Title: No Sense In Running
Disclaimer: Purely for entertainment. No infringement intended.
Rating: R for language and themes.
Note: Thanks for waiting so long for this update! Hopefully I should be able to get back on track with this now, as I have a direction for it to go in! Hope you enjoy the chapter, please review, as always!
It seemed B and I had turned a corner after that night. Everyone knew and saw how tough this deal was beginning to get. After losing potentials and Xander gettin' seriously hurt, the Scoobs seemed to come together and forget all the disputes. Hell, I even caught B flashin' me a quick smile from across the kitchen. At least I was safe with her now.
It even seemed she trusted me with the girls. While she went out to find out what she could about the First. I hung back and trained with the girls, Jess by my side, leading the girls with me. Even though I reckon that little brat Kennedy was getting jealous.
'Faith,' she said, calling me to a corner whilst the girls stretched and warmed up. Jess pulled out some equipment from a lengthy duffel bag and began to set it up and Kennedy glanced over her shoulder at her before speaking up. 'How come she gets to give orders?' she asked, pretendin' to be all un-bothered when really I could see it was because Jess'd replaced her.
I sipped off the cool neck of the water bottle as I listened to her. 'Cos she's with me.' I screwed the lid back on and shoved a couple of words at the girls and we all got to work, Kennedy going to her place, inwardly huffing at what I'd told her. So what. Partners with Amanda, Jess positioned her, and I smiled at the thought of Kennedy's face when being told by Jess what to do.
'Alright, listen up,' I called, beginning to walk around the room as I spoke. 'This activity will teach and test your reflexes, whether they're sharp or not already, I don't care. Evil's quick, evil's ruthless and you're gonna need to be ten steps ahead to beat their game. So when sparring just remember to think about what you're opponent's next move may be, what their weaknesses are. All these things are important, not just for you, but for your partner. Talk to them afterwards.'
I worked 'em damn hard, and a good thing I did. They get to learn the hard way. Most of these Potentials probably wouldn't ever have been called in their lifetime. But unfortunately Evil's a lot more demanding than it used to be. They had to be tough; and ready. They could straight up die from one fight. And if I was trainin' 'em…that wasn't gonna happen.
B let me take a nap in her room, but I didn't think I'd sleep until midnight. Couple a hours kip I was headin' for, didn't realise I'd be knocked out for the whole evening. I awoke to a tap against the bedroom door. I rolled my body over to face the door, and watched tiredly as a slender figure entered, closing the door behind them.
'How was it?' she asked as she approached me with gentle footsteps.
I shrugged. Depends what she meant. 'Training?' She nodded. 'Yeah…' I sighed out and sat up, and ruffled my hair up as I thought of something to say. 'They're good.'
'Are they good enough?'
I thought about it, and I saw her kick off her shoes and then sit beside me, pulling a knee up to her chest as she waited for my reply.
'They're skilled, quick, strong…but…' I glanced into her eyes, though couldn't keep my gaze on her in fear of her picking up on the tail end of my sentence. 'They're scared, B. Way scared.'
She looked away for a moment, but her eyes found mine once again. 'Remember how we were?'
Too well, B. Too well.
'I…I do, yea…' I said, my voice trailing off as soon as I began to speak.
'I was petrified when I first got called,' she started. She shuffled on the bed a little and I saw her forehead crease. 'But…when you were called…I…I felt…' I could see her thinking for a while, and I wondered if the word I thought she'd use was the word I was thinking of.
'Safe…' I finally said, my gaze off somewhere, lost, but when I looked into her eyes…found.
She didn't speak. Just nodded. So simple.
'But I was still scared,' I began, keeping my gaze on her now. 'I was so scared…'
'You were?' She actually sounded surprised.
'Did you honestly think I was all steel, ice cold and no heart?'
She looked away. 'Well you did kill a bunch of people out of fun…'
'Out of fear…' I corrected her, and her gaze lifted to mine once again.
We hadn't ever spent so long just gazing at each other, but it was then that she saw just everything that had been sitting behind my eyes, all this time. I saw her eyes begin to well with tears and she tore her gaze from me.
She moved away from the bed and crossed the room to the dresser upon which stood a side lamp. She flicked it on. Yes. Darkness. Before we'd been sitting in a room glazed with a pastel blue moonlight. She was avoiding me.
'I'm thinking of going back to the vineyard tomorrow, to see if I can find out something more about Caleb…'
'What did you think I did it for, B?' I asked her quickly, my voice firm now.
'Faith, please, don't,' her voice riddled with an undertone of plea, but her actual tone even firmer than mine.
Silence. Of course. We don't talk about that.
'Everywhere I've been, I've been rejected; for once I wanted to know what it felt like to be…' I licked over my lips and sat forward. 'Well…to be wanted, even if it was by evil…'
'And you think I didn't want you?' she said almost too quickly, but I could see she took it back almost as soon as she'd told me. Her jaw dropped and my eyes widened. Don't think she meant to say that aloud. She covered her mouth with the palm of her hand and I shuffled forward in the bed.
'What?' I asked quietly.
