Faith rolled over fitfully, trying to find sleep. The thin prison mattress offered little in the way of comfort. She flopped onto her back and stared at the gray ceiling of her tiny cell. If she wanted to be honest with herself, she knew the reason she couldn’t sleep. Every night it was the same dream. The same damnation for the things she had done.
For some reason, however, tonight was different. It was as though the part of her that was the slayer, the ancient line of warrior women that turned a trash-talking street punk from Boston into something of worth was warring with her human aspects. The slayer was trying to tell her something. She could feel it in the air. In her heart. In her soul.
Something terrible had happened.
She let out a long sigh. “Time to face the music,” She said to the emptiness of her cell. She closed her eyes, steadied her breathing and after what seemed like hours, she found slumber.
She stood atop the building, as she had so many nights before. Waiting for the inevitable conversation, she was destined, once again to have with her golden counterpart. She sighed as she heard the light footsteps.
Buffy came out onto the roof to see Faith standing there. She could hear a helicopter flying in the background.
“Here we go again.” Faith said, softly.
“Not this time,” Buffy said. Her voice was incredibly calm.
Faith turned and regarded her. She raised an eyebrow. Night after night she was used to seeing the blonde slayer in the same outfit. The black slacks, the black t-shirt, and the mango (because the great Buffy Summers would never be caught dead in something that was ‘orange’) over shirt. The girl’s hair was long and wavy last time Faith had seen her. Now, she stood in a simple white sweatshirt and a pair of khaki pants. Her hair hung in a straight golden wash down her shoulders.
Faith found it almost comical that she was so wrapped up in Buffy’s appearance. Having the same dream night after night made one take note of absolutely everything. Especially if the dream changed.
“You’re sorry,” Buffy said, nodding. “I know.”
“Just tell me how to make it right. How to make it better.” Faith said, her voice shaking.
Buffy finally turned and looked at her. “That’s why I’m here.” She stepped forward and took Faith’s trembling hands. She looked at them. “You’re strong, Faith. When you take away all the crap…all of the bullshit.” She lifted her eyes to those of her dark counterpart. “You’re a slayer. Just like I was.”
Faith heard the girl’s choice of words and furrowed her brow. “What…?”
“It’s up to you, now.”She sighed and turned toward the city. “Do it better than I did, yeah?”
“What are you talkin’ about, B?” Faith asked, moving up beside her. “I’m not the slayer you are. I never was.”
“No Faith, you weren’t.” Buffy offered. “If the world needed another slayer like me, they’d have called a prissy little valley girl with man trouble.” She looked at Faith and smiled. “They didn’t. They called a hardcore, cleavage flashing, slick five-by-five bitch.” She chuckled. “Exactly what the world needed.”
“I don’t get it, B. What…?” She looked around. The helicopter was frozen in midair. The sounds of the world were muted. “What is all of this?”
“It’s a goodbye, Faith.” She shook her head. “My time is up. I’ve done my part. Served my tour. Now it’s your turn. A chance to be what we, I knew you could always be.”
A sudden icy fist gripped Faith’s stomach and squeezed. “What…” She sobbed. “What are you saying, B…Buffy?”
“Been a while since you called me that,” Buffy said. “I’m dead, Faith.”
“Dead. Pushing up daisies. Six feet under. Paying the ferryman.” Buffy said, simply. “I’m an Ex-slayer now.”
“But…” Faith said, her voice trembling. “You can’t die. You’re Buffy fucking Summers.” Her head shook back and forth. “You did it right. You were the best of us.”
“The powers that be disagree, apparently. I met my apocalypse aversion quota.” She frowned. “Five, if memory serves. One more and I would have gotten a free set of steak knives.”
Despite the pain that she was feeling, Faith giggled. “That was pretty funny.”
“I’m here because you deserve to know, Faith. And because I need to ask you a favor.”
“Anything Buffy.” Faith said. “I’ll do anything to square things with you.”
“Promise me you’ll look after Dawn. They’re gonna need you in Sunnydale.”
Faith bit her lip. “I’m in prison, remember?” She looked into those beautiful hazel eyes. “This is where you wanted me. Where you thought I belonged.”
“You killed people, Faith,” Buffy said. “But…I have blood on my hands, too.”
