SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for The Body, maybe a few eps after that, but that's about it, unless I have ESP.  As usual, I refuse to follow the plot, or common sense.  HA!  I laugh in the face of common sense - and then I run away.
RATING: R (language, and the subtext if you read into it)
FEEDBACK: Aw, what the hell,  e-mail me.
SUMMARY: For some bizarre reason, Buffy decides to visit Faith (*yawn*) in prison... Faith confronts her with the truth, and the truth hurts.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Buffy et. al. - Joss Does. The idea (and I use that phrase loosely) is mine, as are any original characters who happen to mosey on through.  Try not to reprint this puppy if ya don't ask me first, ok?

    Buffy awoke from her sleep with the adamant buzz of her alarm.  She picked it up, and heaved it across the room.  She rolled over, put the pillow over her head, and tried to go back to sleep.  Since her mother died, nothing could motivate her save for the threat of impending doom.  Impending doom, this morning, had decided to take the form of her little sister, Dawn.

    *knock knock*

    "What?"  Buffy answered hoarsely from her bed, not even lifting her pillow.

    "Hey, not to disturb you or anything, but don't you have class?"

    Buffy removed the pillow and shot a glance at her sister.  "Hey, don't *you* have school?"

    Defeated, Dawn looked at her sister.  "I'm not up for going.  You?"


    It had been hard to talk about what had happened with Joyce, and they took little exchanges such as this as their way of dealing.  Minor, meaningless chatter held so much meaning for the two - it was the only thing they had to resemble real family life.  Their mother had been buried for a week, their father come and gone.  They both were, if not in the literal meaning of the word, orphans - their friends were their family, and that was it.  Right now, neither one of them could even bear to look any of the Scoobies in the face - it hurt too much.  Like it or not, realize it or no, they had lost one of their own, and none of them wanted to come to grips with it.  They dodged the issue of death, even though they faced it day after day.  But, when death had a face, had a name to take away, it was different.  This wasn't a random kid killed by vampires - this was someone's mother killed by something more difficult to accept: nature.  Everyone buried themselves in something more productive: Giles and Anya in the Magic Shop, Willow and Tara in witchcraft and each other, Xander in whatever he could find.  Only Buffy and Dawn faced what happened, and only because they had to.  If they didn't, they would have dodged the issue as well.

    "Well, what're you gonna do today?" Dawn asked her sister.

    "Go through the gallery stuff, I guess - need to get things taken care of.  You wanna help?"


    "Let me get dressed - we'll go in a minute."

    45 minutes later, Buffy and Dawn were on their way to what was once their mother's gallery.  Buffy had already taken care of the vital things - insurance, money, sorting through her mother's things.  This was the only thing left to do.  She wasn't sure if she could handle it - she could barely look at her mother's insurance card without losing it.

    "I can't do it."  Buffy slammed on her breaks halfway there, spun the car around, and headed towards the Magic Box.

    Dawn grabbed onto the "oh-shit" handle above her head.  "Buffy - *what* are you doing?  God, you can't drive - this is a JEEP.  Box on wheels?  Tip over easily?  Rating of 1 on a scale of 1 to 5?  Mean anything to you?"

    "No.  You're going to Giles' shop - there's something else I have to do alone. Don't know why... I just, well... need to.  You can help dust."  Buffy pulled up to the curb and cut off the car, forgetting to even put it into park.  Dawn lightly put the car into park, and got out.

    Buffy opened the door, and walked into the shop, followed by Dawn.  Giles looked up at the tinkling of the bell, and when he saw Buffy and her sister, he stopped in total surprise.

    "Buffy! Is anything the matter?"

    "Aside from the obvious, no."  Buffy looked at Dawn, hoping that the remark wasn't misunderstood.  Luckily it wasn't, and Buffy continued.  "There's just something that I need to do, alone.  Could you keep an eye on Dawn for me?"

    "Of course.  You be careful," Giles said to Buffy as she left, asking now questions - he knew to just let her go when she got like this.  He turned towards Dawn.  "How would you like to learn the softer side of newt?"

