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Thank you - Faith

On a bus to Sunnydale. Headphones on, foot tapping, hands drumming silently on denim knees. Eyes closed, lips singing along without sound, head moving ever so slightly to the beat. Faith is a free woman today, and she owes it all to Buffy.

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

But she won't think about that right now. She listens to her CD and follows along with ehr foot and hands and her head. And she blocks out thoughts of Buffy and Slayers in training. Term numero uno of being let out of prison by some Council jerk: Deal with the "situation" in L.A. Angelus, vampires wreaking, havoc, apocalypse and all that. Sort of important. Well, that was done with. Term number two: After dealing with "situation"...meet Kennedy.

Slayer number two, version 1.5. Faith tries not to be glad about being prime Slayer now...because how did she become prime Slayer?

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

The song is over, and Faith hits the repeat button and it starts over again. She doesn't really know what the Council guy expects from her. Maybe she's a watcher now that the rest of them were blown to smithereens by Bringers or whoever. He didn't give specifics. He hardly told her Buffy was dead. It was like an *afterthought*. "You're out of prison, go avert the apocalypse. Ooh, by the way. Buffy's dead."

Well...maybe not quite like that.

But he had been like any other watcher she had ever met. British, bland, dignified, and utterly business-like. All he cared about right now was getting the job done. He had looked a little rabbit-y, too. Jumpy, twitchy, scared-like. Then again, his compadres had just been blown up and he was one of the very few left. So, maybe twitchiness was in order. Any road, he had given Faith her clothes back, and here she was with a new (purchased, not stolen) discman and a Jane's Addiction CD.

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

The song ends, she hits repeat. Prison, out. Life, in. Faith's road to redemption had been curvy and void of helpful signs that pointed out rest areas and tourist attractions. Angel had visited on and off, disappearing for months at a time ("Big box, bottom of the ocean Long story." "Oh."), but more or less teaching her the ways of the good and the pure. That had made her job--either kill Angelus or restore him to Angel again--a little more difficult. The thought of staking her redemptor...well. But, lucky for Faith...

Gotta love those last-minute soul-restoring spells. Come in handy in a clinch.

So, for the past, what, three? Yes. Three years. For the past three years, Faith had been rehabilitating herself, until she was as close to better as a former homicidal maniac with serious Daddy issues could get. Lucky for the world, Faith is now Faith, version sane. And it is going to be a hell of a ride...but she was ready for it. Or, at least she hoped.

Thank you, B, for living long enough.

While the song repeats itself again, Faith bends down and picks up her bag. She moves some things around and comes up with a tattered and torn peice of paper. Her one letter from Sunnydale over three years in prison.

Dear Faith,

Come see me when you're out...We can talk.

Buffy.

Faith asked Angel about it and he said he hadn't talked to Buffy, that last he'd heard she still figured Faith as a complete maniac. A lost cause. But, obviously not.

The bus pulls into the station, Faith gets off with her stuff, and hits repeat on the CD player yet again. Her walk isn't all that long, she knows exactly which cemetary, and it wasn't far from the bus depot. She weaves her way through headstones, looking for the tree Willow told her about on the phone. And what a conversation that had been...The things you miss when you're locked in a cell. Faith finds the tree, the headstone, and she hits the stop button. She reads the inscription: "Buffy Anne Summers. 1981-2003. She saved the world. Alot. Again. "

Well, that's as truthful as you get.

Faith drops to her knees and says, "Well. I'm out, I came to see you. Let's talk." Silence. "Um..."

She stares at the stone until her eyes blur and she blinks, and the wetness of tears on her face shocks her. She reache sup and wipes at one cheek, then looks at her fingers before wiping the tears on her jeans. It's a long while before she speaks again.

"Thank you, B."