The Passing of Time
by goose
Rating: R

Disclaimer: JW, ME, Fox.
Notes: I really hope this isn't "I hate you" worthy.

+1=2+

PART 1

To find that she had woken up wasn’t exactly a shock. To find that, after eight months, she was alive and well wasn’t something I wasn’t expecting, you know? Although, I can’t really say whether she was well, because I never saw her again after the night we shared in the hospital—the night that I stabbed her and tried to feed her to Angel.

Even though I was listed as Faith’s next of kin on her medical information chart, thanks to Willow, and was called the night that she came out of her coma and decided she wanted to have another violent outburst, it was as if she had completely vanished when I had gotten to the hospital, which is pretty much what she had done. I checked her old apartment, the cemeteries, and anywhere else I thought she might go, but she wasn’t anywhere; at least not anywhere that I could find. She took off to New York, I found out later, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As soon as she had awoken, Faith had beat up a girl, taken her clothes, and walked out of Sunnydale General. That’s Faith for you though, the poster child for aggressive tendencies. I should have figured.

I spoke to a few nurses, and even the police, but the only information I was given, was that the Wilkins heir’s hospital bills had been taken care of, and that the girl, whose clothes Faith had taken, had been compensated. The lawyers hired to clean up Faith’s mess, Wolfram and Hart, had been the Mayor’s legal representation. They had been assigned to Faith when he had died. So she was gone, clean slate, she had an obscene amount of money and the freedom to do as she pleased, but she was out of my town. That should have been the end of it. It wasn’t.

Was I angry? Of course. Jealous? A little. How could I not have been? She had joined the side of evil and was handed a ticket out of this life, her destiny, and what did I get? I got spat on by the Powers that Be. I had risked my life time after time for the sake of the world and I got nothing in return.

I let it go though, and went on with my life only to have my boyfriend leave me, my mother die on me, and my little sister taken and nearly sacrificed. Not to mention, I had died again and was torn out of heaven by my friends.

So, I was good enough to get into heaven, but not good enough to stay there. Oh, but if that wasn’t bad enough, I also had an affair with a soulless demon if only to try and find some solace, some way to cope with the mess that was in my head. Then, my friend was killed by a bullet that had been intended for me, and after that, my best friend tried to end the world. And finally, I had the honor of being hunted by the First Evil.

Faith hadn’t bothered to come for that one either. She mustn’t have thought that cause worthy enough of her presence.

None of us could have trusted her though even if she would have come. How could we have? She had lived a lush life courtesy of evil, while I was flipping burgers. But that wasn’t the point… Christ, why hadn’t she bothered to join the fight when her own life was on the line? She was a slayer, too!

We knew she was out there. We knew she wasn’t dead; there was no new slayer, but I guess she just didn’t need or want anything to do with us. We sent her a letter, I sent her a letter. She didn’t respond. Willow had tracked her down, kind of, first with a spell that couldn’t tell us where she was, then with her hacking skills that gave us a New York address. It seemed Faith had all but forgotten about us. What could we do, really, other than make do without her against the First?

When the fight was over, and the dust had settled, I was finally free. We took the wounded to LA to have them treated. Shortly after that, I packed up Dawn and myself and moved to Rome. That was certainly the last place on earth I had ever expected to see Faith again, but there she was, glass of wine in hand, and seated next to my Immortal.

“Faith,” I said unevenly. “Going for the boyfriend, again? Getting a little old, isn’t it?” I was livid.

“Buffy,” she said. Her eyes looked so old, and sad, as though she had seen a few life times in the few years we had been apart. “I haven’t seen you in over four years. Don’t you think your little outburst was a little uncalled for?”

“Uncalled for?” My voice sounded shrill. She just looked up at me as she put her wine glass down, though.

“Yes,” she said. “And, just so we’re clear on this, he’s not your boyfriend. He’s been my companion for the past three years,” she squinted a little. “When I found out you were in Rome, I asked him to introduce himself to you and get you here.”

She looked at the Immortal and nodded at him. He stood and left without a word, or backward glance. I stood up to leave, but she placed her hand on my forearm, stopping me. She was playing with me again and I hated it; hated her.

“This is just your style, isn’t it? Playing with my life…”

“No,” she said. “Not anymore.”

“Right,” I scoffed. I could never stand when she wasn’t honest with me.