“Look, B. We both played a part in Finch’s…”
“I’m not talking about Finch, Faith.” Buffy looked at her. “About a year before you showed up in Sunnydale…” She sighed. “I let a boy get turned into a vampire. I could have saved him…and I didn’t. I let him die.”
Faith was incredibly shocked by this. “What?” She wasn’t sure she was hearing what she thought she was hearing.
“His name was Billy Fordham. He had terminal brain cancer and wanted Spike to turn him into a vampire. In exchange for me, Spike agreed. He was gonna sacrifice an entire club full of people to make it happen. I hated him for what he was doing, but…”
“Couldn’t really blame him for wanting to do it?” Faith asked.
Buffy gave a small nod. “He was terrified of dying. I get that, I do.”
“But murder is murder.” Faith said. “I know the feeling.”
“If you get right down to it…” Buffy turned to Faith. “I should have been in here with you.”
“Nah, B. What you did?” She shook her head. “You just gave an asshole what he wanted. He was looking for the ferryman. You just walked him to the river.”
“Awful deep insight, there.”
“Hey, you started the mythology ball rollin’ B.” Faith said. “Point is, in your case, he wanted to be a vampire. Yeah, he didn’t really know the risks, but it was what he wanted. He got it. Someone neglected to mention that part where the slayer stakes out his grave and dusts him the second he reaches moonlight.” She shrugged. “That’s what he gets for not doing his homework.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “That’s unlike you, Faith. I tell you that I murdered someone in cold blood and you completely justify it.” She smiled. “The Faith I know would have called bullshit from here to Christmas.”
“Don’t care what you say, B. You ain’t never gonna be like me. You ain’t really got it in you.” Faith said. “I killed for the Mayor because he asked me to. Not because of some notion that I was being righteous or any of that shit. He actually seemed to give a damn about me. And for that approving smile, I was willing to do anything for him.” She shook her head. “You ain’t a killer, B. Yeah, you’ll beat the shit out of people, but you don’t really do the whole murder bag. At least, not the way I did it.”
“You never did promise me,” Buffy said, after a moment of staring into Faith’s whiskey brown eyes.
“I can’t B.” Faith said. “I’m in here twenty-five to life. I’m up for parole in fifteen years if I’m lucky.”
Buffy smiled. “Don’t be so sure of that, Faith.”
“I promise I’ll do what I can, B.” Faith said. “That’s all I got for you.”
Buffy stepped up and pulled Faith down, kissing her with all the passion and sensuality she could muster. “I know you’ve been wanting to do that since you got to Sunnydale.”
“Can’t argue with that.” Faith said.
“You remember what I said to you in Angel’s apartment?”
Faith gave a curt nod. “If I apologized to you, you’d beat me to death.”
“If you did, would you mean it?” Buffy asked. There was no condemnation in her voice. Just simple curiosity.
“Of course, I would.” Faith said, on the verge of tears. “I’d do anything…”
“Say it.” Buffy said. “Apologize to me.”
“I’m so sorry. What I did to you…you were right. I’ve heard the stories. Red, Xan, Tweed. They all say the same thing. You’ve been beat down and broken…” She began sobbing. “But I was the only one that really made you feel like a victim. You shouldn’t forgive me. Not ever.”
Buffy stepped up and hugged her. “And that’s why I do, Faith. Because of how you feel at this moment. No amount of my being angry with you will ever punish you as much as your own mind. You screwed up. I won’t debate that, but you have a chance now. You have an opportunity to get back on the path.” She pushed her to arm’s length. “You have to be a hero now. You can’t wallow in self-pity and guilt. Giles would tell you to have a stiff upper lip and soldier on…or some bullshit like that.” She smiled. “He might throw the words ponce, bullocks, and bugger in their somewhere. Still a little shaky on the British-isms.”
Faith smiled and wiped her eyes. “I’m gonna try to get outta here. Try talking to the Watcher’s council and see about getting back on the roster.”
“That’s what I was hoping to hear. Though, to be fair, they might be coming to you very shortly.” Buffy offered. “I actually got back in the picture with them a few months ago.”
“I’m gonna miss you, B.” Faith said. “I should have tried harder to be friends.”
