go. I've got to find my Mom, and see how the others are doing. We blew up the library, you know. I bet Giles'll be in here in a minute, having 20 different heart attacks from seeing all the lost first editions. Can you have multiple heart attacks? Surely you'd have to have multiple hearts? OK, I'm rambling now. It's kinda hard to have a conversation when the other person is mad at you. And comatose."She stood up, disentangling her fingers from Faiths. "I'll see you."
"I'm telling you, something's going on with her!"Willow insisted, before Xander chimed in.
"And yet, the ten-thousandth time I hear it, I'm still just as interested as the first. She's the Slayer, Will, she's always gonna have Slayer-type problems."
"Well, even if you don't care about her…"
"Xander may be right."Giles interrupted the witch's indignance. "Last night was very stressful for all of us."
"But she just took off!"
"Talking about me?"
Buffy stood in the doorway of Giles' home. The ex-librarian smiled.
"Willow was simply concerned."
"You just left really quickly last night. You seemed kinda… nowhere."
"I had stuff on my mind. You know…. Slayer stuff."It wasn't technically a lie.
"We were worried."
Xander looked around nervously. "So, Giles, any demon asses need kicking tonight?"
"No no, I believe we took down a significant portion of the vampire population last night."He turned to the blonde Slayer. "You can take the night off if you like."
"Do you want to go to the Bronze?"enquired the redhead.
"No… I've really got to be somewhere tonight."
Buffy lay down on her bed, not in the least bit tired. She looked at the clock, which read 9:30. She sighed. Her body clock was used to getting to sleep several days after this time.
"Come on."She mumbled to herself. "I don't wanna start doing the whole sheep cliché."She reached over and picked up the battered old animal that sat on her pillow. "Am I crazy, Mr Gordo? I mean, they're just dreams, right? They're not even real, but… I just miss them when they're gone. And it's not like I miss her. That much. OK, I do, but that doesn't mean anything. Oh, you're a pig, what do you know?"
Buffy flung the stuffed animal onto her chair, and restlessly tried to sleep.
"You made it."
Buffy heard Faith's voice, and spun around. She was standing in the doorway of her room, dressed in typical Faith-like fashion, leather pants and a black shirt, and half a smirk across her lips.
"It took me a while. I'm just glad you're asleep at the same time."
"I'm always asleep, B."She joked. Suddenly, her expression hardened. The smile was gone and anger burned in her eyes. "Thanks to you."
"You know, this coma, it gave me time to think. About how I don't need you. Don't want you."She advanced slowly, knife in hand, on a shocked and tearful Buffy, helpless to her advance. "You know, I'm kinda glad you stuck this knife in my gut. Being stuck in a coma might be slow but hey, it beats spending one more second with you."She clenched her hand around the other Slayer's neck, pushing her against the wall. "Although… this is kinda fun too. Very therapeutic, don't you think?" Buffy's throat closed under Faith's steel vice of a grip. "Just tell me when it hurts…"
Buffy sat bolt up in her bed, panting for her life.
"Buffy…. B, are you OK? Talk to me."
The full figure of Faith stood over her, grasping her sweaty palm.
"Faith…. We need to find Faith. We need to stop her!"
"Shh…. That was just a dream. Don't you trust me?"
The blonde looked down at the knife Faith was holding to her neck. Slowly, she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply.
"I trust you."
She opened her eyes, and they were in the Library. The table was gone, and they sat on two chairs facing each other, knee to knee, as Faith took her hand like a palm reader. She traced a finger along a deep red scar on the back of Buffy's hand.
"Did I do that?"
"You should really ask yourself."
The brunette nodded, and ran her finger over the scar, as it disappeared at her touch. Her finger snaked its way over her wrist and forearm, every scar on her body dissolving into smooth, milky skin. The finger became a hand, and Buffy gasped as it graced her biceps and gripped her shoulder, pulling their bodies ever-closer. She could feel Faith's whisper on her own lips.