“It’s the truth. I’ve changed Buffy.” She looked up at me, but I didn’t speak. “When I woke up,” she said, “I was so angry. I left for New York that night, but left six months after getting there. I hated that city, so I went to Paris. The suits talked me into that one. Said they could get a house there for me. That was where I met him.” She smiles a bit at that. “I hated him at first,” she said. “He was constantly following me around with that stupid face. I wanted to pound that look out of him, but he just laughed it off and blocked nearly every swing. After I had tired myself out, I thought he was going to kill me. I almost wanted him to. He didn’t. He showed me around the city, and after a few months he took me to Nepal. We toured most of Asia before he left me at a monastery in China for a year and a half. When I left there, he was standing outside of the gates, waiting for me.” She cleared her throat. “I’m a different person now. I’ve learned how to deal with what I’ve done, with what I am now…”

“Then why didn’t you come?” God, I was seething. “Why didn’t you help me?” I didn’t want to listen to her or her excuses. “Why didn’t you help me when I needed you?” She was living it up “finding herself” while I was dying? How could she possibly think that telling me that would make it better?

“I couldn’t,” she said. “By the time your letter had been forwarded, I knew what was happening. I knew about the watchers, but…”

“Then why?” She knew. She knew and she didn’t care?

“If the First knew what I had become…” she said. I looked up at her sharply.

“What are you talking about?”

“Buffy, if I had gone to Sunnydale, the First would have known that the Slayer line had already ended. The Mayor took care of that a long time ago.” What?

“What?”

“I’m immortal, Buffy.”

I yanked my hand that she was still holding away from her. But, her hands were so warm.

“You’re not a vampire,” I said. It wasn’t a question.

“No,” she said, “not a vampire. I don’t know what he did to me.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you…”

“The monks at the monastery that Aslan had taken me to knew what could happen; they had a very old mystic, he’s dead now. But, when I first met him, he knew about me even when I didn’t. He knew what would happen to you, but he never told me, not all of it. He did say that he would help me though, and he did, as much as he could. I didn’t want to live forever, I still don’t. He couldn’t reverse it, but he did use very powerful and extremely painful magick to keep anyone from finding out; to keep the First from knowing. I had to go back there when I got your letter. It was the only way. Your spell, the scythe—there were two prophecies, one with me, one without. The scythe would have released me from my immortality. It would have released The Slayer, not turned potentials into slayers. I wouldn’t have been able to help you.”

She looked so sad. I wanted to believe her, but this was too confusing and I was too angry. Finally, I looked at her. “Aslan?” I asked. She smiled at me.

“The Immortal,” she said.

Right. Of course she knew his name, he was her “companion,” right? I stood up and walked away from her table and toward the door.

“Buffy,” she called from behind me. I turned. “Can I see you again?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

She nodded and went back to her drink. She looked miserable, and I didn’t care. I walked out and didn’t look back, but I could still feel her watching me with every step that I took.

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My Fake Plastic Love.
But I can't help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run
And It Wears Me Out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out.

And if I could BE who you wanted
If I could BE who you wanted,
All the time, all the time, ohhh... ohh...
-Radiohead

PART 2

Notes: The Smiths.

Although I knew that I should have stayed away from her, I couldn’t. I was drawn to her, same as I always had been. Two weeks to the day that I had first seen her again, I found a bouquet of unnaturally beautiful orange orchids on my doorstep. The note attached was signed simply The Immortal with a monogrammed F on the leaflet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I knew they couldn’t have been from Aslan, but I still wanted them to be. Anyone would have been better than her. Unfortunately, he had sent a bouquet of roses two weeks prior with a letter of apology. Sorry for the deceit, yadda, yadda. Way to rub it in my face, right? It was signed, The Immortal complete with a monogrammed A on the stationary.

I hated them both.

A few days after her bouquet had arrived, I found Faith waiting on my doorstep, arms crossed over her chest. Once again she stood with that pathetic puppy dog look. I despised it. It always got to me, even before. Still, it wasn’t as bad as the wounded look she wore when I stabbed her. I don’t think I could ever stand seeing that on her face ever again.

As I walked closer to her she stepped away from the door, but didn’t drop her arms. “I wanted to see you,” she said simply.

“Well, here I am.” I stepped in front of her. The animosity was palpable between us. She lowered her gaze.

“Maybe I should go,” she said, “this was a bad idea.” She dropped her arms and rubbed her palms on her pants. I rolled my eyes at her and unlocked the door.

I stepped inside and left it open in case she wanted to follow me in. After a few minutes, I heard the door close followed by footsteps. I turned and leaned against the kitchen counter. She was standing in the half-light under the archway that connected the kitchen to the living room.

“Do you want something to drink?” I asked.

“No thanks,” she said.

