Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

The two young girls stumbled down the LA city street, their arms about each other, dark hair mingling with blonde as they half-supported each other's faltering steps. The girls were still children, barely into their teens, but they were dressed like 25-year-old streetwalkers in their skin-tight low-cut jeans and barely there sheer shirts. Their eyes were bloodshot, pupils dilated from a chemical high, and they giggled in a high pitch as they staggered down the sidewalk.

Watching them from an alley just behind them, Faith shook her head. She'd seen these girls a lot over the past few weeks, while on walk-abouts or out on patrol. They had reminded her, when she saw them at a glance, of her and Buffy, what with their coloring and obvious closeness… or rather, the way it had once been with her and Buffy.

She had begun to look for the girls almost unconsciously while out, and now she knew where to find them- and who they usually would be found with. Older kids, mostly black boys much older than these girls, these 13-year-olds who tried to look and appear so much older. Tracy and Evie, as Faith had learned they were called, would do things and let things be done to them with those boys that made even the sexually jaded Faith cringe, uncomfortable, saddened, and angry all at once. It reminded her of herself at that age, what she had done both willingly and not…

And then, of course, there were the drugs, something Faith had never messed with even at that age and that time in her life. She liked her alcohol and cigarettes, but drugs, that was a different story. She was screwed up enough without worrying about popping brain cells.

It had worried her, watching them, in a way that she could hardly explain and would never have admitted to another. Usually she'd have shrugged that kind of thing off. The girls were strangers, after all, and who cared if they wanted to screw up their life?

But for some reason, with these particular girls, Faith did care. She cared enough that she found herself watching and listening to them, thinking about them even when she didn't see them. And one day, she even followed them home, watching them through various windows- very carefully, of course.

What she'd seen had only deepened her reluctant concern for them. The girls were not sisters, but rather the dark one, Evie, was living with the blonde Tracy. She watched as Evie told several different versions of her abusive past, knowing from the young girl's expression that none of it had been even halfway accurately

revealed or described. She saw the mother's cluelessness as Evie manipulated and molded Tracy into lying and lashing out and drug use, as Tracy let her, her only act of defiance toward Evie being to lock herself into her bathroom to cut her arms.

Faith had watched, and she had seen bits of her own past in the girls, bits of herself… and as much as she hated it, she knew she felt that she had to interfere. Somehow, she'd have to do something. And today, right now, while the girls were alone, was as good a day as any.

She stepped out of the alleys, striding up to the still-stumbling girls quickly. It wasn't hard to catch up with them. They didn't appear to notice her behind them until she spoke.

"Yo, Tracy, Evie, wait up a sec!"

The girls turned slowly, almost falling as they bumped against each other awkwardly. Tracy frowned, seeming wary, confused.

"Do-hey, do we know you?" she slurred. "What do you want?"

"No," Faith said meaningfully as she deliberately looked hard into Tracy's, then Evie's, eyes. "No, you don't know me… but I know you."

Evie smirked, her darkly lip-sticked lips curled up into a cocky smile that was, for Faith, nearly like looking into a mirror.

"You Brooke's friend or something? Since when does she give a shit where I'm at or what I'm doing?"

"Nope, not a friend," Faith said. "Just someone about to give it to you, straight shootin'."

She looked into the two girls' eyes firmly once again, trying not to notice or care how young they looked, how obvious it was that they were faking their bold confidence. Were they just not good at hiding their true emotions yet… or did everyone in their shoes look like that? Had Faith? Surely not- surely she'd been more skilled than that.

"You two are fuckin' up your lives," she said bluntly. "You keep it up, and you'll end up in prison- or dead. Trust me, I know what I'm talkin' about."

Tracy and Evie stared at her, eyes widening in surprise at first, then narrowing,

deliberately growing defiant, hostile. Tracy in particular seemed angry, while Evie kept a smirk. Both girls, Faith noticed, had stiffened- and both were more taken aback by her words to them then they had wanted to show.

"Oh yeah? You think so?" Evie said archly, raising an eyebrow as she adjusted her arm to link more firmly with Tracy's, holding her possessively. "What have you been using, lady?"

"I mean it," Faith said with a taut intensity to her voice, her eyes going to fixate firmly on Evie's, so similar to hers in color. "Look at yourself. You're a little kid, both of you, you're fuckin' little kids, and you're fucking! Fuckin' around , fuckin' guys- fuckin' up. Take it from someone who's been there- you gotta stop before it's too late for you."