Faith lay on her back on the table, as Buffy crawled towards her. Her hands smoothed their way over her legs and thighs. The blonde lowered her head and placed a kiss on the inside of each thigh. Her fingers trawled upwards, feeling the hem of her dress and running over her aching sides. Another kiss came down on the other Slayer's torso. She shivered as Buffy crawled up her body, hands gripping shoulders and hips meeting hips. They came face to face for a moment, before lips came down on Faith's cheek, then her neck, then whispering up to her ear.
"Let me in."
Buffy didn't even have to ask, Faith relented straight away. She could feel Buffy inside her mind, twisting and turning through memories. She was inside Faith and Faith was inside her.
She twitched. Buffy had reached deep, into long-hidden memories.
"It's OK. I won't hurt you."
Past events flashed into existence. A lonely little girl tugged at her unconscious mother's arm, begging her to wake up….. a lonely little girl wandered the streets of Boston with a suitcase, waiting for a bus to take her anywhere else…… a lonely little girl sat helplessly in the corner as her Watcher lay dead…
"NO!"She screamed through her tears.
Buffy sat bolt upright in her bed. Gaining clarity for a moment, she realised what had happened. She reached for her coat.
"I'm sorry."It was the first thing she said, after 10 minutes of holding the brunette girl's hand in silence. "I didn't mean to…. I just wanted to help. I thought that if I knew what you'd been through…. then I could understand. I know how much it hurt you, reliving all that. I'm so sorry. I just need you…. I need you to forgive me. Tell me you forgive me."
"Please. I need to hear you."She leant forward and pressed her lips against Faith's cold cheeks. "I need to know you're OK."
She lay her head next to Faith's, silently begging for sleep. But it was morning, and she was still shaking from the night's events. After 30 minutes of waiting, she stood up.
She walked over to Faith's bed again, clutching the small bottle she had just stolen. Astroten. Sleeping pills. Trembling, she shook two pills out of the bottle, and swallowed them. Lying down next to Faith, she took her hand in hers.
"Talk to me, Faith."
"You know, it's rude to interrupt other people's dreams."The brunette stood facing away from Buffy, arms folded across her chest. Buffy stood at the doorway of Faith's motel room, nervously waiting to be let in.
"I'm not sure this is a dream."
"Then what is it, B? Some sort of Slayer mind-trick? A brain-sharing deal? Cos I gotta tell ya, blondie, all I've got now is my brain, and I'm not keen on going halfsies on it."
"I needed to know you're OK."
"I'm five by five."
"I knew you would say that."
"Looks like you know me pretty well, then."
"Not as much as I'd like to."She walked up to Faith and reached out a hand to cup her cheek. The younger Slayer closed her eyes and leant into Buffy's hand. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an hourglass. Sand rushed into the bottom half.
"We haven't got much time left."
"It's OK. I've got a lot more of those."
"You know that's not what I meant."
"Shhh…. Don't worry about it. We have time."She pushed her body against Faith and pulled her face up to her own. "But right now? Let's not waste a grain."
The two Slayers pulled each other into a deep, long kiss, as the last grains of sand fluttered to the bottom…
The blonde woke with her head on Faith's stomach. She could taste the echo of the dream on her lips, and she smiled. She stood up, taking her coat and tucking the bottle of pills inside a pocket. She ran her fingers through the sleeping girl's hair.
"I'll be back as soon as I can."
Chapter Three: Deeper
Faith lay on the cool morning grass, her head on Buffy's chest, who ran her fingers through her brown locks. They lay in silent contentment as the sun rose, appropriately, over Sunnydale.
"Am I dead?"
The blonde Slayer tilted her head, confused. "Why do you ask?"
"Because I think this might be heaven."
"Wow, look at big bad Faith, going all girly on me."
Buffy kissed the top of her head. "You're not dead."
"Yeah, I suppose… Should have guessed, it'll be all fire and brimstone where I'm heading."
"You're not going to hell."
"Why, because I'm so good and pure?"
"No. Because you'd kick the devil's ass, that's why."
"You think I couldn't kick God's ass?"
"You couldn't even kick my ass!"
