Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The rain falls gently on my face, water running down my cheeks in place of the tears I can't cry. I wore leather in her memory. Not quite the thing for a funeral, perhaps, although it is black. It's what she would have wanted. How do I know what she would have wanted? Her face is so pale, it doesn't look right without the makeup she loved so much. All those things I've seen in her, hate, rage, love, cruelty, pain, none of them are there. It's not her, and it is. I thought about having her cremated, but I didn't like the thought of the ash. She deserved more than the vamps. Maybe she's at peace, gone to a better place. I died, once, but I didn't have time to discover what it was like. Or maybe I didn't find out because there's nothing there. Eternal life. Not all it's cracked up to be, or so I've heard. I wonder, briefly, about her perfect place. Faith's heaven. A lot of sex, I'd guess, or maybe not. That was all an escape, a craving for love, so I guess her heaven would have a whole lot of love. I could have given her love, but I didn't. I didn't show her my love when I had the chance. Maybe if I had she'd have died fighting next to me. Or maybe she'd be with me right now.
I never got to touch her.
I was away when she came out of prison. Angel took her to Giles' because she wanted to be in Sunnydale. God knows why. When I arrived back a week later, she'd already gone. I didn't ask where. I figured it would help with the getting-over-her process, as if I ever managed that. You'll be in love till it kills you both. Spike was talking about me and Angel, but it was true of me and Faith as well. Passion and fire, that was our relationship. No compromise, it was hate or love and usually both.. I would dream about her all the time when she was in her first coma, and I never knew whether it was her mind as well.
Leaves softly rustle in the wind, the trees breathing quietly. If I'd forgiven her, visited her when she was in prison, this could all be different. Or swallowed my pride and asked Giles where she was, just a few words. I had nine years to do it, I must be the longest-living Slayer ever. God, it hurts so much. She was coming to see me, finally, finally, and I didn't know. She went to the only house she'd known me to live in, but we'd moved long ago. I got my own place after college, and Mom couldn't stand the emptiness, so she went somewhere else to. So Faith went to Giles'. I think he was shocked, but not too worried, not like he would have been a few years back. Not psychotic any more, was our Faith. She told him she wanted to see me, and he gave her my address. I don't know what attacked her, but it was pretty strong. I saw her, lying just outside my front door, when I came home that night. Though she was just someone regular who'd had the bad luck to bump into one of the undead. When I bent down and saw her face - God. Even unconscious and beaten up, she was so beautiful and everything I'd felt for her came flooding back. I was frantic, overwhelmed, didn't know what to do. When you feel someone's pulse after you thought they were dead, it's such a blessed release. I called 911 and then I called Giles. My help in ages past. I rode to the hospital with her, desperate to have her back. The doctor told us she was in a coma, that she'd probably never wake up. It's like a lead weight has filled up every part of your inside. Dread and terror that she wouldn't return.
That night I had a dream. Our minds connecting, like so many times before, and I knew she wasn't scared of me anymore, that she'd forgiven me and she was strong. It wasn't dark, the golden sunlight was glinting off her hair and it caught the edge of her clear eyes.
"I like the flowers," she said to me. To the air, really, but directed at me.
"You never really struck me as the flower type," I told her, smiling.
"I got a lotta hidden depths," she answered, and she bent down and picked one.
"Here." She put it in my hand, looking into my eyes. As I glanced down I saw it'd become a stake. I looked at her, bemused and anxious.
"It's yours," she said tenderly.
"I can't!" I was scared then, frantic and she came slowly nearer. Her eyes gazed into mine, brown reflected in the green, calm soothing fear. She placed her hand on my face and stroked it once.
"I love you," she said. "You'll be fine. Five by five." I didn't tell her I loved her, didn't have to. She knew.
"I'm sorry," I told her.
"I know. But I better let you go. There's a lot for you to do."
"Yeah," I answered. I lingered there a while and reluctantly said, "Bye," and as I walked away she called,
"See? No knife," and she was right, it wasn't there. I knew then that she'd forgiven me and I her, and everything was finally right. She walked away from me and as she looked back at me one last time a fire engulfed her and she was absorbed into its light.
The next week was exquisite torture. Every day I sat by her side and she wouldn't move. Torturing, agonised, excruciating hope that plagued me every second. So many times I felt sure her eyes would open and they never did.
