DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to the show's creators; I own nothing but my interpretation of them.
PAIRING: Buffy/Faith
DATE: March 2002

You Have Thirty Seconds
By cyn#


"God damn it!"

I duck as the clawed demon takes a swipe at me. Kicking out, I nail its ugly ass face, then shove my knife deep into its guts. 'Take that,' I think, before it explodes all over me. Fuck, that just ruined my leathers! Demon gunk is _impossible_ to get off. Shit!

Damn, this is all Angel's fault.

'Cordelia's had a vision' Broodboy said, 'Big Evil' he said, 'You need our help.' Yadda, yadda, yadda. I mean, shit, it's not like I don't miss seeing the LA gang, but me and B have had Sunnydale sewn up tight since we got together two years ago.

Not only that, but with Red and her Wicca chick working their magic, we've got plenty of back-up; hell, even Xander and Anya-I-was-once-a- Vengeance-Demon pull their fair share of keeping the Hellmouth free from hell.

But, noooo!

'You need us,' Deadboy insists. Next thing we know, Wesley, Gunn, Cor and him are bunking up at the mansion, and they've brought what looks like half their LA library with them. Yay, the thrill of dusty tomes. At least Giles had fun.

Turns out, there _was_ some weird demon/vamp activity going down. A bunch of demon breeds that normally never talk to each other, except to hiss and spit on each other's tails, were gathering and making noise about an alliance. Still not a major problem, nothing B and I couldn't handle on our own. Take out their leaders, and the little-demons-wanna-be-Big-Bads would fold.

Yawn. Just another day in the life of a reformed Slayer.

Oh, well, if Angel and gang wanted to be part of the fun, who was I to stop them? Especially if their help meant B and I could take off early -- more time for the hungry and horny. Hello, good times!

So, here we are, the LA crowd and the Scoobies, duking it out with a bunch of _incredibly_ ugly demons, the so-called Big Bads, in an abandoned warehouse in Sunnydale.

Big deal.

'Faith,' I think to myself, 'You've had a harder time lacing up your boots.'


I'm grinning as I think to the night ahead: the after-the-slay celebrations. I finally got B to admit to getting the low-down tickle after a patrol, one night. None of that non-fat yogurt crap, either. It wasn't long after we first started dating, and shortly before we became lovers. What a night!

We'd become friends again, re-establishing the bond that had always existed between us. Even when I was on the side of the Mayor, even then, there was this connection that neither of us could break. Damned if we didn't both try our best, though.


After I got out of prison, I worked with Angel for months, "helping the hopeless", and getting my feet back on the ground. It was strange and wicked scary - my first shot at redemption in the real world.

Scarier, though, was Queen C.

Angel bribed her into taking me in; I still don't know how he did it, but he arranged for me to live with her in her apartment -- I'm not sure which of us was more shocked when we both survived that first week. Cor and I would argue and snipe at each other at every opportunity -- and, damn, she can zing someone good -- but we became friends.

Back then, the past would sneak up on me. I would get nightmares that I'd wake screaming from. Scared the hell out of my cellmate a few times. One night I woke up and Cor was there, a scared look in her eyes, and her warm arms around me. It was a bad night, and in my dreams I was reliving all the mistakes I'd made...my first Watcher, the killings, Wesley's torture...my past. I couldn't stop the tears - I broke down right in her arms, crying, 'I'm sorry', over and over again.

She held me.

Cor must have been terrified, but she held me. She knew all the bad stuff I'd done, had felt first hand how strong I was with my Slayer strength -- I could easily break her -- she knew all this, and still she held me. It was the first time since before I entered prison that I'd been touched by anyone with nothing in mind but comfort.

That night neither of us slept.

The next day, I joked and tried to play it off in badgirl Faith fashion, covering up my insecurities with bravado, 'Our first night together, Cor...we a couple now?'

She saw right through me. She smiled this sexy smile, looked right into my eyes, and husked, 'Like you could handle it.'

A pause. Then, we both cracked up laughing. And there was no more awkwardness between us, after that. She saw me at my most vulnerable...and she didn't hurt me with it. The fragile beginnings of trust.