    "Gingrich?  The only thing I know about him is that he has a really round head.  He kinda looks like Charlie Brown."


    Buffy flew down the highway at 90 miles an hour.  The driving did her well, though it made her think about all the arguments her and Joyce had over her driving skills, or lack thereof.  She smiled, thinking about her mother's paranoia, but then frowned when she thought of something that she had said to her.
*"You're a good mom."
"The best."
"No, I'm pretty sure the best moms let their daughters drive."*

    Buffy tried to shrug it off.  "I'm sure she knew what I mean - that I was only joking," Buffy said aloud as she gunned the gas, racing quicker towards Los Angeles.  She had seen Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley at her mother's funeral.  Why was she going back to LA?  She didn't know, until she pulled up at San Quentin, or as close to "pulling up" to the jail as you can get.  She parked her car this time and got out, making her way to the main hallway.  She did, after asking around, find out where to go to take care of visitation.  She was going to see Faith.

    "Why am I doing this?" she thought to herself after she got the paperwork squared away.  "What would Faith care about what happened?  She was... she..." Her thoughts were cut off when the guard opened the door.

    "Ms. Summers?  I know you didn't have a last name to go on, but we found her.  Come on."

    Buffy got up and followed the guard to the visitation room - it was cold, metal, and sterile, with a wall down the middle, divided into booths.  There was shatter-proof glass, and two telephones per booth - the guard motioned for Buffy to have a seat, and she did.  "She'll be in in a second," he said, and turned around and left.

    About a minute later, Faith walked into the booth, sat down, and looked up.  The shock, anxiety, and fear on her face was apparent.  Nothing was left of the violence other than the remorse, and Buffy could see that.  "Maybe Angel was right," she said to herself.  Buffy picked up the phone, and motioned for Faith to do the same.


    "Hey back at you," Faith said quietly.  "I know you don't wanna hear this, but... I'm sorry for everything I did - I figured I'd tell you know - you know, with the glass here.  You can't beat the shit out of me like this."  Faith tried to smile at Buffy, but what she said hurt too much to even get through verbally - facial expressions were out of the question.

    "I'm - I'm sorry too, I jumped the gun, and I was a total bitch.  You were right - you were the only person who could make me feel like the victim, and I hated it... but the only reason that I felt like that was because I cared... and you messed with that.  You completely fucked with me - tried to kill my friends... and my... mother."  Buffy choked up, sobs racking her.

    "B, I'm - "

    "You expect me to forgive you for that?  Well, for some reason... I have.  I guess it's just my mother in me."  Buffy smiled, but started crying again.

    "What's... what happened?"  Faith asked - she knew it wasn't her fault since Buffy only cried when she mentioned her mother.

    "Mom's dead."

    Faith slumped back in her chair, disbelieving.  "What happened?" she asked, expecting the usual: vampire, demon, an evil spell.

    "A brain tumor... it was removed, but... a vessel ruptured and she had a brain hemorrhage right there, on the couch.  I came home, and..."

    "Shit.  Buffy, I'm sorry - Mrs. S was a great person... she took good care of you, and she kinda took good care of me.  But... why are you here?  Why aren't you talking to Giles, or... someone besides me?"

    "I can't.  They all hug me and say 'It'll be ok' when it won't be.  It just WON'T BE.  I know you won't do that - you'll tell it like it is."  Buffy finally realized the reason she drove out here - she was sick of the coddling and wanted to hear the truth.  "I feel so guilty."  Buffy said this last part so quietly that Faith had to strain to hear it.


    "I couldn't do anything.  There wasn't a big, bad evil to fight, nothing to slay.  It just happened.  And she died alone, without me.  I should have been there, but I was sitting on a swing set talking to a robot."  She saw Faith's raised eyebrow, and shrugged it off.  "I wonder if she was happy..."

    "She died alone, B," Faith charged her, shocking her with her statement.  Faith's resentment billowed up in her like steam.  "Mrs. S. always took care of everyone in the group, including me, even after I nutted up and tried to kill her, she was still sympathetic.  She was the mother I never had, and you took her for granted."

