Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Gyrus
Email: gyrus1001@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the creation of Joss Whedon and the property of Fox Television. The story itself is my own.
Rating: PG, for violence and language.
Summary: Sequel to "Inside". Released into the general prison population, Faith attempts to cope with life in prison society, as well as a series of unexplained violent incidents.
Author's Notes: This story is set just after the start of Season 2 of ANGEL and Season 5 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. The story is in 6 chapters; I will post a new chapter every 5-7 days.



"Fool Me Twice"
by Gyrus

Chapter 1 -- Winding Around

Faith was dreaming.

She was ten years old again, attending a day camp that the local primary school put on each year for poor kids from the area. The budget was low, so there wasn't much in the way of sports equipment or materials for crafts, but it was a lot better than staying home with Mom.

One of the people who made camp OK was Joanna. Like the other counselors, she was a volunteer, a high schooler from the rich suburbs. She had long, straight, light-brown hair, and big glasses, and she played the guitar. Her singing was really nice.

That day, Faith and a dozen or so other children were sitting in a circle on the ground and singing along while Joanna played. The song was one of Faith's favorites, "I'm Being Swallowed by A Boa Constrictor". They had just finished "Oh, no, it's up to my toe" and were about to start on "Oh, gee, it's up to my knee" when a man's voice called, "Hello, kids!"

All the children stopped singing and turned their heads to see who had spoken. Then they shouted in unison, "Hi, Mister Wilkins!"

Richard Wilkins was walking up to the circle of kids in a plaid flannel shirt and brown corduroy slacks. He carried in his arms a big, green, stainless- steel cooler. "Who wants ice cream?" he called gaily.

The children rushed towards him in a chorus of "I do! I do!" Wilkins set the cooler down and threw open the lid.

Faith lagged behind the other children as they dashed forward. She noticed that Mister Wilkins' cooler looked bigger now that it was on the ground.

"Right in here, kids!" the man said, pointing down into the open cooler. The children began to climb in to root around on the bottom for ice cream bars.

Faith had a funny feeling about the cooler. Something in her tummy told her it wasn't safe.

"Don't..." she squeaked, but she could barely talk. It was like there was a thick rubber band around her throat.

Mister Wilkins looked at her. "Come here, sweetheart," he said, his eyes twinkling. Faith's stomach felt achy when she looked at him, but she went to him anyway.

By now, all of the other children had climbed into the cooler and were on their hands and knees, searching for ice cream. Without even looking down, Mayor Wilkins casually closed the lid of the cooler, then took a seat on top of it.

Wilkins turned to the counselor, who was still sitting on the ground with her guitar. "Joanna, you're dismissed," the man said.

Joanna looked doubtful, but this was Mister Wilkins, after all; no one questioned him. Guitar in hand, Joanna walked away, not looking back.

Richard Wilkins turned to Faith and slapped his thighs. "Come sit with daddy," he said.

Faith dutifully climbed onto his lap. She knew it was supposed to be nice to be with her daddy (wasn't he?), but at the same time, the aching in her stomach only got worse.

"Having fun at camp, sweetheart?" Wilkins asked.

"Yes," she replied, eyes downcast.

The kids inside the cooler seemed to have noticed that something was wrong, because they were starting to beat against the lid and sides of the cooler with their little hands. Their feeble pounding could barely vibrate the heavy stainless steel.

"Daddy," Faith said, "shouldn't we let them out?" Her tummy hurt worse than ever.

"Now, Faith, we've talked about this," Wilkins said, turning serious. "Sometimes, to make things better, you have to make hard decisions. Sacrifices. Remember, up to four people can play Scrabble, but only one can win."

The pounding was getting louder now, from all sides of the cooler. Faith could also hear muffled screams.

"But they're little," Faith protested. "And some of them are my friends."

"No matter," Wilkins said sternly. "It has to be done. Now I'll hear no more about this, or no TV for you tonight."

Faith was afraid to make daddy angry. He was all smiles and cheesecake and mini-golf when she behaved, but when she upset him...

The screams and pounding were getting fainter as the air inside the cooler began to run out. Faith couldn't stand it. Her throat got even tighter, and a few tears leaked from her eyes.

"Please, daddy," she begged, "let them out."

"That is it, young lady!" Wilkins said angrily. "As soon as we're finished here, I am taking you right home. No more camp for you!"

