Summary: Faith didn't slip into a coma after the fight scene in Graduation Day Part 1. This is an AU season 4 as a consequence.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, UPN and WB Television Networks own the television shows, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". Dark Horse and IDW own the Comics. No copyright infringement is intended, no money is being earned by myself. The title of each chapter, and the story as a whole, come from Laura Marling songs/Album titles. I've been listening to her on repeat recently and I find her very fitting for Buffyverse.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts. Many thanks.
1. Rest in the Bed
He found her in the hospital. Found would be the wrong word, he knew she would be there. He had managed to slip through the hospital unnoticed due to the fact that every doctor, nurse, patient and visitor were turned facing the windows watching the rapidly darkening sky. It was almost as if he had planned the solar eclipse.
He walked into her room and dropped into the chair besides her, he made little noise but he knew he hadn't escaped her notice. When she finally met his eyes, he saw they were filled with tears. She simply silently sobbed besides him.
Let's just start again, he offered to her.
Does it matter?
It has to, she smiled blankly, otherwise what was all this for?
He had failed her, there was no escaping that fact. He had been too caught up in the lives of the others to see a girl who really needed his help, his support or simply a person to watch over her. To make sure she didn't fall through the cracks.
He took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold into her room.
She was on her back but facing away from him and, like everyone else in the building, staring out the window. She looked so small, so pale, so unlike the girl that he knew. He walked past her bed and joined her in taking in the eclipse.
"Boss said this would happen." He didn't turn to face her. He wasn't ready. Not yet. "Did you know?" She asked after he remained silent.
"Yes." He practically whispered his reply.
"What's the plan?"
"I don't know." He removed his glasses and cleaned his lenses on a handkerchief. "I didn't stay to find out."
He slumped down on the edge of the bed, careful not to disturb any IV tubes. Careful not to look at her. He wasn't ready. Not yet.
"She killed you," He heard her open her mouth to respond, but when no sentence followed he eventually continued his, "she wasn't successful." For whom he was clarifying, he was unsure. "She took the life of a human to save him."
"Wait-" she cut herself off when she noticed the tears falling down his face.
"I failed you." He managed eventually. "Let me make amends."
They spoke no more while they waited for the doctors to discharge her. Their only communication was via the many people who visited the pair. The doctors and physios wanted to make sure that he would be capable of taking care of her. Representatives from both California and Massachusetts giving them paperwork to fill out to enable him take care of her. The police came often to see if she would speak about the incident, even without the Englishman in the room she would not shed any light on that fateful night on what had been her balcony.
Finally she received other guests.
Wesley came first. He informed him that the Council's last job for him before he, too, was to be let go was to pass on their blessing for the former Watcher to guard over the disgraced Slayer.
A couple of days later Xander sat by her bed for an awkward twenty minutes. He dropped by with a couple of comics, he also gave her custody of his GameBoy while he embarked on his road tip.
Then it was Oz who came round the corner of her door, it was not until he had stepped fully through it was Willow spotted behind him. They stayed only long enough for Willow to hand over a dog-eared copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She said something about broomsticks and magic wands before they departed.
Still neither Giles nor Faith had exchanged words since he'd first come to her. Daily he sat by her, leaving only for the sanctuary of his bed. Daily they said nothing more to each other.
It wasn't until she was being discharged did Buffy appear. Faith was being moved from her bed to her wheelchair by a pair of porters when she came to visit. Once she'd been settled into the chair she excused the men and asked Giles to finalise her papers.
Buffy stayed by the door. Faith tried to move her chair, trying to get to grips with the object which – the doctors said – would contain her for the rest of her life. Neither made any move to meet the other's eyes. Eventually the blonde simply left.
The options had been explained to her several times, yet as they pulled up to the Englishman's building, Faith still couldn't quite comprehend how she had got to this place. At seventeen, she had been told – over and over – she had three choices. She could have left California and Massachusetts to decide into who's foster care system she would be placed into; she could go with the Council; or she could let Rupert Giles look after her for her remaining months as a minor.
The Englishman wanted so much to take her under his wing, to fix a girl who he had helped break; he was grateful to her for allowing him that second chance. Better the devil, she simply shrugged as she signed the papers agreeing to be placed under his guardianship.
As he helped her from car to chair the pair of them, almost in perfect synch, took a deep breath; filling their lungs for what was to come.
The first week she barely left the sofa. Unable to take the stairs, unwilling to try, she set up home on the couch. It was only when she tired of his pyjamas did they leave the house. Back into her chair they went shopping. He would have given her the world if she had asked. But still they barely spoke. She wanted what she needed. Nothing more. Luxury items reminded her of what she had had, what was gone, what had been. She wanted only what she needed.
When they returned he broached the subject of the stairs, of settling into the spare room. Of settling into her room. She declined his offer of help and wheeled herself back to the sofa and lifted herself from the chair to her bed.
The subject was not raised again.
It was the sofa on which Buffy found her when she returned.
It took them ten minutes for them to meet each other's eyes. It took them fifteen before one of them finally spoke.
"How you doing?"
The blonde swallowed hard.
"When I fell from the roof, I landed on a truck bed." Faith swallowed the bile that was filling her mouth. "My butt broke my fall. Shattered my pelvis. Now I'm paralysed."
"No," she cut her off before she could allow her to finish her sentence, "you do not get to apologise to me." She pushed herself up and shifted the dead weight of her body. "You're not sorry and that's the difference between me and you, Buffy." Once more their eyes met, never before had her name been said by the younger girl. Never before had such hurt, such malice been placed behind her simple two syllable name. "I regret what I did. You don't. Give a thousand Buffys a thousand knives and every single one of them would have done the same." She smirked at the blonde, looking up as she stood above her, and shook her head. "Where's he now?"
The only thing Buffy could do was to leave.
"Yo, G!" Faith called out once the door had banged to a close. "I'm ready for those stairs now."
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