Okay, here goes – one of my first BtVS Fanfictions. This, along with my few other new stories posted – Second Chances, Who Am I, and a soon-to-be-posted Five by Five, Or Are We– all just recently came to me. Hopefully I've written in character, etc, and hopefully these storylines are actually well received.
A lot of the information, interpretation and other things came from the site Faith Solace – http:/ .cd/outlink_?module=/!/faith/tattoo/index. html ,(remove spaces and browse through the "Faith" menu to see episode analysis, background information and some other goodies) which luckily had validated a lot of my own thoughts and analysis about Faith's actions.
So hopefully you guys enjoy this, please leave a review if you like, letting me know your thoughts, any POSITIVE criticism if ENTIRELY welcome :-)
Now, please read!
When the door swung open and Faith's eyes fell upon him, he heard her nearly scoff in mixed parts disbelief, annoyance and just the mildest hint of disgust. Whether that was due to remembering the last time he had been inside of her motel room, or whether she suspected he knew of her part in the current situation, he wasn't sure, but he stayed silent and waited for her to make the first move.
"What?" she barked at him, taking in his awkward stance in her threshold.
Suddenly the awkwardness engulfed him and he realised he hadn't actually planned what he was going to say to her. How did he start the conversation he knew she so desperately needed to have? Especially as it was clear that she was not only in denial of what had happened, but was also clearly denying the fact of needing to speak about it at all.
"I just, uh..." he trailed off. Great way to start the conversation, Xander, he thought to himself. "Came by to see how you are, actually," he admitted, trying to straighten himself up to an air of confidence he wasn't quite feeling.
"Well, sick of people asking me that, for one thing," Faith retorted, voice full of certainty and the slightest tone of mockery could be detected in her words.
He paused, trying once again to figure out how to approach this topic.
"Can I come in?" he finally settled on, noting her impatient stance, clearly wanting to get rid of him as soon as possible. "Just to talk, I promise," he quickly amended, fearing she would get the wrong idea, given the last interaction between them in this very room. One that he still had a hard time wrapping his head around.
His amendment was not well received. Faith's eyebrow shot up in incredulity, "Like you could make something happen if I didn't want it to?"
Xander paused, shock at hearing the almost flippant way she was discussing any ideas of rape he may have had. He realised, not for the first time, that he didn't know much about her. They had had sex and he had thought that had made them close, that they had a connection. But then she had kicked him out and he had once more been confused by her behaviour. The way she had always casually brought up the topics of sex and nudity, like her baptist story, or her automatic assumption that Debbie and Jeff had been "screwing" from Oz's innocent "horsing around" comment. He wondered how it was that this girl, who he could only assume from what he had heard of Slayer calling ages would be around the age of sixteen or seventeen, could speak to casually about sex, and hell, even rape, without batting an eyelid. What type of life had this girl lived before coming to Sunnydale?
Realising he was standing there staring at her, he tried to steer the conversation back to where he needed it to be, but through the process of an extremely Xander-like moment, rivaling Willow's babbling capabilities, he had ended up comparing his muscles to some wet noodles and making light of the morbid thoughts he had been having. Class act, man...
"Five minutes," Faith allowed, not exactly inviting him in, but leaving him enough space to enter. He followed her inside the dully lit room, he assured her that was all he needed.
"For talking!" he quickly amended, then mentally kicked himself for bringing the topic back to sex. "Conversation, I'm quick as a bunny..." he rambled.
"The clock is runnin'..." Faith stated in a bored tone, closing the door behind him and switching the TV off. Relief rushed through him when he found her begrudgingly willing to talk to him. But then suddenly anxiety filled its place as he found her looking at him expectantly and found his throat threatening to close over when words evaded him.
"Uh, can I use your bathroom first?" he blurted quickly, gesturing in the direction of the small and dingy room.
