The guards dragged Faith through the halls to the prison visiting room. It had been one of those days, torturous, grueling, sad, depressing. Just like every other. There were loads of verbal abuse, a beating, and her constant struggle to maintain her sanity; to keep her fiery temper in check.
Fuck this shit.
Now this visit presented an uncertainty, threw a kink into the day, so to speak, not that Faith would ever speak the word uncertainty using her own mouth. Damned high school equivalency courses.
It was news. For sure it would be news. But bad or good? The butterflies in Faith's stomach were doing some bizarre mating ritual. Terrifying anxiety was bringing her almost to tears. What was with her? She was a tough, caution to the wind, ass-kicking bitch! And this simple little emotion was almost enough to make her want to curl up in a ball and die.
Weak kneed, the guards were supporting most of her weight when they brought her into the room.
Buffy wasn't there. Faith's heart sank. Willow was there, holding Dawn, with Angel, Giles was there too, and that Anya girl from school. They all looked sad.
"Oh my God," she said, "oh my God," she repeated while sinking into the chair.
Willow picked up the phone on the other side of the glass. Reluctantly, Faith did the same with hers.
"Hey," Willow's voice sounded tinny and distant. She had obviously been crying a lot.
Faith tried to speak, but she couldn't. Everything was so hard all of a sudden, even thinking of anything to say to try to console Willow, or any of the others who had gathered around.
"I'm sorry, Faith," Willow managed to say next. "We couldn't help her. She was just too far gone."
Faith swallowed hard. It was the only way to keep from bawling. "I figured as much. I know you did everything you could." Screw the no crying. She bawled her eyes out.
There was no cheering up through the cold, hard glass. No comfort afforded, just the pain of loss. Through teary eyes Faith could see equal expressions of mourning on the faces of her one-time friends. Except Rupert, who was coldly standing back, while the others crowded the window. Willow told her that Xander was dead also. Faith shed a tear for him as well. They had a connection.
Dawn took over the phone now.
"Hey squirt," Faith said, trying to muster as much courage as she could.
"Faith, I still can't forgive you," Dawn said, without actually looking at her. "I just know how much Buffy meant to you. How much you two meant to each other."
Faith could see Angel tear up for the first time. "Thanks. I really, cough, really appreciate it."
She sniffed, and shielded her eyes with her free hand. "I feel terrible about this. I just wish none of this had ever happened, that Buffy didn't get attacked by that demon, and we could all be okay again."
If Faith had been looking up she would have seen, though not heard, the girl she didn't know very well whisper, "Done." She never contemplated the implications of the world changing around her, or even noticed.
Anya wondered to herself as history re-wrote itself. It was odd that she was able to grant that particular wish. It had been wishful thinking that she even tried. It's not like Faith was... Oh.
"Why would I want to?" Buffy asked, consciously using the sentence as an attack on Spike's hopes, subconsciously hoping her heart would let her back in.
"Because I was hoping you liked me, and wanted to be with me. In a non-sexual or beating the living daylights out of me sort of way."
Buffy's fists were clenched and she was shaking ever so slightly. The thought that Spike could ever be boyfriend material - or make such a weak, pathetic attempt at becoming boyfriend material - it just disgusted her. It infuriated her. It intrigued her.
Shit, don't even think it.
They stood there as the sun was making it's presence known at the horizon. Spike was looking disheveled and filthy, covered in the rags of a blanket, staring at her. He was desperate for some sort of closure on their night before he burst into flames.
"Why do you hate me so much?"
That question caught Buffy by surprise. Her eyes closed for an excruciatingly long moment before she answered, never again looking at Spike's face.
"I don't hate you, Spike. I hate what I become when I'm with you."
Buffy turned and, with her eyes closed, walked away from Spike, softly chastizing herself. What kind of monster had she turned into?
Spike watched for a few moments and then degectedly returned to his crypt.