She's made of hair and bone and little teeth,
and things I cannot speak
She comes on like a crippled plaything,
spine is just a string

I can recognize her out on the dance floor; the lights seem to shine on her alone as she moves with the music, embodying it. Her hair flies freely as do her hands, and it's enchanting. Men and women are drooling and she takes no notice, because it means nothing to her. Right now, in this moment, everything is gone, except her passion.

I watch her until the music fades and she comes back to reality, but only for a short time. She strides coolly off the floor, swaying her hips, and no one around her exists.

Except me.

Because now she's heading in my direction, eyes locked on mine, focused and sure. I squirm a little under her gaze on my barstool. I feel hot.

A small cocked grin as she slides onto the seat next to mine, never looking away from me.

"So," she starts, raising an eyebrow, "like the show?"

I lean back and shrug my shoulders. "Who wouldn't?" I take a drink from my glass, never breaking contact with her eyes.

Her voice has lowered. "You know all those people out there don't mean shit to me, right?" Her eyes are glittering as she looks at me.

My eyes flicker to the crowd for a moment before coming to rest on her, and I give my own smirk. "You probably made half of them go home to change their pants."

She's closer now, her head tilted just a bit and her gaze lowered ever so slightly. "What about yours?"

I've put my drink back on the counter. I won't play her game – I know I'll lose. "Pretty resilient."

She looks at me for a few long seconds, her eyes slowly drinking me in. Then she speaks, her tone different, adjusted.

"Good. Wouldn't wanna wear 'em out before the night's over." A pause. "Unless that's what you're aiming for."

I laugh a bit. "What are you aiming for?"

She stares at me, trying to get inside. She leans back with her arm rested on the counter.

"What do you wanna hear?"

I would tell you if I knew.

She leans in again. "Tell me what you want."

I'm looking away now, out at the floor, the people, the lights, anything. Anything but her.

"I don't know."

I wrapped our love in all this foil,
silver-tight like spider legs
I never wanted it to ever spoil,
but flies will lay their eggs

"After all this time, you still don't know?" She gets that look in her eye like she just can't believe me. There's a strange smile. "You still don't get it?"

I raise my eyebrows in a challenge. "What's there to get?"

She gives a small laugh and closes her eyes for just a second. "You'll never get it." With that, she's up and striding towards the exit without a glance back.

So I follow her.

She doesn't slow down when I remain three steps behind her. She moves along the alley lit only by an outside light from the club and a few scattered lights from nearby apartments. She doesn't slow down when I first speak.

"Where are you going now?" I ask, my voice stronger than before. "Are you going to walk away from me every time you get a little scared?"

This brings her to a stop, and she doesn't move for a few moments. I wait. Soon enough she turns around, her eyes fierce. She takes a step towards me.

"You think I'm scared?" Step. "That what you think?" Step. "Think again, babe." Step. "I'm not afraid of anything. You should know that."

I cross my arms, undeterred. "Really. Are you afraid of me?"

She laughs, loudly. "You? Why would I be afraid of you?"

I move forward. "Because I'm everything you never got."

She stares at me for a moment. "Don't start with the head trip shit. I really don't respond well to that."

"How do you respond? Violence? Is that what it's always going to be with you? Hurt to relieve the hurt?" We've repressed enough until now.

She smiles, catching me off guard. "You really think you got me figured out, huh? All right, so how about you? Are you afraid of anything? If we turned the tables, let's see – are you afraid of me?"

"Why the hellwould I be afraid of you?"

That smirk. "Because I'm everything you never let yourself have." A pause as she lets the words hit me. "Admit it. You like the darker side of things, you always have. But it would be so wrong of you to give in to that, so instead you just fuck around with it and think you'll come out fine." She walks towards me again. "Isn't that true? Have I finally figured the infamous Buffy out?"

Take your hatred out on me
Make your victim my head
You never ever believed in me
I am your tourniquet

My fist reacts before my mouth, and it collides with the side of her face, sending her stumbling to the side.

"You don't know me," I say aggressively. "You never did. You never will!" I go to kick her in the stomach, but she easily grabs my foot and throws it away, throwing me off balance as she stands up.

