Spoilers: Pre-pilot for GG, and pre-s3 for Faith.
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS or Gossip Girl!
One: Bruise; Nate Archibald.
The air was cold, the lights were too bright, and she was absolutely lost. After fleeing Boston with her heart pounding in her ears and blood still on her hands, Faith had managed to blow all her cash on a bus ticket with a random destination. She had ended up in the middle of East Bumfuck, New York, with only a bag of clothes and no clue what she was doing. Luckily, she was still pretty sweet jailbait, and she now had some freaky powers to back herself up if it got too sketchy, so she hitchhiked her way into New York City. Which is how she had ended up wandering the streets at night, ignoring catcalls and shoving her way through a flood of people.
She was lost in her head, replaying screams and the sound of flesh tearing on a loop, so it should have come as no surprise when she felt her feet fly out from under her as something crashed into her legs. The cold metal of a car ran over her skin as she rolled over the hood of a stretch limo. Her head collided with the pavement, and deep down, she almost prayed that she would die right there, that everything would just be over for good. But as an unfamiliar voice swam through her head, she realized that she was still very much alive, and laying in the middle of traffic.
“Are you okay?” The voice suddenly grew clearer, and it became apparent that it belonged to a boy about her age. He was kneeling above her, trying to assess how badly she was hurt.
As she struggled to get up, the face of the boy became her only center of focus. He was totally gorgeous, in that way-too-vanilla-pretty-boy kinda way. “Yeah, five by five.”
He smiled, and for just a second, Faith completely forgot the last three months. It felt like… like if he could just look at her like that for the rest of her life, maybe she would be okay. But then she felt the warmth of blood dripping from her legs onto her fingers, and she remembered it all.
“I’m so sorry, miss.” There was another voice now, older, and a lot more terrified in nature. “I didn’t see you, really. I mean, Mr. Archibald, you know I’m a good driver, I just…”
“Really, I’m fine.” She cut off the guy; it wasn’t like she was going to sue anybody. She could use the money, sure, but she really didn’t care enough. “Just gotta get up, I’ll be fine.” Pressing one hand against the ground, she tried to stand up, but couldn’t quite make it. Her hand slipped, and she almost fell back again, but two strong arms wrapped around her tightly and held her steady.
“I got you.” There was that damn smile again. He lifted her up off the ground, bracing her against his body. “Do you want us to take you to the hospital or something?”
Hospital. That meant people, and questions, and having to stay put in a bed for days on end. “No. No, I don’t need any hospital.”
“You sure?” He was still holding on to her, and he smelled really nice, and he was probably getting blood all over his clothes, and he just was so good.
At her nod, he rushed on, “Well, at least let us give you a ride. You probably shouldn’t be walking after that.”
She wanted to tell him to fuck off, that she didn’t want any help, but something held her back. “I don’t really have anywhere to go.” Admitting that felt scary, and oh-so stupid, but the boy didn’t seem to mind.
“You could stay with me for the night. I mean, it’s the least I can do.” He slowly released her from his arms, making sure she could stand first, and then looked her in the eyes. “I’m Nate, by the way.”
She pushed through the smallest of smiles. “Faith.”
His place turned out to be the nicest home Faith had ever seen. The place had freaking wings, and maids and everything. After getting one of the said maids to put makeshift bandages on her wounds, he took her up to his room, and showed her how to play some ridiculous video game. She practically got his life story as they played, but she hadn’t admitted more than the obvious fact that she came from Boston.
She eventually realized, after taking a much needed shower, that in the accident she had lost the bag of her clothes, to which he responded by immediately grabbing his phone. Within fifteen minutes, two girls, a blonde and brunette, had shown up with a suitcase full of stuff trailing behind them. She hated being a charity case, but the blonde just laughed and decided they could play dress-up, and the brunette scoffed and declared that she would be even prettier with the right makeup; and somehow it was kind of nice.
Nate just laughed and watched as the girls twisted Faith’s hair into some strange up-do. For a while it was fun, but Faith had never been a girly-girl, and she eventually tripped over a pair of Louboutins or whatever the heck Blair had called them. Blood seeped through a fresh bandage, and they all stopped laughing at the sight of it.
“Maybe we should just call it a night.” Nate helped Faith off the ground for the second time that night.
Serena and Blair nodded in silent agreement. Serena lightly brushed a stray piece of hair behind Faith’s ear and smiled that same blinding smile that Nate possessed. “We’ll just have to finish our glam time tomorrow.”
Something in Faith’s heart clenched at that. They actually expected her to stick around, and more than that, they wanted
her to be here tomorrow.
Once the girls were gone, Nate helped Faith into a chair. “Sorry, they’re a bit intense.”
Faith couldn’t help but laugh. “Ya think?” She pulled a clip out of her hair and let it fall back into its normal messy state. “So, lemme guess, the leggy blonde is your girlfriend, right?”
Nate suddenly looked almost embarrassed at the question. “Nah, Serena’s just a friend. I’m uh, I’m with Blair.”
“You’re kidding! Dude, you are so lying to yourself, I saw the way you looked at her.” She had, and for some inexplicable reason it made her miss having those warm blue eyes looking at her every single time.
He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “That obvious, huh?” He collapsed onto his bed in a heap, shoving random articles of clothing out of his way.
“Yeah, very. At least she’s better at hiding it.”
The look of hope that appeared in his eyes was unmistakable. “You think she—”
“Dude!” She picked up a fuzzy sweater that Serena had insisted ‘really brought out her eyes’, and chucked it at Nate. “You’re so pathetic.”
Nate let out a deep sigh. “I love Blair, I do, I just…” He trailed off and turned to look at Faith. “Sorry, you probably don’t even care about this. You just got hit by a car and here I am going on about my dumb girl problems.”
