Disclaimer: Joss and co. own them, not me.
Spoilers: Buffy, "Forever." Angel, "Judgment. (Part I)"
Author's Notes: This is my first fanfic, I finally decided to come out of the shadows and stop lurking. This hasn't been beta read, but I did use spell check! I also messed up the first post, so I am doing it again. Any comments criticisms, hints, suggestions, will be much appreciated, I have thick skin. If it totally bites let me know! I will return to the shadows : ) Starts in the future that only lives in my head (Prologue). Takes place right before & during Judgment (Part I).
com¨ple¨ment n. 1.a. Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection b. Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.
PROLOGUE – Lilydale
The old woman spread her red plaid blanket on the ground under the ancient oak tree. She placed her basket on top of the blanket and took out a bottle of wine and a corkscrew. With an agility and dexterity that belied her 97 years, she spun the corkscrew between her fingers like it was a drumstick, and finished the motion by uncorking the wine. She sat down upon the blanket and carefully placed the wine bottle down next to her. No point in spilling good wine, she thought to herself.
She looked up through the branches at the bright, cloudless, sky and thought idly to herself that she had picked a good day for her picnic. A gentle breeze blew her hair, which had long since gone pure white, around her face. With hands that were wrinkled and spotted with age, but did not tremble, and were deceptively strong, she tucked the stray locks behind her ears.
She had picnicked often throughout the years under the massive oak. You could find her out here at least once a month. This was however the first time she had been here since she had brought her lover out here almost six months ago. She knew the others that lived on 500-acre ranch with her were worried about her. But the young always had a tendency to fret over the old. She expected that, they believed like she did when she was their age, that the old were pretty much helpless and could no longer take care of themselves. Then again, she never imagined she would ever even come close to the age she was now. She knew that their worries were more than about her being old, she had been old for quite sometime now. What worried them was the sadness they saw behind her smiles, the sorrow they heard echoed in her laughter that even in the darkest of times had never been there. So, they fretted, fussed, and worried over her like a bunch of mother hens. It was endearing and she loved them all for it, though there were times, if she was honest with herself, that it annoyed the hell out of her!
She poured herself a glass of wine, and raised it in a silent toast to her family. She rested her back against the tree and for just a spilt second felt as ancient as it. In her heart though she would always be the passionate, stubborn, charming, cocky young woman she once was. She sighed and shook her head as if to clear the cobwebs from it, and gazed over at her family. They were all here now, every one of them. She paused briefly when she came to Anya, and smiled. It was her they had to thank for the beautiful sprawling ranch. Who knew that beneath the breast of the ex-vengeance demon beat the heart of a financial wizard? The investments she had made for all of them had made them all wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. In the way that all of them came to think of as "Anya's speak", she demand that they give her money to invest, which they finally did when they realized she would keep asking until they did. They also did it because she was driving Xander nuts with the constant questions as to why no one trusted her with their money. When she showed them their first returns it was with an "I told you so" smirk on her face, and a hand out for more money to invest. After that they never questioned her again, and eventually she became the manager for all of their portfolios. Together they had all bought the 500 acres of land and had all eventually built homes and settled here.
The old woman continued her lazy inspection of them, coming at last to stop at her lover. The woman who had brought such joy to her life, pain, sorrow, laughter, love and every other emotion in the spectrum. They had taught each other things about themselves that they hadn't imagined possible. There was a time when all they had been able to do was bring out the worse in each other. They had eventually figured out though they brought out the best in each other too. They were after all the "Chosen Two".
They had done the impossible, something no other slayer had ever done. They had loved, laughed, argued, and had children, grandchildren, even great grandchildren. They had built a home, a life with each other, and their family of friends. They had lived, and grown old together, despite all the odds, and those damn pesky prophecies. They had found their soul-mate in each others arms. Their strength and support came from each other, and in form of their family of friends. Together they were strong, and with their family of friends they were unstoppable. Most of all they had loved and been loved in return by each other, and by the friends who became more than that, had become their family. How could they have not beaten the odds? The old woman thanked the Powers That Be, everyday for this, for giving them, her, all of them a second chance.
The old woman, leaned her head back against the tree and let the peace and tranquility of this place surround and soothe her. Here in the private cemetery, where all of her loved ones were laid to rest, the old woman who was now just the "Chosen One", closed her eyes and let herself remember.
