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Pictures

by Davids21
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Joss owns the characters. Fuel wrote the song. I am merely taking them for a spin.
Spoilers: End of season 5 and wild speculation.
Author's Notes: This is the first part. Hopefully someone will like it. Please be gentle this is my first try.
Thanks To: Sasha Chase, Pat Kelly and Kirsten for the kick ass stories. And thanks to my girlfriend Dacia. Without her I would have no life at all. I would but it would be pretty lame.

	'Memories are just where you laid them
	Dragging waters 'til the depths give up their dead
	What did you expect to find?
	Was it something you left behind?
	Don't you remember everything I said when I said…'

Faith walked out of the prison gate. It was good to be free. She closed her eyes and listened as she heard the prison gate for, hopefully, the last time. As happy as she was, Faith knew that hardest part was yet to come. Going back to Sunnydale. And as much as she would like to just walk away, she couldn't. That was the old Faith. The new Faith dealt with her problems. The new Faith didn't run away.

She picked bag up from the ground. It contained all her worldly possessions. Not much in there though, just another shirt, a pair of leather pants, and a picture. Faith reached inside the bag and felt around for it. She pulled out the picture and felt mixture of joy and sadness come over her. It was a picture of Buffy.

Anytime that she felt lost or scared or completely alone, Faith pulled out the picture. It helped her remember what she had lost by taking the path that she did. It was her inspiration.

"Might as well do this." She said to herself.

Faith slid the picture back into her bag and began walking towards the bus terminal.

*****

"Have a good time!"

Buffy watched as her sister climbed into the backseat of Xander's car. She was going to spend the week over a friend's house. Buffy waved as the car pulled out of her driveway and went down the street.

She had the house to herself. It had been a tiring couple of months for her. She went toe to toe with a Hell God. And then she sacrificed herself to save the ones she loved the most. After all, death was her gift.

*Pretty crappy gift,* she thought. But she came back. It had been a few months since her rebirth and things were quiet on the Hellmouth for once. So Buffy decided to let Dawn go and have a sleepover just so she could have a little time to herself.

She went in the kitchen get something to drink. That's when she saw the mail. There was stack of it on the table. That's what happens when you died. Mail piles up and life moves on. Judging by the size of the stack life had been moving on for awhile.

Buffy took a seat at the counter and began flipping through the letters.

Bill. Bill. Bill. Another bill. LA County Jail? Buffy raised an eyebrow. Faith. The memories came rushing back to her. The time she spent as Faith. She also remembered the part in LA where she got into a fight with the Watchers, Angel and the confrontation with Faith. And the little part where she said she going to beat her to death. Strong choice of words. Not that Faith deserved it. She was trying to change.

But Buffy didn't want to believe it. All she wanted was payback. Ironically, revenge was common theme in her life. Always getting even for one reason or another. She knew that she was tired of it all. Fighting with someone who should have been her best friend.

She opened the letter and started reading:

		B,

			Well here I am. Never thought you would be getting a
		letter from me, huh? Probably thought I couldn't string to 2
		sentences together. I have only been in for 5 months as I
		write this and I have been thinking. This place has given me
		a lot of time to think about things. See my actions from
		different angles, get a better understanding of them. And I
		came to a sort of clarity. Something clicked inside.
		Everyday that I have spent in here I have been replaying the
		last time I saw you. You wanted to beat me to death. I
		deserved that. Hell, if I was you I probably would have. No
		big loss. Who would miss me?  I know that this is a little
		late and way out of line but, I am sorry Buffy. I am sorry
		for everything that I have ever done to you.  I hope that
		you can one day forgive me and maybe one day let me back
		into your world. 

		Faith

	'Don't fall away
	And leave me to myself
	Don't fall away 
	And leave love bleeding in my hands
	In my hands again
	Leave love bleeding in my hands
	In my hands
	Love lies bleeding'

Buffy stood up from her seat and went upstairs to her room. She sat on the edge of her bed and ran her hand under the mattress. She pulled out one of those photo booth picture that you take at the mall. There're hearts going around the border and two little angels holding a banner that said 'Girlfriends'. It was a picture she and Faith had taken at the mall a few years ago. Faith demanded that Buffy throw the picture away but she hid it from the other slayer and pretended like she did.

She kept under her bed since that day. Buffy held the letter and picture close to her chest.

*Faith* she thought to herself *all you ever had to do was say sorry.*

*****

Faith climbed off the bus and stretched. Sunnydale hadn't changed a bit since she last saw it. She started walking towards Buffy's house. She really couldn't think of anywhere else to go. As she started walking, Faith began playing out the reunion scene in her head.

What she would say, what Buffy would say, how many times would Buffy hit her? *We'll probably end up just sitting next to each other not talking* she thought to herself.

As the thought went through her mind, Faith paused. Could she do this? Why should Buffy even give her the time of day. No. That was the old Faith talking again. New Faith would summon up the courage, go to Buffy's house and say what was in her heart.

Faith continued walking down the street. It was getting cloudy and looked, as if at any second it would start raining.

