Losing Her Way
A/N: OK, so I wrote the first chapter, and thought that was all the idea I had in me for this thing. But then it wouldn't leave me alone! So here's a second chapter, with more to follow. In fact, these two are really more prologue for the real story. Be warned, however, that I am getting my own bonus points on this challenge, so it's gonna get raunchy...
Also, Faith, Buffy, and all things Slayery belong to Whedon, all Winchesters and their friends belong to Kripke. This is the last time I'll say this, but we all know it.
Chapter 2- Losing her way
Faith was almost blissful in Sunnydale, despite the Hellmouth. Fighting with Buffy was incredible, exhilarating. Faith got used to the heady feeling of other-Slayer, but she still sometimes had to fight to keep a giddy grin off her face when they were in close proximity. And the fights! Better than sex, better than anything she'd ever felt. She played cool, tough, doing Dean proud with her swagger (though she didn't think about those people much anymore, not with the Scoobies, who took it for granted that she could and would fight), but inside she was wriggling like a puppy. (The story she'd told later, about asking a drunk mother for a puppy, was partially true: she and Sam had begged Dad when Dean started going out on hunts. They'd wanted something to play with and keep themselves busy, but Dad didn't want the expense, or the trouble of finding motels that would accept a dog.) She was a valued member of the team, and she and Buffy fought together so well. She even had a proper tree for Christmas, and eggnog and presents and everything! Not to mention how good a cook Joyce was...
She shouldn't have slept with Xander, she realized later that was her first mistake. There was a fragile balance in the group, a tightrope of sexual tension, and she'd broken it. (And not even with the person she actually wanted, dammit!) And then, of course, Wesley had shown up, and he was so restrictive that she'd lashed out reflexively, letting herself get carried away on the wave of 'the cool, rebellious one', and on the even stronger wave of other-Slayer. Which, of course, completely backfired when she mistook a human for yet another vamp, and put a stake in him. The look Buffy turned on her was one of absolute horror, and something in Faith snapped.
She scrambled up and away, just trying to get away from the scent of fresh death. A fog descended over her mind, not the eerie, logical calm she'd felt twice before, but more of a shroud of uncaring and forgetfulness. The next few days were a blur, with brief moments in which she wrestled control of herself back, like when she found herself nearly naked, atop an equally unclothed Xander, with her hands around his throat. She wanted to scream in horror, beg his forgiveness, even just stop hurting him, but the best she could do was fight to keep her grip loose until help, in the form of Angel, burst in to throw her off. After a few days, as if satisfied, the fog receded, leaving her feeling empty and lost, certain that no one she could turn to would want her back.
Wilkins was everything Dad wasn't- kind, caring, friendly, and utterly evil. But she didn't have to think with him, just put on a perky face and follow his orders. She was grateful for the chance to push away the might-have-beens, the questions she would never get an answer to. She knew deep down that none of her families would forgive her for what she'd already done, so she figured she might as well throw herself off the metaphorical cliff.
Threatening Willow was more of a game for Faith than anything, getting the girl's adrenalin up, giving her a scare. Flirting with Angel, trying to pull him away from Buffy or kill him, that was more about getting Buffy's attention, some twisted version of flirting with her that the little part of Faith that was still a Winchester hated. She reveled in the sick mix of emotions in Buffy's eyes as they fought on the balcony outside her fancy apartment.
As she climbed up on the ledge, ready to throw herself off a literal cliff, the faces of her father and brothers flashed in front of her face, frowning in disapproval. She scrunched up her face, trying to banish the images, then looked down, seeking out an escape route. A truck passing below gave her the perfect opportunity, and she braced herself, then turned, gazed deeply at Buffy's face, and threw herself over the edge.
In the coma, she dreamed, and knew she dreamed, as Dad and Wilkins fought, then sat and ate popcorn together, or Dean kissed B, then pulled back and shot her. She saw Sam, B, even Joyce with beetle-black eyes and nasty attitudes, and it all got weirder from there. By the time she woke, she hardly knew who she was, or what her purpose was. She only knew she was drawn to other-Slayer, and that she needed her to understand. The mayor's 'gift' gave her the perfect method.
All was going fine until Riley said those three fateful words. They weren't words anyone used towards Faith, and she didn't know how to handle it. She could feel pieces of herself grinding as they tried to fit together, to fit these new words into her life. Then she remembered it wasn't her life she was living, and the pieces flew apart again. When she saw her own face in the church, staring up at her with fear and hurt, she tried with all her might to obliterate it.
