Before Faith says her goodbyes, she takes me aside. Says she’s heard about the whole singing thing.
“Look, man, I don’t exactly like getting told what’s going on in my own head, and I barely know you, and, honestly, you’re, like…” she trails off, then swears under her breath. The lady is definitely doth protesting.
“Sweetie, there are a lot of adjectives that could go there. What do you need?”
“I’m gonna sing something. You gotta promise not to laugh.”
As though I haven’t sat through some truly awful performances. “And you want me to read you.”
“Yeah. Before I go back to Sunnydale.”
“Well, is a capella hunky-dory?”
“Yeah, sure. Don’t tell anyone I know this song by heart, though.”
“The Smiths. It’s kind of my own sick joke to myself.”
She starts on ‘Girlfriend in a Coma,’ hesitant at first. By the first chorus she’s more Joan Jett than Morrissey. It doesn’t take an empath demon to figure out at least a little of the story, the way she bites off the line “no, I don’t want to see her.’ Finishing, she sits down quickly, shakily.
“Fuck, man, I think the Orpheus is still getting to me.” We both know that’s not true, but we also both know what it’s like to need a cover story.
“That’s some history you’ve got with her,” I say.
“Yeah. God, I’m glad I don’t have to rehash it for you. So, you gonna shrink my head?”
“Not exactly what I do, Dunkin’ donut.”
In most cases I’d do the shoulder pat, but I’ve gotten enough of Faith’s aura to realize she’s a no-touchies girl. I go for eye contact and she looks at her shoes. I guess I can’t blame her.
“You know you hurt her.”
“You still love her.”
“Something like that.”
“Look, Oscar Wilde was full of it. Each man does not kill the thing he loves.”
“So you’re saying that I fucked up, that I didn’t have to do any of it, that I’m the bad guy.”
“Parts A and B, yeah. Part C is all you. But I think you figured that all out yourself. You know you did her wrong, you know you did her friends wrong, and you know you’re not that person anymore, for whatever it’s worth.”
“What if it isn’t worth jack?”
“That’s what you wanted to know, isn’t it? You wanted me to tell you if they’d forgive you.”
“Not them. Fuck them. Fuck Harris, fuck Red, fuck the librarian. Just her. I don’t--” her voice cracks “--I don’t know what to do if I come back and she hates me. And she should. I’d hate me. Sometimes I do hate me.”
“Well, have you met the rest of our merry little band? Angel, Wes, that sweet little hamantaschen who’s driving you back to Sunnydale? They’ve all gone bad, bad, bad.”
“Yeah, but I was bad to start off.”
“Were you, now?”
“I don’t know, you tell me. You’re the mind-reader.”
“All I can tell you is that you think you were.” I pour myself a little gin. I offer her a glass and she takes the bottle. She knocks back a big swig.
“Been a few years, man.”
“Which means your tolerance is a lot less than it was, so give it back.”
“Fuck you,” she says, but she does hand it over. “I don’t even like gin anyway.”
No one really likes gin, I think, but it’s what was available. I try to get us back on track.“You were really smitten, kiddo.”
“Still am. I don’t know, it’s like a slayer thing or whatever. Like my soul and hers aren’t like anyone else’s and no one’s gonna be enough except her.”
Faith reaches for the gin and I stick it in the cabinet.
“That’s me. Now, back to what you said.”
Faith sighs. “Look, she was the one, okay? That night everything went to shit, I knew it. We were gonna have, I dunno, a life together. Like the whole package. We were gonna kick ass every night and go home to a real house with a real bed, and wake up together, and make pancakes with goddamn fucking maple syrup in the morning.”
“Planning for domestic bliss at 17, huh?”
“Look, man, I wanted that shit all my life. And she had it, OK? Right down to a yard with a fence. Her stupid mom even liked me. But that ain’t me, is it?”
“I mean, I don’t exactly see you as sapphic June Cleaver.”
“Look, Faithy-cakes, what happened, happened. I realize that’s a pop-psych tautology, but I stand by it. And I can tell you all of how you feel about it now, but I think you’ve got that covered.”
“Yeah, I feel like shit. It’s been, what, three, four years? And when I think about Buffy it’s like everything I did to her, I did yesterday. I can only imagine how she feels.”
“And so can I. Unless she shows up and sings for me, I have no idea how this chick feels about you.”
“I can guess.”
“Yep. You can guess. What-if is a fun game. And now here’s pop-psych thing number two. Turn that F into an S. What is?”
“What is is that I stabbed her and body-jacked her and tried to kill a bunch of people she cared about.”
“Well, you know, what happened since?”
“I know she died.”
“With you, avoidy-pants.”
“Well, more evil shit, then prison, then I helped get Angel to be Angel again.”
“OK, good start.”
“You’re trying to get me to say I’m not that person anymore, but guess what, that’s who Buffy remembers, so all my growth and shit is, like I said, worth jack.”
“It’s not worth it if she doesn’t give you credit for it?”
“Fuck this,” says Faith, and walks out of the room. I don’t stop her. Kid is in love. She thinks Buffy’s the one that got away, and are there ever songs about that.
I said the wrong thing. I get intrusive. It’s what people like about me. That and my golden voice. Now that song’s in my head.
There were times that I could have strangled her
Still I would hate anything to happen to her
Would you please let me see her?
Gotta love the new wave for it’s peppy miserabilia, huh?
Faith walks back into the room. I knew she would.
“I don’t know how many times I can tell you I loved her, Lorne.”
“I mean, you didn’t have to tell me once. As soon as you started to sing, pow! Big old pink hearts.”
“Look, Faith, you have to make amends. That’s hard, but you do.”
“Tell her, what, sorry for all that, can we date now?”
“Be her ally, muffin-top”
“Hey, my stomach’s all muscle.”
I gotta choose my pastries better.
“What I mean, Faith, is that being one of the good guys is as simple as being one of the good guys. You can’t control what Buffy thinks of you. But you can give her reason to trust you again. And then, who knows. Maybe you kiss, maybe you don’t. Up to her.”
“I just love her so much.”
“And it doesn’t take an empath demon to see it, Faith. I can’t say whether she’ll love you back, but she’ll know.”