Title: "I Think We Broke Her"
Author: Nikitangel
Word Count: 700 words
Pairing: Gen, Faith and Giles
Rating: PG
Notes: Thanks to glitterj for a beta!
Setting: During the S3 episode "Beauty and the Beasts," what did Faith and Giles talk about while hunting for Pete?

"Right, we'll split up. Um, Faith, you and I team. Willow, stick with Buffy."

Giles shrugged his coat on as they hurried out of the library, the thudding of Faith's clunky boots behind him. Once in the hallway, he paused, before blindly heading in a random direction. Uncomfortably, he reconsidered the wisdom of sending Buffy after Debbie and wondered how much he really wanted to find Pete. He glanced over his shoulder, subtly sizing up the still unfamiliar Slayer behind him.

"What?" she finally asked. "You want me to lead?"

"No, it's nothing." He turned to face forward again, hastening his steps.

"Me and schools don't really click. I just figure you know your way around here more."

"Of course, you're right." They walked in silence as Giles cast about for an appropriate conversation topic. He was surprised to hear Faith chime in first.

"She's wasting her time, you know."

"Who?"

"B." Faith lifted a hand in the vague direction Buffy had disappeared in. "She's off right now, trying to rescue some chick who doesn't wanna be rescued."

"Maybe not. Perhaps Debbie could use a friendly ear." Buffy had accomplished amazing things. It wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

Faith looked at him dubiously. "Yeah. 'Cause that's all it takes, some stranger sticking her nose in and telling you that hitting's wrong. What a wake-up call."

The cynicism in her voice gave him pause. Giles found himself wishing her file had contained more details of her upbringing. Her eyes had that old look to them. Something similar to what had crept into Buffy's over the summer.

"B and her little buddies think they can fix everything. Life ain't like that. I'm just sayin,'" She shrugged and reached down, smoothly pulling a stake out of her boot without breaking stride.

"Still, it seems worth an attempt. We don't know all the facts."

Faith snorted. "Got that right." Squinting at the stake, she picked at a sliver with her fingernail. "Not gonna stop B, though. She's gonna rush right in there and get all touchy-feely, thinking she's the first, thinking she'll wave her magic wand around and the chick will just up and leave. Guy'll leave her alone and everyone will go out for pie."

"Not likely, I agree."

"Not ever. Doesn't work like that. People get stuck, they stay stuck."

"You aren't stuck anymore, Faith." He knew he shouldn't have said it, knew it even as he turned to see her face.

Her dark eyes flashed back at him. "Who said I was? We're talking about B's girl here."

"Of course."

"Don't be reading stuff into this!" She quickened her pace. "I'm just trying to tell you how it is. People are the same everywhere, even in Sunnydale."

"Your input is, of course, appreciated."

She gave him a sideways glance. "You're welcome."

Giles gestured to the left and they turned the corner in silence.

Faith cleared her throat. "It's not as easy as people make it sound. Getting out, I mean."

"I never thought of it as particularly easy."

She nodded distractedly. "It's like, some people have power, and some people don't. And you don't get to pick."

He chose his words carefully. "You have power."

"I do now," she answered with vehemence. Her face darkened and he suppressed a faint shiver of unease. She met his gaze suddenly, as though she knew what he was thinking. Her jaw tightened and she looked away again.

"How would you help her?"

"Buffy doesn't need my help." The quiet words hung between them for a moment before she rushed on, grasping for her usual bravado. "I just mean… "

"I was speaking of Debbie," he corrected gently.

"Oh." She seemed relieved, flustered even, something he had never seen on her.

"What would you do to help a girl who – " He barely finished the question before she replied.

"Find the guy. Kill the hell out of him," she said flatly. Her eyes stared straight ahead, but she wasn't seeing the lockers.

A scream echoed through the hallway and she immediately turned back toward the library. Giles stumbled out of her way as she pushed by.