Chapter Eight


"Fleeting visits pass
Still they satisfy
Reminders of the next
Overshadow goodbye . . .

Here we are again saying goodbye
Still we'll fall asleep underneath the same sky"
-- The Nixons, "Sister"


When Faith had returned to her cell that day, she felt as if a large weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.

Did Buffy believe that she was sorry? Not yet . . .

. Did Buffy accept her apology? Not yet . . . .

Did Buffy forgive her? Not yet . . . .

But maybe someday . . . and that was all that Faith needed.


Two weeks had now passed since Buffy's visit. Faith had been in really good spirits for a few days following the visit. She figured that it had something to do with the little bit of closure that she got from their talk.

Even her sleep seemed to be affected. For those few days she wasn't riddled with nightmares and flashbacks and their physical aftereffects. Maybe Faith felt good for those days simply because she was sleeping so well.

However, she noticed that something was missing. Not only was she not having nightmares or flashbacks, but she wasn't dreaming at all. Her nights were silent and as still as they should be, but they were filled with darkness.

To a normal person, dreamless or dark sleep wouldn't be an issue. But to Faith, a person who had reached out and touched the darkness and was consumed by it, it seemed like a big deal.

Still, since there were no other negative side effects, she kept quiet and tried not to give it too much thought. For those few days, she felt a sense of . . . peace, for lack of a better word, and she didn't want anything to interfere with that feeling.

Faith simply enjoyed her peace while it lasted because she knew it was too good to last.

Not for her.


As expected, the peaceful time did not last. After about five days, it all came crashing down one evening in a series of nightmares and flashbacks.

Of course, Faith had been through each nightmare and each flashback before, usually one per every sleep episode. Individually, they had been enough to affect her as earlier described, with the rough breathing, sweating, pain, etc. Individually, those dreams had been almost too much for her to take.

On that fifth night when it all came crashing down, she had seen all of her nightmares and flashbacks consecutively. If one had been enough to cause her pain, imagine what it was like to see them all at once, then repeated over and over.


FAITH'S POV

What the hell? Why is the light so bright in my cell? Did I get a new cot or something? And why the hell does it smell like a friggin' hospital in here?

I slowly open my eyes and start to look around me. The light is hurting my eyes and I can't seem to figure out why. Enhanced Slayer-senses -- my ass! After a minute or two of trying to focus my eyes, I realize that I'm not in my cell anymore.

Yep. I'm in the infirmary.

There are a couple of nurses whirling back and forth in the room, too busy with other inmates to notice that I'm awake. I try to sit up, but I'm restrained.

"Hey? Hello? Umm . . . Miss?" I try to catch the attention of a short and stocky nurse that passes in front of me but she scoots by too fast to hear my hoarse voice.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice someone watching me from behind the glass wall. As soon as he sees me notice him, he taps a nurse on the shoulder and walks into the room, coming toward me.

My eyes are still pretty blurry, and I can't see him straight until he's just a few feet in front of me.

"Faith, are you awake?"

"Angel? Is that you?" I ask while squinting my still-sensitive eyes.

"Yeah, it's me. How do you feel?"

"Umm, kinda like I did mushrooms and got eaten by a bear," I answer.

Angel's right next to me at this point. The look on his face right now makes his usually somber and broody face look like a kid smiling at an ice-cream truck. His face is stoic, almost unreadable. Hints of concern, compassion, solemnity, and . . . fear?

"Yeah, that about sums it up," he replies.

I watch him closely as he checks me over anxiously like a mother hen. I finally get annoyed and get right to the point.

"So, are you gonna fill me in on what happened here or are we gonna play Twenty Questions?"


Angel looked at her earnestly, trying to figure out if she was being truthful or being a smartass.

"Faith, what's the last thing you remember?"

By this point, the nurse had come over and was taking Faith's vital statistics. Faith gave the nurse an annoyed look, trying to make her leave. The nurse caught on and left the two alone to talk.

"Umm, I was in my cell, I just came back from dinner. I did a couple sets of sit-ups and push-ups and decided to take a nap 'cause I was kinda wiped out."

Angel pulled up a chair to the bed and sat uncomfortably close. Knowing that he was about to give Faith some bad news, he took her hand in his as a means of comforting her.

"Faith, I . . . you, umm . . . well, you see . . ."

"Spit it out already, Dead-Boy. My tolerance for bullshit is really low right now," Faith said, beginning to get a little antsy.