"I could. I'd kick your ass right now if I wasn't more interested in biting it."
"Romantic. Remind me why you don't write Valentine's cards for a living?"
"Hey, it's not my fault B, you just got such a tasty…"Faith saw the other girl's raised eyebrows. "… personality?"
Faith kisses her. There's no build-up, no waiting, she just wants to kiss her and she does. Buffy lets relents control of her mouth and enjoys the many different ways tongues can interact. She feels specks of something hitting her chest, and breaks the kiss to look down. Faith's arms are outstretched and her hands are cupped. Tiny pieces of sand are flittering through her fingers and lightly coating her chest.
The blonde awoke with a jolt, taking in the vague image of Willow and Xander standing opposite her, and realised she had fallen asleep at the kitchen table.
"So, Buff, are you joining us back in the land of the living? We have cookies here."
"Say what now?"
"You were of the sleeping nature."Willow explained.
"How did you guys get in?"
"Front door was open."Xander explained. "Which, in Sunnydale, is more or less akin to suicide."
Buffy's head started to clear, and she remembered last night. She'd more or less ran home from an uneventful patrol and, desperate for sleep, swallowed god knows how many pills and collapsed in the nearest chair.
"We just stopped by because Giles said wanted to see you about a big scary thing. And Xander lied, we don't have cookies."
"Great. Demons and no cookies. My best morning ever."
"Actually Buffy, it's gone 12:00…"
"God, do you have to correct everything!?"she snapped at a visibly shocked Willow.
Xander broke the uncomfortable silence. "Well, I've learned that a tired Slayer is not a happy Slayer. Come on Will, lets go."The two stood up and made their way to the door.
"Look, I'm sorry."
"It's OK. You're just cranky, and I forgive crankiness. That's what friends are for."
"I'll walk with you. Then I guess I gotta go see Giles about this demon-y thing."
"…looked through the Watcher diaries and various other sources, and I'm afraid I can't find a thing. This seems to be either a very elusive or very rare species of Demon…"
Buffy stared intently at absolutely nothing, oblivious to the ex-librarian's speech. All she could see in her mind's eye were brunette locks, tantalising curves hugged by leather and eyes - big, brilliant eyes that she could melt in.
"… doesn't seem to be a vampire, although its methods of attacks are similar, it could just be a particularly…"
Eyes that could hypnotise. Lips that could burn. A chest that heaved like…
"… should patrol the area tonight. Buffy. BUFFY!"
"You were daydreaming, weren't you?"
"No. I heard everything. You were telling me to the patrol…. the sea?"
Giles took off his glasses and sat down, rubbing his eyes.
"Buffy, I realise that it's been difficult for you recently, but the demon threat doesn't stop with the Mayor dead. You need to have your wits about you, this may be a very tough demon to defeat."
"Absolutely. And I have all my wits. I'm all wit-ed up."
Giles gazed sympathetically at his Slayer.
"You know, if there's anything on your mind, you can talk to me. I may not be your parent, but I'm always here to support you if you need it."
"There isn't anything?"
"Nope. Absolutely nothing."
Buffy made her excuses and left for home. She watched some TV, but there was nothing on. She made lunch, then realised she wasn't hungry. She looked at the clock. 2:18. Nothing to do all day, and Mom was away buying art. Nobody was going to need her awake for a while. She grabbed a glass of water and the bottle of stolen pills. She swung her head back and swallowed several, washing them down quickly. She curled up on the sofa and slipped into blissful sleep.
"Close your eyes."
Faith did exactly as she was told. She breathed in the deep sea air. It smelled of Buffy. She spread her arms and waited.
She let her balance give way and her body fall back. She waited for the catch… and felt thin air. She kept falling, her body tumbling off the face of the cliff and down towards the ground, where she knew the sand would feel like concrete when she hit it. She fell so far, and further still, waiting for an end, waiting to crumble like paper. Whipping downwards through the wind, she fell and fell, and hit… soft arms and skin. She collapsed backwards into Buffy's clutches.
