Staying Lost
by Ann
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
Author's Notes: Words in //...// indicate thought. This is pretty dark fic, but it will get better :)
Feedback: Please! I crave it!

PART 1

She stared at the dusty white ceiling above her, and then the bars on the window. She thought of everything she had done which had brought her to this hell hole. All those wrongs she committed. All those people she hurt. And she smiled.

It had felt good. The look of fear in their eyes, begging for her to release them. She would just stare at them. Wondering how they could stand living inside such an existence. They were so weak. So pointless. So... human.

That was it now. That feeling of power and sheer superiority was the only thing which made her feel alive. The only thing which put a beat in her otherwise dead heart.

“You got a visitor. Up. Now.”

Cursing to herself, she slid off the bunk and touched the cold concrete floor. Her oversized rainbow style socks somewhat stood out against the greys of the cell. The guard jangled some keys. He sounded new.

“Turn around and put your hands behind your back. Do it now.”

Slowly, she obliged and stood facing her tiny window. She heard the guard walk in and felt the icy steel handcuffs slapped onto her wrist. She grinned to herself absentmindedly, not really paying any attention. The guard cleared his throat.

“Out. Put one foot off the line and I’ll put a bullet in your head.” He waited and watched as she sauntered out of the cell and exaggeratedly tip-toed on the yellow line which lead to her personal visiting area. Damn she liked this special treatment. Made her feel all tingly inside.

“Get a move on.” The guard pushed her forward as she whistled all the way to the outside compound. It was a beautiful night. Not a single cloud of smog in the sky and she could see every star. “Stay here. You step foot outta this circle and there’s gonna be trouble. And wipe that God damn smile off your face.”

She saw the slap coming but made no attempt to dodge it. His hand connected with her face hard and fast. It knocked her backwards and the heel of her foot touched the outer edge of her shape of imprisonment.

“I said stay in the damn circle!” He grabbed her by the hair and forced her onto the ground. She fell in a heap and made no attempt to get back up. He stood back and admired his handiwork. But as he was about to walk away he watched as she lifted her head, a sadistic smile dominating her expression. Not a single mark on her beautiful face. Horrified, but trying his best to hide it, the guard swiftly walked away, mumbling orders to her. “Just... stay in the circle. You got half an hour.”

Still wearing that smile, she watched him walk into the observation tower. Sighing, she stood up and ran her fingers through her hair, trying to neaten up what that son of a bitch guard did. Just as she got it perfect, she saw the doors open and a figure walked out onto the compound.

// Here comes my visitor... //

She was about to make a remark about how nice a night it was to be visiting when her voice caught in her throat. Her visitor grinned triumphantly at her, her voice dripping with the sound of superiority.

“Hey B.”

*****

Buffy stood in awe. Here was Faith. Smartly dressed in a neat black leather jacket and tight silvery-black jeans. Looking at her with this big ass grin on her face. She looked great.

“Faith. What the hell are you doing here?”

“Touchy I see. Don’t worry. This won’t take long. You’ll be back to eating sheep fat in no time. And, ooh.” The brunette bent down and inspected Buffy’s feet. “Still into them pastels B? You gotta be popular around this place for no one to make fun of you.”

“Fuck you Faith.” Buffy hissed.

“Now now, I thought you liked it here. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep coming back now would ya?”

This was getting old fast, and Buffy hated admitting that she had no comeback so...

“Ugh!” Faith’s head shot back and her arms reached forward, searching for something to steady herself with. The strike was so fast that no normal human would have been able to see it. Buffy stood staring at her, clenching and unclenching her fist. If Faith wanted another one, she was ready.

When she eventually regained her focus, Faith turned to look back at the shell of a slayer which was once ‘Buffy Summers: The Ultimate Super Hero.’ Rubbing her jaw, Faith laughed out loud.

“Woah, that’s gonna leave a mark. Still got it don’t ya B?” Buffy growled, obviously disappointed that Faith didn’t try and put up any kind of fight.

“Enough! What do you want?” Removing her hand from her face, Faith suddenly straightened up and looked at Buffy with such a seriousness that she hadn’t shown until now.

“I’ve come to help you find yourself.” For a moment, Buffy thought she was kidding, but looking at the other slayer’s determined face she burst out laughing. Faith remained undeterred.

“Help me? You’re kidding right? Do you have any idea what’s been going down here since you flew off to England?”

“As a matter of fact...”

“Stay the hell out of this Faith! This is my life. You’re not a part of it!”