“Actually I was just thinking that it’s nice to hear about someone else’s drama for a little while.” The words were out before she could think about them, and she watched as the look in Nate’s eyes suddenly turned a bit more worried.
“You’ve got drama?”
Faith briefly wondered how he couldn’t have figured that out by the fact that she was wandering around New York with nowhere to stay. “It’s no big. Just some things I needed to escape. Trust me, your girl issues are way more interesting.”
He seemed as if he wanted to press the issue further, but he held back; much to Faith’s relief. “So, there’s this boring wedding I have to go to tomorrow…” He grinned at her and flopped over onto his stomach. “I know we just met, and honestly, you could be a crazed serial killer for all I know, but you should come with me.”
For reasons she never could explain, her stomach did a little flip-flop at that statement. Not that she was planning to be the third girl in this guy’s crazy love triangle or anything. “Like as your date? I think your girls might have a problem with that.” She pushed through what she hoped was a believable smile as she waited for him to accept the easy way out.
With a roll of his eyes, he got up off the bed. “They won’t mind. I mean, Blair might try to kill you, but you’ll be alright.”
Laughter bubbled out of her throat. “Well, I survived you nearly running me over; I think I can handle Blair.”
He joined in on her laughter. “You clearly don’t know Blair.” Suddenly he stopped laughing, as if he had just realized something. “Oh, but you’re hurt. You probably don’t feel up to it.”
Shrugging it off, she simply replied, “I don’t bruise easily.”
The rest of the night went by before they knew it, and the more comfortable it became between the two of them, the more terrified Faith became. She was bad news, and she damn well knew it. And Nate, he was just so… Nate. He didn’t deserve her crap messing up his life.
Yet every time she thought about leaving, she stopped herself. By eight in the morning, she was totally exhausted, and collapsed onto Nate’s bed without a second thought. He laid down next to her, just staring in comfortable silence.
“Nate?” She started, unsure of what exactly she really wanted to say.
But before she could think of anything more, Nate’s phone went off with a text. Faith grabbed it and saw that some guy named Chuck was furious that Nate had been with a hot brunette in his room all night (that wasn’t Blair) and had neglected to tell him all the dirty details. All earlier thoughts were erased as she cracked up laughing.
After she had slept for half of the day, Serena and Blair came over helped her get ready. Blair supplied the dress, and Serena supplied the alcohol, of course. The dress was short and red, and it probably cost more than everything she ever owned combined. They all piled into a limo, doing shots and trading stories. It was completely surreal to Faith, and in the back her mind, she kept trying to think of ways she was going to say goodbye. She still couldn’t think of a good one.
The wedding was a blur of fancy dresses and drunken groomsmen hitting on her. She met the infamous Chuck, and through a haze of alcohol, she contemplated dragging him to a coat closet for some fun. But then Nate cut in and asked her to dance, and she forgot who she was all over again.
She saw him eyeing Serena for the thousandth time that night, and she laughed and shoved him towards the blonde. “Go! Have some fun.”
“You sure?” He looked nervous, like a kid on his first day of school.
She smiled brightly and nodded, but downed another glass of champagne as soon as he had left.
Faith drank and danced, two of her favorite things, and she didn’t stop until she could barely stand anymore. The room kept spinning, and through the din, she could hear a voice. Cold and vicious, and promising to end
her. She looked for Nate, but couldn’t seem to find him. She felt sick, and she ran out the room. Through the clouds of tears blocking her vision, her dress started to look more and more like blood. She finally stumbled out of the building and onto the sidewalk. She dropped into a heap on the curb, sobs erupting from her throat.
At the sound of her name, Faith snapped out of her daze. She looked up to see Serena sitting on the curb a few feet down, looking totally wrecked, holding her dress in her lap and wearing a man’s button-down. “Serena? What are you doing out here?”
The laugh that came out of her mouth was strangled, and it sounded like she was about to cry. “I fuck everything up.”
“Yeah, well. Welcome to my world.” She scanned over the other girl for a second time, and the pieces slowly fell into place. “So you and Nate, huh?”
Serena’s head snapped around so quick Faith swore she must have gotten whiplash. “Oh, god. You won’t tell anyone, will you? It would kill Blair.”
“I’m pretty good with secrets. At least, lately I am.” At Serena’s desperate look she continued, “So, no. I won’t tell anyone.”
Serena smiled at that. “Why are you out here? I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Chuck.”
“I just… I guess I bruise easier than I thought.” She hadn’t talked to anyone about her watcher and Kakistos, and honestly she didn’t really want to start now. But she felt the words coming out before she could stop them. “Someone close to me died. She was murdered right in front of me… and I froze. I didn’t do anything to stop it. The one time I needed to be strong, and I couldn’t do a damn thing. I just ran.”
“It’s fine. I don’t know why I even told you that. Just… don’t run away.” The shocked look in Serena’s eyes confirmed her suspicions. “Nate’s a great guy. He loves you, you know.”
“He loves Blair, not me.” She started unconsciously wringing her dress between her hands. “It’ll be better if I leave.”
A cab pulled up to the sidewalk and the cabbie rolled down the window. “You girls need a ride?”
Faith shot a look over at Serena. “You want it?”
The blonde made no move to get up and slowly shook her head.
Faith stood up and brushed the dirt off her dress. “Tell Nate I said thanks. For… I dunno, everything, or something cheesy like that.”
Serena nodded. “You gonna be okay?”
A smirk ghosted over her lips. “Five by five.”
She hopped into the cab and saw a crumpled list with dates and times of departure for trains lying on the seat. She unfolded it, and saw the word ‘Sunnydale’ in bold ink. She had made it this far, she might as well keep running.
“Grand Central. Got a train to catch.”