...some think it is so haunting / to be drawn to the cemetery ground / as we / God's acre is a fenced in / hollow ground -- 10,000 Maniacs
PART I – Inside Your Head...
and the nights grow colder / and the days get older / and the nights grow colder / so many times i thought of giving up better luck this time things aren't gonna be this way / and everything i felt from my heart from the start i knew it then i didn't have the strength to say / turn around to the sound of the voice that you're flowing to it's inside your head / if i said that i would then i could and i shouldn't lie cause i'd end up dead / looking up all my life but i just saw the sky i couldn't look beyond myself to realize / that the pain you come from is the pain you go through and you will do anything you can until you / turn around to the sound of the voice that you're flowing to it's inside your head / if i said that i would then i could and i shouldn't lie cause i'd end up dead / and the nights grow colder / and the days get older / and the nights grow colder / it's inside your head / and the nights grow colder / and the days get older - Tantric
She was pacing back in forth in the small cell, she had too much energy and no way to release it. To much time to think, to remember, to hate herself. <Fuck, what the hell did I think this was going to be a permanent trip to Disney Land?> Faith sighed and threw herself down on the bed. It had been 4 months since she had turned herself in. She had been convicted of 1 assault and battery charge and given an 18 month jail term, eligible for parole in 8 months. She had been sentenced as a juvenile, which her idiot of a lawyer was ecstatic about. The felony murder charge was still pending the out come of the DA offices investigation. She didn't understand why they need to investigate, why they just couldn't take her at her word. <Right good one, take the self confessed murderer at her word, hmm.> She knew she belonged here, so what the hell was taking them so long to figure it out? What else did they need from her, she had given them a confession. Did they want it in blood? She would gladly give it to them, all they needed to do was ask. <Ask and ye shall receive.> She thought inanely to herself.
<Fuck, fuck, fuck, this would have been so much easier if they had just killed her, or she had killed herself. Always looking for the easy way out, eh Faith?> But, she was tired of it, of always running. Never taking responsibility for her actions, of hiding, of being alone, of wanting to be someone other than who she was. She wanted to be that person the girl had thanked at the church. So when "B" had said jail, she had jumped at the chance, her chance at changing, choosing to also believe in Angel when he said she could change. He had said it would be hard, painful, and he hadn't been lying. For once in her worthless life she desperately wanted to make things right, do the right thing, and she felt good about the decision. If it meant the only way she could do it was by spending the rest of her life behind prison walls well, then that's what she would do. Whatever it took. She wanted to find redemption, she wanted to be able to someday look at her reflection in the mirror and not feel hate. Running, taking her own life or trying to get someone else to do it for her where no longer options she even considered. <Just what the hell was taking those idiots down at the DA's office so long?> Faith wondered once again. Her court appointed lawyer gave her the spiel about the wheels of justice turning slowly, when she had asked him that question 2 weeks ago. He tried to encourage her, telling her not to worry, let him take care of everything, she had to suppress the urge to throttle him every time he came to see her. He was unable to accept the idea that she didn't want to get out of this, that she deserved this. She told him she didn't need or want a lawyer. As a minor however, the courts didn't give her that option, so she was stuck with him whether she liked it or not. In the mean time she remained in LA's County Jail, lucky her they didn't have any room for her at the juvenile detention center. Actually she had been glad they weren't putting her there, she didn't think she belonged anywhere near children, regardless that quite a few of them there had committed worse crimes then herself.
She got up from the cot that was a sorry excuse for a bed, and started pacing again. To much time to think, too many images from her past came back to haunt her. She spent some of her free time in the gym lifting weights and using the punching bag, trying to expend some of her excess energy. But she couldn't go full out, it would raise to many questions that she would be unable to answer. She missed training with "B". <Not going there, need to stay faraway from there.> Images of her last encounter with Buffy rose up in her mind. Bringing with them the pain, the loss she felt from the encounter. She had little doubt that she could ever make things right between them again, or any of the "Scooby Gang" for that matter. Her only saving grace over the last 4 months had come in the form of a 200-plus-year-old vampire with a soul. Angel had forgiven her. He understood where she was coming from, what she was trying to do, and had been trying to help her. It was still tough going but she had the desire to change, and he was sincere in his effort to help her. He often told her, "They would get through this together." He would talk to her about what was happening on the outside, bringing her magazines and such, in order to keep her up to date, so that when the day came and she got to leave this place, she would not feel so out of place. She would just smile a sad smile at him when he talked about her leaving here. She never thought about it, didn't believe it would ever happen, didn't believe there would ever be a place for her on the outside. In her heart she believed she was where she was suppose to be, where she was always meant to be. If the truth be told, even though with all her heart she wanted to change, wanted to find redemption, she didn't truly believe it was possible.
She stopped pacing and leaned up against the bars of her cells looking out into the common room. Glaring at her from across the way, was Ridge. Faith had definitely made an enemy in her. <Wicked, something I am good at> she thought with a self-depreciating chuckle. Ridge as it turned out was Faith's most persistent suitor, in fact was now her only one. Faith had been approached by a few of the inmates, some looking for friendship, others looking for something more. She had no desire to befriend any of the inmates, and none of the inmates even came close to interesting her in any other way. In any case her standard practice of "Get some, get gone", would be a little hard to pull off in jail, there wasn't anywhere to "get gone" to.
