Buffy/Faith | post-series | ~1400 words
For bellonablack, Not sure if this is exactly what you were looking for, but it's what came out! I'm also using this fic for an old prompt angearia gave me back during that Christmas fic meme that I never finished (… but have decided halfway through the year to get back to???) The prompt was: your mind or mine, there's always terrible confusion. tbh this fic is mostly an exercise in seeing if I can still write (results: questionable). MOSTLY NONSENSE, BEST SKIP.
Buffy is unsure if she is awake. This should scare her.
Buffy is unsure if she is awake, and it does not scare her.
Truthfully, not much scares her. Not because there isn't anything to fear. There's always something (and then the thing that comes after that, and after that, and after that, and then after the after). But because there is a part of her that used to be a storm, that used to be rage and shattered glass, and because that part is still now. She was a raging inferno and now she is a steady flame, and she thinks she can live like this. She thinks she can live. She isn't scared.
Faith is a ghost that haunts her.
It's curious, because the real Faith, the flesh and blood Faith, is a walker amongst the waking world; she is not the Faith who is a ghost. (She has not been that Faith for a long time.) But in these deep pockets of uncertainty, in the no man's land between the unconscious and the waking, Faith is a shadow. Faith is an empty space, a gaping wound, the absence thereof, the entity unknown.
Buffy knows this Faith better.
"Because it's wrong," FaithBuffy snarls at the fogged-up glass.
The mirror says nothing back.
This is strange.
"This knife is a bitch."
Faith is grunting, and making exaggerated thrusting motions with her hands; blood is dripping steadily on the white rug. Buffy is finding her irritating. Faith is always looking for attention. The blood stains will take weeks to wash out. Buffy's mother must be rolling in her grave.
Faith sighs. "Guess I should be thankful you didn't get me in the back."
Buffy doesn't look up. Blows gently on the wet paint on her right fingernail, crosses her legs. "When have you ever been thankful for anything I've done for you."
Faith laughs with genuine mirth. "Yeah, you're right. I'll give you that."
"Of course I'm right," Buffy replies, still not looking up. She is trying to concentrate on the work before her, the delicate task of applying the bright red polish perfectly within the lines so that her fingers and hands remain clean. Murmurs, "I was always right." A singular fleck of red spills --
Buffy is a girl who resides in black black blackness. Not all the time, not during waking hours, and not with other souls (but sometimes with those without). But after dark, after loss of consciousness, after the waking world retreats into the distance, and after she ceases to be sure that she cares about that. She's learned to live with this uncertainty. She isn't scared.
(That way lies madness.)
"Admit it, B, you've always wanted to be like me. I'm the cooler, hotter, better Slayer, right?"
Faith, with that hated timbre of spite and malice, malice and spite (blood and lice and all things not nice).
But haven't we gotten past this? Buffy thinks. Haven't we lived through it already. Haven't we lived.
Faith's laugh is sharp and bright, the most alive thing in the dead dead darkness.
"You think you're done, but you've only just begun."
I know this song, Buffy thinks with a childlike clarity. Didn't we play it already?
"Oh come on, it never gets old."
And then they're dancing. Literally, on the dance-floor, near those stairs in the Bronze; meanwhile, rowdy teenagers swarm around them, and guitars shriek and the bass thumps a steady heartbeat through the sweat-drenched club, and Buffy knows that she has never been this young, this free, this alive as she is right here by Faith's side.
But that's not how it was, Buffy thinks. That was never how it was.
Faith's eyes bore into hers; she rests her forehead against Buffy's own, and intones, "But isn't this reality way better?"
This story doesn't make any sense, Buffy thinks. Maybe if we cut some things out --
Buffy is a girl who resides in black black blackness. When darkness descends upon her like a cloud, like a funereal shroud, Buffy allows it. Buffy waits, and lets herself be still. Buffy tells herself not to count the minutes.
(There is the faintest brush of cobwebs against her arm.)
"Playing dead's getting a little old, don't you think, B."
"Oh, shut up," Buffy hears herself snarl. "I'm not the one lying in a coma bed."
Faith's eyes snap open.
It's really dark this time.
Faith's laugh still rings through all the cobwebs. Buffy grits her teeth.
Faith starts humming. A low, irritating buzz that sounds like a funeral march (she probably can't help it, Buffy is kind enough to think). And then her voice, right by Buffy's ear, strange and low: "You need to come with me. There's something here." The warning is punctuated by a low growl from somewhere near, somewhere soon to be here. It is dark and menacing and everything that nightmares are made of.
Buffy's breath starts coming faster. "But I can't see in here. Where are you?" And she hates the way her voice shakes with need.
Faith is right there, barely inches away. (Buffy can't see her. But she can feel her.). Faith's breath ghosting across her lips, "I'm always here, B. Did you ever doubt me?"
Buffy exhales. "I guess I just needed you to say it."
Faith takes her hand. Buffy lets her. Digs her own nails into Faith's cold, smooth, human flesh.
If Faith is bothered, she doesn't show it. Buffy's the one who's needy now.
The question is fragile and ultimately meaningless: "But how could you do this to me."
Faith is shrugging. "We always knew this day would come."
how could you how could you how could you howcouldyouhowcouldyouhowcould-
Buffy is crying, shrill and insane, every syllable gushing from her open wound. "Faith, answer me!"
Faith doesn't. Faith doesn't answer because Faith is choking on the blood dribbling grotesquely from her mouth.
That was unexpected. The next part even more so:
When Buffy looks down she sees the same bright red blood spreading across her own hand, the hand gripping the hateful curved knife. Feels the blood drains from her own face.
"We always knew this day would come," Faith repeats, and by the way she's talking, you wouldn't even be able to tell she's bleeding internally.
Faith is not angry anymore.
This was always how it was going to be. "I want you to know that, B. It was always gonna happen --" The blood is seeping steadily through her shirt. "-- And I forgive you. You understand me? You're forgiven. Always. Every time."
And Buffy thinks: What about me. What about me forgiving you. What about my part of the story.
(It hasn't come; you've only just begun.)
Buffy is inconsolable.
But it has, she thinks. It has, it has. I have lived this already.
Faith is dead at the bottom of an unfilled grave.
The call of duty is both persistent and obnoxious.
"Buffy. Yo. Buffffyyyyyy."
But I'm not ready to go yet.
"It's quiet here," Faith remarks, swings her legs against the side.
"Yeah, it is," Buffy agrees. She is transfixed by the miniature people below. They're so far away, she thinks. But all still the same size. I can't forget that.
"Did you ever think what it could be like?"
"What what could?"
Faith smiles obligingly. "Come on, B."
Buffy's throat is dry. Butterflies drum their wings against her insides.
Faith takes the knife between them -- the one with years-old blood stains -- and lifts it over the edge. And as Buffy watches, Faith lets go.
Buffy turns her head to watch it fall -- but Faith's hand reaches out, grasping her chin. "Nah, don't," Faith says. She has other things on her mind.
The sun is rising over the tops of buildings as Faith leans in to press her red red red lips against Buffy's own.
Buffy lets her eyes fall shut.
The morning sun is rude.
Buffy scrunches up her face at the harsh glare. It's a nuisance. But it isn't unwelcome.
"Sleeping like the dead, man," Faith remarks from the doorway. Cocks her head. "Come on, B, you're late. The girls are getting impatient."
Buffy takes stock of her bright room. "Oh. Right. That's what we do now."
Faith's laugh is warm and familiar as she retreats down the hall. "Yep. That's how we do."