"So where do we go from here?" The words sounded hollow to him as soon as he said them but he held onto the sentence.
Faith avoided his gaze. Busied herself with lacing up a boot that she'd already laced up five times. In truth, she didn't know what she could say. Wasn't even sure that she could describe what had happened to her. That awful feeling of having your senses dulled, of having your body taken from you, and made to – and made to –
She couldn't talk about it. Not yet. And she'd thought he could understand that. After his time with Dracula, she thought he could understand it. Guess she was wrong. It hurt. Hurt so bad.
"Faith," he said again, knowing he was blundering into an argument, but unable to stop himself, "Baby. Talk to me." He had always understood things more after speaking about them. He needed to force the inconceivable weirdness of his life into concrete concepts ; words, letters, meanings, and then he could own them. Manage them. He was desperate to give this to Faith but her stubborn silence was killing him. "I want to help."
"Shut up then," she said, "That'll help." God. This felt like she was still possessed. She wanted him to hold her and to tell her that she would come out of this. That was all she wanted. Just to be held. But the words didn't come. They stuck in her throat and crawled back down inside her.
He shook his head. "I don't shut up. You should know that by now."
"Trust me I do."
"So talk to me. I know what it's like – I can help you?"
"Can you bring Emma back to life?" She said it. Said it right at him. "No. Didn't think so. So you can't help."
"You. Were. Possessed."
"Still did it though."
"Possession! Want me to get some dictionary thing for it? You weren't in control!"
She swallowed down her lust to punch his face in and stood up, sliding her hair back into a smooth ponytail. "I shoulda been," she said, "I was her teacher and I killed her."
"It wasn't you!"
"It was," said Faith, "And I shoulda stopped it. But I didn't."
"It wasn't you," said Xander. His eyes were soft and sympathetic and almost broke through the wall she had built up. "Baby, it wasn't you, you were possessed. It – it chose you cos you could – you're a victim. Like her. Like that poor kid, you both got screwed. God – I can't say it enough – this wasn't your fault. You were possessed, baby, it took hold of you."
"And if I stay here, it'll happen again."
He paused. His mouth opened a little. "If? You – if?"
"If I stay, it'll happen again."
"I don't want to."
"Xander, if I stay, it could come back. Willow didn't even sense it to start off with and she's super Wicca for chrissakes. What chance do I have?" And this was the truth. She was leaving because she was a weakness in their armour. She'd been picked by the thing because she was weakest. Because she had taken her eye off the ball.
"Xander," she said again, her voice low, and damnit, it shook a little, "Baby. Please. I have to go. I can't – these kids – they need – I can't run the risk of it happening again." It made sense. It hurt so damn much but it made sense. Out of all the Slayers in the hizzy, it'd chosen her. So she had to remove herself from the selection. Made choice. She wasn't there, it couldn't choose her, it couldn't – it couldn't k-kill.
"You don't," he said. He bit his lip. "Please."
"You can – come with me-" She wasn't just asking him to come with her. She was asking him to understand. She was asking him to make it easier on her.
And she saw him struggle for the words and stumble in response, she knew that the dream she had had been real. "I saw you," she said quietly, her whole body frozen still as she recollected the moment, "I opened my eyes and I saw you. In the clearing. I thought I was dreaming. I wasn't. I watched you baby, and you stood there, and I thought, he'll come. He'll save me. He'll bring me back. And I waited for that. All I – all I –" She took a deep breath and blinked back the tears that were moments from overwhelming her, "All I wanted – was for you to hold me – and – and – you chose her. You left me there. On the ground. When it came to it, you left me."
"I-I-" He was stunned. Gasping for breath. Unsure he was witnessing this. Praying desperately that he was imagining it all.
"I know," she said softly, picking up her bag and slinging it over her shoulder, the road calling her, "I know. You didn't have a choice. I know that. You don't need to - you don't need to talk." Faith, the Vampire Slayer, paused in front of him, her eyes large and full of tears, and she kissed him very quietly, very tenderly on the lips. "I love you Xander Harris. And I don't know how it came to this. But it did."
And then she was gone.