Some inmates had taken "no" for an answer and never asked again. The other inmates that hadn't given up so easy dropped their suit when Ridge let it be known that she had her own plans for Faith. Their fear of Ridge outweighed their lust for Faith. Not too long ago Faith might have been attracted to Ridge. Ridge was taller than Faith, her hair was long and jet-black, her body well muscled and slim, her eyes an intense gray, and her mouth generous and seemed to be in a perpetual pout. It wasn't so much her looks that would have attracted Faith, but more her bad girl attitude, the air of danger around her, and the knowledge that she was a don't play by the rules, live on the edge, anything goes kind of girl. Faith no longer wanted or needed anyone in her life like that anymore. The only woman she wanted in her life was forever out of her reach. There was a part of Faith that still couldn't help but wish, if only, maybe someday. <Get real girl, like her first choice would be a psychopathic super-bitch, whore, murderer!>
Against her will her thoughts started to stray down that familiar path. <Not good, not good.> Faith felt the pain rush up in her, for the pain she had caused "her", for trying to steal "her" life, for making "her" a victim, pain for all that she herself had for the asking and had lost, had pretty much thrown away. She couldn't do this right now, not while Ridge was standing there watching her. She didn't know if she ever could. She needed to do something besides think, needed to release the energy. She didn't feel like practicing her Tai Chi, didn't want to meditate about the thoughts that had been going through her mind. She changed quickly into a pair of gym shorts and workout top and went out to the yard to work out for the second time that day.
Faith had only been in the yard for a little over 10 minutes when she saw Ridge come towards the gated section of the yard that served as the "gym". As usual right behind her were "Ridge's Girls", the nickname that the other inmates had bestowed upon the woman who where always with her. Ridge found it amusing so the nickname stuck. Trying to appear casual Faith finished a series of kicks to the punching bag, and grabbed her towel. She was hoping to get out of the "gym" and back to her cell before Ridge had a chance to approach her. Her senses were tingling, and she was getting a very bad feeling about this. Her intuition was proven right when she saw Ridge casually leaned her frame against the exit, effectively blocking Faith's retreat. As if that wasn't bad enough Faith noticed that the guards that were usually present in the yard had mysteriously disappeared. Faith walked over to the exit gate, careful to keep her expression neutral, and her tone even, said, "Excuse me."
"Oh, did you want to get by?"
"What do we say?" Smirked Ridge, while Faith looked at her with a "you've got to be kidding me look". Suppressing the urge to just knock the woman into Tuesday, Faith kept her tone even and said, "Please".
"Hmm, I changed my mind, not really what I want, lets see, think I'd prefer something else."
<How about I let you keep your fucking face in one piece! Prefer that?> Faith thought.
"Something else?" said Faith, playing dumb.
"Yeah, something else." Husked Ridge, and lifted a finger and caressed Faith's bottom lip. Faith felt her insides cringe in revulsion at the touch and snapped her head back. She felt anger creeping up the back of her neck, and she fought the urge to put a serious hurting on Ridge. The rogue slayer knew she could do it, what scared her was that she wanted to, almost needed to. The dark side of her was jumping up and down in joy at the thought. <I control me, the darkness, the rage, do NOT control me> she started repeating over and over in her head.
Faith's thoughts raced back to when Angel had first taught her that damn mantra. She had laughed right in his face. "What kind of stupid shit is that soul-boy? That's suppose to work riiiiiiiight.." she had scoffed. "Try it." was his only answer. The next time she felt her dark side rise up in her and try to take control, she thought "What the fuck", and found much to her surprise, that the mantra seemed to help her gain some control. "You were right soul-boy the dumb mantra worked." She mumbled at him embarrassed on his next visit. He then began to explain to her that the purpose of the mantra was to teach her to find her center, and to learn how to find her focus. Without her knowing he was beginning to teach her basic principles/tenets for the ancient art of Tai Chi. Over the 4 months she had been here he had been teaching her little by little the movements, meditations and exercises of the art. He helped her to begin to understand that her dark side would always be with her, but like him she needed to learn how to control and tame it.
She was still in the early stages of learning control and she really hadn't been tested at any seriously level yet. <Looks like there's a surprise quiz today.> She thought, as she consciously sought to regain her self-control, visualizing the anger going from red, to blue.
"Thanks, but no thanks." Faith murmured quietly, careful to keep the loathing out of her voice. Her best option now was to push Ridge out of the way and run like hell back to her cell, she had lost her desire to hurt the other woman. That was until she felt the knife pressing lightly up against her rib cage.
"Guess we are going to have to do this my way," Ridge smiled a smile that left no doubt in Faith's mind that she preferred it this way. "I still get what I want, and in the end you'll do what I say." Faith didn't react; all her effort was going to controlling the anger that was once again pounding through her veins. She was desperately maintaining her control by a thin thread. Ridge reached out quickly and painfully grabbed her breast and pressed the knife into her with just enough pressure to break the skin and draw blood. The thin thread snapped, and the rage took over streaking through her veins like molten lava. Her demon, her dark side took over.
