A Whole New Life: The Years In Prison
by Surugan
Rating: PG-13

Author's Notes: This is my first fanfic ever. There will be no Buffy/Faith slash on THIS first CHAPTER, and no, neither of them has that kind of feelings for the other. YET. In the future chapters, however, there will be time for one of the chosen two fall for the other. Or perhaps both. The timelines won't match with the series - but that's only because they haven't shown us the 4th and 5th seasons of Buffy (here in Finland). And that's also why Tara, Anya and Dawn (in the later chapters of this series) are based completely on all the fanfiction I've read. Well, at least on the good stories' versions. Two slashes (//) indicate thinking. Please send me feedback.

The small room had no windows. There was no lamp, either, and therefore no light entered the room, except for the few times in a day, when two guards brought her food, put handcuffs on her hands, watched her eat and then took everything with them. No words were spoken while this happened; no one was allowed to talk to her.

This had already lasted for four weeks: before that she had been in jail for two weeks. The first two had not been pleasant, but it had definitely been better than the isolation. The isolation itself wasn't bad, she thought, but the silence was horrible. She had nothing to hear or see, but the silence and the darkness that surrounded her. And there was nothing to do, either. And nobody spoke to her, and if she spoke, she was ignored. It was horrible. Sometimes she was sure that she'd go crazy; sometimes she thought she'd try to kill herself. But never did she think that she didn't deserve this. She did, of that she was sure; see, she had had a lot of time to think. When there was complete silence around one, the only thing that was left were the thoughts, the memories and regrets that haunted her days and nights. At first, she hadn't been able to sleep; later on fatigue had taken over. She had cried for days, her guilt and her self-disgust burning stronger than any other emotion inside her. The remorse, the hatred, the bitterness --- and then, the craving for forgiveness, had also claimed their place within her. She had been overwhelmed by all her awful thoughts, and she had had to face them alone. Yet she prevailed.

She had a plan. She had needed to find some kind of hope, something to help her --- and so, she had dreamed. She had dreamed that she'd find forgiveness, find love, find a whole new life --- and fulfill her duty like she should have before. And that dream was the only thing that kept her alive now, and she clung to it like it was the last of her life. She wanted so many things: she had never had any of it. But in Buffy's body, she had had a taste of it.

She wanted to find out what it would feel like to love; but that would be hard, as she had never let anyone close. She wanted to find out what happiness was; but she knew she shouldn't ever let herself feel it. She wanted to live, have friends, *date* people: that was something she had never done. And now only the hope of learning these things kept her alive. And she'd have to turn twenty-one before her parole board would meet. The first and only part of her plan was this: write letters. She had thought about it, over and over again. When her self-disgust, remorse and guilt kept her awake, she tried to comfort herself by thinking that she'd make things right. She had written the letters at least a hundred times. In her mind, she had written to Angel, Dawn, Willow, Xander, Tara and Giles. Over and over again she had tried to find the right words; she had tried to find the *perfect* words to describe her remorse. But she could not. She knew she would not find words to describe anything that strong.

She knew she would never actually write to Willow. The redhead could never forgive her, of that she was sure. Writing to her would only cause the redhead's hatred towards Faith burn stronger. She had cried for this; she had spent hours awake thinking of it, until she'd fall asleep, only to see nightmares of the witch and the other slayerettes. Always telling her to "go fuck yourself". In reality, she knew Willow would not use the exact words. She knew she would never actually write to Xander. Or Giles or Dawn. Her memories of Dawn were happy, and therefore she felt shame for things she had done to her sister and mother. And the remorse that was caused by these memories was almost equally as strong as her guilt for the humans she had killed. And that says much.

Xander was another case; she knew the guy would never be comfortable around her. She knew it would be stupid to even try contacting him.

Giles would probably understand her, but she knew that he'd never forgive her for what she did to Dawn, Buffy and Joyce. And Faith couldn't think of anything to say. "I'm sorry?" . It wouldn't do.

