Quite often Faith finds herself missing the old days - the days where she knew her place in the world and how things worked. Now, everything's far too complicated. And she's never quite sure where she is anymore. Sometimes she even questions who she is.
* * *
It's raining something terrible and Faith's thin jeans and jacket are soaked. All she wants to do is find some cheap motel where she can get dry for a few hours. Of course, she has to look down the alleyway where someone's fighting off a vampire. Faith sighs as she pulls out a stake and charges forward.
She almost slips on an oily patch of cement but she catches herself just as the girl in front of her manages to drive a stake home in the vamp's chest. Of course, this girl isn't some victim but either a hunter or a slayer. Faith could have just walked on by and found herself a motel to call home for the night. She didn't have to play the hero.
* * *
Something had gone wrong when Willow had cast her spell that turned all of the Potentials into Slayers. Of course, something had gone wrong. Isn't that the way it always is? Powerful witch casts magic to change the tides of a war in their favour and it all goes sideways?
* * *
The girl isn't actually a girl. Instead she's a young woman in her twenties. Maybe a year or two younger or older than Faith. It's hard to tell but it's easy to tell how battle fatigued she is. Faith's seen the same expression on her face enough times in the mirror to recognize it on another woman's face easily.
She's pretty sure that the woman standing in front of her is a Slayer and Faith's already impressed. Before her and Buffy, not many of their kind made it past their sweet sixteen. Either this Slayer got called late or she's managed to survive where so many of their kind don't.
There's something about her that's familiar but Faith can't quite place it.
"What are you looking at?"
"Just thought you were in a spot of trouble."
The other Slayer raises an eyebrow at her and Faith wonders how she's supposed to explain that she knows what just happened. Faith sighs and wishes that she had just walked on by when she'd had the chance to do so.
The tone that the other Slayer uses is borderline rude and for a moment Faith almost blurts out what she saw: a young woman battling with a vampire. A for a moment it looked like the vamp was going to win. Instead Faith just sighs.
"It must be the rain making me see things," Faith says. "I thought I saw someone else in this alley."
"It's just me."
* * *
There's a theory of balance that Giles had decided to mention after the fact. There cannot be good without evil. The scales between good and evil were delicately weighted. If Buffy's survival (twice) had caused the First to wake up then Willow's spell to turn all of the Potentials in Slayers would have repercussions. Giles liked to say that it wasn't that Willow's spell went wrong just that it tipped the balance of the scales far too much in the favour of good.
* * *
"Did you follow me?"
Faith turns around at the other Slayer's voice in surprise.
"Uh no," Faith replies.
Before she can react the other Slayer has her pinned against the wall. It just proves to Faith how tired she is. Not much takes her by surprise anymore.
"Did Crowley send you?"
"I don't know who the hell that is," Faith replies. "I don't even know who you are."
"If you're lying to me, I'll make you pay."
Faith is tired of being pushed about so she decides to show this Slayer that she's not some patsy. It's rather easy to turn the tables and pin the other Slayer against the opposite wall since the Slayer's clearly not expecting Faith to be as strong as she is.
"Maybe you shouldn't think that the world revolves around you," Faith tells her.
In the dim light of the hallway, Faith can actually see that the Slayer is a little younger than she'd thought the night prior. However unlike most Slayers her age, this one is a hardened warrior. There's still something strangely familiar about her but she can't quite place it.
* * *
The Powers that Be have a twisted sense of humour. Sometimes Faith thinks that they are more evil that neutral. Or more accurately more mischievous than good or evil. At least the Powers that Be hadn't resurrected the First in an attempt to even out the scales of balance. Even if what she and Willow have to go through is pretty crappy at least they're not having to battle the First again.
Thank goodness what's dead is dead. Although what Faith goes through on a daily basis is pretty bad.
* * *
The next meeting with the Slayer goes better than the first two times. Then again Faith knows who she's dealing with thanks to a newspaper with the date on it. What's worse is that she meets up with Nikki Wood in a crappy diner that Faith is fairly certain Angel frequents. She's not sure how things work but as much as she'd like to see Angel because he's a familiar face, she doesn't think it'd be a good idea.
