Into the Light
The first sunlight falls through the bars. It touches my face and I close my eyes, feeling the warmth around me. I am surrounded by light, a pool of darkness in the midst of it. White walls contrast with my body and my soul of blackness. The darkness swallowed me long ago. Can the light do the same? Every particle of light that enters my body is sucked in by the black hole. If I remain here forever then maybe the light will soak into my soul. I am a churning seething whirlpool of hate and guilt, the evil I have done gnawing at me with every breath.
All that has ever mattered to me is gone, disappeared because of me. I killed them all, all dead. I couldn't save my Watcher. I couldn't save the Mayor, my father, my mentor, the parent I never had. I would have ruled the world by his side, he said. Power over everything, control over the world. Now I am powerless and have no control. I killed all that I had with Buffy. How could I do that. Her face comes into my mind, blonde hait I long to touch, beautiful lips I long to kiss, mesmerising green eyes and I shrink from the hatred they contain. When we spoke I used to feel sparks flying between us. Never felt that way before. I fucked so many men and left them, fucked some women too, scared shitless to stay there, couldn't let them get inside me. I wanted so much to touch her and hold her and love her. She tried so hard to help me, never gave up where so many others would, and I spat on her. Everything she told me yesterday was true. She forgave me again and again but there's no forgiving now. I took everything from her just as I took everything from myself. I couldn't stand to see her with anyone but me so I stole them away. Tried to make her life as lonely as mine but I couldn't do that. Just made her hate me.
They all tried to help me but I refused their help. I'm five by five here, I told them. Well, that was a lie for sure.
I can't bear this pain it overwhelmes me. Tears at every part of me constantly. I am an empty hollow space, my stomach feels like it has been cut out with a knife. I did that to enough people and I knew it myself when B stabbed me. That fire between us changed. The heat and flames of underlying passion changed into flames of passionate hatred for both of us. Love isn't simple though, the fire is so all-encompassing who knew when it was love and when it was hate. Those were battles of love against hate and in the end hate won out. She killed me or she would've. I should have died then. It's not fair that I am alive and she is absolved of guily. She should be suffering a lifetime of pain like me. Not that she would have been, cause I was evil and that means she can kill me. That's what Slayers do. Rid the world of evil. Not me though, I joined the evil. I could be dead like I should be I don't deserve to live even Angel wouldn't kill me. Why didn't she murder me then, plunge that knife into my heart, she couldn't even do that for me. She condemned me to months in a coma and an existence of torture. Well gee, thanks, B. I want to die because I'm too much of a coward to face this torment and anguish. Angel told me I would be haunted for the rest of my life. I would rum but I can't run. I can't run and I can't hide and there's no-one here for me to kill. I am alone and screaming is echoing through my head and my soul is a dark churning mess. This ache and pain will haunt me forever.
Music plays around us and we are dancing slowly. Her arms are atound me and mine around her. She looks into my eyes. Hers are depths of confusion and hurt. The blue lights fall on her face and shine off her hair, and the people surrounding us are oblivious to us and we to them. I reach up to stroke her hair but in my hand is a knife. I look at it in bewilderment, not understanding why it is there. She takes it from me gently, knowing I will not resist. Still gazing into my eyes she thrusts it into me and I feel the agony start deep inside me. Horrified, I stare at her. Blood is pouring out of her, forming a pool on the ground. It engulfs the dancers surrounding us as it spreads out, and it is there as far as the eye can see. But our eyes don't leave each other. We are shocked, dazed and as we watch the ground cracks beneath our feeet. She reaches frantically for my hand and we are falling into the abyss, darkness thick with tension and hate, screams around us. I cannot think for terror. After an eternity we stop and the darkness fades. I am shaking uncontrollably. She holds me gently until I am calm, and then I look up. We are standing outside my former apartment, the scene of the culmination of our tumultuous relationship, all that tension, our confrontation which ended in me in a coma. And around us stand other people. I look into the face of my first Watcher. She is standing with Giles and Wesley and a man I've never seen. All of their faces are hard, their eyes cold and unforgiving. They look on me with blame and contempt and hurt. Catherine is the first to speak, the woman who watched over me with such care and love until I got her killed.
"I must say I'm not surprised," she says, smiling slightly. "You had it in you, but you were always a little volatile. If you'd listened to me... well, no chance of that. But maybe I'd be around still."
"You would listen to no one, particularly me," Giles says, accusatory as usual, so let down. "You have no respect for me or the job I perform." Standing next to me, Buffy flinches. They still stare at us with no mercy. Wesley just touches his face where the bruising and burns are all too plain to see.
"You had it all, Faith, and you threw it away. It doesn't hurt *me*. But you'll never be a Slayer now. You can't kill people and you can't kill vampires - what are you going to do," Catherine says in the same amused voice.
"You killed a man." Buffy repeats what I've heard in my head so many times. Giles looks directly at her.
"You have no right to criticise. It is as much your fault as hers." We are both surprised by this. Me resentful - see, even this, Buffy takes over from me.
"I expected better of you. You let yourself down," the other man says.
"If you'd given her what you should have done, she'd never have turned," Catherine tells her. "You wouldn't love her. She needed love and you could have given it but you wouldn't." I want to protest, angry at their assumptions, angry at the way I can never do something by myself, but my mouth is unable to move. And besides, I know it's true.
"It was your loss really. You loved her and wouldn't admit it. Missed your chance." Buffy turns to me.
"I'm sorry..." she whispers.
"Hey, I gotta apologise first, B. You can't beat me to death in a dream. Not even in a Slayer dream. I'm so sorry, B, for everything I did."
"We're done, then," she says after a pause.
