One Man's Loss

Waiting in a graveyard wasn't new. But at this time of day... that was a little freaky.

She squinted at the approaching figure; even with Ray-Bans, the Jamaica sun was really bright, and she had to be sure. When the old black man walked past her, she compared him to the photo Giles had found. Yup, a few years older, but that was him. She watched from a distance as he bent down at one of the graves – the slow, careful movements of someone whose joints are on their last lap – and placed a flower on it. He sat for a while.

When he stood up, she cleared her throat. "Come here often?"

He was old, but the intelligence in his eyes was cold blue steel. He knew her. Of course he did. He may have left the Council, but he could tell what she was. "Now and then, yes."

"That's good." Faith pushed back her sunglasses and read the tombstone. No last name.

"You are the one who followed her." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah. I'm... I wanted to say..." Damnit, she was no good at this sort of thing. "I'm really sorry. She got a raw deal."

"You're alive. Don't be sorry. You did not make her what she was. You did not force her to fight a war." His voice was tense. "One slayer dies, the next one is chosen. It is the way it has always been."

"Not anymore."

Sam Zabuto sighed. "So they tell me." They were quiet for a while.

"What was she like?"

At first, the old watcher didn't react to the question. A passing truck was blasting Beenie Man at top volume, and she wondered if he'd heard her. Then... "Young." As if the dates on the tombstone weren't painfully obvious. "Foolish. Strong. Alone. Like they all were."

"She had you."

"She had a watcher. I followed Council orders and I was thousands of miles away when she died." He gestured at the grave. "Now I come here... so she's not alone. But I will thank the Council to stay out of my life. Good day, miss." The old watcher turned and limped off, leaving Faith alone at the grave. It took her a little too long to react.

"Oh, wait, I brought someth-" But he was already out of sight.

"Hey, kiddo." Faith crouched down and thought about what to say. "Sorry we never met. Sorry you had to die just so I could mess up. And... sorry it took so long to get you this." She opened her bag and got out Drusilla's ancient doll. "I took it off her before I dusted her. It ain't much, but B says you never had one of these. Seems right you should have this one. And just so you know... There's thousands of us now. You were the last one to go like that. I promise. Sleep tight."

Faith left Miss Edith on Kendra's grave, pulled her shades down and walked away.