"It's OK. I've got you."
"Almost too late."
"I was watching you the whole time."
Faith stood up and opened her eyes. They were in her apartment. And, she suddenly realised, stark naked.
"Bit racy for ya, isn't it B? Guess you're not as innocent as you look."
"How do you know this is my dream?"
They paced towards each other, each craving the other's touch. Their bodies became closer, and closer, and…. stopped. Both felt cold glass on their skin, and realised that there was a wall between them. Faith stared at Buffy, confused.
"What… I don't understand."
"It's always gonna be there."
"I don't want it to."
The blonde raised a hand and pressed it against the glass. The other Slayer mimicked the movement, raising her own hand to press the same place, like she was measuring their hands. Her fingers stroked the clear surface, begging for Buffy's hand, her skin, her touch. Buffy choked back a sob.
"I need you, Faith."
"You have me."
"No… I need you closer. I can't touch you. I can't feel my hand on yours. But I need you so bad. I…"
"Shh… you don't have to say it, B."
"No, I need you to know. I… Faith, I…"
A crash and a deafening ring from the side of the room. An hourglass crashed to the floor and the cacophonous alarm rang through Buffy's head as the room turned to black.
The Slayer sat straight up, gasping. She looked at the clock on the wall. 7:21. She realised where the sound was coming from - the phone was ringing. She ignored it and ran towards the kitchen. She needed Faith now. She grabbed the little bottle, opened the lid and shook it into her hand. Nothing. She shook harder, and still nothing came out. Looking inside, she found nothing. They were all gone.
"No… I need more…"she ran up to the bathroom and ripped open the cupboard, scrambling for something, anything. Paracetamol, bandages, cough drops - nothing to help her sleep. Giving up to the irritating, persisting sound, she picked up the phone.
"What?"she spoke into the receiver.
"Buffy, is that you?"It was Giles.
"Giles. Yeah, it's me… what did you need?"
"I've worked it out, it's one of the Vashnera."
"The demon. It's a Vashnera. They're incredibly rare, but not too hard to kill."
"Great. So I'll go out and fight this Vishnu guy. Was that all?"
"No, you need to be careful, Buffy. The thing about the Vashnera is that they're hypnotic creatures. They send their victims to sleep before feeding on them, you need to be careful. Just be aware of its spell, and try to actively resist it. The rest should go pretty smoothly."
"Hypnosis. Got it."
She crept through the sewers, a knife in her hand and a stake tucked inside her belt in case of any unexpected visitors. She kept telling herself, she had to stay awake. No matter how much she wanted to dream, she had to stay awake. Her job was to slay the demon, not to take a nap while it snacked on her organs. She had to stay awake.
Turning a corner, she saw something she'd never seen before - it was about 5 foot, man-shaped, deep purple scales with streaks of shining black fur down its back. She guessed it was the Vashnera.
"Hey Sleepy-head."The demon turned around and saw her. "It's way past your bedtime."
She went straight in and kicked it in the face, spinning around to punch it in the gut and then the face. It fell back against the wall. Buffy advanced on it, knife in hand. Then it raised its hand, palm outstretched, and Buffy saw something so tempting. She didn't know what it was, but she wanted it. She wanted to fall into it and never get up.
"Fall into me…"
No! She had to stay awake. She was not going to be a demon's Happy Meal.
"Rest in me…"
Sleep beckoned her. She fell to her knees.
"Feel the night…"
"…But I need ya, B."
She looked up in shock. Faith was kneeling in front of her, where the demon was just a second ago.
"Don't you want me?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"Then come to me. Just sleep…"
"Shh… I need you. Sleep with me. Just close your eyes."
"That's it…. Just sleep."
Buffy was asleep before she hit the floor.
Faith smiled as Buffy walked towards her.
"I missed you."
"Don't you need to be somewhere?"
"Nope. I need to be here."
She reached out a hand and tried to stroke the younger Slayer's face, but an invisible barrier stopped her just millimetres from her face.
"Faith, I need to talk to you…"
"B, your neck!"
