The worst thing about being unconscious, maybe-or-maybe-not dead, is that Faith is in the middle of Sunnydale High, old school version, and everything's in soft focus. She hates soft focus. She also hates light jazz, anything having to do with Disney, and the color pink. Any shade, from pale bubble gum to Pepto Bismol to bright fuchsia. On a scale of one to ten, soft focus is only a three, and there are no princesses in sight, so maybe she's not blown to shit and this isn't hell.
"You dressed up in a schoolgirl uniform for a guy with a bullwhip?" The voice is familiar. She remembers it from way back, when Sunnydale was either a new home, or a new place to get booted from, and she hadn't been sure which. She still isn't sure, truth be told.
Faith whirls, bracing herself for a fight, but doesn't make the first move. She stands there and stares. Cordelia Chase is sitting on Giles' old desk, leaning forward, with her arms braced at her sides, and her ankles hooked together. She looks like the same old Cordy Chase, playing Queen Bitch of the high school like any of it mattered. On second thought, Cordelia was here. So maybe she has gotten her ass blown to shit and this is hell.
The soft focus goes away. Not hell after all, then. Fate's got to stop yanking her chain like this.
"What?" asked Cordelia, tilting her head and giving Faith a 'what's up with you?' look in the way that only popular girls can. Which means Faith is simultaneously wondering if there's some fashion law she's accidentally violated and resisting the urge to beat Cordelia's head against the wall. "Can't I appear in the middle of your near death experiences, or is that something you reserve for Angel?"
"Last I heard, you turned evil." Faith stays back. Too bad stakes don't work on half-demon types. On the other hand, they're not corporeal, so stakes don't work on anything.
"Last I heard, you turned good." Cordelia shrugs, like it's no big deal. "How'd you hear about me going bad?"
"Wes called." Faith mirrors Cordelia's shrug. "You let some major shit go down in L.A."
"Says the woman who helped Mayor Wilkins turn into a giant, people-eating snake demon," counters Cordelia. "Also, you totally ruined my graduation ceremony. Heavy weaponry does not accessorize. Period."
It's easy to act nonchalant, even if everything inside her is telling her get out, get out, this one's bad news. She's had a long time ignoring that, what with the kind of mom she got stuck with. Faith ambles over to the wall, leans her back against it, and crosses her arms. "We all make mistakes."
Faith's a veteran of making mistakes. Big, small, hell - literal and metaphorical - even apocalyptic, and more than once. She can name all her own, tell you why she made them, and tell you exactly how she is or isn't going to fuck up again. She's even starting to get an eye for why other people fuck up.
Score one for the prison shrink. Guy was good for something after all.
"Yeah, well, mine started when I thought it would be a good idea to turn part demon and get possessed." Cordelia gives up on bracing herself on the desk with both hands, and starts inspecting her manicure. It's pretty. Her nails are trimmed short, but glossy and polished. Faith isn't one for manicures, or anything but blood red fingernail polish. Cordelia makes this work, though.
"Something for nothing? You always ask to see the fine print. Always." Faith scoffs and shakes her head at Cordelia. Sometimes even with the fine print, you're screwed, but at least then you know it going in.
"Thought I had." Cordelia rolls her eyes and hops down from the desk. "This really sucks, you know that?"
"Because getting blown to pieces is more fun than turning into the Evil Queen Barbie of Los Angeles?" asks Faith.
"Ouch. True, but, still. Ouch. " Cordelia looks taken aback. Faith has a mental debate about feeling remorse over that one, and decides it's not worth it. " Jeez. It's not like you're even dead, so can you can it with the insults for those of us who are more comatose than thou?"
"I'm not dead?" Faith grins at Cordelia, who looks like she wants to smile, but can't manage it. "Score. Time for round two of Being on the Right Side of This Apocalypse."
"Do you ever wonder what it would have been like if you'd been on the right side of your first apocalypse?" asks Cordelia.
She's not trying to shove a knife in Faith's sore spots, but it damn well feels like it. Faith has played for both sides, in more ways than one, in bed and out. She went for Xander because Cordelia was out of reach. Out of reach and out of her league. Sometimes she wonders if Cordelia knows that.
"What do you mean?" asks Faith, and nothing shows, because she's always known how to keep her feelings hidden.
"Do you think maybe if I'd just let you get me alone, the world wouldn't be going to hell right now?" Cordelia's jittery now, almost chewing on her lower lip. Her eyes are casting off to the side, like she wishes she could meet Faith's gaze. Faith's never once seen the self-proclaimed queen of Sunnydale High act this nervous.
"Still not getting what you mean." Faith's eyes narrow as she looks at Cordelia, who's staring at the floor. Or maybe she is getting it, but she wants Cordelia to say it.
Cordelia takes a deep breath, and her gaze locks with Faith. "If you'd slept with me, not Xander, I'd have coped better than him. Maybe you could have stayed with us instead of helping Mayor Wilkins, and if he hadn't eaten nearly a third of the graduating class, things could be totally different right now. I wouldn't have gone to Los Angeles to try and be not gay, Willow wouldn't be the only lesbian to survive graduation, maybe I wouldn't be in a coma, and you wouldn't be unconscious."
"Oh." Faith stares at Cordelia, who's giving her a look that's supposed to say something, but Faith is damned if she can figure out what. All she can think is that maybe Cordelia's not out of her league. Maybe Cordelia never was, and they both needed to figure out that they could deserve something like this. Maybe.
Score two for the prison shrink. Maybe she'll send him flowers. If the world doesn't end.
"Just say something!" snaps Cordelia, flinging her arms up in frustration.
"I die in this apocalypse," says Faith, smirking at Cordelia. She moves, fast as only a Slayer can, and stops just short of Cordelia, whose eyes are wide with surprise.
Cordelia manages a startled squeak. Some badass half-demon she is.
"I die in this apocalypse," repeats Faith, more slowly than before, "we're spending some time in bed. You got me?"
Cordelia recovers and rolls her eyes. "Fine." She leans forward to kiss Faith.
All Faith gets is the feel of soft lips and the taste of raspberry gloss before she comes to.