Almost as if it were happening in slow motion, she saw, felt herself, push, bend, grab the wrist with the knife, and sweep Ridge's feet out from under her. Holding the arm with the knife out and away from her she allowed the momentum of Ridge's falling body to carry her down with her. Straddling the other woman, Faith leaned down and snarling whispered in her ear, "Fuck you bitch, not gonna happen, ever again." Ridge felt a shutter go through her as she looked into the cold deadly eyes of Faith. Faith started applying pressure to the Ridge's wrist, she dimly heard through the buzzing in her head the knife fall from the woman's numb hand. She smiled a feral smile, and with a deliberate final squeeze broke her wrist. Faith saw the rage in the other woman's eyes turn to pain. The dark side of her was urging her on, relishing the pain it was causing, inciting her to cause more. It demanded, it begged, it wanted blood, no it needed blood. It was screaming, yelling, in her head, demanding to be unleashed. Behind the din in her head Faith heard another voice, speaking to her softly. Reminding her of what it was she wanted, reminding her of the pain she had caused, reminding her of the other path she could take. The darkness in her tried to drown out the quiet voice, and it was winning. She felt herself wanting to let it out, to take the easy way, let herself let go of the pain, the remorse, the guilt. The quiet voice reminded her gently of words Angel had spoken to her, "All that pain, all that suffering you caused is coming back on you. Feel it! Deal with it! Then maybe you've got a shot at being free." Free, oh god, she desperately wanted to feel free, so she let herself feel the pain. She heard the darkness inside her howl in defeat, and fade away.
As if waking from a deep sleep, Faith blinked her eyes rapidly, and let go of Ridge's wrist, and slowly rose to her feet. She kicked the knife out of the other woman's reach, and looked down at her. Faith recoiled from the pure hatred she saw in Ridge's eyes. "This ain't over bitch!" Ridge hissed at her through clenched teeth.
Faith ignored her and started to cross the yard towards the door inside. She heard, the other women run up to Ridge, and heard her mumble that Faith had just gotten lucky, but she wouldn't be so lucky next time.
The first blow of the baton across her shoulders caught her by surprise, and brought her to her knees. She rolled, coming quickly back up to her feet, and turned around. She began backing up. She saw the two guards who had been mysteriously missing cautiously approaching her with their batons raised. She saw Ridge, get up and start coming toward her and the guards, a smile on her face. Faith saw her lick her lips in what was almost sensuous anticipation of the beating that the guards without a doubt intended to give her. She could see the exhilaration, joy in Ridges eyes at the thought of Faith's coming pain. In that moment Faith saw her own dark side reflected in Ridge's face, and the thought that there was a part of her like that revolted and sickened her. Faith stopped backing up. She closed her eyes, and waited for the blows to come.
Repeatedly they came, bringing her to her knees, knocking her to the ground. She curled herself into a ball and used her arms to protect her head. She could hear heavy breathing and could smell the scent of arousal coming from the guards and Ridge. She bit her lip drawing blood, refusing to give them the satisfaction and pleasure of hearing her scream out in pain, as the blows continued to rain down on her. After what felt like an eternity, they stopped, unable to raise their batons again. She heard someone approach her, and felt a foot on her shoulder. She was slowly pushed over onto her side, she raised her eyes, struggling to stay conscious. Ridge was smiling down at her, her breathing labored, her face flushed from her arousal.
"Like I said, this ain't over, the fun has barely begun." She drew back her foot and kicked Faith hard, breaking at least 2 of her ribs. Faith passed out from the pain.
She had no idea how long she remained unconscious. When she woke the pain hit her like tidal waves, making her head spin. Taking deep breaths, she pushed down the nausea, and somehow managed to sit up. Waiting for the spinning to stop again, she slowly regained her feet. She forced herself to stand up straight. Taking small slow steps she made her way to her cell. As she walked threw the common room to her cell she heard the other inmates whispering about her.
"Not so high an mighty now."
"Do you think Ridge would let me have her when she done with her?"
"Black and blue seems to be her color."
"Yeah I hear Ridge likes to keep them that color."
"Think she'll share her like the others?"
The voices began to blur together, as she felt the dizziness come over her again. She prayed that she would make it back to her cell before she passed out. She quickened her paced and willed herself to ignore the pain. She entered her cell wanting nothing more that to crawl on her cot, but she need to check her injuries first. Jaw clenched, she wrapped her ribs as best as she could, quietly moaning in pain. She ran her hands over the rest of her body and was relieved nothing else seemed to be broken. She was going to be in pain for days. She crawled onto her cot, her body exhausted, lost the struggle to stay awake as the blackness claimed her.
She woke to the sound of one of the guards calling her name.
"Whatever I'll tell him you're out and to go away."
"What?" She tried to clear her head, but it was throbbing and not a part of her body didn't hurt.
"You have a visitor."
"A visitor?" How was she going to explain this to Angel? She didn't want to open this door, he had learned to read her too well. She had no doubt that he would see that there was more to this than just her objecting to be someone's bitch. Would know this went deeper, would see, see things, she herself had been refusing to see for years.
"Would you like me to spell it for you?" The guard asked sarcastically.
"No, no, I'll be right there." Faith rose from the bed and pain shot through her like a bolt of electricity. She bit down hard on her lip to keep herself from groaning out load. She could not show any weakness. She could feel the vultures here just waiting for a chance to pounce. Trying to walk as normal as possible she followed the guard to the visitors room. She smiled when she saw Angel at one of the booths waiting for her. <Me and soul-boy friends, whoda thought it?>
"Hey" he said when she picked up the phone.
