PART ONE: 1983

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PART ONE: 1983

Four-year-old Faith wandered into her mother's tiny bedroom. It was cramped and small, just like the rest of the apartment.

"Mom?" she whispered. "Mom?"

"Get lost," her mother muttered, her words slurred.

"There's a noise outside," Faith protested. "Mom, what if there's someone out there and he's going to come in and kill me?" She was shaking with fear.

"Leave me alone," her mother groaned.

"Mom!" Faith pleaded.

"I said LEAVE ME ALONE!" her mother screamed, swinging her hand to hit Faith in the face.

Faith, sobbing, returned to her own bedroom, which was little more than a storage closet, and curled up in a ball on the floor. She forced her eyes shut and tried to sleep.

***

PART TWO: 1987

Faith looked over at her mom during dinner. She had been acting normally for the last few days, now was the time to ask her.

"Mom? Can we get a puppy?" she asked.

"No," her mother replied immediately.

"Why not?" she demanded.

"What the hell are you going to do with a dog?"

Love it, Faith thought. Care for it. The way I wish you would about me.

"Forget it, Faith," her mom said after a moment's silence. "You're not getting a dog."

***

PART THREE: 1993

"Shit!" Faith cursed as she stared at the positive pregnancy test.

She sank to the floor of the tiny bathroom and thought.

Tell the father of her unborn child? Right. Dave had slept with her and then dumped her. She hadn't seen him in weeks. If she told him she was pregnant, he wouldn't give a damn.

Tell her mother? Faith laughed bitterly. Even her mom wasn't too drunk to take it in, she knew she couldn't count on her for support. More like another beating, Faith thought grimly.

No. She'd have to sort this one out on her own.

***

It was two months since she'd had the abortion and she hadn't given it a single thought until now, when she'd seen a pregnant lady, maybe in her early twenties, walking by.

And now she felt - what did she feel? Guilt? No. She couldn't. She'd worked hard for the last few years not to let herself feel that emotion.

Deep down, even when she was a tiny little kid, she'd always felt sort of guilty. Guilty because if she hadn't been born, her mom's life would be so much better. Her mom screamed it at her often, "Why the hell did you have to be born? You're nothing but trouble!"

And now there was this guilt. Guilt that she'd killed her own unborn child.

Faith could feel the tears springing to her eyes but held them back. Crying was a sign of weakness. She was strong.

"I am strong," she told herself. "I am strong. I am strong. I'm never going to let myself feel guilty again. Ever."

PART FOUR: 1995

Faith carefully applied shoplifted foundation and concealer to hide the bruises left by her mother. She healed from bruises faster than most, but these were recent.

She was going out nightclubbing. Maybe the night would end with her going back to some guy's place. It usually did. Get some, get gone, that was her motto. Might as well be.

Dave had done it to her. So had Ronnie, and Steve, and Kenny, and... Each time she'd thought it was going to be different. By now she'd learnt her lesson.

The guys were only in it for sex. So why shouldn't she do the same? All men were beasts. They were only good for one thing.

PART FIVE: 1998

"In every generation there is a Chosen One. She will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer."

Faith looked up at thirty-five-year-old Victoria Thomas. "Huh?"

***

"When one Slayer dies, a new one is called," Victoria explained, tapping her manicured fingernails against an old volume.

"And you're saying that I'm this...Slayer?" Faith shook her head. "No way. Sorry. You've got the wrong girl."

"You have no other choice but to accept this, Faith. It is your destiny."

"Yeah, well, I believe we make our own destiny," Faith said. God, the woman was obviously some sort of wacko. Talking about slayers and vampires and demons. Totally psycho.

"Come with me," Victoria said. Faith shrugged and followed Victoria to a nearby graveyard. Her mom wouldn't care whether she was dead or alive, never mind home or not.

A body began to rise from a new grave. Faith gripped the wooden stake that Victoria had given her in her hand. As the vampire began to move towards her, Faith stabbed it in the heart and watched in amazement as it crumbled into ashes.

"Wow," she said. "This is wicked weird."

***

A few weeks later, Faith was really starting to like the whole slaying deal. She totally got off on it.

Then, Kakistos came. Killed Victoria.

Faith did the only thing she could and fled.

***

I shouldn't have let her die, Faith thought as she sat on the bus. She was my Watcher and I need her, to tell me what to do, to help me out - it's all my fault, I should have saved her.

The thoughts flew through her mind at incredible speed. The guilt was too much.

No, she told herself. No. No more guilt. Not again. Never again.

***

She stayed with her aunt for a while. She wasn't particularly fond of her mom's younger sister, but, hey, she needed a place to stay. Away from Kakistos.

