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i just wanna break you down so badly (you are red, violent red)

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Christmas lights twinkle in the reflection of Faith’s favorite knife. She can still feel it pressed in the side of her neck, where Buffy had used Faith’s own weapon against her. She can still see herself three days shy of today, hanging those stupid lights because she knew it would make Buffy smile. She swears that before she met Buffy she never gave a shit about whether or not someone smiled. She knows this feeling - whatever it is - ranks last in things she should be thinking about right now.

There’s a shattered remain hollowing out a home in her left thigh that makes her question how anyone could describe glass as delicate. Hearts are delicate. Glass cuts like a bitch. It’s almost paradoxical, how something can be just as easy to break as it is to weaponize. Broken glass gets submerged in a caution tape tornado, but packaged glass gets stamped with a reminder to “Handle with care”. None of this matters, of course. Not much of anything matters these days, but that doesn’t mean Faith can turn the thoughts off. It’s just white noise buzzing in her mind as she tends to her wound. Being a vampire slayer means quick healing, sure, but that doesn’t mean she should be jumping out of windows just for theatrics. Faith always liked to put on a show. Buffy had a knife to her throat and Faith kissed her forehead, for God’s sake. Kissing and bolting - now that’s something Faith does better than anyone. Well, she usually takes it further than just kissing, but it can’t be like that with Buffy. She’d be pretty damn proud of tonight’s performance if she wasn’t back where she always seems to be - a motel bathroom, a sink full of blood. Buffy dropped off some toiletries a few days ago, including bandages and a lufa (like Faith had ever used a goddamn lufa). Faith amuses herself with the irony of this as she wraps a milky, muscled thigh with gauze.

“What’s all this?” Faith had asked, shifting awkwardly as Buffy took in the lights draped around the dirty motel window.

“Just a few things I picked up,” Buffy shrugged. “I know you’re Little Miss Biker Chick or whatever, but I figured some amenities wouldn’t hurt.”

“I’ve never ridden a bike,” She meant to say thank you. Why hadn’t she said thank you? “Only bikers.”

Buffy offered one of those smiles that looked equal parts amused and uncomfortable, and it felt much more like a gift than anything in that basket she was holding. Christ, would Faith spend the rest of her life feeling like she won the lottery every time someone gave her the smallest semblance of approval? It was why she’d started working with the mayor, after all.

She catches sight of herself in the mirror, redness mapping the tender skin stretched outside her throat. What was it Faith said before she made her escape - “You kill me, you become me”? It’s quite the threat. Who would want to live like this? Not even Faith, but she doesn’t have a choice.

“You killed someone,” She reminds her reflection, dark eyes barely recognizable. “Accident or not, it happened.”

It’s better to be feared than to be loved.

Some dictator said that, right? Faith thinks she vaguely remembers the expression from before she dropped out of high school. The dude probably isn’t the best muse, but neither is the secretly evil mayor of Sunnydale and his plans to ascend into some type of snake god. Faith takes what she can get these days. It was stupid to think coming here would be a fresh start. Buffy had already filled the position of heroic slayer/martyr. It fit her like a friggin’ Cinderella slipper (fragile glass, not sharp edged). The only role left for Faith to play is the villain (or the assistant to the evil snake god mayor villain; eh, technicalities), so she takes what she can get. She can’t have Buffy, that’s for sure. Girl seems to think the whole world revolves around Angel. She would have chosen him over Faith any time, even before she found out Faith switched to the dark side. That’s just how it is - the heroes of the story find each other. The golden girl loves the haunted boy despite his past mistakes, even helps him make amends. The haunted girl is a side character, an obstacle. Storybook endings aren’t within Faith’s realm. She can’t make Buffy happy, but she can make her angry, and sometimes chaos blurs the lines so much that the emotions practically look the same. At least she’s making the blonde feel something. It’s a Pyrrhic victory, but maybe that’s the only kind of victory Faith will ever get.