Evie sneered at her, laughing with derision as she casually flipped Faith off. Faith glowered, wanting to grab that finger and bend it until it broke. Was that what she would have done back when she was thirteen, if someone had approached her, bothered to care enough to talk with her?

Of course she would have. Did she even have to ask?

"Who the hell are you, bitch?" Tracy spat angrily, probably emboldened both by Evie's gesture and her arms about Tracy. "You don't know us! You don't know me or Evie, you don't know shit about our lives, so back the fuck off, okay?"

"Oh I don't know you, Tracy?" Faith shot back, goaded. "I was you! Well, at least I was her."

She jerked her head toward Evie, who glowered back at her with obvious resentment- and yet also reluctant curiosity. Evie wanted to hear her out, Faith knew, but she also knew the girl would never admit it.

"You, Tracy, you're more of a B. type- the little blondie former princess, more the type to whine because everything isn't all sunshine and roses, to let other people push you around because you care too much about what they think. The type that-"

"What the fuck!" Tracy exploded, her face contorting furiously. "B. type, what the hell is that supposed to mean? And I don't give a shit what anyone thinks of me, especially you! You don't know shit about me!"

"Oh yeah?" Faith challenged, raising her voice. "I know you cut your arms up because you think you have such a shitty life. You think those wrist bands really

cover all that up, that it's not really friggin' obvious?"

As Tracy's face froze, and she looked hurriedly at her arms, Faith went on ruthlessly.

"You think you have it so bad just because your parents are divorced and your dad's a dick… and you say you're not like B? Well, your mom fuckin' loves you, Tracy. Some people would give anything to have that. Some people never had that at all! I never had that, Evie never had that- but do you appreciate it? No, of course not."

"You- how the hell do you know that?" Tracy asked in a voice that nearly was croaking, trying to sound strident and demanding, but only succeeding in sounding young and afraid. Evie too had gone still, her grip on Tracy tightening as she began to edge away from Faith. Faith followed, not about to let them get away without having her say.

"You want to hurt, Tracy, really hurt- not that sissy razor shit, but real pain? You think you're feeling pain when you do that? Try being four years old and having your back ripped open with a belt buckle. Try being given a concussion at the age of three that leaves you prone to comas and getting knocked out for the rest of your life," Faith said harshly. "You think you're hurting yourself? This is a cut, Tracy," Faith almost hissed, lifting up her shirt to show the girl the scar on her abdomen, courtesy of Buffy. "You're not trying to hurt you… you're trying to hurt everyone else, even though they don't know you're doing it. How effective is that, seriously?"

As she turned to Evie, leaving Tracy gawking at her in numb astonishment and intimidation, Faith's face relaxed slightly, almost softening. The dark-haired little girl who looked back at her so defiantly was trying so hard to seem cool and capable, unafraid… but she knew now that Faith knew about her somehow. That Faith was about to expose her as well… and as tough as Evie was, both inwardly and outwardly, she did not want to experience that, or even to think about it.

"You, Evie- you're more like me. Or the way I was, anyway. I get you, okay- more than you know. I had the whole package to make a screwed-up kid just like you did. No dad, boozin' mom… and mom's boyfriends."

Faith's words dropped at the last bit, her words soft, intense, as she looked into Evie's eyes. Evie stared back at her, her eyes darkening, growing dim as she understood and reacted to what Faith was implying… both her knowledge of Evie's past, and admitting to her own. She bit her lip, trying to form a scowl as she

blinked rapidly, but found she could not make herself do so.

"I know, you don't want to talk about it, you don't want other people to talk about it," Faith said quietly. "You don't want them to know, and you don't want to remember, unless it suits your purpose. But it happened, Evie, and that's not cool, but it's not an excuse to be able fuck up your life. That's not even what you really want to do- that's just another mask. What you really want," She said, her voice going lower, more meaningful, "is for someone to love you… isn't it? But what you're doing, what you're making Tracy do… that isn't how to get it. That isn't love, that's coercion."

She looked into Evie's face for a few more moments, holding her gaze, before finally looking away, at both of the girls together.

"I can't make you do nothin'. Trust me, I know that. But look- you wonder how I know all this? Let's just say that I've been watchin'. And I'll still be watchin- so think about what I just said. Save your own ass- you don't wanna make me do it for you."

With that, she turned abruptly, leaving the two still-stricken girls behind as she began to walk away. She had an urge to glance back at them but restrained herself from doing so. It was in their hands now.

Still… she'd be watching.

End