Taking off for LA was more of a reflex than anything- when the heat got to be too much, you moved. Finding Angel and Wes was just a bonus... at first. But somewhere in the middle of torturing Wes, Faith realized that she was sickened by herself and her actions. By the time Angel showed up, she was genuinely hoping he would kill her. When he didn't, she knew the only option was to lock herself away like the wild animal she had almost become.
In prison, she regained some balance, some sense of self out of the muddle of identities she'd taken on over the years. She told the prison therapist some of her childhood (though she said her dad had been a bail bondsman and game hunter- it seemed close enough), and just talking about it to someone helped more than she expected. By the time Buffy died, she felt she was ready to fight the good fight yet again. Sure, she ached like her liver had been ripped out through her navel, but she was ready to channel that into demon slaying.
But days turned into weeks, into months, and then Buffy was back, and how the hell was she supposed to feel? Pissed at Willow and Xander for not even coming to talk to her about going back? Pissed at Willow for ripping B away from her reward? Glad that B was back? Horrified with B that she was back? That week, Faith broke three pieces of gym equipment, and two inmates' noses. The next week she spent in solitary, and she was glad of the chance to rage and cry and try to make sense of it all. Her last day in solitary was the first time she admitted to herself that she was in love with Buffy Summers.
She tucked that knowledge away in a secret corner of her heart and went about her routine. She was a model prisoner until the day Wes showed up, telling her Angel needed her help. She acted immediately, shedding her time in prison as quickly as she'd dropped Grace Hunter. They made their peace in the car, and fighting by his side was more of a thrill than she'd expected. She also hadn't expected his new bloodthirstiness, but she kind of liked it. If he'd been like this when they first met, she knew they would have made a good team.
The syringe in the blood-junkie den caught her eye, almost glowing. She picked it up, and the whole plan blossomed in her mind in one lightning bolt. She was almost serene as she felt the stings, first the solo of the needle, then the duo of Angelus' fangs. She knew in her bones she would make it through this and see her loved ones again.
When she woke, Angel's soul firmly in place, she and Willow had a talk. They said their 'sorry's and hugged- a chick-flick moment Faith could have done without, but it felt good to start to patch things up. She agreed without question to return to Sunnydale and help with the latest, greatest Apocalypse.
Buffy was too tired and stressed to be upset about issues that were years old, but Faith was glad to see they fought together as well as ever, and even gladder to see that having Faith by her side seemed to perk Buffy up a bit. Faith tried her best to back Buffy up when the Potentials rebelled, but she couldn't help some pride when they nominated her to be the leader. Buffy's words of encouragement were just icing on the cake.
She'd had a bad feeling about the armory from the moment they made the plan, but she knew she needed to make a decision and go with it, needed to show some leadership. Seeing the bomb, being closest to it when it went off, she figured that was her just reward for rushing things.
It took her a few moments to realize when she'd moved from unconscious to conscious, mostly because the happy-floaty feeling of other-Slayer was close, and a hundred times stronger than she'd ever felt it. For a moment, she actually thought she'd died in the blast, and when she opened her eyes she'd see the Pearly Gates. Opening her eyes to Buffy's smile was almost as good, though. And when Buffy passed her the Scythe, Faith knew she wasn't the only one who felt that spark.
But Buffy was caught up in some angsty thing with Spike (that girl and the vamps, it was like she had a death wish or something), and Faith let herself be tempted by Robin, who, when you got down to it, was quite the hottie. She had an itch she needed to scratch after all, and Robin was about as far away from Buffy as you could be while still being human.
In the car between LA and Sunnydale, Willow had warned her about The First Evil, and Faith had assumed that if it came to her it would look like her mother. When it actually came to her as Mayor Wilkins, Faith nearly laughed in its face. She acted as though it had gotten to her, but deep inside she could barely believe how badly it had misread her. She went into the big battle with more confidence than she had expected.
The aftermath was a little trickier. Not only did all those other Slayers make her kind of twitchy, (though being around B made it mostly better) but they had to find a new place to live, what with the old town being a crater. They spent about a week at Angel's hotel, mourning those they'd lost, making plans and arrangements, and generally regrouping, then the core group (with the addition of Wes, who Faith had persuaded to be a Watcher again) headed for Cleveland, and the now-opening Hellmouth.
They found and bought an old boarding school, started renovating, renamed it the Joyce Summers School for Gifted Young Women, and started gathering the newly-created Slayers. (There was also the Jesse McNally School for Exceptional Young Men, mostly for family and new Watchers, which were sometimes the same thing.) Faith repaired her friendships with the original Sunnydale crew, and made some friends among the new Slayers. She even let Robin talk her into trying an actual relationship, with dates and everything. Aside from an occasional twinge of missing her blood family, Faith was feeling pretty good about life.