"It's not important."
"Buffy, look at your neck!"
She looked down and saw a river of blood falling from her throat down her chest.
"B, you need to stop this."
"I came here for you…"
"Yeah, but you need to leave, now! You're going to die!"
"But I need to be with you."
"And I need you to live! Wake up! Wake up, B, WAKE UP NOW!"
Buffy's eyes saw the roof of the sewers as they opened, and as they looked down saw a demon feeding on her neck. She threw him off, and scrambled around for her knife. She could barely think. The demon used his chance to kick her in the face. She fell to the floor, too weak to move. The Vashnera loomed over her, waiting for the kill. This was it, she thought. She was going to die in a sewer, soaked in her own blood and other people's waste. The demon lowered his head to resume feeding. Summoning the last of her strength she moved her hand around, searching for a weapon, and her fingers felt something cold and metal - her knife! Before its teeth could reach her neck, she slashed the knife through the air and across its neck. It howled, then fell backwards. Dead.
She sat up, shakily. Her head swam and ached. She swallowed back a sob, then gave up and let herself cry. She knew what she had to do.
The room was cold when she walked into it. She made a mental note to tell the nurses to make it warmer for her before she left. She walked over to the bed, and sat in the chair that hadn't moved since she first sat in it on the night of graduation.
"Faith, there's no easy way to say this. I… I don't think we should see each other any more. I mean, I know this isn't exactly seeing each other. I'm not even sure what this is. It's just… it's dangerous. It's too dangerous for us to be together, even when you're in a coma. And even if I could handle the danger…. I can't handle seeing you like this. There's so many things I want to do but we can never… I can't let you hold my hand. I can't kiss you and know that you can feel it. We can't even wake up together. And I can't sit here and let myself fall deeper in love with you, when you can't even move." Her tears wetted the Slayer's pillow as she leant in to kiss her cheek. "Goodbye, Faith…"
Faith watched as Buffy stood up and walked towards the door, helpless to do anything about it. She took in one last memory of the love of her life, standing at the doorway of her room.
And then she was gone.
Chapter Four: With or Without You
he Slayer walked through the Bronze, crowded with hustling and dancing bodies. A nameless song that she couldn't quite hear droned on in the background. She fought her way through the crowd to where Xander and Oz were sitting.
"Hey Buffy, over here!"Xander called to her.
She found them at a table covered in cucumbers, turnips, carrots and all kinds of vegetables. They were packaging them and sliding each parcel into a large tube by the table.
"What is all this?"
"We're helping Giles with his new business. Vegetables, delivered straight to your door. It's innovative."
"Yeah, I'll bet."
Her eyes drifted from the vegetable packages towards the door, where in the corner of her eye she thought she might have maybe seen a flash of brown hair. She felt her feet involuntarily move and walk towards the door.
She turned out of the Bronze and into her kitchen.
She carefully stepped across the room, sensing a presence of some sort. She looked straight towards the hall - straight at a pair of brilliant brown eyes. She edged backwards.
"No…. no, I can't do this, not now…"
She turned and ran out of the door, straight down a long corridor. The place was lined with doors, hundreds upon hundreds of them, huddled together like penguins. She ran until she found one far enough away, rushed inside and slammed the door behind her.
She blinked a few times before she realised where she was. Faith's apartment. Panicking, she retreated back into the corridor and picked another door, further along. She wrenched open the door, and saw Faith's apartment.
She tried another door. The same. She tried another door. The same. The same. The same.
"No, no, no, no, I can't do this!"
She sprinted until she found the end of the corridor, and a door at the end wall. She hurriedly opened it and threw herself inside, breathing a sigh of relief as she found herself back in her own room. Panting, she sat down on the bed. She relaxed for half a second, before a click of the door made her head prick up again. She saw a figure closing the door behind her.
"How did you get in here?"
"You let me in."Faith replied.
"I… I need you to leave."
"Sure thing, B. Just want me gone."
The brunette strode towards her, eye's focused on her, as she grabbed her cheek in one hand, sliding the other over her side, and pulling their lips together.
