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Disclaimer: In case we're not clear on this, Joss owns the Buffy-verse (we really need a better word for it than that), I'm just tresspassing on an unwatching corner of it.

Lonely Letters
Chapter One
By IceWing (icewing@one.net)

Faith lay on her bunk, reading through a book from the prison library. As she learned more about the kinds of stuff people went through in the old days, she almost always wished she had stuck it out in school instead of quitting.

The rattling wheel of the mail cart broke her concentration and she looked over the side of the bunk to watch as the trustee walked by her cell, an every day occurrence. But today, the cart stopped in front of her cell. The trustee looked up at her, then at the letter and back, almost like this was some kind of sign of the apocalypse or something. Then, without a word, she slid the envelope through the bars. Faith took it numbly. She'd never gotten a letter before in her life.

Because nobody cared about her enough to bother.

The address was neatly printed, the postmark from SunnyDale. No name on the return address, just a PO Box.

Her hands shaking slightly, she pulled the pages from the already opened envelope and began to read the neatly printed words

Hey Faith,

Things are dead here (no pun intended) here in SunnyDale, and for some bizarre reason, I got the idea to write you and just fill you in on what's been happening. I figure you don't get a lot of news from Angel as he isn't exactly up on the current events around here any more.

I am assuming you heard about Joyce dying. It hit all of us pretty hard. Buffy and Dawn most of all. I am figuring you may or may not 'remember' Dawn, Buffy's sister. Long story and until we get some issues resolved with Glory, I don't want to give out too much in case the anti-Scoobies somehow get a hold of this. Not that I think you would ever tell them anything, actually I'm more worried about getting attacked on the way to the post office. Anyway, Glory is our newest chess partner. She's a real hardcase too, acts like she's a goddess, to the point where even Giles and his former employers believe it. Actually, they're not his former employers anymore. Buffy read them the riot act and backed them down good. He got reinstated and even got like 3 years back pay out of it. Those Brit's were not happy, but Buffy told them that they are there to support the chosen, not the other way around and even threw one of those swords from the school play, the one about some secret ancient organization of knights from the middle east, through a wall. Scared the piss out of the guy and they gave us all the help that we can ever ask for, with no more hoops, for any of us. Bet you are happy to hear about that.

Anyway, like I was saying, Joyce's death really shook up Buffy and Dawn. They are both still trying to deal with it. Fortunately Joyce knew enough about the health risks in town to take out a jumbo sized life insurance policy. So they aren't going to be tossed out on the street or anything. Their dad sent flowers and called, but hasn't shown up yet. He missed the funeral too.

Xander is still with Anya, although I am pretty sure that something is going to change there. I've noticed her eyes wandering quite a bit when she thinks that Xander isn't watching. But he sees it. I think that he's trying to steel himself for her dumping him, but its not easy. Relationships and Harris don't seem to go together real well.

Willow and Tara are doing well. Tara is Willow's girlfriend in case you didn't know. They're closing in on like a year and a half together now, and going strong. Its good to see somebody in our group managing to find happiness. We all seem to have problems hanging on to it. Giles for example has now lost Jenny and Joyce. Buffy's been put through it because of the whole Angel/Angelus thing, Riley (who was into having some of those hardcore Goth types act like they were sucking his blood, don't ask, I don't get it). Xander seems to attract the monsters, and the ones who aren't completely evil to the core tend to push him away instead of letting him show them how special they are inside. You've had a lot of trouble too, from the crap that went down back east, to how we treated you when you came to town, to how Wesley tried to act all holier than though when things were pretty bleak already. This line of work really sucks. Sometimes I really doubt if I will survive it long enough to retire. Somehow, I really doubt it. But I just can't seem to quit.

I was thinking about you the other afternoon. I know things weren't the best when you left, and for a long time before that now that I think about it. But I miss you sometimes. I know that sounds weird, but its true. I have been looking back at some of the things that were said, and I have begun to realize just how much we screwed up by not helping you fit into the gang better. Not that you wanted to be like us completely, but that I don't know, just that we should have tried harder, done a better job. I feel like I let you down Faith. I'm sorry.

But like I was saying, I was thinking about some of the conversations we had, and I realize that I missed so much of who you were inside. Little glimpses of the real you, not the armored shell you have around you, but the real you. Little flashes that I saw and didn't realize at the time what they were. I wish I had taken the time then, been smart enough to see what you really were inside.

Maybe that's part of why I am writing you now, because I want to make it up to you.

Maybe because I think you could use somebody to talk to sometimes. That you could use a friend.

Maybe because I think you would be a really good friend.

*Laugh * Of course, I say that, but you probably still have no idea who exactly is writing this letter to you. And now I'm going to be weird and not tell you. Believe it or not, its deliberate, but I just don't want you to know who wrote you, partially because I'm afraid that if you knew, you wouldn't write back and also because if you knew, you might laugh at me for apologizing for the way I treated you.

But anyway, I really do want to be your friend, if you'll have me.

I hope to hear from you Faith, although for the life of me I don't know why I get my hopes up. It's a bad habit I think I have, and it'll probably get me killed one day.

Anyway, I hope things are well for you.

Be Well,

Your (Faceless) Friend.

P.S. Cause I've heard from some people I got acquainted with how boring the big house is, if you want, let me know what kind of things are allowed to be sent in and I'll see what I can do. I hear the food is as bad as the cafeteria food was at Sunnydale High.

Carefully, she smoothed the pages and re-read them again. As the call for dinner was sounded, she tried to figure out who she could get some paper and a pen from to write back.

A soft smile on her face, she rolled from the bunk and walked towards the cafeteria.

Somebody cared enough to write her.

End Chapter 1