Suddenly, Faith looked at her with such pity and despair, and Buffy felt another punch was in order. “Life? You call this a life? You’re gonna fucking rot in this place till you die. You’re nothing now. A nobody. You got no friends. They all gave up on you years ago, ‘cause they realised what a souless bitch you’ve become.”

Slam.

Faith flew backwards and skidded across the compound, her leather jacket no doubt ripped by the gritty concrete ground. Buffy pulled her leg back in, slightly shocked at her response to being called a soulless bitch. Wasn’t the first time.

“Prisoner!” Suddenly a small fleet of guards appeared out of no where, fully armed. They rushed towards Buffy, their eyes flashing with anticipation of the upcoming events.

“Wait!” Groaning, Faith lifted herself off the ground. “Don’t touch her. It’s an order.”

// Order? Faith is ordering guards? //

“But detective...”

“I said don’t!”

Reluctantly, the guards retreated, muttering between themselves. Briefly, Faith lay back down onto the concrete, trying to regain the breath that was so harshly knocked out of her. Eventually, she was able to at least sit up, leaning back with one arm resting on her single upraised knee. Her face turned away from the blonde slayer.

“Detective?” Buffy questioned incredulously. Still refusing to look at her, Faith replied without looking up.

“Yeah. I’m the new guy of Angel Investigations, since the previous owner was kinda, well, dusted by a certain slayer.”

“He had it coming. He lost his soul again. I had to.” Faith looked up finally with a bewildered expression.

“Why has it suddenly become important for you to justify your actions? That hasn’t mattered before now, has it?”

“I... I’m not. I’m just saying why I did it.”

“Right.”

“Why don’t - - Just shut the fuck up Faith!”

“I’m just trying to help.”

“Well don’t! I don’t need it! I’m happy the way I am.”

“I’m flattered I seem to be the only one who can bring out such an emotional side of you.” Faith commented, smiling wryly and lifting herself from the ground into a full standing position.

“Yeah well, old habits die hard.”

“Touché.”

“The clock’s ticking Faith.”

“You’re not wrong about that. Time doesn’t stop for you. It’s not gonna wait for you to get over this psychotic bitch ‘tude.”

“I don’t expect it to.”

“Good. I see we’re making progress. I’m here to help you B. And you know you can’t stop me.” Anger flashed in Buffy’s eyes. She stepped forward as much as she could without exiting the circle and stood face to face with Faith. Her voice was cold and unforgiving.

“I’ve done it before haven’t I? I seem to recall stabbing you then sending you right into an 8 month coma. That stopped you for a while huh?” The eyes of the dark slayer showed a brief flash of anger, but it was gone as soon as it had appeared.

“And yet I just keep on comin’ back... I know what I’m doing here now B. My life ain’t worth jack. As a person and a slayer, I’m simply not needed. So why am I still here shootin’ my mouth off?”

“Because I shoulda stuck the knife in your chest?”

“Possibly, but I don’t think that’s it. I think I’m being kept here. And you wanna know why?”

“To forever piss me off?”

“Something like that. But it won’t be... entirely intentional.” Faith began walking in a tight circle around her sister slayer, her voice became low and intimidating. “I’m gonna try and pull you out of this hole you’ve gone and dug yourself into. And I believe that right now it’s gonna piss you off royally.

"Right now, you don’t want my help. You don’t want anything I got to offer. But you’re gonna get it. ‘Cause believe it or not, there’s a world full of people out there who need you. For comfort, for protection, for friendship... for love.

"A part of you knows this. There’s a small chunk of soul left in that body of yours, and it’s screaming at you to stop walking this path of destruction.

"It’s deafening. But you’ve learned to block it out. I got a question for you. What happens to a person when they block out their own soul? Don’t know? Okay. What happens, is that girl ain’t a person anymore. She’s just a shell of the kind, compassionate girl she once was.

"So, without trying to sound corny at all Miss Summers, I’m trying to tell you that you’ve become lost. And although you don’t say it yourself, your eyes tell me you wanna find your way back.”

A slow, steaming tear made its way down Buffy’s cheek.

“Don’t you dare try and judge me after everything you’ve done... You suddenly think you’re on the cover of Sanity Fair or something? You’re no better than me. At least I’m not weaselling my way out of jail like you did.”

“I didn’t weasel my way out. I did the time just like everyone else. But luck have it, someone came along and helped make my stay here shorter. Remember who she was B?”

Buffy swallowed sharply as the memory came back to her mind. After all this time, most of her memories since her ‘epiphany’ had quickly been forgotten. Shooting Faith an angry look before looking away again, she exhaled slowly.