Buffy awoke instantly. She took a few seconds for the memories of her dream to reach her. She realised what she had done, and punched the pillow next to her in frustration.
She had tried to forget about Faith. But every time she tried to put her out of her mind she couldn't help but think about her. Every time she closed her eyes, Faith was there. She dominated her thoughts and her dreams. How are you supposed to get over someone when you can't even go to sleep without seeing them?
A part of her blamed herself. She should be stronger than this; she should be able to control her dreams. She was the Slayer, she had fought giant demon snakes and centuries-old vampires. She shouldn't let herself be defeated by Faith of all people. But it seemed that the way she felt was the one thing she couldn't fight.
Yawning, she climbed out of bed. Part of her wanted to go back to sleep, and see Faith, just once, but she knew that would lead her down the very wrong road. She slipped into some clothes and went downstairs.
Faith sat alone in the empty room. The walls and floors were bare, and there were no windows to be seen. She hugged her legs into her body, trying to keep away the cold. She looked helplessly towards the door as the blonde Slayer walked away, not turning back once.
The door slammed shut, and Faith was left with just the darkness. The cold grew and rain began to fall from the ceiling, soaking her through. The harsh drops stung her face and mixed with her tears as she sobbed into her knees. Completely alone.
Buffy walked the streets of Sunnydale, alone and going absolutely nowhere. It was almost sunrise, and Buffy convinced herself that she was getting in a last-minute patrol, but she didn't believe it. All the vampires would be napping in their crypts by now. She was there because she couldn't go anywhere else. She couldn't sleep, because it hurt too much to see her.
But still, everything around her made her think of Faith. She passed the graveyards where they had slain together, perfectly in sync. She passed the alley where they had their first kiss. And even with her eyes closed, she saw her.
Feeling frustrated and useless, she started to head back home.
Slaying eased the pain. It was a distraction, a change of focus. For a few minutes, she forgot about Faith and the dreams, and just focused on the vampire. The kill. Pummelling a soulless undead animal until it turned to dust was surprisingly therapeutic. Trouble was, once it was all over, she couldn't help but think how much Faith would have enjoyed it.
She didn't sleep that night. Even exhausted after extensive slaying, she did everything she could to stay awake. It was the only way to get away from her. She watched countless hours of mind-numbing television, drank a ridiculous amount of coffee, and had three cold showers to keep her awake. Eventually, morning came.
Faith was helpless. The rain beat down harder than ever, and even the paper-thin walls were gone now, leaving her in the middle of absolutely nowhere, desperately trying not to cry. Feeling a stab of pain in her gut, she looked down. Blood oozed from her stomach, spilling onto the floor. She watched in horror as the knife in her torso twisted of its own accord, making the scar larger and larger.
Buffy spent most of the next day with Xander and Willow, doing silly, normal stuff, hanging around and watching TV, going out to the Bronze. It was nothing special, but Buffy felt a little less lonely, and Faith only invaded every other thought.
Eventually, the night dragged on, and they both went home. Buffy sat awake, continuing the ritual. Some nameless film was blaring on the TV, and old coffee mugs were strewn across the table. Buffy pinched the skin on her arm every minute, just to check that she hadn't slipped into a dream. The hours dragged on and the Slayer sat, desperately trying not to sleep.
"Buffy, watch out!"
The blonde stepped to the side, avoiding the vampire's attack. It crashed into the wall, and Buffy kicked it in its back. He barely felt it. He turned, and pushed Buffy aside, running away from her.
Buffy could barely move. She was so tired that she couldn't even slay, but Giles urged her on.
"It's heading that way!"
She gathered all her strength and ran towards the demon. She reached it, and lunged towards it, stake in hand, and stuck it in his back. The vampire turned. She'd missed its heart by about 10 inches. It struck her in the face, sending her sprawling backwards and hitting the ground. Buffy looked up, her head spinning, only to see the vampire disappearing in the distance.
"Buffy, are you alright?"Her Watcher ran over to her and knelt by her side, visibly concerned.