“I should have tried harder, too,” Buffy said. She turned and looked over her shoulder. “Yeah, yeah. I’m coming, hold your horses.” She looked back to Faith. “Time to go. Take care of Dawnie for me.”
“I will, B. That’s a promise.” Faith said. “You were the best, B. Always will be.”
“Live past your twenty-first birthday, Faith.” Buffy waved as she backed away. “And you’ll have me beat.”
“Only two years and change. I can do that.” Faith said. “Bye, B.”
“Goodbye, Faith.” She pointed to her eyes and back at the brunette slayer.
“Even in the shower?” Faith said.
“Letch,” Buffy said, before vanishing in a blinding flash.
Faith sighed and smiled. “She didn’t say no.”
Quentin Travers tucked his copy of The Daily Telegraph under his arm and unlocked the door to his office. He slipped the keys back into his pocket. He kick-nudged the door closed with his foot, reading the front page article. He sipped his tea and set his cup and the paper on his desk before taking a seat in the large high-backed leather chair.
He set about looking over the reports from the Watchers in the field. So engrossed was he in what he was doing that the knock on his door physically startled him. “Bloody hell,” He said softly. “It’s open.” He shouted.
Nigel, a young, but gifted Watcher, and Quentin’s assistant stepped into the room. His face was a mask of solemn calmness. The stoic blankness, however, spoke volumes to the elder man. “Sir,” He said, stepping up to the desk, setting a manila folder on it. “You should read this.”
“What is it?” Quentin asked, lifting it and flipping it open. As he lifted the photograph on top of the papers, Nigel answered him.
“It’s the report from Rupert Giles. There’s been a…complication in Sunnydale, sir.”
Quentin stared at the photo. The image was of Buffy Summers, the only active slayer in the world, lying dead and broken upon a large heap of flotsam. Quentin found it strange that she had a smile upon her still face. “This is verified?” He asked, looking up at Nigel.
“It is, sir.” The young man fought past the lump in his throat. “Buffy Summers perished in the line of duty.”
Quentin set the photograph down and looked over the report. He was elated that Glorificus had been stopped. The world was at least spared from that catastrophe…but the price was too high. There was absolutely no love lost between him and Buffy. As far as he was concerned, the girl was belligerent, disrespectful and grossly undisciplined. She bucked authority whenever it suited her and refused to take parts of her training seriously.
But all of that aside…he respected her. She’d fought hard and well against seemingly insurmountable odds time and again and managed overcome them each and every time. She was a very, very effective slayer. She was very good at what she did. He couldn’t, and wouldn’t, take that away from her.
“Sir,” Nigel said. “What are we going to do? Miss Summers was the only slayer. She’s passed away once already. The line no longer runs through her.” He shook his head. “There are no slayers. The line is dead.”
Quentin slowly lifted his eyes to the young man. He absolutely hated what he was forced to say next. “That, my dear Nigel, is where you’re wrong.”
“What do you mean, sir?” Nigel asked. He was confused by that statement.
“There’s another slayer,” Quentin said.
“You don’t mean…”
“Faith,” Travers said, his tone like iron. “She’s our current slayer, Nigel.”
“But sir. She’s in a coma. She may never recover.”
Quentin sighed and motioned to a chair. “Have a seat, Nigel. What I’m about to tell you is considered classified. You will repeat this to no one, am I understood?”
Nigel took a seat and nodded. “You have my word.”
“Faith Lehane is not in a coma,” Quentin said. “She’s in prison. She is currently serving prison time for the murder of Professor Lester Worth. She woke from her coma over almost a year and a half ago. She had a…an altercation with Buffy and fled to Los Angeles. While there she clashed briefly with the vampire Angel…”
“Our sources say he’s…reformed. He fronts a supernatural detective agency of sorts, or so they say. She contracted out to a law firm called Wolfram and Hart to kill him. He somehow managed to get her to come to terms with what she’d done and convinced her to turn herself in. She’s served a year and some, where she remains to this day.”
“Are you…are you saying that our only hope lies with a convicted murderer?” Nigel asked. “Surely not.”
Quentin raised an eyebrow. “Desperate times, Nigel.”
“Are you seriously going to attempt to free her?”
“We are decidedly out of options, my good man. It seems we have no choice but to gain…” He smiled. “A little Faith.”
