The Day After
The train is swaying gently as it speeds along the iron tracks, the scenery changing from nearly barren to lush countryside in just a few short hours. The ride back to Cleveland is much less eventful than the ride to California had been; Faith’s claustrophobia – and let’s be honest: her high sex drive – had kept Buffy’s hands full on the first leg of their trip. But there’s nothing Buffy can do to relax Faith on the ride home and that has nothing to do with Faith’s claustrophobia.
They’re tired, sore, and pretty beat up from the battle against the Senior Partners. Amazingly, they look good compared to Angel, Spike and Illyria. Every single one of them is marred with injuries sustained in the battle – a battle they were surprised to win – but none of their injuries are as serious as those sustained by Wesley and Gunn. They’d given their lives in the battle, and Faith isn’t exactly handling it well.
Death happens and she understands that; she told Buffy as much during the breakdown she had in their motel room last night.
But it could have been avoided.
Preparations could have been made. Things could have been thought out. Lives could have been spared.
Faith is convinced that Angel has some kind of a death wish though and she refuses to be a part of it any longer. She’d had a death wish once and Angel had played a big part in talking her down from the ledge. And even though she hasn’t said the words to Buffy, Buffy knows that Faith had always hoped to repay the favor some day.
Angel never asked for her help though; not until the last minute. Not until it was too late to do anything but pick up a sword and dive into battle.
And somehow, she’s blaming him for the deaths of two people who should never have been fighting in the first place.
Faith’s eyes have been focused out the window for the last two hours. Her jaw is clenched tightly and her knuckles are white from trying to contain her angerhurtrage. Buffy wants to say something that will make it all okay; that will take away Faith’s anger and hurt and make her better. There are no magic words though; nothing to sprinkle over everything to make it all shiny and pretty again.
Feeling helpless, Buffy slips her hand over Faith’s and rubs her knuckles, trying to get them to relax and let the blood flow a bit. Faith draws in a deep breath through her nose and her eyelashes flutter as though she’s being woken from a deep sleep. She looks over at Buffy like she’d almost forgotten that she’s there and tries her best to give Buffy a reassuring smile that she’s okay. That they’re okay.
There are no smiles left in her though, not right now, and she does the next best thing she can think of. She laces her fingers through Buffy’s and brings their joined hands to her lips, then places a soft kiss on Buffy’s knuckles.
She doesn’t say anything. She can’t. She just takes a deep breath and looks back out the window, keeping hold of Buffy’s hand like it’s the only thing anchoring her. And really, it kind of is.
Buffy rests her head back against the train seat and closes her eyes; relaxing at the feel of Faith absently caressing the back of her hand. They’ll be back in Cleveland in just about a day and a half now. She just hopes that Faith can find some peace in their shared silence by then.
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