That was when another question popped into her head. What was in her heart? She pulled out the picture from her bag and studied it. Why was it that after all the bad blood between the two that Buffy was the first person she wanted to see? Why did she spend everyday of her imprisonment looking at the picture of Buffy? Why Buffy at all?

"Probably because I love her." She muttered.

She quirked her eyebrow. Was that it? Was that what drew her to the blonde slayer? Is that what made her work so hard to get back on the path of good? Or is this the first time that she has honestly allowed herself to think of Buffy in this way?

As she wrestled with the thought, Faith looked around and saw where she was.

Buffy's house.

*****

Buffy had been sitting in her room most of the day. Staring at the picture, re-reading the letter, and thinking about Faith. About opportunities lost. Choices that should have been made and the choices that were.

She never really gave Faith a fair chance. She always tried to keep her at arm's length. And when the two finally got close she pushed Faith away. She pushed her so hard that Faith ended up in a coma.

Even when Faith came back, she went right to pushing her away.

Buffy promised never to push anyone ever again. But what made Faith so important?

Before she even had the chance to finish the thought she heard a knock on her front door. Buffy sighed to herself and headed downstairs.

By the time she got to the door the person was knocking again.

"Hold on a second." She yelled as she pulled the door open.

"Hey, B."

There she was. Faith. "Hi."

"Can I come in?" she asked.

"Sure." Buffy stepped aside and let Faith walk in. Prison had changed Faith you could see it. The way she walked and moved was different.

"So, what's up with you?" Faith asked as she took her coat off.

"Nothing."

"I see you got my letter."

Buffy blushed and tried to hide it and the picture behind her back. Faith not missing a beat grabbed the picture from Buffy looked at it.

"Y'know, I knew you that you kept this." Faith said as she smiled to herself. She sat down on the stairs and continued looking at the photo. "I don't even recognize the girl in this picture anymore."

Buffy looked at her counterpart. Faith's hair had grown a bit. The eyeliner was gone as well. Her eyes were softer now. Like as if the once great fire that was Faith had been extinguished. It was still there but it didn't burn as hard.

She took a seat next to Faith and looked at the picture.

The Slayers sat next to each other in silence for several minutes.

"I knew that it would go this way." Faith said.

"What did you say?" Buffy asked sounding a little worried.

Faith smiled lightly. "Our reunion. I figured that we just sit here and stare off into space. Or that you would try to kill me."

Buffy smiled sadly. Is that what Faith wanted? Had her last confrontation with Buffy been that damaging?

"I wouldn't do that." Buffy said as she shook her head.

"I deserve it though."

There was so much that needed to be said between the two. So many words that were left unspoken between them. Buffy stood up in front of Faith. This wasn't going to be easy. Buffy closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"Faith. A lot of things have changed since we last saw each other. I have been through a lot." Faith looked up at Buffy and silently whispered.

"I know you died."

	'Oh hold me now, I feel contagious
	Am I the only place that you've left to go?
	She cries that life is like some movie black and white
	Dead actors, vacant lies
	Over and over and over again she cries'

Buffy felt a chill go over her. "How did you know? Did Angel…"

Faith shook her head. She reached inside her bag and pulled out the picture she was carrying.

"One night I was sitting in my cell. I felt like this energy come over me. I closed my eyes and I saw everything. You fighting Glory. I wish I could explain this better." Faith dropped her head, trying to force back her tears and finish her story.

"I heard every word you said. I saw when you ran across the scaffolding and jumped. I felt you leave. I felt it. Because," Faith ran her hands through her hair. The tears were falling now. There was no more need to hide anything. "I thought that I had lost you."

	'Don't fall away
	And leave me to myself
	Don't fall away 
	And leave love bleeding in my hands
	In my hands again
	Leave love bleeding in my hands
	In my hands
	Love lies bleeding'

Buffy looked at the picture Faith was holding. "Where did you get that from?"

Faith smiled as she wiped her eyes. "One night before we went out slaying. I took so you would always be with me. I guess I knew that I would screw things up between us. So I took the picture. I always kept it hidden from you. There are a lot of things I have kept from you." Faith continued. "One thing in particular. Something that I have always known. I just never let myself believe it."

Faith stood face to face with the blonde slayer. Hazel eyes searching in dark brown eyes. Faith gently took Buffy's hand. As soon as she touched Buffy's hand, the feeling that she had earlier was confirmed. She dropped her head. Her eyes focusing on the hand she was holding.

"Buffy, I have always loved you. That's why I did what I did. I went to jail for you. Because I wanted to make myself better for you. That's why every night in that cell I looked at your picture. I always told myself that as long as I had this picture…I would have you."

Faith lifted her head and looked into those hazel eyes. They were full of love and compassion. They let her know that it was okay and she should finish her story.

"I love you. I love you so much that you don't ever have to love me back."

	'And I wanted
	You turned away
	You don't remember
	But I do
	You never even tried'

Faith grabbed her coat and her bag and ran out the front door. It was raining at pretty steady pace as she stepped off the porch. She was running again. She said what she wanted to say and instead being like the new Faith and staying to hear Buffy's response, she acted like the old Faith and ran away.

...continued in The Road Less Traveled...

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