    "What?"  Buffy asked in shock.  "I don't need to hear this."

    "Yes you do - you came all the fuck out here to have good ol' Dr. Faith explain shit to you, and now you're getting it.  You feel guilty not because she died alone, but because you LEFT HER ALONE.  You were off at college, screwing your boyfriend, slaying shit, and ignored her.  You didn't even pick up your damn mail."
    "I came home to save her from you, if you don't remember."

    "Yeah, and that was probably the only time all year that you popped in."

    "She fixed my Halloween outfit," Buffy offered up as a sheepish defense.

    "Oh, so you went home to have her *fix* something?  You went home for you.  Ever think about how that made her feel?"

    "Do you know how many times I've saved her life?  And this whole time she had the... problem - I was there."

    "Did you hide the truth from her?  About slaying?"

    "Yeah - for 16 years... but I did it to protect her.  She never understood why I had all those problems here, though..."

    "It's because she didn't know.  You didn't protect her - you made her worry even more - if you would have just told her, then maybe..."

    "Things would have been easier?  Yeah, then she could just pop up during patrols to check up on me like she did after she found out.  She could have been killed... or come under some evil spell... again... but, that's not my point!  I did *everything* for her."

    "Did you ever tell her that?"

    Buffy stared at Faith in shock.  "It was... she knew."

    "Did she?"

    "She tried to whack Spike with an ax once when he tried to kill me..."

    "You're her daughter.  She was supposed to wield heavy medieval stuff for you."

    What Faith said shook her confidence.  "You know, I'm glad I came.  Thanks for making me feel better about myself," Buffy said sarcastically.

    "Hey, that's what I've always been here for."

    Buffy got up to leave, but turned around to grab the phone again.  Faith picked up her end again as well.

    "Hey, no - I really am glad that I came.  I have someone I have to go talk to... but I'll be back later.  We have other stuff we need to talk about.  Maybe if you get good behavior, we could get a room."

    "I'd like that," Faith said with a smile.

    "Yeah, so would I.  See ya round," Buffy said.

    "You too," Faith said with a wink, replacing the receiver.

    Buffy did the same, got up, and left.



    Buffy was back in the cemetery close to the campus, the one that she had come to know so well in the past year.  Today, she wasn't here with a stake - instead, she was here with flowers.  She knelt and placed them on her mother's plaque.  She remained kneeling on the wet grass, not caring that it was soaking the knees of her jeans, or that it was giving her a cramp in her left knee.  She reached out and brushed some grass off of Joyce's head marker.

    "I went to go see Faith today.  You'd be proud of me - we talked.  No shouting or anything... I'm going back next week to see her again... maybe it'll help.  You never gave up on her, so why should I?  But... we didn't talk about the stuff that happened between us... we kinda talked about you."  Buffy pushed back a strand of hair that had fallen out of place and continued.  "We talked about how you were always there for all of us... even when you tried to burn Willow and me at the stake - but that was just an evil spell... like the candy thing, with Giles, and the handcuffs, and ugh!  But she was right - you were always there for us, even for the small things, like pushing "popcorn" on the microwave instead of "defrost" for Xander.  And you tried to kill Spike when he came after me... even though you *did* offer him hot chocolate with marshmallows... but... that was just you.  You were just... nice.  And... I don't think that I told you that enough.  Not that you were nice, but that... I appreciated everything, even though sometimes you were kinda out of touch - not that you meant to be.  But that one time that I told you that you were a good mom?  You know I mean great, right?  And... God I'm rambling... I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for rambling, and for not coming home while I was off at school, and for coloring on the walls when I was two, and for not being there when I should have been, and for not being home when you... when you died.  I know these won't make it up to you," Buffy arranged the flowers, "But they'll make me feel better.  I love you."

    Buffy got up to go back to the Magic Box.  She felt the wind rustle through the leaves on the trees, and the warm spring sun.  She knew that the flowers didn't make it up to her mother - they didn't have to.  That breeze told her everything she needed to know.  She smiled for the first time in a week, unlocked the car door, and drove off.