When she died I died too. I don't know if I can stand it, it hurts too much. Burning, raging pain. The water trickles in rivulets down my neck, a bird alights on the branch, shaking off droplets. I can't bear it. I feel like I can't breathe. She died forgiving me, loving me and I never got to be with her. My heart is stiff and cold, leaden in my body. I never felt this way before, didn't know it was possible for a human being to feel like this. The sky is grey and blue, I look up into its vastness and its emptiness and feel so small. There's nothing I can see but endless wasteland, barren, scorched, dead earth. Never had a love that stayed. Everything I touch turns to sand and slips through my fingers. I lost Angel, twice, I lost Faith and never regained her and now I've lost her again. I can't forget the feeling of me pushing her knife into her so long ago. So easy to do. My head is numb, it doesn't feel real. I didn't trust anyone else after them. Couldn't. I'm supposed to be strong, I'm not strong. I'm weak, so weak, powerless to do anything. I feel like the atoms that make me up will float apart, I'll disintegrate and disperse and exist only as stardust somewhere in space. The red of rage is all I can see. I want to lunge out at the nearest person I can see, tear them to pieces, scream and hate and beat them to death. Faith had a lot of rage. We all have anger but she couldn't control hers. There's evil everywhere, it creeps in and reaches out with its black tendrils and overcomes us. People aren't evil. I loved her all the time, the pain of seeing her do those things. This is a world of pain, grief and suffering everywhere. I don't know why we try and fight it. Round every corner it pops up to haunt us. I hate it that she's dead, I want to find her and beat her, I hate that she's dead and I'm not. She died before I could tell her, before we could make it right! The thought of living with that every day for the rest of my life fills me with panic and terror, how can I stand it?
All that time and she never tried to kill me. Never hurt me except when I hurt her. I was a self-righteous bitch and I turned her away. Scenes flash through my head of her alive. I was mesmerised from the moment I saw her dancing in the Bronze. Love at first sight. What a cliché, but it's true. I see her moving to the music again, glowing blue under the lights as we danced together. So many others gazing with lust but we were focused only on each other. I remember the sick dread that crept into me as I heard her say "I don't care" after she killed her first. When we knelt with knives at each other's throats, the metal cool against my skin, knowing everything about her in that one moment our eyes connected and she knowing everything about me. Before I stabbed her, we talked, the air between us crackling with electricity. Ready to cut loose? Challenging me, pleased that I'd come round to her way of thinking. Try me. Okay then. Give us a kiss. What would she have done if I had? God knows I thought about it often enough, dreamed of my lips brushing hers, of my hands on her body and hers on mine, running my hands through her hair and stroking her. But I punched her instead. I remember following her up to Angel's roof. Pain exuding out of her every pore, guilt and self- hate. I wouldn't forgive her. So many fucking times I could have made it right and I didn't. I could have reached out and held her right then and there as she walked round me hurting more than I'd ever known. Just tell me how to make it better, she pleaded, voice cracking. But I didn't, we never did.
My head spins with the pain. My throat's constricted and I think I'll never move again. Feel like I'm falling down a pit of blackness, endless and infinite. The sun touches me through the rain and the drops sparkle I can't understand how there can be beauty among such pain. I want the whole world under my darkness. Can't bear it that there are people laughing now. I'd kill everyone in the world to have had one night and woken up beside her, lain in her arms and loved her. I don't know what to do. I guess they've called a new Slayer now. Maybe right now she's meeting her Watcher, taking her first steps into the darkness. Such evil out there. Maybe I'll meet her. Maybe that Slayer connection will come into action again. Of course she'll be too young for me, so maybe I'll feel a motherly affection for her. I can't imagine feeling anything. Can't remember what it was like to be in love, only that it hurts and hurts and hurts. She's gone and I can't stand it.
They lower her into the ground and I throw the handful of earth in. The rain splashes off it and they mingle, water running into the ground to bring new life from the seeds that lie dormant within it. The aching rises up in me, surrounding everything. It'll kill me, it will. I can't survive this. It hurts so much. I close my eyes, feel the damp of my hair and the raindrops landing on my face. I hear the sound of the water hitting the ground. The rain streams down my face, mingling with the tears I'm finally crying as I say goodbye to Faith the Vampire Slayer forever.
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