The only reason why she walks through the door of the diner is because Nikki's sitting at a table by herself nursing a cup of coffee. And as much as she hates it, Faith has a job to do.
"Sure you're not following me?" Nikki asks.
"Not intentionally but I saw you through the window and thought you looked like you could use the company."
"From a stranger, I don't think so."
"I might be a stranger but I figured out what you are," Faith says.
"And what am I?"
Faith leans forward and lowers her voice. "You're a Slayer."
She doesn't add just like me to the end of her sentence. Even if it's true. She's not here to confuse Nikki or anything like that. Nikki looks at her suspiciously. Not that Faith can blame her. If the tables were turn, Faith probably would be throwing punches and asking questions later.
"I thought you said Crowley hadn't sent you."
"I'm not affiliated with the Council," Faith says, venom in her voice as she spits out the word council.
If anything she hates the Council more now than she ever did when the organization had more control in her life. Nikki looks at her in surprise.
"Then how do you know what I am?"
"You know what Potentials are, don't you?"
* * *
Sometimes she thinks that Willow has it easier. She jumps through time just like Faith does but she doesn't have to counsel Slayers that are on the verge of losing their way. She doesn't have to prepare girls and women that are just like her and make them want to fight again. Willow doesn't have to encourage other Slayers to go off to their death willingly.
* * *
"So you were a Potential?" Nikki asks.
"Yep, never got called though," Faith lies.
Nikki looks at her curiously. "You're pretty strong for an average girl."
"I still train, just because I never got chosen doesn't mean that I can turn my back on evil."
Now she sounds like Buffy and her little merry band of do-gooders. Faith might be on Team Good now but she's not some wishy-washy Buffy wannabe.
Nikki rolls her eyes at her. "Want to try telling me the truth this time?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Maybe your whole I'm just a former Potential fighting the good fight works for other people but I know that you're not just a Potential."
"Then what am I?"
"Clearly you're not a vampire."
They're sitting in front of a giant window with watery sunshine streaming in. Faith shrugs her shoulders. There's no way that she can tell Nikki what she is.
"Does it matter what I am? I'm not a vamp or some demon."
"I guess not," Nikki says with a shrug.
* * *
Every now and then she gets to go home. Home being her own time. The future where she's just one Slayer amongst many. There are times when she's in the past when she wants nothing more than to be home but going home means she's paid a horrible price. Sometimes Faith hates it when she wakes up in her bed in the new Council's headquarters. Her body's usually bruised and battered. And she can't tell the others why she wants to do lock herself up in an quiet room and drink the day away.
* * *
"Sometimes I just wish that I could be something else. Anything else," Nikki tells her as they patrol a series of dark alleys.
"I know what you mean," faith says.
"I've been doing this since I was 15 and I'm tired of all of the death."
Faith doesn't tell Nikki that in the end that death is both their gift and salvation as Slayers. She doesn't tell Nikki that she knows more about her than Nikki has told her. If Nikki wants to keep parts of herself secret, then Faith isn't going to try manipulate her into giving up those secrets. They might be sisters in the same cause but Faith can recognize boundaries now.
"When did you get called?" Nikki asks.
"I was seventeen," Faith replies.
"A little older than most," Nikki says.
"Yeah," Faith says.
Thankfully Nikki doesn't ask how Faith got called because Faith doesn't feel like explaining that. She doesn't feel like explaining that she gets called twenty some odd years in the future. Nikki's been accepting of her so far but things could get ugly pretty quick. It's happened once or twice before.
* * *
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not really," Faith says as she lies on her bed, staring at the ceiling.
"Are you sure?"
Faith sighs. It's always the same questions every time. Even when she gives the same flat answers.
"I'm here if you need to talk."
"I wish that you'd open up to someone, Faith. I worry about you."
"I'm fine, B, really. Just tired."
Buffy sighs but leaves Faith's room. And Faith is relieved even if she wants to call Buffy back and just ask the blonde Slayer to hold her. This time was the worst.
* * *
"I've never felt comfortable telling anyone that," Nikki says with a smile as she leans back against the headboard of Faith's bed.
"I know how you feel though," Faith replies. "It's not easy."