"Afraid to let me?" I feel her punch before I actually see it, and my head snaps to the left.

I come back to face her. "What about you? As if you ever let anyone in on your life!" I strike her again. "As if you were that special that you couldn't deem it necessary for anyone to know anything about you! As if you didn't need anyone! When all I did was try to help you! All I did was – " I stop myself before I can go any further.

She's come back up and is staring at me with an unreadable expression.

"You really think you tried to help me? Is that it? You think you were the great superhero who flew in for the rescue and I just ran away? Take another look, blondie. I'm not the one who fucked up."

"What, you think it's all my fault? Am I the source of all your burning rage?"

She puts on a mock appearance of thought and nods. "You're a pretty big part of it, yeah." Another fist to my face, sending me down on one knee. "But that's okay. Doesn't matter." She waves her hand to the side and watches me spring back up. "Not like I never managed to get over that."

"Get over what?" I assume a fighting stance.

"You know how life just sucks sometimes?" She avoids a few jabs at her head and gives a few of her own. "Nothing works, it's like, you can't get anything to fucking work – " I raise my leg to kick her in the face but she ducks and swings out at my other one. I jump and steady myself, exchanging a few more blows. "You have all these expectations, and you think things are gonna go good, and then – " she gets in a punch, " – they don't." She shrugs sarcastically. "But hey, I'm used to it by now. I'm the big bad bitch, remember? Gotta play my part."

She goes to boot me in the stomach but I catch her foot and throw her into the air. She flies backwards into the side of a dumpster and I stride after her.

"Oh, poor Faith! Nothing ever goes her way, she's got no one to comfort her. She'll forever be the bad guy that no one likes. But she can't really even fit in with the bad guys, cause she's so tormented."

She's already back on her feet. "I think you got me confused with your old lover boy there. You know, the one with that nasty habit of growin' some fangs every now and then?" She cuffs me on the side of the head and I ignore it. "Always knew you liked them dark ones. How come you never liked me?" I feel an anger rise in me at that, and I punch her until she finally shoves me away. She grins, baring a few bloody teeth. "Or maybe you did."

I let out a yell of rage and run at her, pushing her up against the wall of the building. "You were never dark. You only thought you were because that would help you hate yourself."

She closes her eyes and laughs, an amused, eerie laugh. "And you never hated yourself for something you wanted? Come on, admit it. Why not beat me? Beat out the frustration you got cause you can't get me outta your head."

I pull her towards me and then thrust her back against the brick again. "Shut up!"

Prosthetic synthesis with butterfly,
sealed up with virgin stitch
If it hurts baby, please tell me
Preserve the innocence

She's laughing again. I can't stand it. I punch her in the jaw, her head whips to the side, and she continues. There's blood on her lips. She notices my eyes on it.

"The blood reminding you of someone, sweetheart?" That grin as she licks it off. "It turn you on?"

"Shut up!" I repeat, only earning another laugh.

"You really oughtta – " Before she can get the rest out I've slammed my mouth down on hers with such force that she'll probably have a bruise. She responds immediately, as if she had been expecting it all along. It makes me angrier.

I yank her forward and throw her across the alley. She rolls and jumps back onto her feet, and I again can't understand the look on her face. All I know is that now she's barreling towards me, and I for some reason am not moving. She slams into me and hurls me into the wall, and I wince as my back collides with the rough surface. Her hands have my arms pinned somewhere up by my head, and the rest of her is pushing against me. Her mouth is on mine, going down, on my jaw, my neck. I shake my head and thrust forward, throwing her back and releasing me.

"No. . ." It doesn't even register to me that I spoke.

"You really gotta make up your mind, you know that? Damn, learn to choose, it's not that hard."

My eyes turn sharply to her. "And you know all about choosing, don't you? Kill a little here, lie a little there, play both sides of the field." I push myself off the wall. "That's not the way it works."

"Really?" She puts a hand on her hip and the other one flies around in the air as she talks. "Is it written down somewhere that there's only black and white and you gotta pick one? Cause that seems real limiting to me. What about all that 'gray area' crap?"

"You don't know a thing about right or wrong or in between. So don't act like you do."

All amusement has left her.

