The Quickening

Disclaimer: Okay, so you know the drill. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all of its characters, stories, and words belong to Joss Whedon and company. The only things that are mine are those that come out of my mind. Also, I'm making up everything I can about Faith's past because they didn't really cover that.

Notes: The term quickening, in the spiritual sense, means: to make alive, alert, awake, quick, and powerful – waking up to full consciousness.

Prologue:

The bus arrived in the late afternoon, the golden sun slowly sinking down toward the horizon. Faith shifted in her seat as the bus screeched to a halt at the bus stop. The rest of the riders stood, stretched their stiff legs, and gathered their bags. Faith, however, stayed rooted in her seat, staring out of the smeary window absently. Her bag was sitting on the seat next to her, holding all of her earthly possessions – a couple of shirts, two pairs of pants, a collection of undergarments, a hair brush, some money she picked up in the last town she was in, a pair of sunglasses, a lighter, a pack of cigarettes, and a stake.

Faith was a vampire slayer - but not the vampire slayer. She had never been the anything. Even though she was the second string slayer, she still felt important because of what she was – empowered. There was only one other girl in the entire world who could do what she did. The strength and power that being a slayer afforded her made her stand out back home in Boston. It made her unique. She could walk down the halls at school and people would look at her, wondering at the secret confidence she possessed. But that was before all Hell broke loose.

The bus had been sitting empty for several minutes. Though Faith was eager to meet the other slayer and move on with her life, she felt like that moment, sitting on the bus, was a defining moment in her life. She had just traveled across the country, abandoning her home and everyone she knew, to start over – to escape. She felt that if she got off the bus, put her feet down on solid ground, so could never go back again. Though most of the memories of her old life she would have rather forgotten, time and distance had painted them with a nostalgic glow and Faith was filled with a deep sense of fear and loss.

"Gettin' off?" A voice asked, breaking Faith out of her ruminations. Faith looked up into the kind face of the bus driver. He was standing a few rows up, looking at her both warmly and suspiciously.

"Yeah," Faith replied, meeting his eyes too long for his comfort. Standing, she stretched, her shirt riding up over her belly button. She smirked as the bus driver instantly looked away, his face coloring. Grabbing her bag, she slung it over her shoulder and started walking down the aisle.

"Have a good night," the driver said as she slid passed him, brushing against him as she smiled as sweetly as she could and moved down the aisle. Her feet dropped the two steps down onto the concrete sidewalk of the bus depot and she knew that she could never go back to Boston. A light breeze blew through the trees and she wrapped her worn, leather jacket tightly around her body. Glancing over her shoulder, she made sure the bus driver was out of sight as she walked away, rifling through the wallet she had lifted out of his pocket when she walked passed him.

"Great," Faith muttered, pulling a folded stack of bills out of the wallet. Tossing the wallet into the nearest trashcan she counted the money. She could tell there wasn't much there. "Forty bucks," she said to herself. "I wonder how far forty bucks goes in a little, shit town like this."

Stuffing the money into her pocket, she continued walking. The bus depot was only a mile or two away from the main section of Sunnydale and she had reached Main Street before sunset. Her slayer senses always tingled in the moments before the sun went down. It was as if the slayer inside of her was waking up, stretching, and opening its eyes to the kill. "Hey," Faith said to a passing man in a business suit. "Where's the nearest motel?"

"Take a left on the next street up and it's five blocks," the man answered. His gaze lingered a second too long and Faith smirked.

"Guys are so easy," she muttered as she walked away. She reached the motel just as the sun dipped below the horizon. The sky lit up in a blazing display of red before the colors faded into the velvety darkness of night. Faith gazed at the motel from across the street. It looked like a dump, but she had lived in dumps her entire life. The sign was only partially lit up and seemed to hang crooked. The building itself obviously needed a paint job and the rain gutters were hanging off at unnatural angles. The walls were tagged with spray paint and the landscaping hadn't been landscaped in years. Faith walked across the street and pulled open the office door, stepping inside.

The room smelled like cheese steak subs and sweat. A little fan was buzzing away in the corner, but it only succeeded in spreading the sickening odor around the room. "Can I help you?" An older woman asked behind the counter.

"I need a room," Faith said, moving up to the counter.

"How many nights?"

"Just one… for now," Faith answered, pulling the wad of cash out of her pocket.

"That'll be thirty-nine dollars," the woman said. Faith internally breathed a sigh of relief and handed over thirty-nine dollars in cash. The woman eyed her suspiciously, but Faith imagined that she wasn't the first runaway teenage girl the woman had seen pass through the door. She handed Faith a key and flashed her a halfhearted smile. "Enjoy your stay."

"Thanks," Faith said as she turned and walked back out of the door. She easily found her room. Slipping the key into the lock, she slid the door open. The room smelled much like the front office. The air conditioning unit was clunking away in the corner and Faith wasn't entirely sure she wanted to know where the stains on the carpet had come from. But it was a roof over her head and she would get used to the smell eventually. Tossing her bag onto a chair in the corner, she sat down on the bed. The mattress barely moved under her weight it was so firm.

"Sunnydale," Faith said to the dark, empty room. "Home sweet home."