"But you're on to something - we're definitely hot chicks with super powers,"
Faith chuckles at Nikki's words. It's a bitter sound and Nikki turns to her. For a moment, Faith almost thinks that Nikki's about to reach out and touch her or kiss her. But then she remembers that Nikki doesn't swing that way and even if she did, Faith's not here for that.
She pulls away from Nikki and slides off the bed.
"Want a Coke?" Faith asks.
Nikki nods and Faith walks out of her cheap little room to the vending machine down the hall. It's not fair. She's only ever felt this way once before and that was with Buffy. And look how that turned out. Faith's pretty sure that things are going to turn out even worse here.
Still she goes back to the motel room with two soda bottles in her hands. Nikki looks up at her with a smile and Faith easily returns it. Even though it feels like something's breaking inside of her.
When she sets the bottles down, Nikki moves towards her and places a hand on Faith's jaw. It's a sweet gesture and before Faith knows it, Nikki's pressing her lips against Faith's in a chaste kiss. It feels like heaven and before she stop it, Nikki's try to deepen the kiss by dragging her tongue along the seam of her lips. And Faith wants to give into temptation. She wants to say fuck it and give in to what she really wants but she can't.
She knows why she's here and it's not to fall head over heals with a woman like Nikki Wood. It'd be so easy. And Faith can't quite figure out why she doesn't deserve to have a small slice of happiness.
Somehow she still manages to push Nikki away who looks embarrassed.
"I'm not normally like that," Nikki says.
Faith doesn't wait to hear what she means so she pulls Nikki into her arms and gives her a searing kiss just to show her how much she wants this even if she can't have it. When they pull apart Nikki's breathless.
"It's not that I don't want this but it's kind of complicated," Faith says.
"Then uncomplicate it," Nikki says. "Weren't you just telling me about how we're hot chicks and all? Why shouldn't we take what we want?"
Want, take have. Will her past ever not haunt her?
"It's not that easy," Faith says. "And we both have a destiny that we need to fulfill."
"You sound like a Watcher," Nikki complains.
"Hardly." Faith replies. "I didn't go off on some boring lecture about we need to always be prepared for evil and how having fun means we're not prepared."
"If I could make things less complicated I would," Faith tells her.
She wants nothing more than to stay holed up in this cheap little motel room with Nikki but they both have lives don't include the other. Faith's learned the hard way that you can't change the past no matter how hard she tries.
"I gotta go tomorrow," Faith says.
"Where?" Nikki asks.
"Sunnydale," Faith replies. It's what she always says when she has to go.
"What's in Sunnydale?" Nikki asks.
It hurts that Nikki's the first to ask that.
"A hellmouth," Faith says.
She doesn't tell her that her destiny is in the future of Sunnydale. Some things are better left unsaid. Even with someone like Nikki who could probably handle the truth.
"Sometimes I feel there's so much that you're not telling me," Nikki says.
When Faith goes to reply. Nikki places a finger on Faith's lips.
"No don't tell me some platitude or another. You really do sound like a Watcher at times. Maybe you're a Slayer, but there's a lot you're not telling me and I'm not asking you to tell me. It's probably best that I don't know. But I think that for once, I am going to take what I want without any regrets."
Nikki leans forward and kisses her again, she places her hands on Faith's hips and pulls Faith closer.
"I want you, in case that wasn't clear to you," Nikki whispers against Faith's lips. "And I know you want me too."
* * *
The next morning she wakes up in her cheap little motel room and Nikki's gone. There's a note on a piece of paper on the bedside table. Nikki's written that she's gone back to New York and that maybe one day they can meet up in Sunnydale.
Faith almost starts to cry then and there. In a few months, Nikki will be dead and Faith hasn't even been born yet.
* * *
"Her name was Nikki," Faith tells Buffy.
For once maybe talking will ease the pain of what she experiences on such a regular basis. Maybe if she tells Buffy about all of the Slayers that she actually meets. Maybe if she tells her about how instead of just dreaming about their lives and their deaths, that she actually wakes up in the past and comes across some Slayer having a crisis of faith that she talks back into fighting the forces of evil, maybe then Buffy will understand why she never wants to talk about it.