"How are you doing?"
"Pretty good, I guess. I did sign up for this."
"Regretting the choice?"
"Bad day. One of the girls in the yard tried to build a rep by throwing down with me. She had low self esteem, and a home-made knife." Not quite the truth but close enough.
"Oh. - Is she – you know – alive?" Almost afraid to ask.
"She lives to tell the tale. – Took a big beating from the guards, too." Faith told him with a grimace.
"Earned worse. Guys like us kind of got it coming." In truth she thought she deserved worse, she could put up with anything they dished out to her, but they would have to kill her before she became anyone's bitch. <Been there, done that.> Angel knew she was holding something back, he didn't push, when she was ready she would tell him, instead he said, "I had to sing Barry Manilow"…. They talked until visiting hours where over. He told her he would bring her the meditation and Tai Chi books next time, he had finally finished translating them for her. Angel left feeling relief and a little bit of pride at her progress. Like she had said, she could have killed the other woman but she didn't. He knew she had wanted to, had probably come close. But like she had said.
"The road to redemption is a rocky path."
"That it is." He knew the road well, had been on it for a long time himself.
"You think we might make it?" She looked at him earnestly.
"We might." And for the first time he felt a little bit of hope for the both of them.
Faith woke the next morning, in serious pain. There wasn't a part of her body that didn't hurt. Still she felt rested, hell, she felt good. For the first time since Allan, she slept without nightmares. She immediately felt guilty, she had considered the nightly terrors part of her punishment. She was a little afraid without them, she would forget about the life she took the pain she had caused. <How fucked up is that?> Faith wondered. She was missing something here, what was it? It began to slowly dawn on her, she had made a choice yesterday, she chose not to take a life. It would have been so easy, she had nothing left to lose, she had already lost everything, everyone she held dear. Ok there was still soul-boy, but even if she had killed Ridge, he would still be there for her, she knew that, and yet, she still hadn't taken that life. She had seen the look of surprise in his face when she had told him the other woman still lived. For the first time in her fucked up life she had done the right thing, not because she was trying to prove it to anyone, but because it was right. Granted she hadn't needed to break Ridge's wrist, but she had regained control. She had reined herself back in, where before she never could. She felt a small spark of hope ignite in her, felt like she could really do this, like she could stop fucking up, could really change, prove them wrong, prove herself wrong. Until this moment she really hadn't truly believed it was possible, but now, oh god she was starting to believe in the impossible.
The rest of the week went by quickly. Visiting day came and went, Angel had brought her the books like he promised, he taught her a few more Tai Chi exercises, and corrected some of her movements. On Friday her lawyer came to let her know that he had started an appeal of her conviction on the assault and battery charge, and the trial date had been set for 4 weeks from Monday. He seemed optimistic that they would be able to get the conviction overturned, and if they did, since she had turned 18, she would be a free woman. Or, at least until they decided to finally file the felony murder charge. She wanted to throttle him, she ranted at him, what gave him the right she asked? He let her know it was his job and technically she was stuck with him because she was a minor at the time. She tried once again to convince him she didn't want to get off, didn't think she would ever get out, that she belonged here, god he was dense. He just smiled at her, ignoring her and continued blabbing. Whatever, fuck him, he was an idiot anyway, they wouldn't be able to ignore her once she was in court. She had no doubt that she would be able to convince the Judge that she was psychotic and it would be in the best interest of the state of California to deny the appeal, just accept her guilty plea, lock her up and throw away the key. Despite or in spite of her revelation earlier this week she was still completely convinced that she belonged here, whether she changed her ways or not, that the path to redemption for her lie in the road that kept her behind bars.
Another week passed by, Angel visit came and went. She had spent most of it reading about Tai Chi, practicing the meditations, and exercises of the ancient art. She found Tai Chi helped to calm the turmoil in her, kept her focused on her goals. The rest of her time was spent in the gym, always making sure that there where other woman present when she worked out. She kept her eyes focused on the outer yard's door, this would leave her plenty of time to escape the gated gym should it look like a confrontation was heading her way. Being a slayer she already possessed inhuman strength, but you would not have known that, before she had been lean, slim, and didn't look like she could hurt a fly let alone a person. However, now with all the hours spent working out she was cut, ripped and lean. Her muscles rippled when she moved, she had a six-pack for a stomach, each muscle clearly defined. The panther like quality Faith had always exuded when she moved was now even more pronounced. The other inmates made a wide path around her now, and she supposed it was in part the muscle and in some sick way the thrown down with Ridge. She had been tense in the last 2 weeks waiting for some kind of retaliation from Ridge, but none had come. Perhaps the head case had learned her lesson and would leave her alone. Perhaps for once something worse wouldn't come out of her actions, perhaps for once she could get lucky.
