You Pull The Strings

Chapter Eight

Faith kicked her booted foot against an old decrepit headstone; it crumbled, leaving behind a pile of pitiful rubble. She laughed. It seemed poetic somehow. Everything she touched seemed to fall apart.

“Fuck, what the hell did I expect?” she mumbled to herself, not talking about the headstone.

She had ran out into the darkening evening, slipping into the shadows of the night as it stole the day away for the creatures she was born to battle against. She seemed to be doing more battling against herself these days. She always had. Faith had a dark place she would go and hide in when things got too rough for her.

She had found that it protected her from the endless beatings her Father would dish out to her. If she shrugged her shoulders and pretended it didn’t hurt, she could almost believe it. If she took the advantage away and didn’t let the world fuck with her until she’d done it first, she could cope.

She had tried her best not to hide behind her bad-girl defences with Buffy, and not to even look upon that dark place. She’d done a good job at keeping her emotions and pain inside. She had to, because once it came out of the little bottle she had all the hurt stuffed into, she normally did something stupid, and destructive. She’d just proved that. She had been backed into a corner emotionally and came out fighting.

Faith pulled her smokes from her jacket pocket and lit one. She inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out in front of her, fogging up the path ahead, watching it linger like a veil ready to fall, then dissipate into the night air. She closed her eyes, steadying her breathing, and felt the slayer inside take over. She could feel the growing itch of a tingle that told her something was approaching. She waited, feeling her muscles twitching and straining against the taut encasement of her skin as she held her breath.

She loved these tense few seconds. It was like the world came together inside her. She knew she was pure right then and there. She knew she was chosen. Then it all faded with the first tremble of lust for the kill, and she felt anything but pure then.

“You got one of those for me, Slayer?” Spike emerged from the shadows just as Faith opened her hostile eyes.

She steadied her racing heart and relaxed, to some degree. She would never fully relax around any vampire. Good guy or not. Soul or not. It made her wonder just how Buffy could stand being with Angel when there was still a large part of her - an instinctive part of her - that was telling her to kill him.

“What the fuck is the point in you smoking when you don’t fucking breathe?” Faith asked offered her packet to him.

“Well, at least I can’t die of cancer. On the account of me already being dead and all.” His shoulders almost imperceptibly slumped at that.

Faith moved closer to the blonde vampire, taking back her smokes and shoving them back in her jacket pocket.

“Not having a good day, blondie?” Faith grinned, realising that even if her life was a mess she was at least still in the land of the living. If that’s what you could call it.

She was still a Slayer. A supernatural being that made her stand out from the crowd, even when the crowd had no idea of the power and confidence she held within. She was better than the crowd. She was never going to be just a part of it. In a lot of ways she loved it. In other ways, she hated it. She was different. She had always been different, and alone because of that.

“When is any day bloody good? Anyway, why are you wandering around here looking pissed off ? You should be tucked up in bed with some hottie,” Spike chuckled, puffing on his cigarette.

If looks could have killed, and if Spike hadn’t already been dead, the look Faith threw him would have ended him there and then. She was sure the comment was meant as a jibe, even though Spike had no idea about her situation. She felt comfortable just glaring at him, but then decided that it hadn’t made her feel any better so she lunged and punched him right on his chiselled jaw before he had time to react.

“Shut the fuck up,” she warned, swiping the blood from his newly split lip from her knuckles onto her jeans, adding to their already bloodied state.

She looked at her hand as she remembered the wound there from her encounter with the knife. The bleeding had stopped but it was still a nasty, deep cut. She wanted to reopen it and start the blood flowing again to make her forget that her heart was bleeding more than any wound ever could.

“There really was no need for that. Psychopath,” Spike whined.

Noticing that Faith wasn’t paying any attention to him, Spike rushed at her with his fist aimed directly for her face. It landed. Hard.

Faith’s head snapped back and she grinned at the blonde vampire in front of her.

“You wanna do this?” Faith flexed her taut muscles and the two began circling each other.

* * *

Faith didn’t have any intention of staking Spike, she kinda liked him. He seemed just as fucked up by love as she was. He was battling his inner demons and the cards that life had dealt him, so she saw him as a kindred spirit, even if he was one of the walking dead she was destined to kill. Quite frankly, Faith felt no better than him in respect to the fact he was a demon, she felt they were alike on that front.

Faith was very much alive, but she felt dead inside right now. She certainly felt like a demon for threatening Willow. She hated herself for reacting like she was no better than the dark power that ran through the veins of the average vampire. Even though it seemed Willow had been filling Buffy’s head with lies about her, she knew it had been wrong to scare her the way she had.