"Five by five," I tell her. She smiles and I suddenly say,
"I was supposed to die." She looks straight at me and says quietly,
"No, Faith. You lived, because you were meant to live. You lived for me."
"I lived for you..." I repeat her words. She slowly touches my hair and strokes my face. The sun suddenly breaks through the clouds and golden light falls on us like rain. I look at the assortment of Watchers. They are smiling. I feel happiness spread through me and the light grows brighter and brighter until with a blinding flash I wake up. I know that somewhere Buffy is awakening too.
I walk silently behind the guard, wondering. Only Angel would visit me, and he couldn't get here in daylight. Even he wouldn't burn to death for me. As I follow her in I stop. My Slayer sits there in the room, waiting, uncertain. We are silent for a moment, the air full of tension.
"How are you?" she eventually asks.
"Five by five. What about you? You don't look too happy..." I trail off.
"Did you expect me to be?" she asks sharply? We pause again. I search desperately for things to say that will not provoke this reaction.
"I... dreamed about you," she says with difficulty.
"Funny thing there then, cause I dreamed about you too," I answer, waiting for her to tell me what I know already.
"This wasn't just any dream, Faith. It was a Slayer dream. It... wasn't just my dream." She is looking at me but she avoids my eyes. Scared of what she will see, what she will feel.
"Shared Slayer dreams. How's it feel, to share your mind with an evil psychotic killerd?" I ask, bitterly and sarcastically.
"You're not evil," she says, looking directly at me for the first time.
"No? Not sure why you stabbed me and threw me off the roof then chased me to LA to kill me, then."
"I was angry, Faith! You took so much from me, you hurt me, you betrayed me. You can't understand how that felt."
"And you think I felt any better?" I say, angry now. "You think I haven't been living in pain and beating myself up for what I did to you? There's *nothing* as bad as this, B. Knowing that you've taken three lives and ruined so many others. I killed myself along with them."
"Why did you do it?" she asks, voice hopeless and uncomprehending. I pause a minute. I am about to answer but I stop.
"You know what, B, I'm not gonna answer that. Whenever we meet we have this same conversation and it always ends the same way." She won't accept that. I see it in her face.
"It needs to be said, Faith. Just not talking about it doesn't make the problem go away." We both remember the other time she told me that. 'Getting rid of the evidence doesn't make the problem go away,' she told me, and I said, 'It does for me.' But I was wrong, it didn't. Made it a fucking hell of a lot worse. And i'll never forget the shocked and upset look she wore, when I said to her, 'I don't care.' Cocky, sure of myself, five by five. That look haunts me in my darkest hours. I sigh quietly.
"You tell me why I did it, Buffy. I don't know. I don't know anything." She is hesitant, knowing how I have scorned their psychoanalyst theories in the past.
"Nobody loved you, did they? All of your life, nobody loved you."
"You've never done it. You can't imagine what it feels like. Yeah, there's guilt and you feel all dirty inside, but the thrill, the power...." I know this makes her uncomfortable. I remember from before. She never could admit that she liked it. It scared her. But better to deny that you feel the excitement than to deny that you care.
Still our eyes don't meet. We are both uneasy. We dreamed together and each knows that the other knows what we do not mention. Afraid to venture into those perilous waters. But equally we must. It's why she's here.
"So, B, why are you really here?" I say it lightly, flippantly, but it is the first step into the place we fear to tread and she recognises that.
"You know why," but still she doesn't look into my eyes. Can't face that level of mutual knowledge, that emotion. Cause she still has this worry that I'm a psychotic bitch. Love and betrayal type thing. Makes it hard to reconcil.
"You gotta look at me, B," my voice cracks a little. So she does, reluctantly, the connection between us intense, confusing, so powerful it's difficult to keep there. Again it's me who speaks, in a whisper, for fear of shattering the electricity that hangs in the air.
"You forgave Angel...." Because that's what so much of this is about. Angel told me we were a lot alike, me and him. Well, I have a lot more fun than him. I smile and laugh, for one thing, which is more than he does, and I get to screw people. Not that it gives me true happiness. But yeah. He's right. Plus I couldn't handle her being with him.
"He didn't choose it!" Although it's argumentatice, still she keeps her voice low, as if we're hiding from some villain like we used to do. Before I was the villain.
"But he stopped being bad, and you forgave him." I know why it's so much harder with me. Angel was a demon - black and white Slayer mentality. People good, vampire bad, so bad Angel wasn't like her. But she can see herself in me and she hates that. I don't tell her that. She doesn't need to know. I can't let anything destroy this fragile link; more than anything I need to keep the threads between us.
"Yeah," she says, so quietly I can barely hear it. "I did." My heart jumps and then pumps fast and loud, so I am sure it is obvious in this silence. Hope flares up in my emptiness. I am acutely aware of how crucial this moment is.
"Will you forgive me?" I whisper. "God, Buffy, I'm so sorry!"
"Sorry isn't enough!" Her voice shocks me, breaking through the air that is stretched between us. Fuck. I screwed up my one chance. I'm so completely wretched.
"So what is enough?" I ask, the misery evident in every word. Eventually she looks into my eyes and says,
Her question is fraught with a mixture of hopelessness and hope, the one indistinguishable from the other. I know from the way that I feel, ecstasy, euphoria, amazement all overwhelming me so that it's hard to speak, that I never wanted anything as much before and I never will.
"I can give that a try," I reply. Our hands are drawn together, her other hand reaches up to stroke my face like I have dreamed so many times. The touch of her fills me with such incredible love. I lean over towards her. As her lips touch mine, the light streams in, just like we dreamed. It encloses us both, shining off the blonde and the brown, the light and dark merged, and it floods into my soul.
Back to Buffy fic