Funny, how that night became the basis for a kick-ass friendship. We still bickered and fought over stupid things, but underneath all that there was an honest caring for each other that I'd never known before. Living together in her apartment, we learned so much...about ourselves, about each other. Neither of us was lonely when we were together.

Cor taught me to trust. I always felt the world was out to screw me over, that people were only there to use or be used...hell, with my background, who wouldn't be stuck on that. But Cor changed that. She was there to talk to, to share with, to gripe with about demons... to trust.

She never tried to fuck me over, and she never demanded more of me than I had to give. From her, I slowly learned the true meaning of friendship, and that I could have faith in her...and in others. Cor made me believe that I did have something to offer the world, that I could be more than the fuckup I'd become. Sure, Angel believed in me, but Cor was there for me. And I was there for her. In some ways, Cor saved my soul.

Maybe her visions had something to do with it. Her so-called "gift" from the Powers That Be. Damned bastards. They gave her visions to help the hopeless, but they made them so painful she'd fall to her knees crying when they were over. I'll kick their asses if I ever meet them.

Cor's visions hurt her so much, but she never, ever, flinched from doing her best to help others. I saw her sacrifices, and I learned that, no, not everyone was just out for themselves. Those visions gave her perspective...granted her some sense of affinity, or understanding, for those in need. She could see through people, and into their hearts, even if she did hide it under layers of biting sarcasm.

I think...Cor saw into me.


Looking back, I still can't believe how close we are. Wicked freaky to most people, 'cause we're so different on the outside, my leathers and her ex-cheerleader, prom queen looks. But we're really five by five. 'Course, it probably helped that with my first paycheck I bought Cor that Gucci crap. Who knew she'd flip so much for a flimsy bag.

So it came as a total surprise when she pushed me into returning to Sunnydale. I might never have come back, if it hadn't been for her. I knew I had to face my fears. Face B. Face the Scoobies, own up to my mistakes, and try to make peace with them. For my own sake, even if I couldn't ever make it right with them. But I could never summon the strength within me to just go and do it.

At least, not until Cor put on her 'Queen Bitch' face and basically shoved me out of the apartment and sent me on my way. I laugh at it now, but back then I was wicked pissed. Damned if I can ever win an argument with Cor when she's in 'Queen Bitch' mode. So, off I went to Sunnyhell. Back to B, and the Scooby Gang that I was never a part of, back to the ones I hurt the most and had the most reason to hate me.

Those first weeks, I missed Cor like hell, and would call every night just to hear her voice. I needed it, too -- the Scoobies lashed into me, barely giving me a chance to explain why I was there. Not that I blamed them; I'd given them plenty of reason to distrust me. Still...it hurt. And it was tough not to fall back into old habits and give as good, and more, than I got. As hard as anything I'd faced in prison. But I wasn't the old Faith, and I wouldn't revert into her...not for anything, not even if the damned Scoobies rode my ass 24/7.


Months. It took me months to establish some sort of understanding with the Scoobies. Walking on eggshells all that time. It nearly drove me nuts. The only things that made it a little better were Red's Wicca chick, Tara -- she had a moderating effect on Red, kept her from turning me into a frog whenever she saw me -- and watching Xander's girl, Anya, walk all over him -- some things never change. And the things she said...man, where did she come from? Cracks me up thinking about it.

All that time, B and I danced around each other. We'd parted so badly the last time we saw each other. I didn't know how to make it up to her, how to win her forgiveness, or even if she'd let me try.

And I was having a hell of a time trying to control my attraction for her. Spending so much time with her so close, I couldn't deny it...I wanted her. Worse, I was in love with her. I was in love with the other Slayer.


Not that any of this came as a surprise. I'd worked out my feelings long ago, back when I was in prison with nothing to do but stare at four grey walls. Nope, no surprises, all of this I already knew.

Buffy Summers.

Golden girl, kick-ass Slayer extraordinaire, ever ready with the witty banter, delivering bad puns and driving fear into the nonbeating hearts of vampires...all while slaying in pastels.

I loved her.