He didn't really need to go, but he realised that this was not as easy as he had originally thought. In fact, he hadn't really thought about what he would say to Faith once he actually arrived. He had been sitting on the library steps replaying everything that Buffy had said about Faith's view of the men she slept with, next replaying Faith's abrupt and hasty way of ejecting him from her room after their own sexual interaction, and he had suddenly felt an almost undeniable need to prove that Buffy was wrong.
He didn't know much about Faith's family or past, but from what he had heard, they had a lot more in common than Buffy or Giles gave them credit for. His own parents not being the most responsible role models: his father abusing more than just the alcohol he kept stored in every corner of the house, and his mother being as adept at childcare as he himself was to brain-surgery...well, he had plenty of experience in looking after himself. He knew how it felt to be surrounded by people but still feel completely alone. He had been lucky to find a friend in Buffy and retain such a close friendship with Willow, and Giles had come along as a somewhat proxy father figure, but he realised that Faith did not have such luxuries. As he had long ago begrudgingly accepted himself as the 'normal' (or as he sometimes thought, boring) one of the group, he had plenty of time to observe things that the others didn't when nobody was paying him much attention.
He had noticed that even when the whole Scooby Gang was assembled, Faith was often the one on the outskirts. Buffy, Willow, himself, and even Giles, had all developed a comfortable routine when it came to their research parties, often involving plenty of bantering, teasing and otherwise silly behaviour that saved them from finding the task of pouring through centuries old books even more boring than it seemed.
Oz would throw in his occasional witty one-liners that often had the others chuckling, and he was Willow's other half, so it was a given that he was a member of the clan. Angel, though not proficient in joining the humorous side of research, had centuries of knowledge himself to impart, and was also Buffy's other half, thereby securing his own place in the gang, even though Xander himself still had queasy moments interacting with the formerly soulless vampire. Cordelia, though no longer involved with anyone in the group, had clearly taken quite fondly to Wesley, as he had to her as well, and had years of history with both Xander and Willow, and since mellowing out from her previous thorny attitude, actually helped contribute to research with the two Watchers.
And then there was Faith.
Faith had no history with any of the Scooby Gang, her interaction with the group was sparse at best, and she had no real meaningful relationships with any one of them. He had often noticed, post (or even pre) Slayage, that Faith often tried to engage her fellow Slayer in what, he assumed, she felt was bonding conversations. He had often heard her asking Buffy about her relationship with Angel, before he came back of course, and although he had known it was painful for Buffy to speak of, he had also seen the hurt that had flitted across Faith's face each time she had been shot down. He had been so focused on his own rage upon finding out Angel was still alive that he hadn't realised until afterward that the expression he had seen flash through her features upon him telling her had actually been pain that her Sister Slayer hadn't confided in her of all people.
He was sad to say that he knew that their relationship, whatever that was, clearly meant more to the dark Slayer than it did to Buffy. Buffy had friends in Willow, Oz and himself, but it was obvious that Faith felt that Buffy was her only true friend in the town of Sunnydale. He hated to admit that even as he observed all of this, he himself never even made the effort to interact more socially with her. They always just called her when there was danger afoot and slaying to be done. They weren't friends. And he realised that shamed him more than he had realised up until that moment, as he eyed her defensive stance and closed off expression. They weren't friends, they were colleagues. And he suddenly wanted more than anything to change that.
Asking her to use his bathroom, as much as he hoped she'd say yes, he was still expecting her to deny him entry, finally tire of whatever conversation he was trying to start and kick him to the curb. To his surprise, and slight rising hope, he received a muttered "Whatever" from the girl standing in front of him. Rather than question this response and cause her to make a quick about-face, he shuffled off into the tiny room, closing the door behind him.
He spun around once the door clicked shut, eying himself in the small mirror hanging crookedly on the wall. How the hell was he supposed to do this? Giles had said that Faith was too defensive for a group approach, but how had he thought that going to talk one-on-one to a girl that, in all truth, he hardly knew, was going to help her accept that she had accidentally staked a human? How did he expect the same girl that just a week prior had taken his virginity, smashed it to bits and on top of that kicked him out wrapped in only a sheet and clutching his clothes, to talk to him openly and honestly about something that she clearly couldn't even accept herself?