“It was me. I came along and got you out. Giles was going to England and for some reason he wanted to take you with him. Willow used spells to influence the judge and juries. You were out that very week.” Buffy’s voice remained flat and hollow, as if she were reading out of a history book.

“Shock! She remembers!” Faith feigned surprise and that teasing smile found its way back onto her face again. Buffy gave her a warning look and she quickly regained her new-found control. The brunette began walking around with her hands in her pockets, taking small steps around the compound, scuffing her expensive looking shoes on the concrete. “You remember that night B? It was a lot like this one. ‘Cept there was probably a lot less kicking and punching. You were still this cocky little girl back then... You remember?”

Buffy sighed, closing her eyes and casting her mind back to that moment in time.

- -3 years ago- -

Faith nonchalantly felt around in her prison garb pockets looking for cigarettes. Her visitor stood looking at her, waiting patiently with an unreadable expression on her face. Finally finding a crumpled cigarette hidden in the fold of her uniform, Faith sighed and leaned up against the solid wall of cement.

She hated these meetings. Neither one really wanted to be here. But something always drew them together. “Got a light?” Buffy remained silent, that look of indifference still plastered on her face. “Have it your way,” Faith grumbled and pulled out a splintering match from her prison outfit. She knelt down and dragged the small stick of wood across the concrete. She could feel Buffy’s eyes on her the whole time. She straightened when she got the thing lit and leaned herself up against the cement wall once more. “You’ve been gone a while.” Faith suddenly stated, staring at the smoggy night sky.

“Stuff happened. I’m sorry I never visited.” Faith shook her head with a sad grin on her face. Buffy wasn’t sorry. Not really.

“So what’s been going on out there?”

“... Battles, death, villains, heroes... the whole lot. Should of been there.”

“Really? Sounds fun. So, who died?” A pause. Damn, she was good at this.

“... Bad guys. And one good guy.”

“Hm, who was it?” Faith asked, but she really couldn’t care less.

“Me.” She did a double take. Didn’t see that one coming. But she quickly remembered to wipe any expression off of her face and coughed softly.

“Wow. Gotta be a record. Twice in one life time. Nothing compared to me though.”

“Oh yeah? Since when did you die?” Faith grinned, but her eyes remained sad and hollow. Breathing out a slow line of smoke, she lifted her head and stared straight into her friend’s eyes.

“... Feel like I’ve been dead my whole life B.”

*****

“So there I was. Just about ready to pull the trigger myself when you sprang the whole England thing on me. And I thought ‘Why not?’ So I go, and I find a new respect for life. It didn’t happen quickly mind you. I spent a long time there. Giles taught me a lot, before he died.”

The mention of her watcher’s name sent a chill down her spine. And it gave her another feeling as well, an emotion which she hadn’t felt for over a year now... Guilt. Faith, being the girl she was, noticed this brief flash of pain in Buffy’s eyes.

“I see you remember him as well. Do you also remember all that shit you put him through before he died?” Buffy knew what she was trying to do. Well it wasn’t going to work. Her attitude wasn’t going to change in ten minutes just because Faith decides shows up out of nowhere.

“I know you’re trying to make me feel bad for everything I’ve done. Well, you know what? It’s not gonna work. That bastard deserved to die.”

“Why? Because he tried to help you? Is that what happens to people who try to help you B? No wait, is it because he put his heart and soul into trying to get you back and you spat it right back in his face? Or is it because --”

“He left me!” Buffy cried out, stopping Faith mid sentence. She sent the blonde a questioning look, not having any idea about what she was talking about.

“He left you? What are you talking about?”

“He left me here!” Tears suddenly began to roll freely down her face. And Buffy’s stoney facade melted as her voice faltered. “He went off to go fight that thing by himself, and he left me here in prison. I could have helped him! But he didn’t bring me with him... Just because I- - I was the one who told him to go fight it himself.”

Faith stood in silence, stunned by the outburst. She watched as the blonde knelt upon the concrete, her body wracking against the onslaught of tears which had been kept bottled up for years.

“Buffy...” Faith extended her hand out to her, but it was instantly slapped away.

“Don’t touch me! You fucking stay away from me! I don’t need any of this!”

“But - -”

“Leave!”

Swallowing in her disappointment, the brunette retreated backwards out of the compound until all that was left was the darkness, and the small blonde figure sitting crouched over, shivering from the tears which she had tried so hard to hide from the world. Until tonight.

*****

The dark haired detective ran quickly out of the prison gates. A few curious onlookers tried to get a glance at the obviously distressed woman but she was gone as soon as she appeared. When she had finally made it out to her car, she stopped, and loud sobs suddenly escaped her lips.