"You think so, huh?" She gets a gleam in her eye that I find disconcerting. "Is it wrong to sleep with a creature that's made to kill you? Is it wrong to still be on their side after they've lost their soul? Is it wrong to be attracted to evil?" She's been steadily sauntering towards me. "Is it right to be like you? Cause I'd say that's pretty wrong."

"You don't know anything about me."

She gives a small laugh. "Oh don't I?" She begins walking back and forth in front of me. "Let's see. I know the bad girl life tempts you. I'm living proof of that." She shoots me a grin before continuing. "Which means you like breaking the rules. You love stepping past your boundaries cause you like that naughty feeling." Again she looks at me, this time with her eyebrow cocked. "I guess that could come into play with the whole screwing vampires and whatnot, right? And, of course, me. I guess I sway you a little. It's okay, you know. I was real impressed for that short while there that I was startin' to rub off on you. But, you know, you're real big on that save-the-world-do-the-right-thing crap so I guess you might fit into that gray area, huh?" She steps a little closer. "Just can't make up your mind. Poor confused little Buffy."

I swing out at her, making contact with the side of her face for the umpteenth time. She comes back up smirking again, and I can't stand it.

"I was never the one who was confused," I say.

This seems to amuse her. "Oh really now?" She knocks my head to the side with another punch. "Never confused about me?"

I move away from the wall and to the side. "You wish."

"Oh no babe, I know."

"You know nothing."

"That's what you think." She pauses as we stare at one another. "I bet if I threw you back up against that wall you wouldn't stop me."

"Shut up." I can't think of anything else to say. Because I know she's right.

If she smirks like that one more time I swear to God I'll stake her.

She's walking towards me now, moving her hips as she goes and I can't help but watch for just a few moments before I manage to snap myself back to reality. Now she's shaking her head at me, that grin still plastered on her face, as if she's won something.

"You can't deny it, B." Closer. "You can't – "

"Shut up!" I shouted it more ferociously than I meant to, but it did the job. I take a second to collect myself, along with a deep breath. "Stop it."

Silence. Then –

"Make me."

I never wanted it to end like this,
but flies will lay their eggs

So I do the first thing I think of – I lunge at her, screaming, and probably waking quite a few people up. But I don't care. Nothing matters right now but her.

She's expecting it, and falls with me as we fly backwards from the impact, rolling and tumbling down the alleyway into a bunch of empty trash cans near a fire escape. I'm getting sick of all this but I can't stop it, it's pouring out of me and she won't stop it.

When we stand up I'm still gripping her tightly, refusing to let go. I won't let go. I can't.

"You like it rough, don't you?" she has the nerve to say, trying to catch her breath, and I feel heat rising to my face again.

"Shut up!" I backhand her but she doesn't seem fazed. It riles me up further, and I hit her again and again, losing track of just how much damage I'm inflicting.

I don't know when it is that she finally grabs hold of my wrist and shoves it against the wall, or when she flips our arms around so that now she has my other wrist gripped as well. She's staring into my eyes, and I'm afraid of what I see in hers. Because I know they're just reflecting mine.

But instead of doing anything, she lets go abruptly and jumps past me onto the fire escape, climbing up as fast as her beaten body can manage. I lose no time in racing right up after her. I'm not losing her now. I won't let her run away.

It's colder on the roof but I don't take any notice as she's still running full speed ahead of me. Probably planning on jumping to the next building – whether she can make it or not. That'd be just like her.

She's not making it to the end of this roof.

I triple my pace, focusing on her back and her chocolate hair that's flying back behind her. How it contrasts with the sky, and the stars.

And I ram into her and knock her down ten feet from the edge. I'm not letting her up. She'll have to claw my face off first.

She turns onto her back underneath me, breathing heavily, and I quickly grab her arms and cross them over her chest.

"Stop running," I tell her.

"Why?" is all she replies, with a hint of a laugh in her voice. But it's not a question. It's a challenge.

"I'll keep beating you down."

That god-forsaken smile. Her voice lowers. "I like it."

I ignore it for my own sake. "You leave right now, and you're nothing but a coward. I thought you said you weren't afraid of anything. So why are you running?" I lean closer. "What are you running from?" There's no compassion in my voice; I'm challenging her back.