She had flat out lied to Giles and claimed that it was Buffy who had done the staking, but he knew Buffy. Although it was entirely possible that the exact same thing could have happened to the blonde Slayer, he knew that Buffy would have gone straight to Giles and told him what had happened. Faith didn't have the same relationship with the Watcher as Buffy did. She didn't have that same relationship with any of them. She was clearly terrified of being convicted due to this, but he could tell that no matter how much she denied it to Buffy, she must be constantly haunted by what she had done.
To know that you killed a human being, one of the many that your whole existence was based on protecting, must eat you up inside. Must make you feel no better than any of the vampires or demons that wandered the dark streets at night. No wonder Faith was denying what had happened, she probably was pushing it as far from her mind as possible. He remembered back to the whole Ted incident with Buffy, how she thought she had killed a human...how she felt she had betrayed her powers by unleashing them on a basically defenseless person. He remembered Giles stating that it was almost the same as Buffy not being a Slayer anymore, being so out of her 'equilibrium', as he had put it, and not being able to think about what had-
Suddenly he realised how he could approach the topic with Faith. How had he not thought of that? She was clearly too much in denial to accept any acknowledgment of her own actions, and too defensive to have the situation called into light. That only left one tactic that he could think of. He just hoped that it worked.
He stepped closer to the basin, turning the water on and quickly splashing some onto his face. He needed to think clearly during the coming conversation. Any wrong word was sure to set her off into anger or further denial. Just moments beforehand he had been thinking that he wanted to try to change their meager relationship from that of colleagues to that of friends...so he was going to act like a friend. If she'll let me, he thought silently. He turned the faucet off and braced himself, reaching for the door handle.
He didn't know how he hadn't heard through the thin walls, but Faith had turned the television back on, watching some black-and-white movie on her crappy little TV, and was sitting on the bed, her back leaning against the headboard and her legs bent at the knees. He paused, his eyes taking in the scene, waiting for her to acknowledge his presence again. She didn't, and he didn't know whether that was a good sign or not. Her eyes resolutely glued on the small television screen, she basically ignored his re-entrance. Treat her like a friend, he reminded himself. She doesn't need to be accused, she needs to be supported...
Stepping out of the room, he thought about going to sit next to her on the bed as he would have done with Buffy or Willow, but thinking back to how their conversation had started, he knew it would seem as if he was trying for something that neither of them wanted at that time. Instead, his eyes landed on the chair placed by the door he was stood in, so he casually picked it up, spun it around to land next to the mattress she was perched on, and plopped himself onto it, gluing his own eyes to the movie playing quietly in the dull glow of the room. He saw her glance at him out the corner of her eye, but rather than acknowledge her silent analysis, he kept staring at the screen, casually asking, "What're you watching?"
He saw her eyes snap away from him and back to the TV, as she informed him flatly, "Some old movie."
"Hmm," he murmured, hoping to at least keep her talking to him, even if it was in almost monosyllables. "Never been much into the black-and-whites myself. It any good?" he questioned, forcing himself not to glance her way in fear of breaking whatever slight conversation she was making with him.
But unfortunately, Faith was not buying his charade. "What the hell do you want, Xander?"
If she wasn't buying it, he'd drop it, but he still wanted to help her. So he cut straight to the chase.
"It's just, uh, I heard about what happened, and I thought you might need a friend," he answered truthfully, finally glancing her way, though he kept firmly sat in the chair away from her.
He saw Faith's eyebrows raise, clearly a show of forced confusion. "So then go talk to Buffy," she advised. "She's the one who killed the guy."
He noted her tensed shoulders, the slight tick in her jaw and the way she had her lips pursed firmly together. Not wanting to scare her off, he adopted his theory of how to approach this. He just hoped it worked. And that he didn't make things worse.
