“Is this truly what you want, Faith?”
From where she lay curled into a nearly fetal position on the motel bed, hair limp, straggling, and partly strewn over her face, hands pressed against her churning, unsettled stomach, Faith slowly opened her eyes partway, shifting them up to meet Giles’s gaze. She blinked, taking in his slightly tensed jaw, the serious intensity about his expression, and thought that he looked almost angry, though she could not figure out why he would be. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been drunk before, in the past few weeks. It wasn’t like he hadn’t witnessed this and even helped care for her before, without saying a word of reprimand or even voiced concern afterward. So what was his problem now?
Was this what she wanted? Well, she didn’t want to feel like undigested meat sloshing in the belly of a beast, if that was what he meant, but that was an unfortunate side effect to drinking the sheer quantity that she had, the night before. What she wanted at the moment was sleep, wicked strong painkillers, and one night without dreaming that didn’t come courtesy of being too drunk to think. But she didn’t have the verbal ability at the moment to put this into words, so she just blinked at Giles again without responding.
“I’ve been patient with this….stage…of yours, Faith,” Giles continued when she did not answer him aloud, his tone tightening. His hands moved to touch the frame of his glasses, but instead of cleaning them, as Faith might have expected, he simply straightened them on the bridge of his nose before returning his hand to his side. “I understand that this period of….this adjustment, in the…after…is difficult. For us both. But it has come down to this. This is it, Faith. Choose what you want. Now.”
Faith had not been aware that she had been offered a choice of some kind. She frowned, attempting to sit up, eyes still squinted, but then gave up, falling back against the sheets and mumbling her reply.
“What are you talking about?”
Giles’s voice was as steely as his gaze as he answered, every word measured and distinct so she could not help but hear, focus.
“If you want to have a meaningless life, a life worth nothing in the end…if you want to throw away everything you’ve worked hard to make yourself into over the last couple of years, every lesson you have learned the hard way, through work and sweat and effort, and everything you have fought to become….if you want to deny your calling, what you, of all the possible young women in the world, were chosen to do…if you want to turn your back on everything that the others have suffered and sacrificed, spit in their faces, and let them see that it was all for nothing, that you will walk away from it all and give up without even trying to make their suffering worth something… if you want to betray them and their memories….then you keep on doing exactly as you are, Faith. You continue to repeat your conduct of last night, and I will not stop you. I will not even let myself care, because it will be your choice.”
He paused, letting this sink in, his eyes never wavering as Faith’s face slowly paled, and she bit down hard on her lower lip, her stomach cramping worse than ever at his words. He watched her for a few moments, making sure this had hit as hard as he wanted it to, before he went on, his voice softening, but no less intense in tone.
“You are the only Slayer left that we know of, Faith. This is a heavy responsibility, but it is one you could accept. You could choose not to, and I will not stop you. But if you want to honor those we have lost…if you want to take up your calling and let them all know that you will not back down, that no ignorance or cruelty or evil of this world can break you….if you want to be the person each of them knew you to be, the person each of them respected and loved you for…if you want to help me track down the people who have taken their lives and our lives away from us and make them suffer for it…then last night must be the last to pass as it did. If this is what you want, Faith, then stand up, right now. Get into the shower, get dressed, and then come back out here to me. Because if this is what you want, then we have a considerable amount of work ahead of us.”
His eyes remained on hers, waiting, expectant, and for Faith, there could be no other response, however tempting the alternate might seem. A few moments’ hesitation, and then she stood, needing not to speak to indicate her choice.