It was Sunday and most of the inmates were at the church services the jail provided. Faith decided it was a good time to take a shower. When she entered the large open shower room, and saw it was empty, she gave a soft sigh of relief. She really wasn't into the whole community shower thing, the way the other woman looked at her just made her skin crawl, leering like a bunch of dirty old men, she could feel there lust for her, and it brought up to many bad memories from her childhood. <nonotgoingtheresonotgonnagotheredon'twannawon'tnoway>
She moved quickly to the far corner of the room, wrenching her thought away from the unbidden memories. She wasn't ready to deal with that shit, didn't know if she could ever deal with that shit. Better to leave it buried, hidden away, her ugly secret. She turned the water on full blast, adjusting the temperature to scalding. She leaned into the shower, supporting herself by putting her palms up against the tile wall. She let the water cascade over her, beating a hard tempo on her head and shoulders. She took a deep cleansing breath, glad that her ribs were finally healed, and cleared her mind of the disturbing images that came with the memories of her childhood. Instead she thought about Angel, he had been so good to her over the last 4 1/2 months. Who would have thought that when she had tried to kill him, then tried to get him to kill her, that he would be the one to help her to find the courage to live. That she a slayer no less, one of the "Chosen Two", <no not anymore, not ever again>, would be learning from a vampire, how to heal herself, how to find redemption, salvation, to try and heal the pain she had caused others, to fight and win against the darkness that lie within her. She knew she still had a very long way to go, but every day it got easier to control her dark side. The little spark of hope that started the day after her thrown down with Ridge, had brighten a little more everyday.
She grabbed the shampoo, which she hated with a passion, it smelled like disinfectant, and lathered her head. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to relax under the soothing spray of the shower. She let her thoughts drift, and her guard down.
Faith sensed them a second too late. They body slammed her into the wall. Her head hitting the tile with a sickening crack, her knees buckled, and she felt blood pouring from the gash in her head as she started to slide down the wall. They slammed her again, her head once more slamming into the tile, her thoughts became jumbled, not sure if she was actually conscious anymore. Dimly she heard, "Let the fun begin".
She landed hard on her knees, a blow landed on the back of her head, a kick to her ribs, and the pain came screaming at her. There were too many of them, they beat her face first into the floor, and kept beating as she lay in a pool of her own blood unable to even protect herself. There was too much screaming in her head, her dark side screamed for blood, the child in her screaming in terror, sure of what was to come, until her mind and body could not handle anymore and slipped into the quietness of the abyss.
The ice cold water shocked her awake. She was on her back, her mind was barely functioning, pain ripping threw her, she was confused, disoriented, not even sure where she was. She was in jail wasn't she, or was she home at her Mom's and Johnny's? Someone was bending over her, who was it, she couldn't see clearly and her eyes burned. Was it Ridge, or Johnny? Why did she hurt so much, she had been good, hadn't she, she hadn't done anything wrong, or did she? A voice whispered in her ear, "Time to play little girl, be good or daddy will have to let the other kids play some more." She felt a hand <Ridge, Johnny?> on her stomach, felt it start to slide down towards the junction between her legs. He legs were pulled apart. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO" Faith screamed. The adrenaline rushed through her, forcing down the pain, and her slayer instincts took over. she pulled the hand away from her body and pushed it's owner away from her hard. She rolled to her side and was on her feet before the other women could even react. The dark side in her tried to take control, but it was no longer the strongest part of her. Instead, a quiet voice, the voice that was the "Faith", that Faith always wanted to be, spoke to her, calming the blood lust of her dark side. She saw through eyes blurry with shampoo, and blood, a punch coming towards her, she blocked the punch and kicked the woman away from her. They kept coming at her, there were six of them, two she was almost sure were the guards from the yard, and one she knew was Ridge. She blocked their punches, and kept kicking them away, but not seriously hurting any of them. She didn't know how much longer she was going to be able to keep standing or remain conscious, the pain was beginning to creep back up on her. She was halfway across the shower room and she had just finished knocking them away once again. She hoped they wouldn't come at her again, she took a staggering step towards the door when Ridge tackled her from the side.
They fell to the ground, Faith's head hitting the floor hard. Using what little strength she had left Faith broke away from Ridge and rolled away. She was on her stomach trying to rise when Ridge kicked her in the side knocking her over onto her back. Ridge landed on top of her knocking the air from her lungs. She grabbed Faith by the hair and began to slam her head against the tile floor, while continuing to punch her in the face with her other hand. Faith tried blocking the punches, but her movements where beginning to become sluggish as tried to stay conscious, she knew if she didn't get Ridge off her soon she would kill her. In a last ditch effort she tried to push the larger woman off her. She threw her hands up and out at the other woman, but her vision was blurred her aim off, instead she connected with Ridge's cheekbone, breaking it and splitting it open. Her other hand, landed a blow to Ridge's nose, breaking it too and knocking her out.
Blood gushed down over Faith's hands and face. She pushed Ridge off her, she got up from the floor, and through blurry vision saw the other five woman backing away from her. She stood on wobbly legs, pain ripping through her, the blood from her forehead dripping into her eyes. She raised her hands to wipe her eyes, that's when she saw the blood on them. Blood, oh my god, there was blood on her hands. She frantically looked around, and saw Ridge lying in a pool of her own blood. She had kill her, she had killed someone again, and the blood, so much blood all of it on her hands. Whimpering she fell to her knees, screaming, "ohgodno" over and over in her head.
