title: Returning
author: cheebs!
email: chbkamen@optonline.net
site: http://bite.to/bloodandfire
rating: PG
chara: Faith/Buffy
summary: Faith returns. End of s7 vignette that will never happen.
disclaimer: Idea is mine, chara aren't.
note(s): For FC, Piper, Elaine, B_A and everyone who asked for more Fuffy. :)
archive(s): Lists. Others, please ask first.
date: 11/22/02

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Faith had returned to a lot of places lately.

None had terrified her as much as this one.

It wasn't the place itself, as much as what had once happened here: she'd become a murderer. They'd made her a killer barely six months before; imbued her with the strength and speed of ten. If only they'd given her the reflexes to match....

Thoughts like this had become commonplace during her incarceration, with so little allowed her to occupy her time. She had thought often of Buffy, and how things had gone so horribly wrong with her bungled attempts to be noticed and needed by the blonde. She had quickly made up her mind to return to Sunnydale, to that house she'd wanted acceptance in so badly, and apologise quickly, before Buffy could break her jaw to keep her from speaking.

She had returned and found a broken woman, aged by her life and deaths and far too much responsibility for one pair of shoulders, with haunted eyes that had reminded her far too much of her own three years prior. Haunted, but no longer hard and malicious; rather, they held empathy Faith had never expected Buffy capable of.

Faith had fallen to her knees on the front porch, crying, and had pressed her damp cheek against Buffy's abdomen, unknowingly mirroring Angel's action after his return from Hell. Words had failed her; so had her voice.

The last vestiges of Buffy's anger toward Faith had died with her nearly two years earlier. Not only her own life had flashed through her mind, but that of the younger Slayer as well, and she had gained unprecedented understanding of the other woman. She had slid down and knelt with Faith, hugging her tightly, whispering her forgiveness and asking for it in return.

They had stayed like that for a while, hugging and crying, murmuring their regrets and remorse, 'til the sun had begun its descent and their bodies had called for the Hunt. Then they had stalked through the graveyards and alleys, the Chosen Two together once more, as it always should have been. They'd taken down a few fledgelings with supernatural grace and synchronicity, reminding them of a joke made just before everything had gone wrong. They had looked at each other and laughed, knowing precisely what the other thought.

As they'd walked through one unremarkable alley, Faith had paused and taken Buffy's hand, perhaps a little too roughly. Buffy had smiled up at her, but the smile had fallen when she'd glimpsed the brunette's face. Then she had realised where they were, and why Faith had turned pale and trembled.

That had brought them to this moment.

Time stood still. In their minds' eyes dumpster and pavement were streaked with blood and both women were scared teenaged girls again. Faith's knees gave way, sending her to the ground yet again. She caressed an imaginary bloodstain on the blacktop as she choked out repentance.

Buffy crouched beside Faith and laced her fingers through the other woman's, silently acknowledging her part in the accident. She wrapped her other arm around Faith's waist and leaned against her side, hoping to provide some degree of comfort.

Faith broke down, tears pouring forth as memories and guilt did the same. She collapsed against Buffy, tucking her head into the curve of the blonde's neck as her hair was stroked from her face. She scarcely felt the other woman's tears as they fell onto her cheeks and mingled with her own.

No words were spoken. None were needed; just solace.

~never an end~