I know I've struck something within her because I can actually make out something in her eyes.

"Get off." Final. Absolute. She's not going anywhere. Not yet anyway.

I stand up, stepping away from her. She rises to her feet and doesn't move. She's staring off at something I can't see. So I wait.

"Tell me it means something," she says after a period of time, finally turning her gaze to me. "Anything. All of this." She waves her arm about, gesturing to the night. "Tell me." She pauses. "Share your wisdom."

She just had to throw in that sarcastic bite. Can't ever just let things be as they are. Or maybe that's all anything is to her. Biting. Stinging.

"I can't tell you anything you don't want to hear. What does it mean to you?" I know I'm risking a lot asking that. But I don't care.

She puts on that sardonic face of contemplation, frowning and looking upwards for a moment as she speaks, and taking a few steps back and forth. "I think it means you'll always be doing this." She looks at me now. "You're always gonna find something wrong, or put the blame where you want it, so that you'll have a reason to keep coming after me. Cause you can't stay away, but you don't wanna get sucked in. So, you're happy just – taking all of that out on me. Makes you feel better about yourself." She says the last part mockingly.

I can't help myself. "Oh, look at you, being all deep." I step forward. "When really you don't know what the hell you're talking about. You'll never know anything." I shake my head. "You're a lost little girl who let life screw her over and just gave in. You didn't even try to fight. That's why you're here now. That's why you can try and tell yourself you're strong, but really, you're just covering up all the pain and acting like nothing matters. And eventually, you're gonna self destruct. It's just a matter of time."

There are a few frozen moments of silence.

"Fuck you."

Her voice is broken, but only I would ever be able to detect that. Her eyes are glistening, and she shakes her head just barely. Then she changes, morphing into her alter ego, the hardened superhero she thinks she is. "You think you're better than me?" The tears are still there; I can see them. The moonlight is making her eyes shine. "You think you're strong?" Her voice is steady now, but still filled with more passion than I've ever known. "You're nothing! You're nothing to me! You understand that?" She's steadily coming towards me, and this time I'm not backing down. "I have power! I'm real! You could never be real! Nothing. . ." She's breaking now, ". . .can be that. . ." She looks as if she wants to finish the sentence, but doesn't, instead wrapping her arms around herself and looking anywhere but me. Her brow is furrowed and she looks like she's in despair, and I almost hold her.

And the sight of her is making me begin to feel weak, as if all the hurt in the world is suddenly on my shoulders. And I can't take it.

I back up, staring with wide eyes at her.

Take your hatred out on me
Make your victim my head
You never ever believed in me
I am your tourniquet

She realizes that she's let too much go, and I see something flash into her eyes, something familiar. Her face contorts into one of rage – that ever-protecting shield she has, cracked and torn as it may be.

"I hate you!" she half-shouts, half-screams at me, flailing her arms in my direction. "God, there are so many things. . ." She's moving around, her eyes looking everywhere and anywhere, hands running through her hair. She's laughing, insanely and unjustifiably. I can see more blood on her teeth. "And you. . . You. . ." She looks down at the ground, raising her eyebrows, as if I didn't exist in front of her but instead inside her head. "You never. . . I can't even. . ." More laughter, but nothing's funny.

I shake my head, my brow furrowed. "What do you want, Faith?"

She's still laughing, now pointing at herself and finally facing me. "What do I want? Well, I always thought that was pretty simple, wasn't it B? I mean, you're supposed to be smart, right? You tell me. What do you think I want? What I always wanted?" That, of course, scornfully.

I venture. "Help. Acceptance." I pause as I consider the word. "Love."

"Wrong." She looks at me for a long while. When she says the next word it's matter-of-fact and comfortable, with a shrug of her shoulders. "You." Her gaze seems far too penetrating all of a sudden.

I'm narrowing my eyes, refusing to believe. I turn my head slightly and eye her, trying to peel away the layers and find the lie. But I can't.

And before I can even respond, she's thrown up her armor again. "But you know what your problem is?" She's pacing now, maintaining eye contact with me. "You always had to be right. Everything always had to go your way. If it wasn't good enough for Buffy, it wasn't good enough for anyone."