"Yeah, I heard," he started, keeping his voice calm and steady, even as his heart pounded inside his chest. "I just figured, you know, being there, it's still gotta be hard knowing what happened and not having anyone to talk to about it."
"Yeah, well, I don't need to talk about it," she retorted, her voice low and casual, but he noted the ever so slight quiver in her voice. He pretended he didn't notice as she continued. "So why don't you run along to your pals, I'm sure you can all have a nice big heart-to-heart."
Back to the mocking, he noted. Although he figured this was just another of her defensive techniques. Probably honed from years of not having anyone to have a heart-to-heart with. He also noted the phrasing she had used: 'your pals'. She had used the same words the night he had informed her of Angel's reappearance. His heart twisted at the thought that he had not noticed enough to help them all become her friends too.
"Yeah, I would," he went on, ignoring the tone with which her remark was made and the guilt that accompanied her words. He had to stay focused. "But I don't really know how to talk to her about it. I mean, it's gotta be hard, you know? Realising that one of the vampires she staked wasn't actually a vampire. Seeing blood where there should have been dust."
He saw her face make an ever so slight flinch at the word blood, but he once more ignored it. He didn't want to push her too far, but he figured that saying everything he wanted to tell her, Faith, but saying it in keeping with her story about Buffy was probably the only way he was going to be able to get her to listen. If he was pretending right along with her, maybe she would feel that someone was on her side. Maybe...
"Maybe you don't need to talk about it," he continued, making sure to keep any doubt he had about the subject hidden. "But, maybe you can help me figure out how to talk to Buffy. There are so many things I wish I could say to her, I just don't know if they're the right things to say. I just wish I could say something that would make her feel better about what happened, as hard as that may be. I thought, maybe, with you being there, you'd know what to say to make her understand that it wasn't her fault. That it was an accident."
He heard a heavy sigh come from Faith's direction, expressing her boredom with the topic. But when he dared a glance over at her, she had her face carefully averted, facing as far away from him as she could get. Her breathing seemed almost deliberately even, as if she were forcing herself to stay calm, her eyes blinking more rapidly than usual, as if trying to block his words from her mind. Although she wasn't participating in the conversation, seemingly bored and uninterested, he grew hopeful from the fact that she wasn't yelling at him to shut up or kicking him out of the door. Yet. At least she seemed to be listening.
"I mean, that many vampires jumping you guys from all sides, it's perfectly understandable that she didn't realise he was human until it was too late. He was in an alley in the middle of the night, any one of us would've have thought he was a vampire in those circumstances."
He paused a moment to let his words sink in. "I just wish she would have told us sooner. We would have helped. I mean, it's not like we're not going to now, but she wouldn't have had to be alone in all of this. I'm sure even though you were there and went through it as well, she probably felt even more alone than she has in her entire life, you know?"
He saw her shift herself ever so slightly and knew that he had hit the nail on the head. She hadn't spoken to any of them, not even Buffy, because not only was she in complete denial of what had happened, but she probably had also not felt like she had anyone that she could be that honest with. That she could confide in. And realising this, he knew that he wanted to be that for her now. Better late than never...
He knew he had to keep building her trust though, for her to actually participate in the conversation and move past it.
"Anyway," he remarked casually, "Me, Willow and Giles got together to talk about it. We didn't want Buffy to feel like she was being ambushed or convicted over an accident. Apparently this kinda thing has happened before with Slayers, you know?"
"Really?" she drawled. He glanced her way again, noting that although she was still averting her gaze and her voice was coloured with apparent disinterest, he could see a slight ray of hope cross her features. He once again ignored it, continuing on.
"Yeah...I mean, it makes sense. You think of the Boxer Rebellion or something like that. All those people, vampires scattered everywhere, even with those nifty Slayer senses you guys have, how can you tell which ones are human and which are vamps when you're being rushed from all directions? How long have Slayers been around? There's bound to be a few casualties in all those centuries. Sad, yeah, but guess that's the cold hard truth."
