Human weakness

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Direct quotes from BtVS scrips are attributed to the script writers of those particular episodes. Owned by Joss Whedon, Doug Petrie, and co.

Author notes: This is a continuous story, the story of Faith's fall from grace in season three, but each story could also stand alone as one very short story. Each section is exactly 100 words long (not counting the titles, which are direct quotes from the show). And it was MUCH harder than you'd think to make each exactly 100 words.

"Faith, no!"

One sudden movement in the alley's shadows, one warning shout heard too late, and she couldn't pull back, couldn't stop herself from following through. As the stake swung downward, piercing his heart, she knew immediately that it was wrong, that he was not a vampire, that she had made a mistake. As the dark blood blossomed forth, staining her hand, soaking the stake's wood, Faith froze, her heart thudding wildly at the shocked agony that brightened the man's eyes…and then his eyes went flat, blank, and she knew he was dead.

She had killed him. She had killed a human.

"I didn't know…I didn't know…"

She thought she was finally getting somewhere, breaking down Buffy's defenses and opening her to the possibility of something more between them…something Faith never felt with anyone before, never let herself know she wanted. Drawing the heart on the window, calling her out for a stealing/slaying extravaganza, fleeing arrest, dancing close, music vibrating in their chests…she'd felt so free, so alive, so exhilarated…so hopeful.

But now there was only horror in Buffy's eyes as she stared at the dead man before them, the man that Faith had killed, and Faith knew it was over before it had ever even begun.

"Five by five. You know me."

She ran, after it happened. But later, she came back.

Gazing down at the body, her forehead creased, guilt twisting her insides. Touching the bloodsoaked chest slowly, she stared into his empty eyes. She was sorry…she wished she could take it back.

But she couldn't. And now she had to protect herself.

So Faith hoisted the body over her shoulder, stuffing it into a garbage bag and toting it to the oceanfront. Weighting it first, she dumped it, telling herself it was over, telling herself that it was what she had to do.

She told herself that she felt nothing.

"I was doing my job"

In her motel room's sink Faith scrubbed at her shirt's bloodstains, jaw tensed, eyes narrowed, the cheap soap ineffective at the task. She let herself see nothing but the task at hand, let herself think of nothing except how damn frustrating the shitty soap was.

She hadn't slept. She'd been afraid to close her eyes, afraid to see Finch's dying stare, his spreading blood, the shock and judgment in Buffy's eyes, the tears rising in their hazel surface.

Her eyes burned, and Faith scrubbed harder, gritting her teeth. She would not cry. If she said it never happened…then it didn't.

"I don't care"

She saw the guilt and shame in Buffy's eyes, felt the new distance between them, and she despaired inside, hating herself for what she was doing, what she had done.

But she couldn't show her. She couldn't turn herself in, couldn't destroy her life more than it already was. She wouldn't do it…even for Buffy.

"Faith, you don't get it," Buffy whispered. "You killed a man."

Faith looked back at her, smiling carelessly, even as her heart broke, even as she was screaming inside, and said what she needed desperately to believe.

"No, you don't get it. I don't care."

"I guess that means you have a job opening"

They would find out. Buffy and her conscience, Faith and her mistakes, somehow, they would find out, and then what would happen to her? She'd go to prison, who would believe it was an accident? Who would believe a high school dropout, a homeless, orphaned teenager with an arrest record , spouting a story about saving the world from vampires?

No one. No one would defend her, no one would bail her out…no one would save her. Not the Scoobies, not Giles, not even Buffy.

At the Mayor's door Faith took a deep breath, knowing this was the only way.

"No father could be prouder"

The Mayor was like no man Faith knew of…like nothing she could understand. He rented old movies with her, took her mini-golfing, showed concern over her sleeping and eating, and corrected her manners. She tested him, but he never behaved sexually with her, was nothing but…paternal. Fatherly…

He was corny, finicky…but when he beamed at her, Faith felt gratified…even shy. She wanted his approval, his attention… his love.

So he wanted to be a demon, so he wanted her to kill. It was a small price to pay to earn his smile, to hear him say that he was proud.

"I'm a family man….now let's kill your little friend"

She knew that one day, she'd have to go through with it….she'd have to hurt Buffy, to betray her. She'd have to get over the remaining desire she had for Buffy's acceptance, to give up the lingering dream that somehow, it could be okay between them…that there was still a way she could go back and change it all, make everything right.

Buffy would have to go down…the Mayor required it, for his purposes, and it would have to be done. Faith knew she would do it.

But somehow she was still stalling, still hoping that there was another way.


Faith thought she'd won. Buffy cornered, and Angel at her side… she didn't want him, hot as he was. She wanted to take him from Buffy.

She was jealous…for what Buffy had, for what Faith never would, but mostly, for what Buffy didn't give her. Acceptance, friendship…love…that was what Faith really wanted, but that, she could never say.

Since she couldn't have her…she'd hurt her.

But then Buffy held up unshackled wrists, and Faith knew she'd been played.

Even as she ran, anger, humiliation, and grief rising, she couldn't resist kissing Buffy's forehead roughly first. Even now, love was there.

"Missed the heart…meant to"

Standing atop the Sunnydale Cinema, eyes dark, narrowed, Faith stared downward, watching one couple in particular. They were standing close, talking intensely, and she tensed her jaw, waiting.

She wanted Buffy to hurt, to suffer, to feel the pain and loss that Faith always had harbored in her own heart. She wanted her to finally have to acknowledge her, to have to acknowledge that Faith meant something to her, if only as an object of hatred.

She wanted Buffy to fight her. And now, she wasn't leaving her an option.

Raising her pre-poisoned crossbow, Faith aimed carefully at Angel's chest.

"Shoulda been there B…quite a ride"

On the rooftop of her apartment, Faith stared into Buffy's eyes, seeing no hatred, no anger…just a flat darkness, a grim resolve. She knew Buffy hadn't enjoyed this…there was comfort in that.

Sharp pain spiking through her abdomen, blood spreading fast…she was fading fast, gutted by her own knife. But she smiled softly, not feeling fear, or even anger. She had lost…but then, she never expected to win, and there was almost peace in her last words.

"You did it…you killed me."

Pulling away, Faith closed her eyes, letting herself fall over the building's ledge.

She was gonna miss this.

"Human weakness…never goes away"

She was drifting, locked within her own motionless limbs, yet somehow outside herself, past the confines of her mind and body. Endless dreams, nonsensical images, and she didn't know if any of it was real, if any of her attempts at contact were heard.

She tried to appear to Buffy…she tried to help her, to give her own version of an apology. She didn't think Buffy had understood.

But then she felt someone moving near, a silent presence by her hospital bed. Distantly she felt a soft pressure on her forehead, a kiss returned, steeped in meaning.

Buffy did understand.