She was stumped. But I think that was okay. I moved slowly from the comforter to where she was standing, and looked at her, her downcast eyes dribbling tears that had built up in her eyes minutes prior to her statement.
'What?' I repeated, this time a bare whisper, fragile, almost…pleading. That's right. I needed for her to say something. No. Not something. That. I needed her to say what she'd just said.
Her eyes moved to focus on mine again, and I could see what was hiding behind them. At least I thought I could.
'You were my safety, Faith. And then I lost you. The minute you…' She clamped her eye shut. Its okay, I understand. It hurts. Still. It hurts me too. 'That night everything changed.'
I continued to look at her, this transformed woman, so strong the moment she entered the door, so vulnerable at this moment, here, before me. And somehow I'd come to wrap my arms around her. Somehow we'd begun to find one another again, somehow she needed me. Wanted…me.
Her body needed one thing, but her mind another. Her eyes focussed solidly on the light fixture on the ceiling and the harsh, bitty silence, broken ever so often by a shuffling body, snoring, or maybe even sobbing.
She found herself reaching for a glass and turning taps on to fill her container. But as she turned from the sink to drink, the figure appeared, and startled her. 'What are you doing up?' Jess asked.
The figure ignored her question. 'Did she ever tell you why she was in jail?' the figure begun, its voice incredibly monotonous.
Jess furrowed her eyebrows, wondering why she'd all of a sudden been asked this question. 'I…no…'
'Did she tell you that she killed an innocent so that she could go and work for a demon?'
Jess picked up her water. 'What?'
'Mmm. It's true, you know.' The figure took a step forward, into the streetlamps becoming light.
'Maybe you should try to get some sleep, Buffy. Got tough days ahead, huh.'
'She's evil. She tried to kill me. And not just me. She went for Will, Xander…Wes, you know him?'
Jess scrunched her forehead and headed out, now deliberately trying to avoid the questions, but she was stopped before she could escape.
'It'll be you next if you aren't careful,' the figure told her firmly. Jess looked over her shoulder.
'She wouldn't do that-'
'No? Why do you think everyone's always on their guard around her? She's dangerous; a killer, EVIL. How do you know she isn't working for the First?'
Jess turned to face the figure. 'Is this why you were so reluctant to let her come back here?'
Closer and closer. That was B and me. Can't say I'd ever expected it. Seemed she hated me when I first got back here, and I wouldn't have blamed her if she'd tried to finish off what I had started.
But she didn't. Instead, she stretched out a hand to me when she kicked me down to the floor. And smiled at me.
We trained for hours. And I think the others knew to leave us alone. Even Jess backed off.
I tightened the bandage around her wrist, ever so often looking into her eyes to check it wasn't too tight around her hand. I wouldn't want it to be too tight.
We didn't talk so much. It was more her actions that communicated with me. And in truth, that was how it always had been. When she held me that other night. So much was running through my head, I can't imagine what was running through hers. When she reached out that hand to me as we sat out on the porch that night. So much. And then in her room. When I held her.
I can't say that it didn't feel great to be holding her again; I would be lying if I did. In truth, I missed it. I wanted it back, and now I had it.
I kicked her just a bit too hard, and she let out a cry of pain as she bumped into the wall, causing a few people to come to the basement door and ask us if we were alright. Kennedy, Amanda, Jess... The first two left when I sent a 'yes' up, thought Jess remained. I headed over to help her up, and she chuckled a little bit, still down on the floor.
'I think I need to stay down a moment longer…you near enough knocked me out there…'
I chuckled too and knelt down in front of her, taking the arm that had gotten sandwiched between the wall and herself. Just a scratch. I squinted as I looked at it, hoping it didn't hurt. 'Lemme look at it,' I mumbled to her and she outstretched it towards me.
'Don't you dare touch her…' I heard from the top of the stairs, looking over my shoulder quickly to check who it was.
I did as she said, though furrowed me eyebrows in anxiety. What had I done?
'It's all just a cover-up, isn't it? Tryin' to get her on your side again so you can get right in there and finish off the damage you started. Is that why you were so reluctant to come back?' she started as she moved down the stairs one by one.
'Cos you were worried you'd wanna kill her even worse than you did the last time?'
'What are you talking about…' I begun to ask.
'I can't believe you even thought you could come back and put things right,' she sneered as she approached me, and I rose to my feet, and stood before her. 'She told me. Everything you did. Everything you tried to do.'
I squinted a little and glanced back at B.
'You tried to kill them all didn't you?' she asked, her voice a little more calm. 'Wesley, Buffy, Xander, Willow…'
I glanced back at Buffy, and her eyes had fallen to the ground.
'Is this true?'
Now I was stumped. I wasn't gonna lie to her. Of course not. But how could I tell her something that would made it okay? So I opened my mouth to speak, but realised that any words I told her wouldn't help. So I shrugged.
'Why?' she asked quietly.
'Jess…' I took a step towards her, though she flinched as I lifted an arm to her shoulder.
'Don't fucking well touch me,' she told me, glaring right at me. She turned her gaze to Buffy. 'Take care, and thanks.'