"Right. I got a call from the prison just over a week ago. They told me that you had some kind of an . . . episode . . . and that I should come down here as soon as possible."

"Why'd they call you? It's not like we're related or anything."

"True. But they don't actually know that. Funny thing? They think that I'm your brother. I just never took the time to correct them."

Faith laughed.

"Riiiiight. I guess they matched your tall, dark, and broody to my tall, dark, and sultry. Guess no one ever cared to check your ID, right Bro?"

Angel gave her a quick smile, but it disappeared from his face almost as quickly as it had appeared.

"Faith, there's more."

"Well, bring it on, big-guy. I'm not getting any younger here. What's the what?"

"Faith, when I got here, you were completely catatonic. Your body was here, but it was like you were . . . hollow. No response to light or any other stimuli."

"Did you try waving a pizza under my nose? That usually gets my attention, or at least it . . ."

"Faith!" Angel interrupted. "This is serious, dammit. Do you think you can stop with the sarcasm and wit for a minute and just listen to me?"

Faith fought back her anger and tried to cover the surprised look that had popped up on her face.

"Geez, forgive me, Dad. By all means, continue."

Faith didn't want to let on that she was actually pretty nervous. Hearing that she had been catatonic? Definitely frightening.

"As I was saying . . . you weren't responding to anything. They thought that hearing my voice would bring out some kind of response, but there was nothing. It's like you weren't even in your body."

"So, what made that happen to me? Did I get beat up while I was sleeping or something?"

"Well, according to the guards, they heard you . . . shrieking . . . and ran towards your cell. When they got there they found you convulsing on the floor, screaming out like you were in pain. The Warden questioned the Guards about your activities that day, and it all seemed pretty routine. They said that you had your yard time and came back to your cell, leaving only to go to dinner. At 6:30, a guard noted that you were sleeping in your cell. They found you having your episode at about 8:00.

Faith thought about his words for a moment and then spoke up.

"Did someone drug my food or something?" She asked, her concern now apparent. She realized that it may have had something to do with her sleep issues, but she needed to rule out some other possible causes before opening a whole new can of worms.

"No, I don't think so. The infirmary ran all sorts of blood tests and found that there were no irregularities or toxins in your blood. Plus, well, I . . . umm . . ." Angel stammered, knowing that what he was about to tell Faith would probably piss her off.

"What's with the face, soul-boy? It looks like someone ran-over your puppy. What are you holding back?"

"Umm, well, don't get all stabby, okay?"

Faith nodded, so Angel continued.

"I know that we can definitely rule out any kind of drugs or poisoning, because, well . . . ergh, . . . Itastedyourbloodanditsclean," he blurted out.

"You WHAT?!?" Faith yelled.

"I had to, Faith. We needed to be sure that the doctors didn't miss anything."

Faith understood, but she still didn't like the idea.

"Ughh, Angel! That's just so . . . gross, and wrong." Faith joked. "Well, I hope ya liked it, cos Slayer-blood is so off the menu from now on."

"Don't worry, Faith. If I ever get the craving, I guess I'll just have to call that other Slayer," he joked.

Faith laughed.

"Riiiight, I'm sure she'll go for that. Oh! And I hear that you get a punch-card for multiple contributions. After five donations you get a free ticket to hell."

The two shared a laugh, almost forgetting where they were for a moment or two. However, Faith decided to continue on a little with the recent topic of conversation.

"So, umm, speaking of the other slayer, she didn't by any chance bring up the fact that she, umm, came and, uh, yunno, visited me, did she?" Faith fidgeted and played with her IV while she asked, looking kind of shy and nervous.

Angel knew exactly what Faith was hinting at so he decided to mess around with her a little before giving in.

"Hmm. Let me think. I know she said she was coming to LA . . . what was it for again? A haircut? That might've been it. She came for a haircut. She didn't mention anything about a visit," he replied with a coy little smile on his face.

Right away Faith realized that Angel was messing with her. But it wasn't really his persona to joke with people, so she had to be sure. "Angel . . . you're fuckin with me, right?" She asked almost timidly.

When Angel began laughing at her, she felt so stupid and entirely embarrassed.

"Ha-fuckin-Ha. Pickin' on the sick girl. I see how it is. Real nice, Angel. Hey . . . there's a girl down the row with one arm. Maybe you wanna go ask her to clap for you."

"Aww, what's the matter, Faithy? You like to pick on people but you don't like it when the tables are turned, now do you?"

