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And Miles to Go Before I Wake

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I’m pretty sure I’m not dead, but this is the nearest to hell I’ve ever been. Some people talk about their lives flashing before their eyes. What I’m gettin’ here isn’t so much flashes as HD, surround sound re-runs of my life.
Most of it revolves around her. B, Buffy, Slayer, The other half of the Chosen Two, the only person in this world who could ever understand me, and my greatest enemy. Yeah, I fell for a girl who hates me more than anyone else in the world. Fucked up, isn’t it?
I know which of my memories I’m watching right now. I’m seeing everything from above, like some vengeful god has recorded it all for me. I can see myself lying on my bed, blasting my music. I’m waiting for her, counting on dying that day. Wanted to go out with a bang. Guess that didn’t quite work out, huh?
B walks in, self righteous and angry. From the look in her eyes, I can see she’s made her choice. I could have sworn she stole the clothes she’s wearing from me, but B’s not that kind of girl. The Faith on the bed doesn’t notice Buffy; she’s too caught up in the music. That is, until B shuts of my stereo.
“Thought I’d stop by,” she says. There’s a hard edge to her voice, but there’s something fragile under it, something she doesn’t want me to hear. Fighting me hurts her. Maybe she cared for me, if only a little? No, that’s not it. She was probably just wrestling with her “slayers don’t kill humans” rule. Just go for it, B. I stopped being human long ago, back in that alley.
“Is he dead yet?” the other Faith asks, trying to needle her. The mayor told me exactly how quickly the poison worked, so I knew he was still alive. I was just trying to get Buffy worked up, that’s all.
“He’s not gonna die. It was a good try though. Your plan?” B asks. She’s confident now, ready to take me down. That’s good.
“Uh-huh. The Mayor got me the poison. Said it was wicked painful.” I answer.
“There’s a cure,” Buffy says, and the other Faith’s face falls. I’m a damn good actor when I need to be. I knew exactly what the cure to that poison was. It was all part of the plan. The Boss knew it too. He thought I could take down Angel and Buffy in one fell swoop. ‘Cept my plan was to have B kill me and feed me to her vampire boyfriend. Putting Angel in excruciating pain, that was just a bonus. I hated the bastard, but I didn’t want him dead. Buffy loved him too much, and to have him die again would break her heart.
“What is it?” past Faith asks.
“Your blood. As justice goes, it’s not unpoetic, don’t you think?” Buffy is bantering now. This is how she preps for a fight, volleying words at the enemy like the punches that come soon after. When she’s fierce like this, her eyes sparkle, and she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.
“Come to get me?” I said, almost a taunt. “You gonna feed me to Angel? You know you’re not gonna take me alive.” I had to make sure she killed me, didn’t try to bring me in alive. B had to be ready to go for the kill.
“Not a problem,” she replies.
“Well look at you, all dressed up in big sister’s clothes.” other Faith says. It’s not just the clothes. Buffy’s also carrying a bit of my attitude around. It’s scary, for me and past-Faith both. B’s not supposed to be tainted by me. She’s too good for that. She’s supposed to kill me but have no blood on her hands, because I gave her no choice.
“You told me I was just like you. That I was holding it in.,” she says. No, this is too far. I was angry when I said that. That was before I realized that I had to die. She’s not me. And she can’t become me. Other-Faith and Buffy walk until they’re close together, standing face to face.
“Ready to cut loose?” I ask her. This was our last fight, and I was ready to enjoy every painful second.
“Try me,” she says, and her world ring out as a challenge.
“Okay then, give us a kiss,” replies past-Faith. It’s one last innuendo, all for her. She punches me in the jaw with a wicked right hook. It felt like a lovers caress to me. What can I say? For me, fighting is like fucking. At the very least, it’s the closest I’ll ever get to it with B. Other-Faith spins and backhands Buffy. We exchange blows, punches, and kicks for a few seconds.
I’m not paying much attention. This scene has replayed in my mind so many times, and it’s always the same. The other me improvises, kicking a chair at Buffy. B nocks me into a couch, and I kick her into my flat screen TV. In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea. I loved that TV – it was a gift from the Boss. She hits me a few times, and I flip her over onto the ground. I try to hit her with my elbow while she’s down, but she rolls away. She jumps back up, but I land a good strong kick on her and she goes down. While she gets back on her feet, other-Faith puts her in a grab. Our faces were so close together that I could have kissed her.
“You aren’t getting tired are you? I’m just startin’ to feel it,” said other-Faith. I wasn’t talking about the burning in my muscles. I was talking about the buzz I get from a good fight. Fighting with Buffy, by her side or against her, only made it more intense. B slammed past-me into the wall behind us, and broke free. She threw me over a bar and onto the balcony, next to a large glass window.
She jumped over the bar, and after exchanging a few blows we both fell through the window onto the rooftop below. I gotta say, that hurt like a bitch. Before I recovered from the fall, she slapped a handcuff on my wrist, tying us both together. I would have preferred using handcuffs under far different circumstances with her, but you take what you can get, right? I thanked her with a punch to the face. She kicked me, swung other-me around using the cuff, and slammed me into a wall. We continued to fight, but she had the upper hand. I remember being disappointed at my inability to make our final battle last longer. She put past-me in an arm-lock, her face next to my ear.
“What’s the matter?” she asks. “All that killing and you’re afraid to die?” Her words are so far from the truth it’s almost funny. Past-Faith wiggles out of the arm-lock and flips Buffy over her head. With a superhuman pull other-me breaks the handcuffs. As other-Faith stands up, she picks up a steel bar. That’s when Buffy pulls out the knife. MY knife.
“That’s mine,” past-Faith sneers. The anger there is not a carefully constructed front. It’s real. That knife is my most treasured possession. I wanted to die, but not by my own weapon.
“You’re about to get it back,” Buffy retorted. I rushed her, smacked her a few times with the pole, and dropped it in the process. She fell, and as she got up, I grabbed her. We were on the edge of the roof now, dangerously close to death.
“Man, I’m gonna miss this,” said the other me. Those words were as much of a goodbye as I could give her. She broke free of my grip and plunged the knife – my beautiful knife – into past-Faith’s gut. Other-Faith gasped, and looked down at her stomach. “You did it,” she says, her words full of congratulation. Other-me sank down to one knee.
Wait. That’s not how it goes. I’m supposed to backhand her and fall off the roof onto the ground to make sure I die. Then she can take my body back to her boytoy. This isn’t how it happened!
“You killed me.” the other Faith says, with a grimace. She laughs softly, then collapses. Buffy stands over the body, and I see tears well up in her eyes. Something in her has broken. This wasn’t supposed to hurt her. I fell off the roof so she couldn’t blame herself for my death. B shouldn’t have blood on her hands, not even mine.
I’m horrified by what I’m watching, but there’s no way for me to turn away. I’m disembodied, floating over the scene. This never happened. This never happened.
I repeat the words to myself like a mantra, but it doesn’t help.
Buffy gets down on her knees and sobs over my body. Even though I know it’s not real, that this never happened, it touches me that she cares. The other me jerked upright, eyes wide and red.
“You kill me, you become me,” growls the creature with my face. After a moment, she collapses again.
B stands up, staggering. Lumps form on her face. It’s like something is moving under her skin. Her hair darkens and grows. She claws at her face, trying to get rid of whatever is inside of her. After a few seconds she stops, and her hands drop from her face. I want to scream, but I can’t. She’s wearing my face, my body. But like whatever just inhabited my corpse, her eyes are red. What I’m watching darkens, and I’m left with my thoughts and the blackness.