"Oh, is that what you think?" I retaliate. "How many times did you blow something off because you didn't agree with it? Because it wasn't your style? Or because it just bored you too much? You never understood anything about – "

"You never believed in me!" She cuts me off, shouting, her eyes ablaze with passion and fury. There's a moment where we both stare at one another, her face still fixed in a sore expression. Then it ends, and she continues. "You never gave me a chance! I was always just - the backup to you, the one you called when you needed some muscle, and then you sent me away again! I was never anything to you! So don't you start in on me about not being around. I wasn't wanted."

What I wanted
What I needed
I got from me
What I wanted
What I needed
I got from me

"I wanted you!" I cry out before my brain has time to stop my mouth. So I continue, even as she's stopped moving, her eyes focused wholly on me. "The first time I saw you I couldn't believe how. . . . .how different you were. You were nothing I had ever seen before, not in Angel, not in anyone. I can't explain it. I couldn't then and I can't now. You're special. You always have been. I. . ." . . .am losing my thoughts. My mind. I'm going crazy up on this rooftop with her.

But I've failed, once again. She's shaking her head at me with this incredulous look on her face. "You didn't know what you wanted, B. You never did. We both know that. Don't jerk me around trying to say you felt something that you never understood."

"Excuse me? Never understood? Have you ever felt love, Faith? In any form? How can you say I don't understand something that you've never known?" I can't help feeling this gnawing in my chest that keeps getting worse.

That god damned laugh again. "Never known? You think I've never known. . .?" She nods to herself. "Okay. All right. Fine." Her eyes turn sharply to me. "Shows how much you understand."

I narrow my eyes, trying once more to burrow inside her. "What do you want me to understand?"

But she ignores the question. "You know, everything I wanted, everything I needed, I got it from me! No one else! There was just me! The only exception to that being you, of course." She says it spitefully, spitting the words at me.

She's confused me again; it always was what she was best at. "What?"

Now she's off speaking to someone, something, somewhere I can't see. "The one thing I wanted more than anything. . ." Her voice is wavering now; her eyes are shimmering once more. They look like great dark orbs that could turn me to dust. She locks that piercing gaze on me. "You didn't. . ." A whisper. Grief.

I never ever believed in me
I am your tourniquet

I'm not aware of when my vision blurred, but now everything seems hazy and colors are bleeding together. It seems the only thing my eyes are focusing on is her, in the middle of all the indistinct shapes and forms that seem to add a glow to the outline of her body. My throat feels tighter than it did before. My mouth is open to say something – I don't know what – when she speaks again.

"I never. . .had anything. . ." Something glistening streaks down her cheek so fast that I almost miss it. Her voice is broken just like the rest of her. "All I ever wanted. . . I never. . . I never meant to. . ." Her eyes fasten onto mine. "You were all I had. I didn't know what else to do." The tears are slower this time. "I couldn't help it, I needed to feel something, anything, I'm not dead you know, I'm not. . . I'm alive – I'm breathing – I always have been. I've always been right here. You. . . You were gone. You – were gone to me. Buffy, I. . . I couldn't believe in myself, not when I couldn't even get you to. I tried. . . And I failed." She shrugs, but really it just looks like she's curling in on herself, with her arms wrapped tight around her and a grimace on her face. "I'm so sorry – Buffy. . ." She breaks, after so long, so long of sealing herself up inside that shell, and all the feeling from years past is spilling out onto the cement of a rooftop we've never known. She falls onto her knees, still clutching herself, her dark hair hiding her face and covering her sobs. And my heart is ripped out of my chest.

I throw myself to the ground before her, my arms around her and pulling her so close to me that we could meld together. Nothing exists outside of right now, this time, this place. Before or after. Nothing is real but here.

And I'm crying those words back to her, trying to keep my voice straight enough for her to understand, to know. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

There's rain that I don't feel. But it makes things seem secure, and I don't know why.

And there's her, in my arms, crumbling and releasing everything that could have ever meant something and was never allowed the chance. Or maybe it's me in her arms. I'm not sure at this point. And I don't care. Because it's her.

And that's all that matters.