Title: All Roads Lead To Sunnydale
Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to Joss.
In Canon: Five years post-'Chosen'.
She kind of wants to kill the happy visitors to the Sunnydale Perimeter National Landmark and Camp Park. Not like she did to Finch or the volcanologist or whoever-the-hell-else she's killed. Just sort of...make them and their laughing and their fucking camcorders go away.
She drowns their laughter and happiness and the sugar-sweet of the all Ameri-fucking-can dream in a bottle of № 8 and the happyhighnauseous feeling of chain smoking Marley after Marley after Marley until she wanted to puke.
She wonders if anyone will come this year, anyway. It's seemed like a rotating cycle, she and Xander have been the only constant. Dawn missed the third year. Willow and Giles have come sporadically, the first and third year. Buffy showed up once, the first year, and brought coffee and doughnuts like they were back at Sunnydale High.
But no one's talked to anyone else very much in the last year as far as she knows, and definitely no one's heard from Xander for months. She kind of wonders if he'll come and can't help but want to win back the wad she lost to him in poker back in October.13.00
When, she does puke, at the fence and into the hole, she feels better, but also that it was a waste of perfectly good whisky.14.00
"It's disgusting. You'd think that people would realise, at least, y'know, today."
She looks over at some Mellencamp-wannabe with facial hair that would garner pity if she gave a shit as he sits on top of the beat old picnic table she's claimed. "You lived in the 'dale?"
"Not as such. Came 'round near the end, wanted to help a friend out. Make up for some shit, atone, whatever. Pissed out." He grabs her cigarettes, knocks one from the pack and sets it between his lips in one easy movement before lighting it with a match that definitely ain't hers. "You?"
She takes a drag off her own fag and shrugs. "For awhile."
"A woman of few words."
She continues to stare out at the pit. She hears the dusty cough of a creaky old van heading up and turns to watch, trying not to hope it's Xander.
It isn't, just the short werewolf guy she knew for the four seconds before everything went to fuck. He sniffs the air and looks at her, sees her watching him and takes a minute to recognise who she is. He gives her a nod, she returns the courtesy.
Mellencamp snorts. "Should I be jealous?"
"Can't say I'd be responsible for what I did if he started humping my leg." She drags on her cigarette a last time and throws it to the dusty ground to the glaring ire of a woman and man to their left by about twenty feet.
Werewolf doesn't come around, hanging back by the van.
Faith looks at Mellencamp and pulls a deck of cards out of the pocket of her wadded up leather jacket. "Strip rummy?"15.00
"Well, Mellencamp, I hasten to say that's your cue."
He looks entirely incredulous. "You want me to take off my shorts in front of four dozen oddly-timed tourists?"
"I ain't totally clothed here."
"You've taken off your pants!"
"Personally, I'm feeling very exposed."
"You aren't the only one."
Her eyes flicked down. "I can see why."
"Let's just call it even and put our clothes back on."
"Pussy," she taunts, but throws his clothes at him. Shame, too.16.00
Mellencamp is sleeping, feet in her lap, as she smokes and drinks and looks through the bag he'd left on the bench seat that barely held it's weight. Mostly, she's finding food bars and grabs one, tearing it open and not realising how hungry she's been until she doesn't think it tastes too bad.
Her phone rings and she twists around, pulling it out of her still-bundled jacket. "Yo."
She grins. "Xan. Hey, what's up?"
/Hey. Just wanted to check in. Let you know I wouldn't be there./
The grin falters and she nods, finding herself unnaturally fascinated with Mellencamp's bootlaces. "Ah. All right. I wasn't planning on going." It isn't a lie.
/Okay. Good. Didn't want you to be expecting me./
/So, what are you up to, then? Inquiring minds want to know./
"S'pose that's why they call them inquiring," she cracks, half-hearted. "Just hangin', y'know. You?"
/Oh, same. Hanging. Well, more like floating./
She nods, gets what it means because she's been there.
Mellencamp wakes up, and starts confused-rambling. Loudly. "Baby? Why's it so bright in here?"
Xander, however-the-hell far away he is, jumps to his own conclusions. /Ah, Faith. Sorry. I'll talk to you later, call you back. Happy Home Wrecked Day./ Silence.
Faith closes her phone and shoves it back in her jacket while digging out her cigarettes and telling Mellencamp he's an asshole.
"Sorry for...waking up?"
She rolls her eyes and lights a cigarette and tosses the cigarette box, one left, at his head. "Fucking right."17.00
Werewolf's van pulls up again and it doesn't distract Faith because she's in uncharacteristically-animated conversation with Mellencamp. Of course, it's about weapons.
That is, until Werewolf sets a few bags and a cardboard carrier on the table next to her.
Her eyes light up at the food and she starts digging through the Jack in the Box bags.
Werewolf almost looks like he almost made an expression of vague amusement. "Help yourself." He gestures, to make it clear that he's serious, and sits on the bench as it creaks under his weight.
"Hey, thanks, man," Mellencamp says, snatching an Ultimate whatchamacallit out of Faith's hand, and a packet of wedges for good measure. "You gonna hump her leg?"
Werewolf looks between them and says, more to Faith, "Cured that."
"Sweet. Tibet? Africa?"
"Not so much with the haha."
"So, what," she begins around a bite of food. "You eat some brownies and making without the," and here, she does a rather good imitation of a wolf howl.
"More or less. But, y'know, more."
She looks up at Mellencamp and he's looking at her. "What?" She says it around a mouthful of food and a bit of beef falls onto her pants.
