Disclaimer: Joss, WB (for now) etc etc own them, not me.
Spoilers: The Gift and Bad Girls.
Author's Notes: So what will happen now, and how will it affect a certain brunette slayer? Just another quick fic, alternating B/F point of view, starting with Buffy....
Looking back, I think it was the dance in the Bronze that was the first time. *That* dance. I think that was the first time that I had really tasted freedom. I think I was nothing more than a child when the responsibility was there, and I wanted to quit so many times. I did quit so many times. But I could never really escape it, could never make that break and leave all those people to die. Even if I never saw it happen, I would see it on the news, read it in the paper, hear people I knew at school sobbing by their lockers over the death of one of their friends. Another one of their friends. And I would know. I would know that it could be my fault; I may have been able to stop it but had turned my back. So, deep down, every time that I said I quit, I still knew that I couldn't turn my back on being a Slayer.
I think I was lucky, having the life that I had. Willow has always been the sweetest and best friend I could want, from the first day that I met her. Never once did she and Xander ever think about leaving it up to me. Not just the hand to hand fighting, but the burden as well. And Giles was always so much more than just a Watcher. He was my guide who never left me to find my way alone, even when he should. Even when he was told. I was lucky to have all of this. I think about Kendra and wish that she could have had the same, knowing that she never had friends or lovers in her short life. I think back to finding her on that library floor and I know that it could have been me. Should have been me in some ways. So I know that I am lucky, but I still never had all those things that everyone outside our little group had. All my lovers, the people that I cared about, were always too much a part of it, and so there was always the responsibility there as well. It was never an escape.
Yet, looking back, at the Bronze that night, I was part of it but I didn't care. I felt like I could be free by being trapped in it all. I thought that there was another way. To give in to myself and let it all happen. Feel that energy and the blissful calm and adrenaline kick all at once as it became instinctive and enjoyable. The thrill of the kill and the hunt, the power of knowing that I could do whatever I wanted, just because I was a Slayer, but that didn't mean that I was turning my back on my duty. For that one moment, those few dances, I think that I was happy. It was a price that I would pay dearly. There was no control, none of the control that needed to be there, that I had always insisted on. I had needed it, because if this was my destiny, if I was forced to live this kind of life, then I wanted to control every last bit of it that I was allowed. A man died because I was so caught up in the action I had stopped the cautious bit of my brain from working. I went from thinking too much to not thinking at all in the space of twenty-four hours. The blood will always be on my conscience.
But that is the beauty of hindsight. If I went back there now, would I be able to change anything? Would I be able to stop myself getting caught up in the enthusiasm that seemed to ooze its way out of every one of her pores, in that laugh and the wild look in her eyes. I wanted to feel like she felt just for a while. I want to feel it again now. The kill. It was what I was built for. Right now, as I drive my stake hard into yet another vampire, it is what I need.
And that is the only reason that I keep thinking of her. Really.
The night that she died, I woke up screaming her name. I felt her go and it scared the shit out of me. Enough to wake me up shaking. I started crying because that Slayer thing, whatever mojo that was, it had gone. I would rather had Buffy beat me down for saying sorry to her than know that I would never get the chance to say it at all. I cried until my bunk told me to shut the fuck up, and then I flipped. The way that I used to I guess, but I didn't give a damn. I remember punching the doors, the walls, tearing up my sheets, knocking out one of the guards that came in to see what the hell was going on, and I remember it going. All that anger and fire that I even had when I was a kid, way before the Slayer gig came along, it just left. I know I started crying again and then nothing. I guess that they shoved some tranqs in me, probably shit loads to make sure that it worked and I didn't go waking any one else up in the middle of the night.
When I came round, I was restrained in one of the hospital beds. I looked down at my hands and saw the layers of bandages there and knew that I had lost it again for a while. I screamed to myself when I tried to move my fingers and there was a popping sound from my knuckles. I smashed myself up worse than any vamp ever had done. I lay there and thought, 'way to go Faith, you really got some quality rage going there'. But it wasn't over. I could feel it just beginning. Something was coming and it was big, I just didn't know whether I cared enough any more.
Being dead was the turning point. I guess it is for most people, but then they don't normally have a second chance. Or a third.
The first thing that I can really remember is seeing the bright blue sky and clouds, picture postcard perfect over my head, and I knew that I was back. I didn't know how or why and at the time I didn't care. I could just feel my heart beating in my chest and tears in my eyes. That was all I needed to believe in.
But things had changed. I had changed, somewhere deep down in places I didn't want to think about, I was a different person. I had lost that fear, because I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, only sadness for all those people who had loved me and I was leaving. That was what I had felt as I was falling, feeling like it was never going to stop and that I would continue that descent for eternity. Then right before it was all over there was nothing but calm and a detached sadness at the thought of leaving Dawn all alone now. But I knew that she was in good hands, and then there was nothing. No more feeling.
Until I was back. Then for a few long seconds, every human emotion was in me, was part of me, as if I was remembering them all at once for future reference. I knew that I would need them at some point, once I was used to them being there again. I also knew that this was part of my destiny, and when I thought that I had finally fulfilled it, I found out that there was more to come. I had a job to do, that was the only reason why I could be back here. So I did my job. And everyone was happy that Buffy was back. No one seemed to notice that I had changed, nobody looked into my soul and saw that somewhere a tiny piece of me was missing. Or an extra piece was there. They were just happy that I was alive and with them, the world would once again be a safe place, and a new semester beckoned. My life was back and it was my own. Mine and Dawn's to share with the rest of the world that needed me. So it was like I was fifteen again, giving my life to a world that never said thank you, a world that I didn't ask anything from. I was just aware that I had been given my heart, soul and body back, it seemed greedy to ask for something more. Even if I had known what that something was.