She looked nervous even with the blank look on her face. It was her hands. She kept putting them in her pockets then pulling them back out until she finally put them behind her back and didn’t move a muscle. It was disconcerting to say the least. She had never been able to reign in her jitters that quickly.

“What do you want, Faith?”

“I just wanted to talk.”

“About what? About how funny it was to have your little boyfriend seduce poor little, Buffy? Did he give you all the sordid details? Did you two have a good laugh?” And can you believe that she had the nerve to laugh? She actually laughed at me.

“No, there were no details. I didn’t put him up to that. But he’s never gotten any complaints, so…” God, I couldn’t stand her sometimes. “Sides,” she said, but stopped herself. “That’s not why I’m here…”

“Then please, enlighten me?” I said. She nodded.

“I want to show you the city,” she said. I snorted in disbelief.

“No thanks,” I said. She pinched the bridge of her nose and frowned.

“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?” she asked.

“Is there any reason I should?”

“No,” she sighed. “Buffy, I… I’ve been led into a world older and more beautiful than you could ever dream of…” She sounded like a representative for some kind of cult.

“Right, and that’s your reason for me to trust you?” I asked. “Because if it is, think again. You’re probably trying to lure me into some order of demons older than time, right? Get out.”

“God, B! What the fuck is your problem? Is it because you fucked another immortal? Because I thought that was your thing, and from the way Aslan tells it, it ain’t exactly like you didn’t want it, right? Or is it because I don’t care? I’m not you, B. I don’t get jealous.”

Her eyes dropped and her shoulders tensed on the word jealous. I hoped she was lying.

“He and I, B, we don’t fuck each other anymore, so just… Look, I just wanted to share this with you, but whatever…”

“God, I hate you.” And I did sometimes. She turned and looked at me.

“I know,” she said. “But, you should really get over that.” And she walked to the door. Before she stepped out though, she turned and said, “I’m taking you and Dawn out on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be here at one. Be ready.”

The look on her face was so intense.

I wanted to tell her to fuck off, but just set my jaw and looked away instead as she walked out..

*****

“You, Faith, are an idiot,” he said to me. I really can’t stand him sometimes, but this wasn’t one of those times.

“I know,” I said.

“She’s going to use you,” he said. My eyes felt hot. I blinked and they felt better.

“I know…” I said again.

“No, you don’t know! You think she’s some innocent? She’s not.”

“I know, Aslan. It doesn’t matter.”

“You’re immortal, Faith. It always matters. If you let her do this to you now… She’s not worth it.”

I turned and looked at him.

“Tell me, Aslan. How many people have you loved?”

“Four,” he said with a blank look. “That includes you,” but I already knew that. We had discussed it before. He warned me about the damage humans could inflict on us. Sort of.

We’re different creatures. We feel too much all at once as it is. He once wiped out an entire city in a fit of rage. He wore their blood for days. That’s partially why he sent me back to that monastery… I know that there’s more that he won’t tell me…

Even the intensity of color is different for us. The monks helped. Aslan’s helped me dull it down some, too, but it’s still very painful. Everything is painful.

“And of those Four, which did you love the most?” I asked. He looked down at his glass and it shattered as his fingers tightened around it. “That Egyptian girl, right? The one that was killed? The first one, from when you were still human.”

“That is exactly why I’m telling you to let this go.” He picked the shards of glass out of his hand and placed them on the table. He wiped his own blood away with a napkin and looked up at me.

“I love her, Aslan,” I said. “I love her and I hate her.”

“You don’t know her, Faith…”

“I know everything about her.” I blushed at my last comment, and wanted to vomit at the same time.

My palms were sweating, and instinctively, I wiped them on my black pants. I’ve taken to wearing nothing but black, just like Aslan. I think it’s some type of tortured soul rule. I poked fun at him once, but couldn’t help but imitate. Vaguely, I was reminded of that song, “I wear black on the outside, because that’s how I feel on the inside…” I wanted to punch whoever wrote that song in the face and cry at the same time. But mostly, I wanted to lie down and sleep.

When I got to my bedroom, I realized that what had felt like a lifetime to me had only been four years that had passed me by. I cried then. My body would stop aging soon, and would avoid decay. God, how could nature allow such an atrocity? My body felt so fragile, but it wasn’t. My existence felt so pointless, and it would never end. I needed to see Buffy, but it was only Thursday. I shut my eyes and tried not to think about what it would feel like when she died. My body shook in pain, and I knew why Aslan had torn that city apart and finally burned it to the ground.

...to be continued...

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