"I'm sorry, he just… I couldn't…."
"It's OK, don't worry about it."
"But he could hurt someone. I've got to go…"
"Buffy, you can barely stand, now come on."He helped her to her feet, and noticed again the huge black rings under her eyes. "There is something you need to tell me, isn't there?"
Buffy looked up at the ex-librarian, feeling tears stinging the backs of her eyes, blurring her vision.
"It…. it's about Faith…"
The small Slayer entered her house. She had told him everything, about the dreams, the pills. She hadn't been completely explicit about her feelings for Faith, but she felt he'd understood. She'd found Xander and Willow afterwards too, and told them. She'd told everyone everything, and Willow had even cast a spell for dreamless sleep. So why wasn't she happy?
She lay down on the sofa, too tired to reach her bed, and let the darkness consume her.
There was absolutely nothing. Nothing existed, not even darkness. Buffy drifted along through the void. She felt absolutely nothing about her undream.
But then there was something. A pair of deadly brown eyes blinked in the distance, and she felt something.
"This isn't supposed to happen."
Her view cleared, and Faith stepped into her room.
"You think a few herbs and a dead frog could keep us apart? Come on, a coma didn't do it."
"But I've worked out a way. I'm gonna give you what you wanted."
"Faith, what are you…"
"Don't. Don't make this harder."
She walked towards the older Slayer and kissed her forehead, before turning back towards the door. She stopped in the doorway and looked straight at Buffy.
"I… I lo…"she stopped. Sighed. She turned again, and left the room.
Buffy's eyes snapped open. She instantly knew where she had to go.
"She's been getting progressively weaker, and we're not sure what's causing it. I'm sorry…. It doesn't look good."
Buffy left the nurse in the doorway and walked towards the bed. She looked so peaceful sleeping. She remembered their first time, before everything had gone wrong, and Buffy had just watched her sleep. It was the only time she had seen Faith at peace.
She couldn't think of what to say. She couldn't do anything but sit and watch the other Slayer, clutching onto her hand. She pressed her lips against her cheek and lay her head next to hers.
Faith strode down the empty, wet road, a bag on her back, until she reached a junction. Taking one final look, she turned left.
She heard a voice from far behind her. Her voice. The voice that made her melt.
She put on her strongest face and turned around.
"Why should I?"
Buffy stared at her from the other side of the road. She could see glistening tears from far away.
"Because you can't."
"Why? This is what you wanted, isn't it? You don't wanna see me anymore, so you won't."
"But I do want to see you."
"Then what am I supposed to do? Sit around in a coma, live life as a vegetable? Wait for the next time you decide you don't want me and shut me out?"
"No. We can get through this, and one day you'll wake up and…"
"No! I can't live on ‘maybe one day'. I can't do this."She turned and began to walk away."
Faith stopped. Turned.
"Fine. If you want to give up right now, then do it. But if you want to fight? Then fight."
"What the hell am I supposed to fight for?"
"For me! I need you to be strong, for me. Please."
Faith walked slowly towards her love, but slowed in her tracks.
"But what if… what if we can't fight this?"
"We're Slayers. It's what we do. Now..."She strode forward and took Faith's hand. "Fight."
Buffy woke. She sat up, and stroked the brunette's cheek.
She had spoken. Buffy's heart pounded.
She saw big brown eyes being revealed for the first time in months.
Faith saw the fuzzy outline of a blonde Slayer, and felt sweaty palms clasping her hand and face.
"Hey, B. Breakfast ready?"
"Oh God, Faith!"
She let herself be hugged and held by the other Slayer, crying tears of joy and kissing her cheek. And for the first time in far too long, Faith felt alive.
Chapter Five: Awake
She sat nervously in the waiting room, watching her coffee go cold. She'd been bundled outside by a gaggle of nurses and told to wait. She'd barely gotten to see Faith before they came. What if she went back into a coma while she was gone? What if she needed her? She thought about going back in to see her. What if she didn't want to see her? What if she was still angry about what happened? She thought about calling someone, but then realised it was past 3 in the morning. She didn't feel tired, her heart was panicking too fast. She stood up as a nurse approached her.
