Chapter One: A Gift for Faith
Asleep on the Frontlines
Chapter One: A Gift for Faith
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy or the X-Men. Any dialogue you recognize was taken from the Buffy episode 'This Year's Girl'.
Faith sat on the bed in her old apartment, someone had packed up her stuff but other than that the place remained untouched. She tossed the clothes she’d stolen from the woman in the hospital lobby into a dark corner of her closet and slipped into a tank top and a pair of yoga pants then she riffled through boxes until she found her big grey sweatshirt and she curled up inside it burrowing into its fleecy warmth as if that could banish the cold feeling of abandonment that echoed in her very bones.
The TV was still plugged in. Without any hesitation she popped the video she’d taken off the demon into the VCR and watched as the face of Richard Wilkins appeared on screen and smiled at her.
Faith felt as though all the breath had been knocked out of her as she realized that this would be the last she’d ever see of him. He was dead, blown up along with most of the rest of Sunnydale High.
“Hello Faith. If you're watching this tape, it can only mean one thing. I'm dead. And our noble campaign to bring order to the town of Sunnydale has failed. Utterly and completely. But on the other hand, heck, maybe we won. And right now, I'm on some jumbo monitor in the Richard Wilkins Museum surrounded by a bunch of kids sitting Indian style and looking up at my face filled with fear and wonder. ‘Hi kids!’”
Faith cracked a small smile and studiously ignored the choking feeling in the back of her throat.
“The realist in me tends to doubt it. Now, Faith, as I record this message you're sleeping. And the doctors tell me you might never wake up. I don't believe that. Sooner or later you will wake up, and when you do, you'll find the world has gone and changed on you. I wish I could make the world a better place for you to wake up in. But, tough as it is to accept, we both have to understand that even my power to protect and watch over you has its limits. See, the hard pill to swallow is that once I'm gone, your days are just plain numbered,”
“Now, I know, you're a smart and capable young woman in charge of her own life, but the problem, Faith, is that there won't be a place in the world for you anymore. By now I bet you're feeling very much alone,”
The choking feeling got worse and her eyes actually went so far as to blur with unshed tears as the emptiness she’d been holding at bay with rage and thoughts of revenge threatened to swallow her whole. Faith grit her teeth and held on to her composure. She would not cry.
“But you're never alone. You'll always have me,” the Mayor’s recording assured her. “And you'll always have this. Go ahead. Open the box!”
Curious, Faith rummaged around in the discarded case the video had come in until she found the box in question. It wasn’t very big, about the size of one of those boxes you got when you purchased really expensive jewelry.
“Don't worry. It's not gonna bite. That's my job,” laughed the Mayor cheerfully, “Go ahead. Open it!”
Tentatively Faith opened the box and inside she found a large roughly beaten looking gold coin etched with markings Faith couldn’t hope to identify. Faith raised an eyebrow at the grinning man on the monitor ever though he couldn’t see her.
“Surprise! You won't find these in any gumball machine! See, when you've been around as long as I have, you make friends in high places, and some of them owe you substantial favors. I thought long and hard about this gift and I hope you’ll use it because while revenge is an excellent thing, just hunky-dory, a second chance is even better. Now it’s of course up to you if and when you’ll use it, but if you do decide to cash it in summon Rata, the instructions for the ritual are in the box, and he’ll send you on your merry way,”
Faith ran the pad of her thumb gently over the faded metal and bit her lip. The token could be her ticket out of Sunnyhell and the mess she’d made of her life she could disappear and no one would ever know where she’d gone. The Watchers’ Council wouldn’t bother her, Buffy and her zombie gang would be content to forget her and she could just…do what? What could she possibly do? The only thing she’d ever been good at was killing things.
She could kill Buffy; she could take away everything the little blond Slayer loved and leave her just as alone as she’d left Faith. She was tired of it though. Faith had never understood how doing what she was made to do could feel like a burden, she’d never understood Buffy’s lack of enthusiasm, now she understood. Faith was seventeen and she felt like she’d lived a hundred years and without the rage to sustain her she just felt drained and dirty and done.
Idly Faith toyed with the token as she thought.
She could go after Buffy, and let the Slayer kill her, death was appealing, or even another coma. Basically she just wanted to curl up in a ball, someplace dark and soft and warm, and never move again. The Slayer in her, the part that insisted survival was essential, rebelled picking her target in Buffy and trying to draw up the will to go after her.
Faith the girl though didn’t want to. She didn’t want to move on, she didn’t want the only man who’d ever treated her like something other than a whore to be dead, she didn’t want to be lost and alone here or anywhere else. Instead of making her decision Faith watched the video some more. She let the Mayor’s voice wash over her soothing the throbbing ache of her grief and keeping her loneliness at bay.
She wouldn’t do anything that night, she finally decided. She would sleep here leaving the TV on so that she could be soothed by the familiar sounds of the father she’d always wanted and almost gotten. Then in the morning she would Hunt, Leave or Die.
AN: So there you have it, Richard Wilkins loved Faith enough to give her a gift for her instead of making her a tool and using her to exact his own vengeance on Buffy's hide. Of course he was still twisted and evil and thus not the greatest role model, ergo Faith will still be very Faith circa Season 3/4 for a bit.
Next Chapter: Faith decides to go for it and summon Rata.
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