She finally turned to look at him, a small frown creasing her forehead as she processed his words, seemingly weighed the sincerity of what he was saying. He looked her straight in the eye as he continued when she still said nothing.
"I just wish that I could tell Buffy all of that. That it's horrible that a man died in the middle of a mini-battle, but that it's okay to talk about it. That she has to accept her mistake in order to move past it. That there's people that want to help her. That she deserves the help." He stated firmly, watching as she nervously licked her lips and once again averted her gaze.
"I just wish I could tell her that if there's anyone she could speak to about this, it would be me. I just wish I could tell her that I'd be there for her no matter what." He emphasised the last three words, trying one last time to get her to talk to him. He could tell that even halfway through beginning to speak to her that they had both known he wasn't talking about Buffy. He just hoped that she would finally drop the act and actually talk to him.
He saw something flash through her eyes, his heart racing as he waited for her to speak. "Well, why don't you then?" she sneered, gesturing towards the door.
He sighed, the hope that his technique had been working plummeting to floor level. She was going out swinging no matter what. He nodded resignedly, pushed off the chair he was sat in, returned it to its proper place by the bathroom door and slowly made his way toward the exit of the small motel room. He really thought that she had been responding to what he was saying. He had hoped that she had been starting to trust him. He had no idea what to do now.
As he was just about to leave, something suddenly stopped him.
"Xander?" he heard her ask quietly, her voice faltering as he neared the door.
Without saying a word, he turned back to her, careful to keep any expression of pity or remorse off his face even as his heart began to race again. He just wanted to show her support. He just wanted to help her.
"I-" her voice caught, and he watched her struggle for words, but he stayed silent. "I didn't mean...I didn't know he was...I didn't..." she trailed off, her eyes filling with tears, as the events obviously cleared in her mind and she was finally able to accept what had happened. He saw her look down at her lap, seemingly unable to meet his eyes as she finally admitted the truth.
"I know," he asserted quietly, firmly, trying to convey to her that he didn't blame her. That he knew it was an accident.
With those two words, Faith's face crumbled, and suddenly she was deeply crying. Tears were pouring down her face, choked sobs escaping her mouth. He neared the bed and sat down next to her, careful to keep some space between them, silently offering support. When he heard her breath catch in her throat, heard her gasping for air, heard her loud, grief-stricken cries fill the small area, he couldn't stop himself from inching closer, tentatively placing his hand on her opposite shoulder.
To say he was shocked when she suddenly threw herself into his arms would have been the understatement of the year. Century. Take any large frame of time throughout the years, and that's how shocked he was. But he didn't say anything, silently offering his shoulder for her to cry on and the support she so obviously needed.
Despite how hard she was crying, and the amount of pain she was feeling, he realised she was being careful not to use all of her strength to hold him, careful not to hurt him. She almost seemed afraid that she would. He slowly wrapped his arms around her smaller frame, strengthening his grip when he felt the girl trembling in his embrace. After long drawn-out moments, Faith's sobs finally dimmed down to harsh, shaking breaths, and he unconsciously began to murmur soothing words of comfort to the clearly distraught girl.
Eventually he felt her trembling cease, Faith having clearly calmed down somewhat and soon the only sounds in the small room were the quiet television and the occasional sniffle from the dark Slayer. He expected her to let go of him, immediately put distance between them once she had calmed. He half expected her to be ashamed that he had seen her at her most weak and vulnerable. He had never seen Faith in a state that was anywhere near crying, so he had no idea how she was going to act. He was once more surprised when instead of pushing her off of him, Faith tightened her hold on him, her hands steadfastly gripping the fabric of his shirt in tight fists, her tear-drenched face pressed firmly into the crook between his neck and his shoulder.
"Shh, it's okay..." he whispered to her, running a hand up and down her back in an attempt to soothe her. "It's gonna be okay."
