Author:  Meltha

Rating:  PG… it's impossible for Faith to be G, isn't it?

Feedback:  Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through Buffy season three's Graduation Day 1.  This takes place prior to her arrival in Sunnydale or her finding out she's a Slayer.

Distribution: Fanfiction.net, the Bunny Warren, and the 500 Club.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  In Boston, Faith experiences a moment of balance and power.

Author's Note:  The ninth in the Jewel Box series, a collection of 500 word fics (in response to The 500 Club) and an idea taken from Challenge in a Can www.dymphna.challenge.com.  In this case, it's Faith, jewelry, and elated.  I'm playing with the term jewelry a bit loosely here.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Dedication:  Well, this one must go to Kate, must it not?

Free Falling

Faith never wore shoes if she could help it.  July evening heat shimmered off the pavement, creating unreal images of the rock quarry, so she had begrudgingly worn sandals to avoid scorching her feet.  But when asphalt ended in sand and gravel, she kicked them off, savoring the feeling of warm, rough stone.  It had rained earlier, and in the shade of the larger boulders the wet sand made her feet deliciously cool.

Grimacing, she noticed the usual crowd of cheerleaders and jocks had already arrived.  She loathed them as much as they loathed her, and she wished she could be alone. 

"Love the outfit," said Mindy, one of the popular girls lounging near the quarry pond and dressed in bright, provocative bikinis, in a voice of false sweetness.

"Thought I'd leave the Malibu Barbie look to you," Faith replied, conscious of her worn cut-offs and faded black tank. 

Mindy flipped her blonde hair irritably.  "Whatever, freak," she muttered.

"Wanna repeat that?  Didn't quite catch it," Faith said, her tone promising a fat lip if she did.

"Nothing," Mindy said, wandering away with her hangers-on.

The distraction erased, Faith turned her attention to her real goal.  The cliff rose threateningly out of the water.  No one had dared to climb its rough face, let alone dive.  Biting her lip, she eased her way up the side, dimly aware the others had stopped talking. 

She'd realized there was something different about her, but she didn't have a name for it yet.  Usually she hated it, but there were moments when she slid into her power like a velvet glove was encasing her skin.  Those were the times it felt right, and this was one of them.

Finally, she stood on the edge of the cliff and looked into the cool, dark water below.  The sultry air caressed her lovingly, as though she were made of the night as well, and she felt a belonging beyond anything she had known.

Her feet met empty air, and her body knifed through the darkness. The rush of wind in her ears was the sweetest music she had ever heard. The descent felt like blissful ages as the water drew nearer.

The tips of her fingers broke the mirrored surface first, followed by the rest of her body until the water closed over her toes, wrapping her in its chilly embrace.  Her hands explored the quarry's bottom, her palm closing around a perfectly smooth black stone veined with gray.

A few kicks brought her to the surface.  Walking out of the water, her drenched clothing clinging more erotically than anything Mindy could buy at the mall, she met stares of shock and hidden admiration.

"She's crazy," Mindy said under her breath. 

Faith didn't pretend not to hear, walking to her with a tigress gait.  She tossed the stone in her hand, catching it directly under the girl's nose.

"Don't forget it," she said as she prowled away, her fist clutching her new treasure.