So that left Angel. She knew she'd write to him, she needed someone to talk to. Someone to know everything about her. Someone to remember she wanted to make things right, if she couldn't prove that before her death. And she was sure Angel would stand by her, no matter what she'd do.

So she kept thinking that she'd write to the Scooby gang and Angel. And Wesley, most importantly (although she knew she would not write to him either). But she avoided thinking of the other slayer. She thought she'd never look at her again, and live. She had done as the other slayer had wished: she had gone to jail. But that would not make anything better. The other slayer would not forgive her, no matter what she'd do. This was something that haunted Faith's dreams: the blonde was always there, telling her: "No. You'll never be good enough." Good enough for what? But that wasn't the issue. The horrible thing was the tone of her voice, her words dripping with poison, the look in her eyes, the pure hatred, the loathing that made Faith scream in her sleep. And then the blonde would start killing her, over and over again, until she'd fall off a cliff, falling for what felt like forever, and then, when she had almost forgotten her pain and fear, her body would smash against the rocks, and every part of it would be screaming in pain. And then she'd wake up, only to find her days even more horrible than the nights: images of things she had done, those horrible memories of what she had experienced, everything came back to her while she was awake. Only this time she knew that what she saw was true. And that is why she clung to her plan, her dream, her only hope.

The darkness was sometimes a good thing. Seeing wasn't always something you wanted to do. In darkness, it was easier to think that these things are my own, they can be shared only in this room. They'll never leave this room. In truth, she never spoke anything aloud. But still, the darkness and her dream comforted her. The prison was so old that their cells for isolated prisoners had no windows or lamps: she thought that they didn't deserve to see light in any form. That was in conflict with her dreams, but she didn't care: only hope kept her from killing herself. She never said this aloud; she didn't even realize that she thought this way.

Maybe someday she'd see light again.

*****

Six weeks in the darkness, and she was let out. She was informed, that she had somehow been "forgotten" there. Still, amazingly, the guards had brought her food almost every day.

Her eyes hurt: she wasn't used to sunlight coming in to her room. Her cellmate "Jane" was amazed by that; she couldn't believe that in a facility owned by the state of California, people were actually thrown out of any kind of light for weeks. Faith smiled to her when she said it aloud. She tried to keep her distance to the other prisoners, but sometimes she'd talk to Jane, just to talk to someone. And as soon as she could get a pen and some paper, she started writing her letter(s) to Angel.

"Dear Angel,"

She wrote. // What then? I've never written a letter before. //

"I've never written a letter before, but I'm gonna try anyway."

// Hell, this is harder than I thought. //

"I just got out of isolation - spent there six weeks in complete darkness. It was hell, as no one was even allowed to say anything to me... They sent me there just because I got in to a fight and sent two prisoners and a guard to the hospital, with broken bones. I guess I should learn how to control my temper.
Anyway, I got into thinking. More like crying, I guess. It's just that - I don't know the words for it. I feel awful. All the things I did, I don't know, it's like I was sleeping and then woke up to find that I had lead a country to war while sleepwalking. It's horrible. I can't even look at myself. I wish I was a vampire - cast no reflection, you know? And I could blame my demon.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that"

Faith went through the things she had dreamed she’d say, but that only brought more pain and shame and guilt. Tears flooded her eyes and dropped down to the paper, spreading the ink. She was glad she was alone right now. But Jane could walk in anytime, so she reminded herself that the isolation was over, and wiped the tears away. And sniffed.

Then she tried again:

"I guess I'm saying I don't"

// Fuck, I shouldn't write down every thought. Just say it.//

"I'm sorry.
I know they'll never forgive me, hell I know I'll never forgive me.
But how could I ever make it better?

Bye.
Faith"

She heard Jane's footsteps. It was lock down time. Faith pretended that she was already asleep, her back to the door, holding the letter in her hand.

Tomorrow she'd send it to Angel.

*****

Cordelia almost choked on her coffee as she read the address on the envelope. The fact that it was addressed to Angel didn't surprise her; instead, it was the sender's address that made her shiver: the letter was from Faith. Nothing good ever came from Faith. Cordelia knew that all too well.