“Let us just hope we are not making a tremendous mistake.”
Rupert Giles sat on his sofa and sipped the brandy he’d poured himself. It had been a little over three days since Buffy’s memorial. And he was pretty certain he hadn’t stopped drinking or crying in all that time. The young slayer was the closest thing to a daughter he’d ever had.
And he’d miss her for the rest of his days. There was no arguing with that. When Willow had spoken to him about attempting to get Spike’s Buffybot up and running to take on the slaying duties, he wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
He couldn’t fault the idea. It had an incredible amount of merit, it really did. So he voiced his approval, remarking that it was a rather good idea. But there was a part of him that thought it would almost be a betrayal of the golden-haired slayer. She had earned her peace. He knew full well that was what ‘death being her gift’ had meant.
Buffy’s gift was peace in the afterlife. In his estimation, none he’d met before deserved to find peace and happiness more than Buffy Anne Summers. “You were the best of us,” He said, lifting his glass to the air in a toast. He drained the glass and sighed, looking about his flat. “None of it means a damn anymore.” He said, dejected. “Not me, not them…not a bloody bit of it.”
The ringing of his phone startled him. He rose unsteadily to his feet and retrieved it, dropping it before managing to get it up to his ear. “Yes…Giles. What?” He stammered.
“Rupert.” A stern voice said from the other end. “It’s Quentin.”
“Oh, Quentin…I was just…not thinking about you.” Giles said indignantly. “But you’ve pretty well shot that to hell, now haven’t you?”
“Rupert? Are you drunk?” He asked.
“Drunk?” Giles asked, smiling. “No. Smashed? Three sheets to the wind? Shit-faced? Indeed, I am.”
“Sit down before you fall and injure yourself. You survived five years as a slayer’s Watcher. That last thing we need you doing is killing yourself because you decided to get inebriated and bash your head on your coffee table.”
Giles fell into the chair at his desk. “Get on with it, Quentin. Expel me from the council so I can get on with destroying my liver in peace.”
“Is that why you think I’ve called you?”
“Isn’t it? My slayer is dead. The only active slayer is dead. The only other living slayer is currently serving twenty-five years in prison. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, old chap but the Watcher’s Council as a whole, is rather superfluous at this point.”
“You’re partially right, Rupert. But we’ve got plans in motion.” Quentin sighed. “I need your help, Rupert. We need your help.”
That actually sobered him up a bit. “What?”
“Faith is in prison. We’ve had our legal experts looking over her case with a fine-toothed comb. Right now, the only evidence that is keeping Faith in prison is her testimony and confession. There’s no physical evidence whatsoever. We’ve got a law firm on retainer that are experts at circumventing the law. We…try not to use them if we can help it, but they have some experience with our wayward slayer. We believe they can get her out.”
“What does that have to do with me?” Giles asked, fearing where the conversation was headed.
“We need you to be what you were. A Watcher. You will take over as Faith’s Watcher. According to what I’ve heard she’s been a model prisoner and wants to do right this time around. She’s even bettered herself on the inside. She’s attained her GED and works in the library.”
“Not what I would have expected from Faith, to be honest.”
“I agree. But it seems that we haven’t a lot of options left. Buffy was a superb slayer, Rupert. I know you cared a great deal for her. Despite my personal feelings for the girl and her attitude…she will be missed. I…I wish I’d have gotten the time to know her better.”
“It wouldn’t have made a difference, Quentin,” Giles said, a smile creeping into his voice. “She’s American. That’s enough of a reason to dislike her.”
“Nevertheless.” Quentin offered. “She was a remarkable girl and should be remembered as such.”
“Yes, she should,” Giles said.
“We need you to travel to Los Angeles and meet with the law firm we have on retainer.”
“Who exactly am I going to Los Angeles to see?”
“She’s the current vice president of a law firm that by and large are no strangers to the supernatural element. And they’ve had dealings with our slayer before…”
Lilah Morgan, turned in her chair and opened the large file cabinet behind her and pulled the drawer open, sliding the thick manila folder in place, before pushing it closed. She spun back to her desk and jotted a few notes on the legal pad in front of her before setting it aside. She looked at her clock and noticed that it just after eleven in the morning.