"Yeah, that's me. Faith… is she OK?"
"We think she'll be just fine. We'll need to keep her in for a while, but then she'll be able to go home."
"Can… can I see her?"
She stepped timidly into Faith's room. The brunette stood by a chair, fiddling with objects in a bag, still dressed in her hospital gown
"How are you feeling?"
"Five by five."
Buffy smiled at her predictability. Faith was preoccupied with the bag, grabbing various things from all over the room.
"What are you doing?"
"What does it look like? I'm going."
"Going? Going where?"
"I don't know. Somewhere far away from England."
"Faith, what are you…"
"The Watchers. They're looking for me. Rogue Slayer, remember?"
"And you're leaving? Because of a few tea-chugging geriatrics?"
"You know it's not that simple, B."
"Why not? We don't even work for the council anymore, they can't do a thing to us!"
"What else can I do?"
"Stay! It really is that simple, Faith."
"And what do I have to stay for?"
Buffy looked at her in shock. "…Me."She stated weakly.
"And what? So we can have a few shared hallucinations before you decide to dump me again? It doesn't work like that."
"I wouldn't…. didn't it mean anything to you?"
"They were just dreams, B. This is real life."
"Fine. If you don't want to be with me, then don't."
"I didn't say…"
"DON'T! Don't say anything!"She ran out, trying to not let Faith see the tears.
But she was already gone.
"… I'm scared."
Buffy shook as she walked the streets. She felt like the bottom had dropped out of her and she thought she would be sick. All she could hear was empty ringing.
She stopped dead. Faith was right behind her.
"Why? Isn't that what you wanted?"
"I… when I said it wasn't real, I didn't mean…."
"God, you know I'm not good at this. I dunno, I guess I never really… I don't know how to tell someone how I feel."
"If you loved me, you would try."
"I… I've never told anyone before. I never really have…."
Buffy turned around to face the other Slayer. She was dressed in the same clothes she wore when Buffy had attacked her. She could see the blood-stained rip in her T-shirt. Faith spoke again.
"I…. I'm sorry."
"We've done all this. That's not what I wanted you to say…"
"I know. I'm sorry about now."
Buffy stared at her eyes. "You're breaking up with me?"
"Are we even together? I gotta ask B, cos I just don't know. We had a few dreams together, did you think I'd just wake up and everything would be OK? That everything would just sort itself out? World doesn't work that way, and that's what I meant…. When I said it wasn't real. This is real. And it scares me."
The blonde placed a trembling hand on Faith's cheek, feeling every goosebump on her skin.
"It scares me too. How I feel. What you do to me. How empty I'd be without you."
"Why not? You might want to shut off everything, but I'm gonna say how I feel, whether you like it or not!"
"I'm not shutting anything off! I just told you. I'm scared. I'm scared I'll hurt you again. You deserve better, y'know."
Rain began falling, running down their cheeks. Neither one of them noticed.
"I deserve what I want, and I want you."
"That's not enough. You think that we can just kiss, and make up, and then all this will go away, but it doesn't, B. It never, ever does, and I have to live with that."
"We have to live with that. Don't you see, Faith? You act like I don't know what I'm getting into, but I do. I know you, and I know what you've done, and I don't care! Because I know you love me. Even if you don't."
"I do… know. I love you."
Buffy smiled and cupped Faith's cheek.
"You think I can't make this all better with just one kiss? You just watch me…"
Both girls stopped breathing as their mouths came closer, eyes closed and lips caressed lips, as they sunk into a real, corporeal kiss, one they hadn't had in far too long. Buffy stroked her hand down Faith's wet arm, drinking in the feeling of her skin, her physical touch, as the brown-eyed girl's fingers ran through her sodden hair. Shaking, they broke mere millimetres apart. Buffy whispered first.
"You're gonna get soaked."
And for a few precious seconds, they both forgot everything but each other, and stood hand to hand, kissing in the rain.