She didn't hear as the other guards rushed into the shower room. She didn't hear as one of the two guards that attacked her told them she came after them. She didn't hear the guard who told her to lay down on her stomach and put her hands behind her head. She didn't hear one of the guards approached her cautiously with raised baton. She didn't hear as the baton came rushing down towards her. All she heard was her voice screaming in her head.
The pain woke her from her forced slumber. She was curled up in a fetal ball on the floor, in isolation. She could feel the blood caked in her hair and on her face. She was sure but she thought her ribs might be broken again, it was hard to tell with all the other pain. Her thoughts were still jumbled, from what was probably a serious concussion. She remembered going to take a shower yesterday, she remembered getting jumped, fighting back, being careful not to hurt anyone, then she remembered the blood.
More blood on her hands, she had killed someone again, she hadn't meant to, she had been trying not to. She had fucked up again, stupid, stupid, stupid. God, she was so stupid to think she could change, she could never change! She raged and screamed at herself in her head. She rose her hands up and looked at the blood on her hands in the dim light of the isolation cell. So much blood, there were layers and layers of it on her hands. Ridge's, Allan's, her watchers, her Mother's, how much more would there be? How many more would she kill by accident, how many more times would she fuck up? She had to get it off, needed to get it off. She looked around frantically for the sink, there wasn't one, why wasn't there one?
How was she going to get the blood off, it was starting to burn her skin, she had to get it off. She started rubbing her hands up against the rough brick wall of the cell. She pressed them harder against the wall, scraping the dried blood from her hands, causing welts to raise up on the backs and then the palms of her hands. But it still wasn't coming off! She started to claw at the blood with her nails, more and more frantic. She kept at it until both her hands were covered in deep gashes, that even with her slayer healing would still scar. Still it was there. She would never be able to get it off, it would never go away. Obsessed she kept clawing at it until her hands were covered in her own blood, but she could still feel theirs. She was overwhelmed by it and her mind just shut down. She retreated to a far corner of it, caught in the nightmare that consisted of only the blood on her hands.
For twelve days Faith remained in isolation, neither food nor water was given to her. They wanted to break her, make her think twice about attacking a guard again. They were expecting like other prisoners who had been taught this lesson, that eventually she would beg for food, for water, she disappointed them. After three days they decided to add a little something to the lesson plan.
Faith stayed huddled in the corner of her cell, still trapped in her own mind. The only thing that mattered to her was getting the blood off her hands. Her nails were broken, her finger tips raw and ripped open, and blood dripped slowly from the gashes and scrapes almost none stop. She didn't hear the guards enter the cell. She didn't even realize they were the same ones from the yard and the shower, Cameron and Troy. They spoke to her and she ignored them until a baton smashed into her arm. She raised dead eyes to them. They told her to stand up, she tried but her legs were too stiff and weak to support her. They told her to get up again, and to ensure she heard them the baton came down across her shoulder. She tried successfully to rise, her body trembling, still recovering from the injuries received in the shower room. They repeated their request and when she was unable to comply, they hit her again, and so it continued until either their arms grew too tired to raise their batons, or Faith slipped into unconsciousness.
For nine days the guards came into her cell to teach the slayer a lesson. She deserved this, she was evil, she had killed again. Her own guilt over all the others, had over ridden the fact that she had only struck back in self-defense. Had her mind been clearer at the time she would have realized that she had not hit Ridge with enough force to kill her. Faith waited for them, in her mind this was part of her punishment for the blood on her hands. Waited for the oblivion to claim her where the blood and the pain could mercifully not reach her.
They came for her on the twelfth day and dragged her from the cell. They threw her under the spray of a cold shower, and told her to wash. She struggled to get to her feet, but in the end they had to help her, she was too weak from the beatings, the lack of food and the dehydration, to even wash herself. They had to dress her, and that was when Cameron noticed her hands.
"What the fuck? What the fuck did you do to your hands girl?"
Cameron asked Faith roughly. Faith didn't respond.
"Shit we need to take her to see the Doc. Fuck!" The two guards half dragged half carried the slayer to the infirmary. When the Doctor saw Faith's hands he had to choke back the bile that rose up in his throat. He didn't even know where to start, there were so many gashes, scrapes, welts on her hands. He cleaned them up and wrapped them in gauze. He turned around to get a pain pill for the girl, by the time he turned back Faith had the bandages removed, and was once more clawing at her hands. They had to restrain her, weakened as she was she struggled against them. Her shirt came off her shoulder and the Doctor saw the bruises, and contusions, both fresh and healing. He said nothing to the guards, he knew these marks were from them, not another inmate. They finally managed to get Faith restrained and sedated. The Doctor once more cleaned and bandaged her hands. He told the guards that the girl would need to stay here for at least a week, they told him he had two days and then she was due in court. He just nodded his agreement. They finally left him alone with her.
