See Chapter One for DisclaimerSo Faith hates herself? Good. Fine.
After what she's done to me, to Riley, to everyone else….
Well, lets just say that Faith hating Faith should finally make things unanimous.
March 3, 2000
Faith leapt from the train, her legs moving in a blur as she hit the ground. Even she couldn't run that fast; loose gravel shifted under her feet as she slid forward, and only her superhuman sense of balance kept her upright as she crossed the ground in several long bounds, shedding the momentum imparted by the fast-moving train. Nearly thirty yards later she finally came to a safe stop. Her face impassive, she stood in the rapidly deepening twilight, watching as the last few boxcars zipped past, receding into the distance.
The train must have been doing fifty or sixty miles an hour, and she'd jumped off. She looked down at herself, taking in the long, lean lines of her body. Not a scratch on her; she was none the worse for the stunt she'd just pulled. No normal human could have done what she'd done. Big deal. A normal human would have had brains enough to just wait for it to stop somewhere.
She shrugged at the thought; everyone knew she was a psycho, a slut and a murderer. Why not add 'moron' to the list.
She shifted the shoulder strap of her pack, then checked the sheath that held her knife. The wicked-looking blade rode along her left side, where it was mostly hidden by her jacket. She'd found it buried in the bottom of the weapons chest in Buffy's room last night, back when she'd been Buffy. Despite what the older Slayer had done to Faith with that knife, there had been no question of leaving it behind when she'd packed for her flight out of town. It was more than a weapon, to her. That blade held memories, both good and bad. She kept it close now to remind her of the past; of the mistakes she'd made… and of the heavy price that some mistakes carried with them.
She gave herself a shake; now wasn't the time to think about that. Picking a direction at random, she started walking.
She was in a cityscape made up of blocky, grimy buildings ranging from only one floor to a few that were ten or more. Most of them were somewhere in the middle of that range, but they were all ugly. The only green she could see was in the tall stands of weeds that choked the fences surrounding empty lots full of garbage and broken glass. Where the hell am I?
Faith wondered dully.
She'd more or less been aiming for Los Angeles, but freight trains didn't exactly go out of their way to advertise their destinations. The fact that she'd barely been aware of what she was doing when she boarded might also have contributed to the faulty navigation. It wasn't a big deal.
She was in a city (or at least a really big town) that might or might not be LA. It didn't really matter one way or the other; she had nowhere to go and nothing to do when she got there. That being the case, most anyplace would do. Resettling the backpack, she kept walking.
The wind was gusting past, blowing her hair across her face as she walked along the side of the road. It was almost chilly, and it would probably get pretty uncomfortable out here in a few hours. Coming to an intersection, she looked around. The streets seemed to stretch off forever in every direction, and even with darkness falling there were plenty of cars rolling past, even a fair number of people out and walking around. A group of five kids in their late teens strolled past her, and she found herself staring. Man, I've been in Sunnydale too long; it's weird to see people who aren't afraid of being out after dark.
It was more than just that making her uneasy. For one thing, this place was big.
Just from here, she could see more buildings than what existed in the whole of the small town she'd just left. In Sunnydale there had been Faith, and Buffy and the Mayor, and that was about it. Everyone else was insignificant. Here, seeing how huge this place was and how crowded even this run-down section was… it was like she'd been thrown back to a time when she had been just another one of the countless kids living on the streets of Boston. She hadn't had power, then. She hadn't had anything. Now it was like that again. No one here knew who she was, none of these people knew to be afraid of her, and that made her feel small, somehow.
It didn't help any that she (or her body, at least) had been wearing the same outfit for a couple of days now. Her jeans especially were filthy; the boxcar had been pretty nasty, and who knew what the hell Buffy had been doing the night before. She had a couple of changes of clothes in the backpack… and all of them were Buffy-sized, packed when she'd been in the other Slayer's form. There might be one or two tops in there that she could wear, but she doubted it. What was snug on the smaller girl wouldn't even come close to fitting Faith's body.
She shivered, and it wasn't because of the chill. Faith's body; her real body. It was strong, and sleek, and beautiful… and inside it made her feel dirty. It had been different, when she was Buffy. She had been different, or at least she had been able to pretend that she was. Maybe it was just the way people had treated her. They had liked her, trusted her without hesitation. She'd been able to see it in their eyes, and it had made her feel strange, somehow. They'd never looked at her that way when she was in her own body; not even when she had first shown up in Sunnydale. Oh, they'd hung out with her at first, but mostly just out of curiosity; she was someone new and different, an exotic twist on the Slayer theme they thought they knew so well. Even then, there had been a wariness in them whenever they were around her; they had never really let her inside their inner circle. Somewhere deep down, some part of them knew she wasn't like them, or their Buffy. They sensed the darkness inside her, however dimly, and they were afraid.
Being inside Buffy's body had changed all that. It was as if she'd slipped off a dirty set of clothes and into something fresh and clean. It had let her see things in a whole new way, and it had shown her how the others saw her, too. Every single person she met had something to say to 'Buffy' about Faith. Every one of them, even people she could barely remember, 'knew' what a horrible, crazed, psychotic bitch that Faith was. Every one of them (except maybe that Forrest guy) was completely in love with Buffy. In their eyes, Faith was almost cartoon-like, a two-dimensional killing and fucking machine. Not a person, just the villain of the story, someone to cause a bit of trouble until the heroic Buffy got around to stopping her.
Which of course was exactly what had happened.
She'd tried, she'd tried so hard to play it their way; Buffy's way. She had to admit, when that worthless piece of vamp-bait at the Bronze had looked up at her with those worshipful eyes and thanked her, that had been nice. When Riley the boy-toy had been so gentle with her, treating her like she was made of glass even when he knew she could crush him like a bug, that had been… well, it had been better than nice, if a little confusing. She had known that her head wasn't quite together; but with everything that had happened, how could it be? Things had been coming at her too fast, from too many different directions. It had been time to get gone, and she'd been minutes away from doing just that. Until she'd seen the newscast, and been given the chance to be something she had never really been: a hero.
Stupidity; complete and utter stupidity, but she'd done it anyway. She'd gone to that church, she'd fought the vamps. She'd saved the people, and she would have won against the bloodsuckers, too--except for Buffy. The instant the other Slayer showed up wearing Faith's body, everything had changed. Faith had gone from hero to villain, just that fast. It didn't matter to Buffy or anyone else why she had come there, what she had been doing. All that mattered was that she was the bad guy, and so of course she was going to lose.
She had, too. Buffy won, just like she always did, though Faith's memory of the fight was a little hazy. Something in her had snapped at the sight of her old body, her own face, with Buffy's eyes staring out at her. The next thing she remembered was running away, down the aisle, out the doors, down the street to where she had hidden the backpack. Inside an hour she was on the train, and a few hours after that, here she was, back on the street.
Psycho, slut, murderer.
Bad girl, on the run. Story of her life.
Like she'd said; add 'moron' to the list.
She wondered why she wasn't angry. After being beaten again by everybody's golden girl, being forced to run away with her tail tucked between her legs, you'd think she would be feeling a surplus of rage and hate right about now. At least, that's how it had always been before….
Not this time, though. Now, she just felt… empty.
Faith walked through the gathering dusk, though above her the last rays of the sun illuminated a dark wall of clouds. Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled. It looked like it was going to rain.
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