Back when we first met, I was attracted to her the instant I saw her. I had come to Sunnydale searching for her. My first Watcher used to tell me stories about her, her voice hushed, full of respect, tinged with this disbelieving awe: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, who died and came back to kill the vampire that'd killed her, saving the world in the process. The Slayer that never gave up, even if it meant using a bazooka to kill the enemy. The Slayer that guarded the Hellmouth and made it look easy.

When...Kakistos...killed my Watcher, I fled. I ran, because I was afraid. Just like when I was a kid, and I couldn't stop the bad stuff from happening. The first time since I was Called that I felt powerless, helpless, unable to stop the monster that would hurt, and hurt, and hurt. Only this time, the monster hurt, _killed_, the first person to give a damn about me. And that was even worse.

I ran across the whole damn country trying to escape the memories that haunted me. I'd failed her. I was supposed to protect my Watcher, and I didn't. The monster was stronger than me. Again.

It wasn't until I met B that I could begin to face those memories and lay them to rest. I wasn't sure why I went to Sunnydale at first, why I went to her. But...my Watcher had spoken so highly of Buffy, with such admiration...and my short time with her, before Kakistos ripped it away, was one of the few times I'd ever felt a sense of security. Maybe hanging with the other Slayer could help get that back. I could pick up tips on how she did all the things she did, so well, without letting the baddies win. The Chosen Two. Who could defeat us?

But Kakistos followed me. And when I saw him, all that fear crashed through me again, what he'd done, how he'd killed her -- I just wanted to pick up and run again. So much for my badgirl, tough act meant to impress the other Slayer and her gang.

Buffy caught me as I was throwing my stuff together to get out of Sunnydale. She stopped me from running. She faced Kakistos with me. She fought him with me. She helped me kill him. Together, we beat him...and I couldn't have done it without her.

From that point on, the bad memories were just that...memories. They didn't have the power to make me run.


If only life could have stayed that simple. But then, that wouldn't be the Hellmouth. And that sure as hell wouldn't be the story of my life.

For a while, I thought Buffy and I were bonding. We had fun when she mellowed out; it took some time, but that Slayer connection kicked in. When we were together, when we slayed, the air between us would crackle, like effervescent bubbles tickling the skin. There's nothing in the world like it.

The Slayer Connection tied us together.

It should have been so simple. But things between B and I were never easy. So much happened, so much that led to mistrust...hatred even. Before I knew it, our relationship and gone from friendliness, to rockiness, to fight-to-the-death enemies.

Man. Maybe a lot of the bad stuff between B and I can be chalked up to incredibly bad timing. Angel's coming back from Hell. Secrets. Trust. Gwendolyn Post. Betrayal. All kinds of crap that broke us up. Then that night in the alley with Alan Finch. Fuck. All of this on top of the crap from before. My Watcher's death still playing havoc on my psyche. Even the crappy childhood issues I never dealt with had a part.

Way too much overload on my brain. No one to turn to, no one that really cared. Not even B, though she did come to my motel room. But she wasn't really there for me...she was too preoccupied with Angel, and I knew it, too. She cared more for the undead piece of meat than for her fellow Slayer. Shows where I ranked.

God, so much shit clouding my mind.

I went to the Mayor thinking I could spy on him, than report back to Giles and B's gang...carve out a real place for myself in their group, give me a purpose for being in Sunnydale. Maybe I could make up for screwing up with Finch, and then lying to Giles. But that didn't work either, I just got dragged down further and further.

The Mayor. Richard Wilkins III. It was so easy to fall under his influence -- he treated me good, gave me respect, paid for a damned nice apartment for me to live in. Sure, he was wicked nuts in his way, but he cared for me, honestly.

I never got that feeling from B.

Somewhere along the line, my playing Bad Girl became a reality -- I forgot my original intent to get the inside scoop on the Mayor's plans and return triumphant to the Scoobies -- I became the Bad Girl in reality, the Mayor's right hand. And it felt good.

Damn. I'm still so conflicted over what happened. Whatever else he was, big snake, great evil -- well, he _was_ a politician -- the Boss was good to me, and I can't deny it. Maybe he used me, but I'll always be grateful to him in a way, even if I know in the end, he had to be stopped.

