The soft summer breeze picks up slightly and the numerous small flames flicker but don’t quite go out. One candle for each ally lost, a silent memorial on the edge of the ruins of Sunnydale.
Buffy grasps a small glass candle holder in her hands, watching the flame from the white candle within lick the edges of the clear glass. She’d already done her mourning for the girls lost, for the friends and lovers gone forever. She’d cried her tears and had come to grips with the fact that it wasn’t all for nothing.
That they’d done something wonderful.
So while others cry and weep around her, Buffy stays strong. The candle she’s holding isn’t about loss. It’s about promise. A new life lays ahead of each and every one of them, and Buffy? Well, she’s looking forward to their new path. Looking forward to becoming a person that she likes; that she’s proud of.
It’s a fresh chance to start anew, and she’ll be damned if she doesn’t jump on the chance to do just that.
She sees movement from the corner of her eye – she’d walked to a more quiet spot about twenty feet away from the others – and notices Faith approaching her with her hands buried deep in her pockets.
“This a private party or can I crash?”
Buffy smiles. Leave it to Faith to be the only other casual person there.
“Crash away,” she answers easily.
A few moments of silence pass before either of them speak again.
“Mind if I bum your depression candle for a sec?” Faith asks.
Buffy holds out the small glass holder, letting Faith take it from her hands.
“It’s not a depression candle, it’s a happy candle. There’s a difference.”
“Candles can be happy?” Faith asks, holding the candle in one hand while reaching into her back pocket with the other.
“Well, sure. Birthday candles, anniversary candles, graduation candles – they’re all happy candles. This candle is like those.”
Faith eyes the small white candle for a moment, regarding it with a look of doubt on her face. After a moment she shrugs and places a cigarette between her lips, then leans down and lights it on the flame.
“Did you just light your cigarette with my happy candle?” Buffy deadpans.
Faith inhales deeply, letting the smoke fill her lungs before grinning and holding the candle out for Buffy to take back.
“I wouldn’t have had to if you didn’t hide my lighter, B.”
Instead of taking the candle, Buffy pulls the cigarette from Faith’s lips and flicks it into the giant crater before them. She gives her a stern look before saying,
“Hey, Second Chance Girl, how about not ruining your second chance at life by filling your body with cancer causing chemicals?”
Faith sighs as she watches the glowing red embers descend into the crater. She turns to look at Buffy, staring at her for just a moment too long.
“It’s really important to you, isn’t it?” she asks, unconvinced. “You really want me to quit?”
Buffy’s serious guise falters and she smiles softly.
“I’ve already told you that I’d like you to stay with us, Faith. And I’d like you to be around for awhile. This is my second chance as much as it is yours.”
They stare at each other a few moments longer, saying nothing, until Faith fishes into her back pocket and pulls out her half-empty pack of Marlboro reds and tosses it into the crater.
Buffy watches the small pack drop, smiling to herself.
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