Faith was shaking. She tried in vain to try and control her breathing but it was useless. Her trembling hands tried to wipe away the tears as she felt herself slide down the side of her Jaguar and she wondered why it hurt so much. Why is it that only Buffy could get her so worked up? Faith let out a strangled cry into the dark road. In all these years, she had never let herself become this weak. Part of her felt pity for Buffy, but the other, more dominant part was angry at the blonde for making her care so much. So much that she was reduced to crying in the middle of the street because she had already failed in bringing back her only reason for living.

// Buffy... //

*****

- -A year ago- -

The unusually quiet blonde was led into the dimly lit room. She was rigourously searched and pushed down firmly into the cold metal chair. Her feet were shackled to the floor. Her hands fastened to the armrests. Her waist secured to the body of the chair. Then the guards left.

And an unarmed human being was allowed to enter the room.

The body of the blonde visually twitched at this once familiar situation.

He tried to smile at her, but it failed as her head wasn’t even up. What good was a smile when no one was looking? He tried draw some kind of attention to himself in an attempt to get her to look up. He cleared his throat. No good.

Exhaling shakily, he set down his clip board and approached her chair slowly. No problem. He would just give her a light tap on the shoulder. Easy. She was strapped right down into the chair. So why was he so afraid of this girl?

It suddenly became so quiet in the room. He could hear and feel the thumping of his heart echoing in his head. His blood began rushing through his veins and he could feel his hands begin to shake. He inhaled sharply as he felt his senses trying to tell him something.

This girl had pure evil in her. He could tell that now. That’s why he was so afraid. That’s why he had stopped walking. That’s why he was standing in the middle of the room, in between his desk and the blonde girl sitting in the chair. Standing there, afraid to make a noise. He suddenly hoped she wouldn’t look up. Because then he could get his things and leave without ever having to look her in the face. Because then his sleep might be that little bit more easy tonight. Dr. Peteman had seen a lot of things during his career, but nothing would have prepared him to be alone in a room with a human so far gone, that they were no longer considered human anymore. He prayed he could escape this situation without any nightmares. He already had so many...

“Why don’t you say anything professor?”

He gasped and shrunk back slightly as she spoke without looking up. He wanted so much just to leave, but his pride made him stand his ground. He didn’t want to be beaten by this... thing. If he didn’t try to help, then why was he here?

“I- - I’m sorry. I just ah... I needed to get my things together. I wasn’t prepared for-”

“You know, you’re being quite rude. You’re lying to me already. Why? You barely even know me.” She suddenly lifted her head and looked straight into his eyes. He tried desperately to avoid her penetrating stare, but she was almost hypnotic.

Her head cocked slightly. “But you do know me. Don’t you? You know what I am. You’re not like the others. You can... see.” She squinted comically at him. “Cool! You have the sight!” She grinned as he showed the slightest hint of annoyance on his face.

“How- - how did you know?”

“I can see you as well. I can smell it on you. You’re not human. But you’re not a demon either. You’re something else altogether. There’s something completely pure about you. Wow, I do meet the most interesting people these days....

"I can tell you have power. But you still wear vulnerability like a coat. You walk amongst the humans, trying to act like one of them. I can tell you’re on a mission. You’re trying to help them. And you have. But let me tell you now, no angel can help me. So you might as well give up now. Your soul, however much blessed by heaven itself, couldn’t take a dose of corruption from me.”

“You... You talk as if you’re not human either. But you are. You were born that way. Why can’t you accept you’re one of them?”

“Leave. Now.”

The angel wanted to argue, but his fear was quickly growing in this girl’s presence. Suddenly he turned away from her and picked up his things. He could feel her eyes piercing into his back, mocking him. His pace quickened as he approached the single exit. He moved to open the door but he found himself stopping as he suddenly began speaking from a place deep within himself.

“For the sake of the world, I do hope you somehow regain your innocence. It’s true, I haven’t the skills nor the courage to face you. But I do know that someday, someone will. I pray that day is near, for I can feel your soul is weak, and is close to disappearing completely. Right now, I can hear your soul pleading to me, and it despairs me that I can walk away from its cries. It throws my whole mission out of balance, but I know I’m not the one who can help you find yourself. There’s only one person out there who can do that. And I promise you that I will find that person, and send her to you. She alone will have the power to bring you to your knees.”

The blonde looked up at this, but he was already gone. She scoffed loudly.

“...Yeah right.”

...to be continued...

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