Angel walked in to the room while Cordelia was still staring at the address. She didn't even notice him, and so he walked to stand right behind her, so that he could see who had sent them a letter.

"I believe that is mine." He said as soon as he had read the address on the letter. Cordelia was startled.

"When d-did you? It's Faith. It's from Faith. Jail. Faith." Cordelia managed, giving voice to all her thoughts from the last two minutes. Angel took the letter from her hand.

"Your coffee's getting cold." He said and walked into his office, shutting the door behind. Cordelia started sipping her coffee, forgetting all about the rest of the mail.

*****

Angel was quick to answer her letter. Two days after she had sent her letter, his answer came. And that was the beginning of a lasting friendship.

Time passed. Faith didn't care. She didn't know if it was September or February, and what the year was. Angel visited her. They talked and Faith found words to tell him about herself and her feelings. He helped her in whatever way he felt he could. They wrote to each other every day. Faith started keeping a journal.

Then came the letter which told Faith that Buffy's mother had died. Faith couldn't sleep for a week, she kept thinking // I can't make it up anymore. She'll never forgive me. I'm so sorry. // And she couldn't forgive herself for anything. She even considered writing to Buffy, but she knew that wouldn't do any good. So, she wrote to Angel : "I wish there was something I could do or say. But no, I could only cause more pain and make things worse. That doesn't stop me from hoping."

Remembering Dawn, Faith decided to write her a letter. She knew the kid needed all the support she could get. And Dawn had liked Faith.

The next day, Dawn received a comforting message from the woman who had once tortured her mother. And she read it and re-read it, sometimes while crying, just to know that other people cared for her, and that Faith was sorry for the things she had done. Hope awoke inside her // Maybe she'll come back someday //, she thought. And she did as Faith told her to: she didn't answer her.

Faith had studied hard to get herself a GED. Angel had encouraged her, and promised her that when she'd get out, he'd give her a job. "Let's not talk about me being free," she had said "It won't happen for years." That didn't stop her from dreaming about it, like she had admitted to Angel. Angel knew everything about her, every dark little secret, her past and everything. She felt that maybe, just maybe, she'd someday be able to let someone else as close to her. But she didn't believe in it.

Angel had talked about her going to college someday. Faith had said: "D'you know any college that would take a convicted murderer for education?" Angel had replied simply: "Maybe if I'll pay 'em." // No way big bro. // Faith thought, but didn't say anything.

She had started reading poetry. She just loved the way the rhyme, rhythm and the words could touch your heart right away. She had even begun writing it, although she hated her own little "songs". But, like Angel told her, with practice comes the skill, and she dreamed that someday she'd write amazing lyrics. Then she'd just have to find a band to sing in, or better yet, learn how to play guitar. But that would all be in the times to come. That is, if she survived long enough.

Then came the letter that caused her more pain that she could ever have imagined. Buffy was dead. D-E-A-D. Nothing mattered anymore. She could never make amends with Buffy. Every hope of forgiveness from the girl Faith had hurt the most, was gone. She didn't eat anymore. She could barely drink water every now and then. She forgot to sleep, and she didn't even notice that Angel didn't write to her for days.

After a week, she collapsed on to the floor as she was supposed to go 'have breakfast'. She had completely forgotten to drink for two days.

She woke up in a hospital, and Angel was there. Someone else was in the room as well, but she couldn't tell who. She was too tired to move her head, but she was glad Angel was there.

"Hey." She croaked, her mouth dry.

"You're awake."

"So it seems."

"Buffy's alive."

"Again?" Faith didn't even register what happened next: she felt like something had brought life back in to her, and as it spread throughout her body, she fell asleep, without worries, for a change. She didn't know if guilt was the only reason she cared so much. She just did.

She was quickly returned to her cell, but her small somewhat self-destructive period of time had earned her a meeting with the prison counsellor. She didn't mind. She thought she could do with someone who had a beating heart to listen to her, even though it meant she'd have to think about what she said aloud. That wasn't as easy as she thought it would be. But if she only could talk about her childhood and her remorse for all the horrible things she had done, maybe she'd find a way to like her face again. A way to forgive herself somehow. At least that was what she thought. She went to talk to the councellor every monday morning.

