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Waylaid

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Title: Waylaid
Author: Beer Good 
Fandom: Buffy, Wishverse
Rating: PG13
Word count: ~800
Characters/Pairing: Faith/Tara
Summary: Faith has a job to do. She's supposed to go to Sunnydale and fix what the last Slayer couldn't, or at least die trying. She shouldn't let herself get held up like this. It'll just get everyone hurt.

Waylaid

She dies in her dreams, like all those girls before her. She goes down fighting, so that's how she comes up when she wakes, arms flailing. Once she realises what she's done, she almost panics for a second. "Shit, Tara. I'm so sorry. You caught me by sur... It was my fault. I had a nightmare. I'm sorry."

"It's OK." Tara rubs her arm, a fist-shaped bruise already forming. "It's not your fault."

Somehow it hurts more that Tara doesn't blame her. Some part of Faith wants to yell at Tara to stop taking shit from people who'll just hurt her. Some other part wants to ask her what kind of idiot would hug someone having a nightmare, what the hell did she expect, she knows how strong Faith is, she's damn lucky she got off that easy.

Instead, Faith gets out of bed and looks out the window. It's still dark, but the sun will be up soon. The dream (the old vampire's face, his hands grabbing her head, the snap) is starting to fade, but it'll be back tomorrow night. For now, she's left with a kink in her neck that she can't get rid of.

It's been two weeks since Diana told her to go to Sunnydale. Her Watcher had been on the phone with the Council almost every day for weeks before stiffly telling Faith she was sending her across the country alone. There was another Watcher already "on the ground" in Sunnydale, she'd said, someone who'd give her "ample instruction in how to rectify this unfortunate mess." A lot of fancy words to avoid saying "You've only been a rather disappointing Slayer for two months and I can't stand to watch you die."

Well, fuck her. Faith had cashed the one-way plane ticket and spent it on leather pants, a fake ID and a three-day bender, and then for some reason (that twinge in her neck just won't stop) decided to go to Sunnydale anyway. Least she could do was check it out. Maybe even figure out a way to stop it, just so she could go back and call Diana a coward to her face. Greyhounds got her as far as Birmingham, and after a few days of hitchhiking she was picked up by a girl in a truck.

Tara, who's now getting out of bed, walking over and putting her hands on Faith's shoulders, hands that are sure and steady even though Faith tenses up, even though Faith almost broke her fucking arm five minutes ago. Tara, who can barely get through a sentence. Tara, who never asks what Faith is running from. Faith doesn't have to ask what Tara's running from, the pickup truck and the country-mouse clothes made that pretty obvious once she caught Tara clumsily checking her out. When she acted on that, she'd just wanted a warm bed for a night before moving on. She's got places to be.

They've been holed up in Tara's cabin for four days now. When they're not screwing Faith helps her put the place in order, lifting beams and chopping wood like a schoolgirl showing a cute boy her cartwheel skills, like all this strength the Whatever saddled her with is safe.

"W-what I said earlier," Tara says, holding Faith tighter, her lips brushing over that sore spot on Faith's neck. "I mean it. You can stay here as long as you want, o-or not. You don't h-have to w-worry about me."

Diana said Sunnydale is completely overrun. Nobody goes out after dark, people are killed every day, the vamps are going industrial on the whole town. Which sucks for them, obviously, but who the hell decided it's her battle to die in? Like that blonde girl in her dream who tried to make a difference and got herself killed, isn't one enough?

"I don't, huh?" Faith turns, and Tara's arms slip around her, soft and accepting. Faith grabs her upper arm, lightly, but enough to make the fresh bruise stand out. "You don't even know who I am. See this? This is what I do. This is all I'm built to do. And no offense, you're great in the sack, but you don't seem like the type who oughta play with fire."

And Tara smiles that sad little smile that Faith started noticing the day before yesterday, and says something in a language Faith doesn't understand. And the bruise is gone. Just like that.

Huh.

"That's what I've learned to do." Tara kisses her cheek. "Come back to bed? It's not even light yet."

Tomorrow, Faith tells herself. She'll think about getting back on the road tomorrow.