Copyright © 2003
Disclaimer: These characters are the sole property of Mutant Enemy and Fox. No infringement of copyright is intended and no profit is made.
Forever Faith: http://mysticmuse.net/faith/indexfaith.htm
Sure, wherever you like. Just please let me know where it's going.
Spoilers: This fic is set after Angel episode Orpheus.
Feedback: Yes, please!
Summary: It's a long drive to Sunnydale. Willow and Faith need to do some catching up, especially since Willow has a serious confession to make.
The car slid through the night, the lights of Los Angeles melting into a hazy blur behind it. With the windows cracked open and letting in a cool breeze, if Faith kept her eyes closed she could almost pretend she was flying.
It was taking most of her willpower not to fall asleep, not even counting the fact that Willow's driving was like her speech patterns—erratic, peculiar and mostly from left-field. Despite the occasional weaving and Willow's spontaneous muttered outbursts, Faith's head was heavy. Her muscles felt like she'd been through a blender. She ached for a normal night's sleep, but knew one was probably not forthcoming. The upcoming chilly reception she was likely to get in the Summers household would take care of that.
Willow kept her eyes on the darkened road. There was a conversation that needed to be had, but for the life of her she couldn't figure out how to begin it. Beside her, Faith had closed her eyes, but Willow could tell from her breathing that she was awake.
Making a decision, she spoke aloud. "Potestas. Cautio itere." Letting her hands slide from the steering wheel, she hovered for a moment, judging the success of what she had put into motion. When the car continued to purr beneath her and the wheel turned itself minutely to correct a drift to the left, Willow nodded slightly in satisfaction.
"This some kind of Fight Club bravado test?" Faith asked huskily, prompting Willow to turn towards her. The Slayer was definitely awake now, watching the self-controlled steering wheel with amused interest. "Like, how long can I stand it before I take over?"
"Nope," Willow said. "I let the Ahbhat control the forward momentum, and the Dahos'hrimian forces take over the other physics stuff. Also, a dash of Jih-et for protection."
"Right. Which translated into normal means?"
"Did a spell."
Willow nodded. "Theoretically, we're supposed to be guided safely to our journey's end."
"Well, there's no actual Latin for 'Sunnydale', so I couldn't specify that we want to go there. The closest approximation is 'Hellmouth'."
"Ooh. I vote not."
"Uh-huh. I prefer my road trips more road-y and less hell-y."
"With you on that." Faith stretched her arms above her head, feeling the muscles along her spine realign themselves with a satisfying crackle. "This is kinda cool. We need a TV or something."
Willow tilted her head a little. "I was thinking more along the lines of a conversation."
Faith let out a slow breath. "Hoo. Fun."
"Oh, I know where to start!" Willow exclaimed happily.
Faith allowed herself a brief grin at the complete lack of guile. "Where's that, Red?"
"Will the police be looking for you?"
"Wes doesn't seem to think so. But that was back when LA was permanent midnight. Not sure about now."
'Well, we'll just have to hide you good and proper," said Willow decisively. "Don't want you getting snatched away."
"Why not?" Faith asked shrewdly. "Don't you think I still belong in jail?"
Instead of answering, Willow asked, "Do you think you still belong in jail?"
Faith rubbed at her eyes and let out a long sigh. "I don't know. I know I can do more good out here than bench-pressing two-fifty and fending off Big Rosie."
"That's better than a 'yes'," Willow replied, trying unsuccessfully to hide a smile. "So, are you feeling okay? After your, uh…"
"Go ahead, say it."
"Shiny new coma," Willow mumbled, an apologetic grimace on her face.
Faith shrugged. "I prefer to think of it as a fugue state. Or maybe 'mind-fuck tour through Angel's head', but whatever floats your boat."
"You do seem to have an affinity with unconsciousness."
"Don't remind me."
"No, Will, really. Don't remind me." Faith looked out the window, watching the roadside markers flicker past in a rhythmical pulse. "In lockup, for about a year I was scared every time I went to sleep. Thought if I did, I might not wake up."
Willow didn't know how to answer that, so she let it lie between them. Finally, she said, "Look, Faith-"
"Gosh, I love sentences that start with 'look'," Faith muttered. "Especially when it's followed up with your name and all."
Willow agreed with a sympathetic shrug. "Yeah."
"Let me go first," Faith said, turning to her. "I know there's some seriously black water under the bridge and-"
"Don't," Willow interrupted. "Faith, you don't have to apologize to me for anything."
The Slayer shook her head. "Maybe you don't wanna hear it, but it doesn't change the fact I need to say it."
"Perhaps, long ago in a galaxy far far away. But not now. Hear that clip-clopping sound?"
Faith looked at Willow, perplexed. "No."
"Well, it's my proverbial high horse galloping off into the distance, never to return."
The younger girl offered a slightly bemused grin. "What are you talking ab-"
"Please just listen. Okay?"
The intensity in her voice made Faith sit up straighter and pay attention.
Willow cleared her throat, eyes down. "You'd find out anyway, so I wanna tell you now. Everything's different. I-I'm different. About a year ago, I did some ... things. That weren't of the good. They were of the really, really irreversibly bad. And the bottom line is, I can't be angry at you."
"Not following, Will."
"You don't need to apologize or explain anything, because I've got no right to judge you. Not anymore."
"Really?" Faith answered skeptically. "You kill somebody? 'Cause I think-"
Faith looked up in shock.
"Two somebodies, to tell the truth," Willow said.
"Are you shittin' me?" Faith asked finally, stunned.
Willow's inability to maintain eye contact told Faith that she wasn't. The Slayer remembered that feeling.