The two continued to joke for a couple of minutes, almost as if it was normal for them. It felt really good for Faith. She missed having friends, even though she never really knew how to treat hers when she had them.

"Yes, Faith, Buffy told me that she came to see you. Apparently, she left here feeling a little differently than when she first arrived."

"Yeah? How exactly d'ya mean? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Faith inquired anxiously.

"She told me that she came here to bash you emotionally, and physically too if she got the chance. She was genuinely hurt that you would apologize to everyone around her and then just forget about her in the process."

"It's not like that, Angel." Faith explained, sounding kind of defeated. "I . . . I just didn't know what to say to her. What do you say to the one person who always cared, and in turn you totally fucked over? I didn't forget her Angel. I lo . . .

Faith stopped herself, realizing what she had almost just said aloud.

She loved Buffy . . . but she also loved leather, and Jack Daniels, and Nine Inch Nails, and her Marlboro redpacks. But was she in love with Buffy? She had never really thought about it in that context, but still, the words were just about to come spilling out of her mouth, and it felt all too natural for her.

She decided to cover up what she was about to say.

". . . lost my chance to be her friend a long time ago," she finished.

Angel looked at her a little funny, but shook it off and continued.

"Well, that's beside the point right now. All I know is that she came here wanting to yell at you and possibly beat you down. When she left, it was almost like she was happy to have seen you. When I asked her about it further, she only smiled and said that she was happy to have cleared up some of the tensions between the two of you."

Faith smiled a little.

"Yeah, but she doesn't believe that I'm sorry. She said that maybe one day she'd believe me, but not right away. Still, gives me something to look forward to."

Angel pondered what Faith had just told him. He looked at her with a little glint in his eye, and began to speak again.

"Faith, I can't be sure that what I'm about to tell you is 100% true, but I think that I know Buffy well enough to make an assumption here." He paused, formed his thoughts carefully, and then continued. "I think that Buffy believes that you are sorry. More than that? I think she's already on the path to forgiving you, even though she would never admit that."

"Nahh, I don't think so, Angel. I don't think that there's such a thing as forgiving me, not for anyone. If people actually say the words 'I forgive you,' I know they're just empty words. I understand and I accept it," Faith said sadly, but with a certain degree of certainty and acceptance.

"Listen to me for just a sec. When I lost my soul back in Sunnydale, I did some terrible things. I taunted, I maimed, I killed, I wreaked havoc . . . and I loved it. Buffy sent me to hell for what I did. But the Powers-That-Be sent me back for some twisted reason, and do you know what, Faith? Buffy forgave me. It took a while, and I still may not have 100% of her trust, but she did forgive me. You just have to give these kinds of things time."

"Wait, you can't compare apples to oranges here, Angel. Buffy forgave you because she loved you and always will. You guys are like soul-mates . . . well, of the tragic variety, anyways. There's too much of a connection there for her not to forgive you."

Faith waited for his response, which he gave right after he shot her a very knowing gaze.

"Yeah, well, you can't deny your connection with Buffy either. Before you and Buffy, there was never a case of 'The Chosen Two.' You guys share a Slayer connection that has never been experienced before. It's more powerful than any human realization of a bond or connection. I may be her heart soul-mate, but you're her cosmic soul-mate. It can't be denied, no matter how much hate or tension is between the two of you."

Faith was kind of taken aback by the theory that Angel had just enlightened her with. She liked that idea of being Buffy's cosmic soul-mate.

She finally responded to him.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. The connection is kinda cool, too. Whenever she's near me, I feel this warm buzz through my body. I can sense her even when I don't know exactly where she is. It's pretty fuckin sweet."

The two smiled at each other, and Faith began to yawn.

"Listen Soul-boy, I really appreciate you being here, but I'm hella tired and those nurses are itchin' to get up in here and check up on me. Why don't you head home and get some rest, and I'll do the same here, as soon as the nurses are done with me?"

"Actually, I'm kind of trapped here. It's noon . . . sun's out. You just rest, and I'll stick around till sunset."

Faith grabbed Angel's hand as he stood up.

"Hey, Angel . . . thanks for . . . everything." She smiled.

"No problem. Call me if you need me. I'll be here for a couple of hours, and I'll be back before first light."

He gave her hand a quick squeeze and then turned to leave. He glanced back and gave her a quick smile as he walked out of the room, but the nurses were too busy hovering for her to see.

The nurses took some blood and monitored her statistics before letting her drift off to sleep . . .



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