Old Faces, New Places
Loss of Faith
Chapter 1: Old Faces, New Places
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters contained within.
That would be Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc….
A/N: This is a sequel to “Faith’s Temptation”. I tried to fill in the back-story, but you may want to read “Temptation” first. You have been warned.
I woke up with my head poundin and my mouth feelin like something a Gavrok demon used for a nest. There’s a bright light shinin in my eyes and it feels like my skull is gonna crack in two. I slammed my eyes closed again just tryin to get the pain to stop for a little while and when I crack them open again I notice the bars on the window. Glancing around I see the single toilet, barred doorway and other cot. Shit. I close my eyes again, but not cause I realized I’m in a jail cell. I’ve woke up in quite a few of them lately. Nah, I don’t wanna see the person sittin on the other cot. That part of my life is supposed to be over.
“What’re you doin here?” I ask, still with my eyes closed. “And how did ya find me?”
“It wasn’t that hard, Faith,” he says quietly. “I just followed the news reports of a raging, super hot chick, whose MO is to get drunk, trash the bar she’s in, then allow herself to be arrested without a fight. Getting kicked out of four towns in two months has gotta be some kind of record. Maybe not a World Record or anything, but still impressive.”
I slowly open my eyes to see Xander givin me his lopsided grin. There’s more than a little sympathy in his look. It’s more than I can take right now. I don’t want his or anyone else’s sympathy. I just wanna be left alone. “You still didn’t say why you’re here,” I tell him. I slowly start sittin up and just allow the pain to run through me. I do that a lot, I welcome the pain, and I deserve the pain. I don’t think I’ll ever not be in pain again.
“Well, despite your best efforts to stay off the radar,” he says with more than a little sarcasm, “I needed to find you because I think we have a problem.”
I’m sittin up now with my head in my hands and I let out a sigh. “Look Xand, I told ya when I left, I’m done. I don’t care what’s goin on back there. I am NOT goin back. Let your new girl take care of it. I died, she was called, and it’s her ballgame now. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. Get me?”
“Yeah, about that,” he starts off slowly. “I don’t want the ‘new girl’, her name is Shannon by the way, I don’t want her to handle this. And I really don’t think you will either.” He’s lookin around the cell tryin to avoid my eyes and I just know I’m not gonna like the answer to my next question.
“What’s the deal? She not up for the yearly apocalypse?” I ask him. My head is starting to feel better. That’s the thing with slayer healin. As hard as I try to beat my body down, it just keeps on bouncing back. Maybe I shoulda let a vamp or demon take me out one night. I’ve thought about it often enough, but just can’t seem to let it happen. I dunno, it’s like I don’t wanna disappoint B or something. She’d never just roll over. Suicide by demon just wasn’t her style. I couldn’t save her but I’ll be damned if I piss on her memory like that.
“Alright Xand,” I say, “It’s been great to see ya and all, but you and Red can handle whatever is goin on in Sunnyhell. Give the new chick a chance. I’m sure she’ll be able to take care of business. Especially with the Council and Giles backin her play.” That last part was said with a venom I thought I had gotten rid of. Just the thought of Giles still makes me wanna hurt something. That’s what usually ends me up in places like this. I’ll be out tryin to drown the memories and pain, then somethin’ll give me a flash back. A word, a phrase, a look, something. And I’ll just go ballistic. I haven’t seriously hurt anyone yet, but I think it’s just a matter of time till I do. That’s why I keep movin, I’m tryin to get away from the memories. Maybe I could run into a bear or something. They got bears in California? That’d be a wicked ass fight.
Xand is lookin at me finally and it seems like he doesn’t really wanna tell me what’s goin on. He’s gotta know I’m just gonna take off as soon as they let me outta here. “Faith, I need you to listen to me,” now his voice is low and serious. “Let’s get you out of here. We’ll go get some breakfast and I’ll tell you everything. Then you make up your mind. One thing I can tell you is that I haven’t told Giles or Shannon anything about this. I didn’t even tell Willow. If what I think is going on, is really going on, then it’ll be just you and me. They can’t know anything about it.”
Alright, I’ll admit it. He had me pretty curious now. What could possibly be goin on that would keep Xand from clueing up the super friends? He turned to the cell door and called to the guard to let us out. I guess he already paid my fines cause we went straight to booking and I was outta there in like fifteen minutes. We start down the street to where Xand had his uncle’s car parked. I’m still a little hung-over but the fresh air is sobering me up quick and the thought of food has my stomach growling.
“Good to hear some things haven’t changed,” He says to me and now he’s almost laughing.
“Yea, well the promise of food is the only reason I’m still here, so count your blessings,” I said back while getting into the car.
We drove down to a Denny’s and went in. Xander must of remembered how much I could eat cause he ordered the all you can eat buffet without even askin me. I loaded up a coupla of plates and we went over to a booth to sit. Xand was just havin coffee and I raised an eyebrow at him. “You not havin any,” I asked?