He heard her breathe in deeply, exhaling heavily against his neck in a way that he found strangely sensual. He pushed that thought and the feelings that had been coursing through him out of his mind as she finally pulled back from him, releasing his now wrinkled shirt. He didn't know what to make of the fact that she did not brush his arms away that still loosely held her to him. She wasn't meeting his eyes still, but he could see the slight relief in her tear-covered features.
"Faith?" he prompted quietly. Slowly, her eyes slid up to his, still slightly wary of the situation. "You know we have to talk to Giles, don't you?"
At that her eyes squeezed shut, a small wrinkle creasing her forehead, but she tentatively nodded. Internally, he breathed a sigh of relief, but noted the tension spreading through her shoulders. He gently inquired what was wrong, cautious of causing any backpedaling.
"I..." her voice suddenly cut off, sighing again as if forcing her emotions back in control. "I lied to him," she admitted quietly. "I told him it was Buffy. I couldn't..." her voice once trailed off, clearly uncomfortable with opening up to him about her wrongdoings. "I set Buffy up..." she whispered, a frown still evident, obviously ashamed of what she had done.
"Yeah, you did," he acknowledged in a low voice. "But I think they understand what you're going through. Giles knows that it was hard for you to accept what had happened. We all understand."
"Yeah, I'm sure that's how Buffy feels..." she muttered, a small amount of resentment lacing her words.
He sighed out loud this time. Sometimes he and the Scooby Gang were so close knitted that it was hard to remember that their newest member (well, kind of) didn't know a lot of the stories from their time together on the Hellmouth. Taking a deep breathe, Xander began to tell her about the story of Ted and Buffy's assumed murder of him. Acknowledging that Ted was in fact a robot and therefore Buffy didn't actually kill somebody probably didn't help his case, but Xander tried his hardest to explain how Buffy had been feeling, the guilt that had accompanied her, and everybody's support of what she had been going through. He tried to assure her that if any one of the Scooby Gang should be able to understand what she was going through it would be Buffy. And, of course Giles, with his past demon-raising death-causing group that he had been a part of.
After a few moments of silence passed between the two of them, Faith finally sighed and raised her eyes to meet his.
"Okay..." she conceded quietly. "Let's go see him."
Nodding silently, he maneuvered himself off the mattress, cautiously lacing his fingers through hers and helping her off to stand next to him. As they made their way out of the motel room and began to head towards the road, he suddenly realised that Faith had not let go of his hand.
Angel stood in the shadows near the motel, hiding in the trees as he watched the young couple walking together. He still didn't know exactly what had happened with Buffy and her fellow Slayer, but the fact that Buffy hadn't told him anything about it yet made him suspicious. He hadn't had much to do with the younger girl, not since that whole thing with her evil non-Watcher and her attempt to stake him. But Buffy's behaviour over the past few days while socialising with Faith made him wary. And then with the police questioning the young girl at her motel, and from everything that had been happening at the crime scene, he had deduced that the Slayers had had something to do with the murder of the deputy mayor.
His suspicions were confirmed by everything he had just heard of Xander and Faith's conversation, although his wariness had been somewhat alleviated to hear her agree to talk to Giles. Still not entirely sure that she wouldn't attempt to get away from Xander on the way to the library, he began to follow them, making sure to stay far back enough to evade Faith's Slayer senses. He was relieved to see them heading in the right direction towards the high school. Then suddenly his eyes narrowed when he witnessed a group of five men heading towards the teenagers, both of whom seemed oblivious. He began to head towards them, disregarding the evasion of the girl's senses, when suddenly he recognised one of the men within the group and his eyes widened.
The new Watcher...he realised.
It was the Watcher's Council...
So, there it was...what do you guys think?
Pllleeeaassse let me know, I would very much like to continue it, and shall do for my own sake anyway, but I would love to know if people would keep reading should I continue to post.