There are a lot of things she hates now- how the bloodstains never seem to leave her clothes, how there's a cross round her neck, and how she knows why it's there. Hates how her watcher is dead. Hates how she isn't. Hates how she's been sleeping in sleazy motels, coming back with dust on her eyelashes, and coughing up garnets.
She wishes they'd smile. The people she passes, children, adults, little old ladies. They avert their eyes and hurry on, and Faith loses a little more.
She cocoons herself, builds up a hard prickly shell, leather and flashing eyes and wild hair. Talks and dances and smiles and screws, but keeps herself ready to flee if she has to. Doesn't trust them, can't trust herself. Get some, get gone. Stake, move on.
"All good things. There comes a time, B. Thing about redemption."
Buffy leans toward crossbows. Faith knows this because you can reckon people by weapons. She always goes for the plain-vanilla stake, likes the feel of the wood in her hands. And the phallic symbolism isn't wasted on a girl like Faith, though she knows that Buffy would get her white-holier-than-thou panties in a twist over that.
She likes clouds. Indifferent to sun, getting too used to bloody, sweaty nights. The writhing, tumultuous clouds, bruise violet and grey soothe her, calm her pounding head. She likes clouds.
Hard bitch with a barbed wire smile and coffee ground eyes.
Faith likes Anya. Appreciates a girl who's upfront, who doesn't hide behind coy smiles and that goddamned fluttering. She's more perceptive than she lets on, and the pain in her eyes, the way Xander's voice cracks over her name, speaks for itself. Pity. And she thought he seemed like a keeper.
Where does it go? As the dust dissipates, eddying in the muggy night air, Faith wonders. Back into the earth? Into nothingness? Into the air? Is she breathing it now?
And with something deep in her gut she can't articulate and wouldn't if she could, Faith steps away from the open grave and shakes the dust out of her hair.
Faith huddles in a corner, rubies trickling down her hair, makes herself small and meek, and good. She wants to be good, do good, all the greetings-card crap Elizab- her watcher told her. She tries to steady her breathing (Faith, run! Run and keep running!), tries to hold in the choking, shameful tears, and to forget. Maybe, she thinks, if she is good and really, really quiet, this will pass her by. Please god, make me a stone. Look! At! How! Quiet! I'm! Being! Faith, alone and frightened and covered with her watcher's blood, cries.
The air grows hot and crackly, pressing down on the gray earth like a stifling blanket.
She looked into the abyss- and the abyss looked back.
Her problem, she decided, was that she didn't look quite enough like herself. There was an---an unfinished quality, like a half drawn charcoal study left in the rain. Yet also, something almost animalistic in the curious, wild-horse tilt of her head, the directness of her stare. Life, maybe. Yes, that was it. Life.
She huffs and skitters off, a whirlwind of stick-figure limbs and adolescent superiority.
"I don't know...that's pretty cracky talk. And I'd know. What it's like to wake up scared of your own reflection, not recognize your thoughts as yours. Feel like hell and LIKE it. Plus, all the screwin' around."
Cordy's...different, somehow. There's shades of the shallow rich-bitch she could once classify and pass by, but she's been replaced by something....deeper. And not just in a lame growth-and-actualization-and-puppies way, but....Faith can't understand it, but something prickles her skin and makes her want to run, get the hell out of the building, find a dark little hole and hide. Cordelia terrifies her.
Her first instinct is to run. Not to stand her ground, not to protect the nice stoned lady who just called herself a 'watcher', but to run. Run and keep running. She is suddenly very aware of her heart pounding defiantly in her head, her newly ragged breathing. The stars blink down, and why the hell isn't she running? She clutches the sharpened wood in her hand, runs her finger over its grain, clutches it because it's the only real thing left in a world she thought she knew. There is a dark alley. There is a monster. And there is a girl. Faith steps forward.
She wants, more than she can put into words, to have someone else protect her and be in charge, and make all the hard decisions. But Faith is older, and colder, and wiser than that. She knows that bad things happen to the people who try to look after her. She knows she'll never have a tight little posse, never have a real watcher who's there, prays to god she'll never have a 'scooby gang'. Giles is here because he wants something, and Faith has an idea of what it is.
Dawn. Faith never figured her reaction to the gawky scrap of a girl. On the one hand, she almost wanted to protect her from the big, bad world Faith had seen at half Dawn's age, to keep that goofy smile there if she could. But, at the same time, she sees the girl laughing with Willow, irritating Buffy, and it locks something in her throat, makes her fight to keep her hands from straying to her stake. She has everything Faith never had- Great mom, great friends, no confusing destiny. And- she feels crazy even saying it, but there's something about her. All fuzzy at the edges.
The blade of the knife grins guiltily at her