Faith didn't care about the camp. "Please, please, let them out, let them out," she pleaded. She was crying hard, now. The sounds inside the cooler had faded to almost nothing.

"DON'T YOU DEFY ME!" Wilkins shouted. Faith screamed as the man's eyes turned blood red and tiny lines ripped like jagged lightning across his face, dividing it into scales that turned green before Faith's eyes. Faith tried to jump out of his lap, but she was surrounded by thick, writhing coils. They wrapped tight around her neck until her blood pounded in her head. Her lungs strained uselessly to pull air through her closed windpipe as the blood vessels in her eyes exploded and everything was red red red

-----

Faith sat up suddenly in her cot, gasping.

Damn, she thought. I think I liked it better when I WASN'T dreaming.

She looked around, just to make sure that the nightmare was not a warning of any immediate danger. All was quiet in her cell. The powerful sodium lights that illuminated the prison yard shone up through the window, creating a squarish patch of light on the ceiling. She could see the outlines of the cells' furnishings -- a desk, some cubbyholes along the back wall for clothing and other belongings, the toilet and sink in the corner. Faith could hear the sink dripping. The soft snoring of her cellmate drifted up from the bunk below.

After more than three months in the supermaximum-security wing of the Fuller State Correctional Facility for Women, Faith had been released into General Population. It was partly Faith's good behavior that got her back into GP; it also helped that the gang girl who had gotten Faith thrown into supermax in the first place had been charged with perjury for lying at her appeal, where she had been represented pro bono by Wolfram & Hart. With the loss of what was left of their client's credibility, the law firm had unloaded the girl like a leaky barrel of nuclear waste.

Faith lay back down, satisfied that nothing lurked in the shadows of her cell. Her confrontation with guard-turned-vampire Jason LeBeck during her stay in supermax had made Faith realize that prison bars were no protection from supernatural horrors. She had been a lighter sleeper ever since.

-----

It seemed like only a few minutes later when the 6am buzzer sounded. Faith got up, pulled on her prison uniform, and had just enough time to brush her teeth and hair before the second buzzer sounded. At that moment, the cells unlocked automatically to let the prisoners out for breakfast.

Faith walked out and looked down into the open space in the middle of the three tiers of cells. Through the wire mesh barrier that kept prisoners from throwing themselves or others over the side, Faith could see hundreds of blue-suited prisoners making their way towards the cafeteria. After that, they would head off to jobs, classes, and all manner of other activities. It struck Faith as funny that, even though she was in prison, it seemed like there was so much to do.

But, even though it was vastly better than supermax, GP was no picnic. There were plenty of fights. Faith had already had two girls pull knives on her -- the one who stabbed her from behind and got her sent to supermax, and then one who just wanted to enhance her rep by marking up a pretty white girl. Faith had taken the knife and broken the girl's wrist, but, as she later told Angel during one of his visits, the only consequence that time was a beating from the guards. Faith didn't mind those so much; physical pain she could deal with. But the feeling of being trapped, of not being able to open her eyes without seeing gray walls and blue uniforms, was not always as easy to handle.

Faith was shaken from her gloomy reverie by a commotion from the other side of her tier of cells. Ignoring the stairwell that would lead her down to the first floor and the cafeteria, Faith wound around the side of the tier to the site of the disturbance and pushed her way through the crowd to see what was going on.

Inside one of the cells, the bug-eyed corpse of a prisoner hung by its neck from the corner of a bunk bed. The body was clad in a white t-shirt and white cotton underwear; the prisoner had used her own pants to hang herself.
Faith had heard a lot of stories about hanging, and that you could die a slow, choking death if you didn't do it right. This prisoner obviously hadn't done it right -- her face and neck were covered with scratches from where she had tried to pull the fabric away from her neck as it asphyxiated her. Faith could barely imagine it; it must have felt like-

Like my dream, she thought.

Faith shook it off. Coincidence. People have dreams about being strangled all the time.

The guards arrived and began herding prisoners away from the scene, pushing them towards the stairs. Faith drifted along with the crowd, trying to shake off the feeling of dread that followed her from the hanged woman's door.

I don't think I'll ever try to kill myself again, Faith thought. But if I do, first I'm gonna read the manual.

END CHAPTER 1