Rating:PG for language
Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine. Plot lines aren't even really mine; they're just beamed to me via satellite. All hail the mighty and benevolent Joss for making it all possible.
Notes: Set in Season 4, This Year's Girl when Faith wakes in the hospital. This is another half-image, half-fic – I made the graphics first and then the text, and I'm posting them all together with each section containing one image and one text working around and through the image contents. Quote in the second section (although modified) comes from the transcript of This Year's Girl [found here]
Summary: Instead of using the device on Buffy when she wakes up, what if the Mayor intended Faith to use it on Giles?
Word Count: ~1,500
There’s a picnic and the Mayor grinning next to her in his dorktastic way, saying nothing can hurt her. And for just a second, just as she’s believing him, he turns into Giles. There's warmth in his eyes, and his smile's not as wide, but it warms her anyway. And the knife makes a weird squelching crunching sound as it sticks out of his chest. Buffy, always Buffy, angry vengeful, brutal. Buffy stalks through the thunder, rain pelting, and Faith can feel the ground beneath her fingers as she crawls away sobbing, screaming, can’t stand this feeling of helpless oncoming death behind her, always behind her. Never get rid of it never escape it never win never stop never . . .
The mud squelches but she stands up, gasping, shoving water out of her eyes and away and screams to the sky.
And she's alone in a room plugged into machines. Abandoned. Can't shake off the dreams – it's like they seeped into bones knifing into her as she moves them, rubbery arms and legs and for a sickening moment when she puts her feet on the floor she pitches back and forth like a fucking top. Everything was so vivid just a second ago and now everything's white and gray. All jagged edges and cracked cold, and she snaps at the world for still being the same shitty stupid place it was when she lay down and closed her eyes. No relief there and it's not over here.
Hello, Faith. If you're watching this tape, it can only mean one thing. I'm dead. And our noble campaign to bring order to the town of Sunnydale has failed, utterly and completely. As I record this message, you're… sleeping. The doctors tell me you might never wake up but I don't believe that. Sooner or later, you'll wake and find the world has gone and changed on you. I wish I could make the world a better place for you to wake up in. But tough as it is to accept, we both have to understand that even my power to protect and watch over you has its limits.
Now, I know you're a smart and capable young woman in charge of her own life but the problem, Faith, is that there won't be a place in the world for you anymore. Right now, I bet you're feeling very much alone. But you're never alone. You'll always have me. And, you'll always have this.
Go ahead, look in the envelope. Don't worry, it won't bite. That's my job. Open it.
Surprise! You don't get these in any gumball machine. See, when you've been around as long as I have, you make friends, and some of them forge neat little gizmos like the one you're holding now. And here's the good news: just because I’m not there with you doesn’t mean I can’t give you the tools to make a new place. Get yourself a new person to watch over you. Watch. See what I did there?
It clicked as she turned it around and around in her hand, and the video light glinted off it. It didn’t look like much of anything. But the Mayor, he wouldn’t have left her something like this if it wasn’t powerful. He didn’t screw around like that. What he said, went. Even her.
Her stomach tightened – phantom pain made her flinch and breathe through her nose.
He’d left her this and she wasn't sure if she should just back the fuck away. Maybe it was just some last trick the world was gonna play on her. It's not like it would make sense for things to actually go her way.
Besides, she had to be smart enough to figure out how to use it – no – figure out who to use it on.
That was the thing, he kept saying he couldn’t watch over her anymore. But she didn’t need that. She’d never needed that. Never wanted it. Always wanted. Always needed. In the shitty cramped dark the truth she tries to ignore stares her in the face. Stupid watchers and their stupid mind games, fucking with her, being evil, being wet-behind-the ears dicks, always choosing the Council. Always choosing B.
NO. Screw that. She got to make the choices now, and she was gonna choose.
She waited till the others left, B and her ridiculously tall wholesome looking boyfriend, Willow and Xander both out for blood, still. And here she was at the window, poor little match girl looking in at something she wasn’t supposed to have. The pit of her stomach was so tangled she didn’t know what to want. The cornfed boy and the loyal best friends. They weren't her thing. Oh sure, she'd like to rough 'em up and tear 'em down but in the end they couldn't keep up with her. But someone she could depend on? Someone to watch her back? Something clawed up her insides and into her throat and she almost whimpered with want. But she waited.
She waited until she saw Giles poor himself a glass of something brown and totally alcoholic. She waited until she didn’t feel desire ripping the back of her throat. She waited until his shoulders slumped a little, and then she opened his front door.
Of course, a second after that he was off the couch and trying to reach for a weapon, and she knew she didn’t have long before he’d out maneuver her.
“Look, Giles, I’m not going to hurt you.” Moving into the room she put her hands flat on the table so he couldn’t see them shake. “You don’t have to believe me, you just gotta give me a second, please, just one second.” Her voice wasn’t supposed to be that desperate and cracked, but it made Giles pause and that was all to the good. His serious face got less stony.
“I know what you're going to say and –“
“No, you really don’t.”
And somehow she finds the right words and gets him to put the damn weapon down. Finds the right words to get him to listen. Something about crappy choices and shitty dreams and that she went down one fucked up rabbit hole and feels like a couple of years in a coma is like doing time, doing penance, and maybe she should get the chance to do something else now. A plea, because she can't do it alone. She doesn't mention how B seems all self-reliant and grown up with her college boyfriend and her college friends, but it's mixed in there too. She, Faith, she needs watching, and she can see him . . . well it's not like he believes her but he's willing to give her a chance. Besides, he needs someone to watch.
After a night where she gets him to pour her some of that shit he was drinking when she walked in, a night where he actually dropped the father act and asked her questions that hurt – but damn the pain felt right. Felt good. After a night like that she knew. So she grabbed his hand, clenching the katra tight between them, and a bright fire went up through the clasp, burning all the way down to her spine. And he's gasping and growling beside her and she can suddenly tell it's not just a fire through her bones she's feeling. Flames are licking his.
They don't like it. Buffy. And Willow, man, Willow is never going to be her friend. Xander's pissed face is hilarious and sometimes she says things to Giles without using words just to see how long it takes to put that expression back on Xander's mug. None of them like it, actually, and if she cared about that shit it might bother her.
Ok, yes sarcastic British guy in her head who doesn't let her lie to herself, she cares about that shit.
But she cares about what they have more. She has a place now. No shitty hotel rooms, no prison corners, no cheap flop houses, no backseats of cars (unless they're making out in one, and who says that's not a legitimate way to lure vampires and get her Watcher hot under the collar at the same time? It is). Now wherever she goes she carries him with her, and he her. It took her so long to find the right place that she doesn't fucking care what comes at her now because she'll always have this. And this is a guy who's more sarcastic than her. More road under his feet and more demons under his belt. Just as fucking crazy on the inside, though she thinks she's getting him to let a little of it out these days. This is somebody who knows the fight, knows the fuck, knows that you gotta feed – he's also the one that explained to her the last part wasn't feeding your face, it was your soul.