Take care! Where was she goin'? Back to LA? What the hell…?
I watched her turn from me and head towards the stairs, and I took a couple of steps forward to reach out to her, though I guess I made a wrong move cos next thing I know her fist was connecting with my face and I was down on the ground. I clutched my face with my hand and listened as her footsteps hurried up the stairs.
Buffy looked across at me. 'What's going on?'
Night came quickly and Jess made a stop at the Bronze, hoping to forget her troubles of the day that had just passed. She dropped her duffel bag in the car, took one last look at the house, and drove away. And ended up here.
But as she danced, as she drunk, as she drowned her sorrows, she realized that everything she'd become was because she trusted in the one person she had left. Because she'd been guided, even after Gregory had been killed. And no amount of denying would change that for Jess.
She made an attempt to let her defences down and seriously forget everything. But again, the more she tried, the harder it was. And the itch that couldn't be scratched caused her to down more drinks than she knew she could handle.
She headed out of the back exit of the club, far more inebriated than she imagined she would get, and stumbled across her car. She tried to tell herself that she could drive, but she only had to press the accelerator too hard and she was being chased by cops.
Good thing I decided to take a walk. Honestly, I believed that she'd just gone out, and would come back later, not that she'd leave. Because we were in this together. Sure, we'd come to SunnyD for protection, but we'd also come together; I planned to keep it that way.
I noticed the unsteady car swerving aimlessly as it sped past me, and frowned, then gasped as I realized who was in it. My instincts were to run to catch it up, (I knew I'd have no chance at the speed she was goin') so I began running. But when the police sirens became louder and louder and rushed past me, I realized they were after her. Crap.
'How much have you been drinking, ma'am?' the officer asked calmly as Jess leant her head back on the headrest, practically knocked out.
'I have not been drinking…at all!' she said matter-of-factly, her words incredibly slurred, and blatantly incriminating.
As I ran to catch up, I saw two police officers handling her; one cuffing her, one frisking her. Damn. If they got her for something as little as drink-driving, they would for sure run her details through the computer and see that she's an escaped convict. I had to do something.
But as I approached the two officers I realized I had something to be afraid of. I was an escape convict, facing even higher and harder protection if they found out who I was. They begun to lead her away and I saw her gaze over at me, her eyelids narrowing when she realized who I was.
I don't blame her for hating me, but when I moved forward a few more steps to help her, her shaking her head kinda threw me off. She didn't want me to help her.
I watched them drive away in the police car, leaving behind the car she'd gotten out of.
I headed back to the house, replaying over and over in my head the events that had just happened before me. She made no struggle at all to get away from those officers. Did she wanna go back to prison?
I explained the situation to B and she furrowed her eyebrows. 'Who told her all of this stuff?' she asked me as we both sat on her bed crossed legged and coffee mugs in hand.
I shrugged. I had no idea. 'Maybe Giles, or Willow?'
She shook her head. 'No, it wasn't, I asked them already. Could it be one of the potentials?'
'Maybe. I doubt it though. They barely knew who I was let alone anything about me. It's you they're all interested in.'
There was a short silence as her gaze fell and then she sucked in a tight breath.
'What?' I asked quietly.
She whispered something under her breath and put down the mug on the nightstand, and before I had a chance to figure out what she was doing she had disappeared and reappeared with a photograph in her hand.
I didn't understand what she was doing but even so, took the photograph that she handed to me and looked intently at it.
Fancy tombstone. Who's…? Buffy… I looked up at her and she nodded. 'They brought me back. So technically I'm still dead.' She rolled her eyes and shook her head before scratching it.
'So…okay, it's…it's nice to know some history but I don't get how…'
'The First materialises as any dead person it wants, depending on how it will affect the victim. I'm…technically, dead…so…'
'The First has the ability to materialise as you.'
'It never occurred to me until you said that the potentials were interested in me. Not one of these potentials knew that I had died twice, and stayed dead the second time I died; so the first time was kinda like a time-out, but I was actually dead after I jumped into that vortex. But even so…if they had known, they probably wouldn't have realised that there could be an evil version of me pottering around planting nasty thoughts in people's heads.
'Jess didn't know that I had died twice either. And I'm judging by the conversation we had a couple of weeks ago that she didn't know too much about the First.'
'And who else to influence her than you,' I concluded, raising my eyebrows.
'We have to get her.'
'Well. You can't. You're a fugitive; exposing yourself to police officers is like putting the live bird into the cat's food bowl. And I can't go; I can't leave these girls when we're this close to reaching Caleb.'
'Maybe we can speak to Angel and Wes and they can bust her out?' I suggested.
'Well we're gonna have to try that, cos it's our only feasible option. They're minutes away from the penitentiary; we're hours. And we need to stay here to figure out what Caleb's next move might be, so we can fight back; or even better get him out of the way.'
'Alright, I'll call Wesley,' I decided, getting off the bed and crossing the room to the telephone. I looked over my shoulder briefly at her as she hopped off the bed and hurried downstairs.
TBC (it feels so good to say that!)