And then, two weeks into her stay, her aunt got the phone call.

"Your mother's dead, Faith," she said, in hysterical tears.

Faith didn't cry. She wasn't going to cry for a mother who never loved her. She'd cried about too much already.

Shortly after that, she came home one night to find her aunt lying dead on the floor.

It looked like the work of Kakistos.

He had found her. She had to leave.

***

Somehow, she found herself in California, in a quiet town called Sunnydale.

She soon realised why she'd been drawn there. The place was crawling with vampires.

About a week after her arrival in Sunnydale, she heard something interesting. That there was a slayer here. That she was in high school here. And that her name was Buffy.

Faith spent some time finding out what she could about this other slayer, but it was purely by chance that they first met.

Faith was hanging out at the Bronze and the guy she was dancing with suggested they go outside 'for some air'.

Faith knew this meant either one of two things, and she was pretty sure it was the blood-sucking this time.

Sure enough, as soon as they were outside, his face transformed and he attempted to bite her.

No chance, Faith thought as she expertly attacked the vampire, finally staking him. As he crumbled, she turned around to see a petite blonde girl, a redheaded girl, a guy with spiky blond hair, a tall dark-haired guy and a brunette.

She addressed the blonde girl. "Hi, I'm Faith, the new slayer. Buffy, right?"

And that was where it all began.

***

PART SIX: 1999

"Faith, NO!" Buffy screamed as Faith jabbed a stake through the heart of a...oh, God, that was the Deputy Mayor...and he wasn't a vampire.

"I didn't know," Faith murmured. Oh God, it was happening all over again...the guilt. She couldn't allow herself to feel the guilt. Not again!

***

Forget Buffy, and Xander, and Angel (oh God, Angel, what a body...), and everyone who'd tried to help her. She obviously wasn't meant to be a good girl.

And she'd tried. Tried to be like Buffy, tried so hard to fit in with all of them.

That was all she wanted. A group of friends like them...people who'd be there for her.

Faith could feel her eyes filling up with tears. Forget them, she thought. Just forget them!

They'd betrayed her, after all. The Council had tried to capture her.

She was walking by the docks when Buffy came along.

Faith couldn't tell her how she was feeling. She just couldn't.

But when the vampires attacked them, and it looked like Buffy was going to be killed...Faith just couldn't let it happen. She was mad at Buffy, but she couldn't let her be killed.

She drove the stake though the vampire's heart.

***

Later, she found herself outside the Mayor's office. She hesitated for a moment, but only a moment, before knocking.

The good-girl thing wasn't working. She was going to try something else.

***

She helped the Mayor's Ascension. She tried not to think about her friends.

No, she corrected herself, they were never your friends.

Or were they?

She and Buffy - they had been friends. No, not like friends, Faith realised with some clarity. More like sisters.

Stop! Don't think like that! FOCUS!

***

PART SEVEN: 2000

Her eyes opened.

She remembered. She remembered Buffy pushing her off the top of the building. She remembered talking to Buffy - no, not talking, more like...a telepathic connection?

She freed herself from the hospital bed and set off. She knew what she had to do.

***

She hadn't succeeded in killing Buffy - but she couldn't, then, could she?

She'd slept with Buffy's new boyfriend, though. Riley. He was hot, Faith admitted. Buffy did have good taste.

Now she was leaving Sunnydale, and going...where?

***

Going to LA, apparently. When Faith found herself hired to kill Angel, she took the job. Hey, it paid well.

But it was only when she was fighting Angel that she realised what she was doing.

This was one fight she didn't want to win.

She wanted to lose. She wanted to die.

She begged Angel to do it. Just to get it over with.

He didn't. Somehow she'd expected this.

She sobbed bitterly as all the guilt, all the pain that had followed her through her life came back to her. Angel's arms were around her and rain was pouring down, but she was barely aware of either.

***

Some days later she sat quietly in a jail cell.

She had turned herself in. It was the only thing to do.

She'd apologised to Buffy for all that she'd done, even though she couldn't expect Buffy to forgive her. No apologies could make up for what she'd done.

Still, when they were up on the roof, Buffy hadn't wanted Faith to be killed.

Just like sisters, Faith thought. When it came down to it, they couldn't kill each other...or let the other be killed.

For the first time in her life she felt completely at peace with herself.

She had done terrible things in the past. But it was never too late to start again.

She fell asleep and dreamt. She saw Buffy.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," she said. "For everything-"

Buffy nodded. "I know," she replied. "I know."

Buffy and Faith hugged.

When Faith woke up she wished it hadn't been just a dream. It had felt so real...

And in Sunnydale, Buffy woke up. She'd dreamt of Faith...it had felt so real...