“Bring it on, Slayer,” Spike encouraged her, his own smile giving away the fact it was going to be no more than a friendly brawl to let off steam.

Faith didn’t care how fucked up it was to just want to fight, to lash out at something that could take it. That could take her rage and give it back. She needed to let out her aggression before it boiled her insides and sent her permanently over the edge. She knew Spike could hold his own, and he seemed like he had some things he wanted to get out himself, so she indulged her aggressive side and decided to lose herself and just forget.

Faith licked her lips then rushed towards Spike. The air seemed to part for them, leaving them to their personal battles, in a void of almost serene blurring images of pain and rage. The sky above grew black, as the venom inside was unleashed, as the darkness inside was set free to the night.

They began a dance of fury and unrestrained turmoil, losing themselves in the heat and the passion of skilfully exchanged blows and blocks. Faith immersed herself in the feeling of her fists doing what they were destined to do, her slayer tingles scratching deliciously up and down her back at every sweep of her arms and legs.

She absorbed every blow with a smirk, the rapidly growing bruises taking just that little bit of pain away from her heart. She held back with Spike, dropping her defences so she could enjoy the sting of his fists on her face. She wanted to replace the emotional pain with one that she could understand. A pain that she knew how to deal with.

As the fight progressed, sending the two jumping, kicking and tumbling about the gravestones, Faith felt more of herself die inside with every exchange, every landed crunch and slap of flesh against flesh. She realised, somewhere in the back of her mind, it wasn’t really Spike she was hitting out at. It was herself. She wanted to hurt the person she was. The person she so easily became.

It was a big reason why she hadn’t challenged Buffy too much about what had happened between them. She didn’t see the point in trying to defend herself against Buffy’s accusations, because deep inside she felt worthless anyway, so she hadn’t been able or willing to stand up for herself.

And Faith had pride too, a shit load of it, so she wasn’t about to grovel for forgiveness and understanding for something she hadn’t done. She felt stupid and used. And on top of all that, now she felt like she had no hope in ever getting Buffy to see her as anything but bad. No hope in her seeing her as anything other than the rough and ready slut that took without question or remorse.

More than anything, Faith hated being or appearing weak. She had been weak by giving in to Buffy and ultimately being used. She had been weak to turn against Willow. She had been weak to just let Buffy stand there and accuse her of something she could never do to the girl she loved.

She had been weak to admit that she was in love with her.

“Come on, hit me harder. Fucking hit me,” Faith yelled, spitting blood out at Spike as his fists failed to hurt her in the way she wanted. He was growing tired after the fury of the fight.

Spike slowed his onslaught, realising that Faith was no longer hitting back or blocking his punches. She had stopped participating as anything but a punch bag. He held her by her collar as she hung limply, her arms hanging by her sides, blood trickling from the cuts on her face.

“Ok, this is getting sick now, Slayer. You’re not even bloody fighting back. I mean, where’s the fun in that?” He dropped Faith on her ass.

She leaned back on her elbows, running her tongue around her mouth, collecting the blood to spit out. She looked up at the puzzled vampire and chuckled at the wonder in his piercing eyes. Then tears began to fall. She couldn’t hold onto her heart and the torn feeling that was scorching the inside of her chest. Half laughing and half crying Faith swiped at her face, mixing the blood and salt in a smear across her bruised features.

“What the fuck is wrong with me? This is fucked up. I’m fucked up,” she sobbed. She felt her body beginning to tremble with the weight of her sorrow. “Why can’t she love me? Why did I have to do it?”

She was talking and thinking in circles, unable to hold a clear thought down. Unable to distinguish the various emotions running riot through her. Mainly because she just didn’t understand most of them.

Spike looked down on her, pity settling on his face as he watched the usually strong girl break down in front of him. She couldn’t take that. . .not pity. It just about stole all the pride she had left. All her dignity.

Faith got to her feet so fast Spike didn’t have a chance. Leaping forwards, practically screaming her rage, she leapt on him, knocking him to the dusty ground of a disturbed grave. Fear replaced pity in Spike’s pale eyes as Faith snarled, black anger rushing through her, ripping out of her chest from the place her heart had once pulsed with something other than pain.

She could smell his fear. The fear that this was the end. She didn’t care. She had lost the ability to care.

Raising her arm, Faith gave in to the dark and violent place inside her. Feeling the power and the merciless savage instinct take over her every function. Her eyes grew impossibly dark, Spikes features morphed into his vampire mask in defiance and she grinned.

“Oh, bloody hell,” Spike moaned and closed his eyes as she struck.



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