She nodded and slid the pen into the expensive display holder and rose from her desk, deciding to take an early lunch. The phone on her desk rang, indicating that it was the receptionist. She sighed heavily and, with all thoughts of lunch abandoned, sat and hit the button. “This is Lilah.” She said, her tone professional.
“I’m sorry to bother you, ma’am. I have a man down here that says you have a mutual friend in common. He says his name is Rupert Giles.”
Lilah furrowed her brow. The name didn’t sound familiar to her at all. “I don’t know any…”
“He said it’s regarding Faith Lehane.” The girl offered.
That made her stop. “Send him up,” She said, finally.
“Yes, ma’am.” The call ended.
Lilah turned in her chair and pulled out the keys from her pocket. She then unlocked the bottom drawer of the cabinet behind her and opened it. She sifted through the folders and pulled out the file with Faith’s name scrawled across the tab. She nudged the door closed and turned back to her desk. She spent a few moments reacquainting herself with the information.
A knock on the door caught her attention. She rose to her feet and moved across the floor, opening it.
Giles, dressed in a tweed suit, powder blue button down shirt and black silk tie stood in the doorway carrying a leather briefcase. “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Miss Morgan.” He offered his hand.
Lilah was a little taken aback but took his hand nevertheless. She’d learned long ago how to shake hands like a man. Women never seemed to be able to get it right. She, however, perfected the mostly masculine greeting. Giles was visibly impressed. She stepped aside and let him in.
“No invitation?” He asked. “Smart.”
“I’m a lawyer, Mr. Giles. In my line of work, you learn quickly not to trust anybody.” She said, neutrally.
“Just Giles, please. It’s sort of grown on me.” He moved over and took a seat as she dropped behind the desk.
“So you said that you had business regarding Faith Lehane?” She asked, eager to get to the point.
“Yes. I’m given to understand you know who I work for?” Giles asked her.
Lilah shook her head. “As a matter of fact…I don’t.”
“Are you familiar with the Watcher’s council?” He asked her. Quentin had informed him that she was to be his point of contact. He was disheartened to find that she had no clue who he was.
“We’ve been able to cobble together some things. We know that a Watcher is assigned to the slayer. We’ve also found out that there are girls that have the potential to be a slayer if the current one dies. Some of them have Watchers as well.” She shrugged. “Honestly, we don’t know much beyond that.”
“In a nutshell, as the Americans are wont to say. I’ve been authorized to inform you that the current slayer…”
“Buffy Summers,” Lilah said. “We’ve heard of her. She caused quite a commotion when she came here a year ago looking for Faith.”
“Quite,” Giles said. “She’s no longer a slayer. She met her end a week ago.”
Lilah could see the pain on his face when he shared the news. It tugged at her heart, it really did. Losing a loved one was never easy. “I’m…sorry to hear that.”
Giles nodded. The condolence was genuine. “Thank you. Now, as you’ve said, you know a bit about Slayer lore. When a slayer passes, another is called.”
“Given that there are – were – two slayers, I’m going to assume Buffy somehow died, but was resuscitated?” She asked.
“That is correct. Now, the slayer line runs through Faith.”
“But she’s currently in prison and isn’t doing the world a lot of good,” Lilah said. “That’s a hell of a dilemma, but what does that have to do with us?”
Giles pulled a sheet of paper out of his briefcase and offered it to her. It was blank save for a thirteen digit number across the center of the page. “That’s a contract number. I was told to hand that to you. You would be able to access some information and know what I’m on about.”
Lilah shrugged and powered on her computer. She typed in the number and was surprised. “I’ve never seen this before.”
“Apparently Wolfram and Hart has been working with the Watcher’s council for quite some time,” Giles said. “I understand your surprise.”
Lilah nodded. “So…what do you need from us?”
“We need Faith Lehane released from prison, Miss Morgan,” Giles said. “As soon as humanly possible. The Hellmouth isn’t going to guard itself.”
Lilah stared at him. “You must think our reach to be endless.”
“You’re a demon advocating law firm, Miss Morgan. You don’t get that clientele without having a few aces in the hole.”
She smiled. “You’re one devious son of a bitch.” She giggled. “I like you.”
“Miss Morgan?” He rose and leaned forward. “You have no idea.”
“Are you doing anything for dinner tonight?” She asked him as she lifted her phone.