“Nah, I ate earlier when I hit town. Beside I’ve seen you eat before and it does nothing for the appetite,” he said. Okay now he’s just being a smartass and he’s sittin there grinning at me like a fool. “It really is good to see you, Faith,” he says. “But you do look like shit. What have you been doing? You look like you lost about twenty pounds and nothing personal but you could really use a bath.”
“Takin care hasn’t been real high on the priority list, ya know?” I said back as I started in on the food. I can’t remember the last big meal I had. All I been doin is drinkin, fightin and movin on. I’d shack up with whoever I could for a coupla days, then blow them off and move on. Not really livin, just driftin.
“You can’t keep beating yourself up over what happened,” he says to me. Xand’s got that look in his eyes again. The one that lets me know he understands what I’m doin and why. Of all the people I met in Sunnydale, except maybe Buffy, he somehow got what I was going through. Even while bein in the inner circle of the Scooby gang, he knew what it was like to be an outsider, to be different. I woulda bet money on anyone else getting it except him, and woulda been wrong. Nobody got what losin Buffy meant to me. No one except the Zeppo here.
“How’s Joyce doin?” I ask him while shovelin food in my mouth.
“She misses you,” he says. “And is worried about you, but she’s holding up alright. She’s got the gallery to keep her busy and Giles has been good for her.”
I’m still pissed at Giles, but if he’s takin care of Joyce that buys him a little slack. Not a lot, but some. If I ever hear he’s hurt her though, all that slack goes out the window and me and him are gonna have more than words over it. He’ll be sortin his books with casts on both arms and from a wheelchair.
“Don’t get that look,” Xander says. “Giles is being very good to Joyce. He loves her Faith, and don’t worry, he’s never going to hurt her. So just cool it with the pain inducing thoughts, got it?”
“When the hell did you get to read me so well?” I ask him with a grin.
“You might not have noticed,” he says with a smile, “But I spent a lot of time watching you. I know you were just now thinking of doing very bad things to Giles if he hurt Joyce. And I’m telling you, it’s never going to happen. So just relax, okay?”
That brought the first real smile I’ve had in weeks to my lips. “Yea, okay. But I reserve the right to creatively hurt him if you’re wrong,” I tell him.
“It’s a deal because I’m never wrong,” he laughs.
Xand’s sitting there watching me eat, so to fill the silence I ask, “How’re you and Cordy doin?”
That question kinda wipes the last of the smile from his face. “Cord’s doing okay I guess. Her dad got into some trouble with the IRS so she’s not quite as snobby as she used to be. And there’s really no ‘me and Cordy’ anymore.” He says with a shrug. “Things just didn’t work out. We were from two totally different places and it was good for awhile, but I kinda knew it wouldn’t last.”
“Shit, I’m sorry man,” I said and I meant it too. Xander deserved a little happy in his life. His home life wasn’t so great and I know firsthand how shitty that can be. “How bout Red and wolfboy?” I ask next. “They still all hot and heavy?”
“Oz, got involved with some girl named Veruca that came to town,” he tells me. I coulda sworn that Red and Oz were the real, always and forever, deal. Damn, it’s a wonder Red didn’t turn them both into frogs or tadpoles or somethin.
He musta been able to see the surprise on my face cause he says, “Willow was going to throw the mojo on her, but came to her senses. I think it would have led her to a really bad place if she went through with it. Anyway,” he continues, “Veruca was in a band and happened to be a werewolf too. Willow tried to work it out with Oz afterward, but he has this crazy idea that he needs to get control of his beast before they can give it another shot. So he packed his stuff and took off. I think he said something about Tibet, but I’m not sure. Willow took it pretty hard and spends most of her time with Shannon now. They seem to be getting really close,” he finished. He’s looking at me like there might be more to that story, but I don’t wanna get into it right now.
I finished off the food and sit back to light a cigarette and ask him, “Xander, it’s been great playin catch-up. I appreciate the food and company and all, but are ya gonna tell me why you’re here or not?”
I had just lit my Zippo and was bringing it up to light my smoke when I notice him staring. Not at me, but at the flame. I can see two small reflections of the flame in his eyes and realize that the reflections are from his eyes tearing up. What the hell? I look from him to the lighter and back again and a terrible thought suddenly surfaces in my mind. What would have Xander bail on his friends to track me down? What could possibly be so important that he wouldn’t tell anyone but me? Why would just the sight of my lighter be enough to almost bring him to tears?
My lighter. The one I used to burn the crypt and cover up what happened to B. The same one that Buffy gave back to me later that night in my motel room. My lighter. The one I threw into the crypt, and made the crypt into an inferno hot enough to destroy all evidence of Buffy being turned into a vampire. Shit, shit, shit. Why didn’t I think of this before? How the hell was she able to get my lighter out of there? Even if she was standin right there watchin me, the place was blazing before she coulda gone in. How the hell was she able to survive inside? And if she survived that, could she of survived what happened at the pier? Could she of lasted just long enough to jump into the ocean? No! It can’t be. There’s no fuckin way this can be happenin.
I feel my own eyes tearin up and my voice cracks as I growl out, “Xander, no more fuckin around. You tell me what’s goin on and you tell me now.”