She wrote to Angel every day. And he replied as soon as he got the letters. Angel visited her regularly, and even Cordelia came to see her. It took a whole year, but then, without warning, Wesley showed up. Without Angel. Faith and Wesley talked, but it was more like Faith talked. Or begged for forgiveness. She ended up crying, and he could not say that he wouldn't come back again. How much can a prison and a good friend change a person who's willing to change?

After a few more months, or more like 20, she had three friends outside prison, she was alive and she had poetry and literature. And a GED. Things were looking up for her.

Just then, a letter arrived from Cordelia. Angel had left to comfort Buffy, because Riley had died. He had been kidnapped by vampires, and tortured and killed before Buffy could fight her way through to him. She had witnessed him being turned. 'Fortunately' Xander had been there to drive a stake through his heart.

Faith felt guilt for being in prison. Surely, if only she had been free, two slayers could have saved him. She could imagine what Buffy felt like... she had lost her second great love. Before that, she had lost her mother. And shortly after that she had almost lost her sister, and then died herself, again, not being able to find peace in death. She had risen again, to fight the battle that put everything around her at risk. And took away everything she loved. Faith felt tears fall down her cheeks as she lay on her bed in the dark of the night. She couldn't do what every rational part of her mind said. She could not ignore it. She had to write to Buffy.

Next day, Faith lay on her bed, trying to think of what to say. // No reason to write to her. She'll only hate you more for it. And Angel's there. // But that didn't stop her from caring. That didn't stop her from writing. // Hell, better just say what you mean.// So she began:

"Dear Buffy,
No, I am not out of prison, don't freak out. And yes, I know that I am the last person you want to hear about, so I'm gonna keep it short. Please don't burn or tear this letter before reading it!
I know you don't wanna hear any apologies or anything about me. But I am writing to you just to tell you how sorry I am for Riley. I'm sure you loved him with all your heart, and I KNOW he loved you more than anything else. The hardest part of being a slayer is just that - you risk all your love in order to save the world.
And that is the greatest part of you. You just keep on fighting the good fight, allowing the world to sleep at peace. I admire you for that.
They both loved you more than anything, as they should. Just remember that.

Yours sincerely,
Faith

PS. I won't return to Sunnyhell after my release - I'm gonna work for Angel. I thought you should know.
Don't shut anyone out. They love you - and it wasn't your fault."

Faith didn't want to think about what she was just about to do: she was going to add fuel on the fire, making Buffy both mourning and angry. But she was going to send the letter; she couldn't let herself feel that she hadn't tried to help. Although she knew it couldn't help Buffy in any way. This was something she was going to talk to the counsellor about. Faith felt that she had to write to Dawn as well: she knew that losing your mother was hard enough, but she couldn't let the kid lose her big sister as well. So she wrote to her, and made her promise, in a letter, that she'd look after her big sister.

Buffy never answered Faith's letter. Faith didn't mind. // At least she didn't come here to kill me.// Angel, however, wrote to Faith about writing to Buffy. "I know that you wanted to do something, but right now I don't know if your letter made things better or worse. It sure seems like the latter would be more correct." Faith answered him, to the mansion: "You just take care of her eating, and don't let her shut Dawnie or Red or anyone out. I know Riley meant much to her. Show her that she won't lose everything. And talk to Dawnie. I don't want her writing me much."

Angel stayed in Sunnydale for three weeks. Gunn, Wesley and Cordelia had a hard time working, but things remained as normal as they could be, and then he came back.

Just then, two days after Angel was back in Los Angeles, Faith found herself in a parole board meeting. It was her 21st birthday: her time had passed quickly when she had been busy worrying and feeling guilty and remorseful. She was released. // Just like that? First in jail, then on the streets? // She hadn't mentioned the event to anyone. In fact, she had completely forgotten that freedom could be knocking on her door.

...continued in Bells For Her...

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