"Why?" she asked with an uncommon gentleness. "What happened?"
Willow swallowed heavily. "I lost my ... someone that I loved. She was murdered. And I kinda went off-the-rail-y. With the magicks. It's a long story, but by the time it was over, two people were dead."
Faith's jaw was set. "Was one of them the fucker who killed her?"
Willow nodded, eyes on her lap. Faith reached out her hand and let it hover for a second, before lightly touching Willow's own. "Then strike 'em off the guilt list, Will, 'cause they deserved it."
"Nobody deserves what I did to him," Willow replied, and Faith got a prickly feeling on her arms at the sudden cold glint in the redhead's eyes.
"And after?" she prompted.
"You mean, did I have to face what I did, like you? No."
Faith tried, and failed, to suppress the violent lurch her stomach gave at that statement.
"Which is why you don't owe me anything," Willow went on quickly. "The way I see it, the scales are actually tipped in your favor. We're both murderers, sure. But you're the only one who stood up and paid for it."
Faith processed this information for a moment. Willow was right. Things were different. But still…
"I tried to kill you. In Sunnydale. I would've done it, too."
Willow nodded. "Yeah, but I encouraged Buffy to kill you right back, so I think we're even."
Faith cracked a smile. "Lotta that going around."
"So, do you understand why I don't want you to say anything?"
Faith nodded. "Better than you think. Welcome to the club. Our membership fees include brutal nightmares and everlasting guilt."
"Wahoo?" Willow offered weakly, with a sad smile.
"Pretty heavy, huh?"
"The heaviest ever." Willow closed her eyes and lifted her face to the window, letting the breeze play over her. Faith's voice was sudden, breaking her concentration.
"So. Trippy day."
"Way trippy," Willow agreed quickly, grateful for the subject change. "What with souls a-floatin' and evil heads and the year-old-but-teenage Angel Junior and everything."
Faith nodded. "Don't tell Angel, but there's something I don't like about that kid."
"Me neither. He takes scowly to a whole new level of annoying."
"Does Buffy know about him?"
"No. And apparently I get to tell her. Joy."
Faith let that sink in. "Ouch. She still with Captain Do-Right?"
Willow hedged for a moment. "Riley? Um ... no, not for a few years now. But maybe I should let Buffy catch you up with the Buffy-stuff. I don't think she'd be too comfortable me talking about her, you know how she is."
"You mean talking about her with me, don't you?" Faith asked abruptly.
Willow didn't answer.
"She totally hates me." It wasn't a question. "Course she does."
Willow hesitated. "Let's just say, you guys have some re-bonding to do and it'd be better if I kept out of it."
Faith unleashed a wicked grin on her companion. "Fine, let's talk about you. Tell me who you shafted poor old Fred for."
Willow's cheeks reddened. "That's ... I don't ... she's, it's kinda new."
"Okay, so start small. Name?"
"She a hottie?"
Willow bit her lip before nodding a little shyly. "Well, I think so."
"All right, Red!" Faith proclaimed appreciatively. "Makin' with the makin'."
Willow's blush deepened. "Shut up," she warned. "Or I'll start asking awkward prison-sex-related questions."
Faith smirked, but didn't take the bait. "So, is this what you call re-bonding? 'Cause this I can handle."
Willow fiddled with her sleeve. "Actually, I call this re-acquainting before potential future bond-age. Of the non-kinky kind, pottybrain!" she added hurriedly, seeing Faith's mouth open to make a sly comment. "'Cause you and I, we kinda never bonded in the first place, did we?"
She pulled her legs up and crossed them beneath her. The accelerator remained balanced at the halfway point, and Faith was suitably impressed.
"Well," Faith said slowly, "whatever it is, I'm ... glad we're doing it."
Willow chuckled. "Okay, next time? Try not to sound like you're gonna throw up when you say that."
"C'mon, gimme a break," Faith protested. "The warm fuzzies were never my thing, you know that. I'm all deep-and-meaningful-ed out."
They smiled hesitantly at each other, before the moment was broken as they watched the car autonomously speed up and overtake a rusted Chrysler with an elderly man at the wheel.
"Turn signals and everything," Faith noted approvingly. "That's some pretty good Wicca-ing, Will."
"Thanks. I've been trying to get my groove back."
They sat in silence for a minute or so, both girls lost in their thoughts. Willow was quietly marveling at the changes in the girl beside her—reaching out with her senses and coming away with the complete opposite of what she'd expected to find. All the suppressed rage, pride and simmering resentment that Willow remembered was gone, replaced with a deep sadness, a sense of purpose and a longing to be loved, respected, whole.
Faith, for the first time since crashing through the prison glass, had time enough to be aware of where she was, what she was, what she'd done and what lay ahead of her.
Aloud, she said, "Thanks for doing this, Willow."
"Thanks for taking you back to a place where the ultimate evil of all time is waiting to try suck you into a horrible fiery death?" Willow said. "Wow. Either prison was really bad, or your perspective is kinda unusual."
Faith snickered. "I meant thanks for the second chance. Or third chance. What chance am I on now?"
"Oh, I don't know. Seven?" Willow said blithely. "But I'll stop counting if you do."
Faith leant back in her seat with a grin. "Can do. We nearly there?"
"Yup. An hour, give or take."
"Cool." Faith drew in a breath before turning to the girl beside her. "Will? We friends?"
Willow eyed Faith appraisingly for a moment, then offered her a genuine smile. "Well, we're not enemies anymore."
Propping her feet up on the dashboard, Faith smiled back and let a calm, warm feeling settle over her. "That's a good start."
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