I don't know whether it was the best day of my life or the worst. I had been released, nice and early, into the care of Cordelia. That's right, Queen C signed the papers and met me at those prison gates with a fake smile, an even faker tan, and a car to take me home. Home being Angel's hotel, definitely his now that his battle with those lawyer dudes was over. And I thought that those things had to be settled through the courts. I should have learnt by now that an old-fashioned rumble can do the job even better.
He holds me when I walk through the door, finally, after visiting me all this time, after breaking the news to me about Buffy's death, he can hold me and let me cry it out. I know that I am free, but it don't mean that much to me now. I think that I am the only one. I don't think another Slayer has been called. I hadn't felt no connection letting me know that she was there. Whoever the poor sucker was. I realised that I am the Chosen One. The Powers That Be must have been kicking their asses right about then for that fuck up. Me, I just wanted a bath and some clean clothes and to think. I had been doing that a lot, wondering just what the hell I was going to do now with my life. I guess I should slay, but I figured that if any vamp put up too much of a struggle I might just let him take me. I didn't want this any more. Didn't want the power, the destiny, the next two years doing nothing but live a crappy life until someone sends a gruesome death my way. Trouble is, I didn't know if there was anything else that I could do.
I think that Angel was hurt that I wanted to be alone so quickly, but hey, the king of broodiness himself should have understood. So I went and ran a bath, locking the door because I could, feeling a little smile of pleasure at having my life back, at have soap with some kind of fragrance, I didn't give a shit if it was lavender or strawberry, or what colour it was. It just wasn't white and smelling of carbolic and that was enough for me.
So I'm lying there, thinking about all the things that I should have done, like I do pretty much all the time, planning my next move when I feel it coming. It starts like there is a humming in the room, and I swear the lights flickered for just a second, and then it is a feeling inside me. Like someone has a hold of my guts and is twisting them round and trying to pull them out. I wrapped my arms around my waist, some kind of protective instinct I guess, and let myself sink under into the warmth of the water. I felt it wash over my eyes until the whole room was wavy above me, the ceiling light just a blur. I thought I was dying in that minute and I wanted to fight against it. I wanted it to take me as well. Instead I got a mouth full of water and 4000volts up my spine. I came up, coughing my guts up as Angel's started banging on the door.
I guess I should have been bothered about the fact I was hanging over the edge of his bath butt naked and spewing my lungs out onto the floor, but instead I just coughed out the last of the water with one simple word. 'Buffy'.
I didn't know how, but I could feel it. She was with me again. She was back.
So looking back at that moment in the Bronze, thinking about it when there was nothing else happening on patrol, when there was nothing else on TV, trying to find that feeling I had then, trying to drag it back into my memory from somewhere I had buried it, that was where I found that little piece. That little piece of me that I had buried when I realised its consequences. When I found myself longing for that feeling again, I realised that was the little bit of me that had changed. I had let it go, let it no longer be a part of me, and I had somehow lost everything anyway. I had lost Angel, my mother, even my own life. I had fought so hard to gain that control that I had let slip, only to discover in the end I had no control over things anyway. It had all been a lie. A lie that I had told myself because I had needed to be able to get through my life, and it was something that I didn't need any more. I started to crave that intensity of feeling, those moments when none of it matters any more, and you don't think of tomorrow, you just live for whatever it is, a dance, a kill, a kiss. And I kept telling myself since I first realised what I was feeling, that the memory of this was the only reason that I was thinking about her.
But then there is a simple knock on the door, and I laugh at myself. Because I have still been telling myself lies to get through my life.
My palms are sweating when I knock on that door. Mainly fear I guess. But there is a reason why I am here. I just know that this is the place where I have to be right now. I have to look at her to know that it is real, that I am not going crazy. I don't know what to expect, so I expect nothing.
She answers the door as if she knew all along that it was going to be me. That connection is there, the connection that we once had and lost. I lost that connection the moment that I pushed a piece of wood into a man's heart and watched as his blood poured out onto her hands. When I decided that we had to turn and run, I lost it all in that moment. Things were never going to be the same again. But maybe, just maybe, they could be now.
I follow her into the living room, sitting down next to her on the couch. She smiles at me, and there is nothing that I have to say to her. She knows it all anyway. I smile and speak to her, for the first time in so long, I speak to her and not at her. "Guess you made it back to us then B."
"I made it back. Don't know quite how yet, but I suspect a certain red-headed Wicca may have been involved." I smile with her at the thought of Red taking on the PTB and winning. "She must have used 'resolve' face or something."
"Well, I wouldn't put anything past Red." There is another pause, an awkward moment when we both seem to decide whether or not to carry on making small talk. "So what's the what?" It sounds so childish coming out of my mouth and makes me feel old. But it makes her smile.
"We have to patrol. Then how do you feel about going to the Bronze? I want to dance."
That was all it took. No saying sorry, no going over old ground. There was no point in talking it out. Faith was never much of a talker anyway. But we slayed twelve vamps that night, and neither of us cared that we had bruised lips and torn clothes when we walked into the Bronze. I had found it again, that little piece of myself, and when we danced I just closed my eyes and let my body move with the music.