He stared down at the gaunt face and wondered how long she had been without food and water. How long had the guards been beating her. While she was still out from the drug induced sleep he inspected her for other injuries. He had no trouble seeing that 3 of her ribs where broken, sticking out from her body as they were from the lack of food. He gently wrapped them. He was repulsed by the damage the guards had done to her, there wasn't a square inch of her body that wasn't covered in bruises, his best guess being they had been beating her for a least a week. His guess would have been different had he known about her slayer healing. He didn't know how she had managed to survive. He started an IV drip and checked to make sure she was sleeping soundly before he left her alone. He left the room and went about finding out more about his new patient. Sunday night after his shift the Doctor made a phone call.
They escorted Faith to the courtroom. Her feet were shackled, her hands cuffed in front of her. She shuffled over to the defense table, taking slow, stiff, steps, her head hung low, her eyes focused on the ground, her hair covering her face. The county issued jumpsuit she wore look about 5 sizes too big for her, if anyone had looked closely they would have seen the bandages that covered her hands as she gingerly sat down on the chair wincing in pain. Her mind was becoming clearer by the minutes, the drugs the Doctor had been giving her finally wearing off. But there was a price, as her mind cleared the pain came, and the memory of the blood still on her hands. Keeping her hands under the table, Faith began to tear the bandages from her hands.
The trial began, she dimly understood they were talking about her. She heard the DA talking, then her defense attorney. No one noticed the blood that was beginning to pool on the floor by her feet. Someone spoke her name, she ignored them. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she pulled away in pain. She looked up for the first time, trying to focus on what her attorney was telling her. Free, was he telling her she was free, they had dropped all the charges? Yes, she was free, he said, all the charges had been dropped, and the current conviction overturned.
"NO you can't I'm EVIL, I killed Allan, I killed Ridge, I KILL." she screamed hysterically. The Judge turned and looked at the young girl. Shocked by the bruises he saw on her face.
"Can't you see, look, can't you see the blood, it's theirs, it's all of theirs." She pleaded desperately, raising her hands to the Judge.
An un-natural quiet settled over the courtroom as they all stared in horror at Faith's raised hands. The quiet was interrupted by the sound of her blood as it dripped and splattered onto the table.
"Please, please, you have to lock me up, please before there is more blood." She whispered brokenly, as tears streamed down her face.
The Judge shook himself out of his shocked stupor and started giving orders. Faith was escorted from the room and taken to another part of the courthouse to a private room. Someone spoke privately with the Judge and arrangements were made.
She was crouched and huddled in the corner of the small room. Her eyes unfocused, her mind trapped again in the nightmare where only the layers of blood on her hands existed. The blood she couldn't wash off, couldn't scrub off, couldn't claw off. The guilt had claimed and overwhelmed her again. They had tried to tell her that she hadn't killed Ridge. It didn't matter, there was other blood on her hands, there would always be blood on her hands. Even now she was trying to scrape it from her hands, unaware, uncaring, of the pain, and her own blood that seeped from beneath her fingernails.
That was how Angel found her. He was beside her within an instant, crouching low and gently putting his hands on her shoulders.
"Faith, Faith, look at me." He whispered softly. She raised her tear stained eyes to his, Angel, he would know what to do, he had blood on his hands too.
"Please, please, make it go away, why won't it go away?"she asked in a broken ragged voice.
"What Faith, what?"
"The blood, their blood." She showed him her hands. Her torn and shredded hands. "It won't come off, I can't get it OFF, help me, please."
He gather her into his arms, and felt himself crying. He understood her pain, he understood only to well.
"Sssh now, I'll help you, it will be alright, don't worry, we'll make it better." Gently he picked her up, whispering soothing words, and carried her from the room.
Her movements were precise, graceful and fluid as she did her Tai Chi exercises. There was focus, and an air of tranquility and peace that surrounded her. Words she thought would never be applied to her. The exercises she performed were ancient and would probably not be recognized by most practitioners of the art, then again, it was unlikely that anyone else had a 200 plus-year-old vampire with a soul as an instructor. Practicing Tai Chi had taught her how to channel her destructive energy, to release it from her. It had given her an inner peace she had never experience before and never thought she could. She still had a long way to go, there were demons from her past that she had yet to face. But, her feet were firmly planted on the right path, and for the first time in her life, she allowed herself to think about the future.
Her focus drifted, and she thought of the people in her life that she had hurt. Her movements became hesitant and shaky. The guilt washed over and through her. Guilt over having taken a life, Allan's life. No matter what she did, who she was, become, she could never make it right. Self-disgust, self-hatred, and remorse crash into her, and for a second she could once again see the blood on her hands, layers of blood. The urge to try and wash the blood from her hands became almost overwhelming.
She could hear Angel in her head "Focus, find your focus." Using her strength of will and an amazing amount of self-control, she struggled to find her center and focus. Acknowledging to herself that the guilt was something she would always carry with her, like the metaphorical blood on her hands. She needed to focus her energies on never going down that path again. Instead to continue along the path of light. Her movements once again became precise, graceful and fluid, as an inner calm once more surrounded her. She had come a long way since the night she had turned herself in.
It was doubtful that any of the gang from Sunnydale would have recognized the woman as Faith.
...continued in part 2...