Werewolf seems like he might look somewhat shocked, if he felt particularly expressive, that Faith doesn't lay Mellencamp out.18.00
Faith's feet dangle off the table and her head rests on one of Mellencamp's thighs, an arm over her eyes to shield them from the late-afternoon sun. "How's the band thing?" she asks Werewolf, suddenly remembering he did that sort of thing.
"Rolling Stone says, 'Buckcherry, minus the talent'."
Werewolf shrugs. "Haven't used a new progression since the nineties." After a silence, he asks, gesturing to the pit, "What happened?"
She looks, briefly, at the pit. "Usual. Well, Spike. But, 'pparently, that was getting usual."
"Spike?" He waits for her confirming nod. "Huh."
"Have a feeling there's a whole conversation going on without me." Mellencamp is ignored
For the first time since she's been there, Faith notices people leaving and no more showing up. She sighs. Maybe she'll get some time to do this proper, anyway.
She looks up at Mellencamp. "Got any cigarettes?"
He lets the over-his-head conversation go, which she thinks is very native of him, and searches his jacket.19.00
"There are four things I like. And I have none of them," Mellencamp says, pointlessly.
"Cigarettes, liquor, sex and...justice."
"You a cop?"
He shakes his head. "Nah. Just like to do the right thing."
"When you don't piss out."
"That only happened because my friend seemed like she had the situation covered and I wasn't so sure I'd be a happy memory, seven years down the line."
"Seven years ago...no happy memories for me. Bad ones. Plenty of those." She looks at Werewolf. "You?"
"And, Mellencamp? The right thing? Over-rated."
"Worked out for me," Werewolf supplies, but it isn't really an argument. He's up the next moment, though, still carrying the grace of the wolf even if he doesn't howl at the moon. He doesn't bid them farewell, but he tells Faith that sundown is at eight.
"What the hell's it matter, out here?" she asks.
He doesn't answer, but he does turn around briefly and look at her and, after a second, he tosses her a pack of cigarettes--Basics, just barely better than nothing--and turns back. She's lighting the nail when his van drives off with the same coughing rattle.20.00
People aren't completely stupid because by quarter over eight, there are maybe three people left that aren't Faith or Mellencamp.
"I've known you for six hours," he says, looking intently at the glowing display of his watch.
She looks over his shoulder at it. "And I haven't fucked it. Surprise."
The last light of dusk actually falls pretty quickly, and the orange leads way to violet to a clean blue to navy and the stars and not-quite-full moon don't give off as much light as all those romance novels Joyce used to read said they did.
Mellencamp points it out but doesn't move to turn on his headlights or anything, and Faith pulls on her jacket and stands up, casually using the bench as a step on her way down.
"Looks to be your lucky day, son," she tells him, digging through the saddlebags on the bike that she bought in Oxnard the first year she'd came back. Xander had used to laugh at the story and the thought of him makes her pull a bottle out of the bag with more force than entirely necessary.
"You all right?" He's actually right behind her, and she should probably pay better attention because she's a Slayer and he could've been something big and nasty.
She blames Xander.
She turns around, and there are only a few inches between them so she fixes that and hold up the bottle. "You drink, Mellencamp?"
"Depends. Who'll end up under the table, here?"
"Both of us if you're real good." She brushes past him and opens the bottle as she stands up ont he table.21.00
She shoves the blanket into one of the saddle bags and whips the whisky bottle over the chain link and into the pit.
"What do you think is down there?"
She looks at him when he says it, but back to the pit just as quick. "What do you think was up here?" She looks at him again. "Just all that shit. Ain't like it's the mouth of Hell."
"Got that fixed, then?"
She's looking at the pit, again. "I don't tend to fix anything."
"You were hoping someone else would be coming, weren't you?"
"Knew he wasn't coming, anyway. And if you're gonna start that sappy shit, I can beat it outta you or you can git."
He puts his hands up in mock surrender and laughs at her.
She must be making real progress with the redemption shit, because she barely even thinks about hitting him.22.00
Her phone rings as the hour turns and she lifts her head off Mellencamp's shoulder as she answers it. "Yo."
/It's Dawn. I can't get a hold of Buffy. I know she and Adam are in LA, but no dice. Can you let her know I'm gonna be gone for awhile?/
She looks at Mellencamp and he's sleeping again. "Where you going, Squirt?"
/Just around. See the sights. Been cooped up with the studying and research mode so a friend's taking me on vacation./
"Who'sat?" Mellencamp asks. "Guy with the hair?"
/Faith! Are you...busy?/
"No, D. Look, I'll tell B about your bogus journey."
/Is it Xander? Are you guy doing your...thing you do every year?/
She sounds too eager for Faith's total comfort. "I'll let Big Sis know. Say 'bye'."
/Did he...have Faith?/
"Bye, D." She hangs up before Dawn can keep going and pointedly doesn't make a mental note to tell Buffy. Serves the brat right for prying. Which also makes Faith wonder when she became a prude.
Mellencamp is sleeping again.
Faith shoves her phone back into her pocket and stares up at the stars she never saw in Boston.23.00
She mounts the bike, giving Mellencamp a once over. "Room on this horse for two."
"Think I'll be good, McClintock."
"John Wayne was a pussy."
He shrugs at her with a lopsided grin hanging on his face. "But you can tame me any day."
She shakes her head. "Enjoy the sunrise, Mellencamp."
"The name's Pike."
She starts the bike and dashes it a few yards before dragging the tail around and heading back. She stops damn close, pulling a card out of her breast pocket and sliding it in the front of his jeans. "Faith."
She doesn't hear anything he might say over the rev of the engine as she takes off.