“I fell off my tuffet,” says B. She looks sad, like a hungry animal, her shoulders hunched and her hair hanging down the side of her neck. She has her hands folded loosely in her lap; Faith can see where the knob of her wrist cuts out from under her sleeve. “Unless I’m the spider? In which case I totally took that tuffet and made it webbily mine. That’s if Dawn was Little Miss. And she was sitting on death. “
She looks sideways at Faith. Sunshine streams in through the big broken window, and her lashes catch the light; bracket her eye with tufting gold.
“I was never great with the creepy nursery rhymes,” she says. “Did I ever tell you about that time when I fell asleep in Psych and got a direct line to that week’s monster influx? Some little girl sang the whole plot to me, and the only thing I took away from it all was that I really wanted me some Riley-sex.”
Faith actually remembers that dream, but— “No.”
“Well, you were in a coma,” says Buffy, philosophically. “There were a lot of things I was gonna tell you, but then you went and woke up.”
Faith puts her weight forward, onto the balls of her feet, lifting her bare heels slightly off the floor. There’s broken glass everywhere, here around her bed, but under her soles it feels like pine needles. “Can we skip to the part where you try to kill me and then turn into a giant cigar?” she says.
“Did no one ever tell you that smoking is bad?” Buffy asks. “No, I guess they probably didn’t. You know, I always kind of figured that if I ended up in someone else’s subconscious, they’d give me some kind of handbook. How to Be Cryptic and Make Friends. Maybe I can suggest that, when I get where I’m going.”
“We’re friends,” says Faith. She’s allowed to say that, here.
“Sure we were,” says Buffy, sweetly. She stands up off Faith’s bed and walks forward. When she kisses Faith, it’s like the Mayor’s moist towelettes; one quick skip across the lips, and she’s clean.
Faith holds perfectly still. She waits for the knife.
Buffy steps back, and the only thing between them is the sunlight on her skin.
“Maybe we should take this outside,” says B. She looks old; older than Faith ever saw her. Her pants are soft and grey, and Faith can’t even imagine her legs.
They climb out through the broken window and onto the balcony, lending each other easy hands. There’s dust on the shattered frame, and it makes Faith sneeze when she hops over it. Outside the sky is china blue. Buffy looks up at the sun and says, “Dawn.”
“No way,” says Faith, “it’s almost noon.”
Buffy touches her cheek. They’re at the wall, now, without having crossed the tile. “Listen to me,” she says, holding Faith by the arms, by the eyes. “Listen. I will always love you. But this is the voiceover I have to do.”
Buffy is saying something else, the volume suddenly gone. Faith used to be great at reading lips but Buffy’s mouth moves like murder, smooth and meaningless. When the sound comes rushing back, she’s finishing a sentence, she’s pulling together her perfect teeth.
“Be brave,” she says, and she lets go.
It’s summer, just about, and in the yard people are sweating through their jumpsuits. They leave Faith alone. Even Alice, who’s been methodically giving Faith shit for two weeks now, all slow burn and elbows, keeps away. Faith isn’t surprised; she’s pretty sure she smells like death. Like endless gravity.
She waits for someone to come— Angel, or Wesley, or little Dawn Summers with a knife in her hands. She watches the sun move in its sphere.