It's why I went to B, in the dream world. Time passes differently, there. I gave her the info she needed and she used it to toast the Mayor. And I had a loooong eight-month nap.

I woke up alone. I was always alone.

Still a lot of shit clouding my mind, too. I found out a lot had changed -- Buffy had graduated, from high school, and from boinking the undead...she was in college, and dating some cardboard cutout, a cornfed Captain America dud. Dude, that is. It made me go postal.

I used the Mayor's last gift to me to switch bodies with her. Fucked with her head. Thing is...it fucked with mine, too. I was in B's body...played the good Slayer, saved all the church folks, got all the thanks...and it felt good. It felt like I was a totally fresh person, without all the baggage; it reminded me of when I was with my first Watcher, and she'd praise me when we took out a bad bunch of vamps. The good feeling that came from doing the Right Thing.

When B came after me and switched us back into the right bods, it was all too much. All that stuff just rolled around in my head, and I ended up running again. Away from Sunnydale. Away from her.

I ended up in L.A. Angel's town, as it turned out. Fucking great. And trouble follows wherever I go. Not two days I was there, and some lawyers track me down to dust his ass. What the hell. Never did like him.

I must've still been messed up, though. I never did make a point to dust him. Bad pun, I know. I did everything I could to get him pissed at me -- torturing Wesley, hitting Cor...all so he'd be ready to kill me when we fought.

I just wanted everything to end. So much junk in my head. It was all overloading me. Running, running, running. Failure. All the deaths. B. Always B. Pain, what I'd done...surely, I was evil. I had to be put down. Angel could kill me. Angel would kill me.

But he didn't.

Despite everything I did, he fought _for_ me. Against Buffy. Against the fucked up Watcher's Council. He was willing to take the dive for me, too, would have gone to jail even though that would have killed him as surely as a stake to the heart.

It wouldn't have been right. Part of me knew it, too, the part that wanted to be killed, that wanted to stop all the bad stuff going around in my head. Part of me knew I had to redeem myself. But I had to go somewhere where I could work out all the stuff messing up my head, first. Somewhere safe. How fucked up was it that that safe place was prison?

It worked, though. I did my time. I cleared up my head. When I was ready to be released into the normal population, courtesy of the wisdom of the state, I knew enough not to mess up again. Angel helped me. Again. Letting me work with him, settling me in with Cor.

I had the chance to be the Slayer I was meant to be.


Years later, after my first unsuccessful stay, thanks to Queen Bitch Cor I was back in Sunnydale. And there's a history between B and I that'd fill all the books in Giles' library.

I had to make things right with her, and I couldn't leave until I'd done so. I thought I could just apologize and head back to L.A. Back to safety. Hah!

The longer I stayed, the longer I knew I couldn't stay away from B. The attraction I felt for her, the...love...was too strong, I couldn't ignore it. I didn't want to.

She must have known what I felt. Trouble was, I couldn't tell what she thought about it. I'd catch her looking at me sometimes, when she thought I wasn't watching.

The air still crackled between us.

That Slayer Connection pulling us together. It was always there, tickling my skin. I was always aware of her, even more so than the first time we met...stronger, maybe because we were both older, more experienced.

Then, one night...we kissed.

It came out of nowhere. Just another night of patrolling. We were alone, since the Scoobies finally trusted me enough not to off her at the first chance I'd have. I was cracking bad jokes, walking with her in the moonlight, trying to not lose my cool.

We stopped for some reason. I remember being confused, worried that she was finally going to tell me to go, and never come back. Scared she didn't want to see me anymore.

She didn't say anything. She raised her hand to my face, caressing my cheek softly. She looked deep into my eyes. She pulled me close. And she kissed me.

B kissed me.

It was heaven on the Hellmouth.


B and I. Buffy and Faith. The Chosen Two.

I'm filled with happiness, and joy, and gratitude. Thinking about B, and that night, always does that to me.

Who would have thought she'd forgive me? Who would have thought she would make things okay between me and her friends? Who'd have thought that she'd fall in love with me? Two years together that feel like forever, and no time at all.

I never thought she'd let me in.


"Die, Slayer!"

A vampire comes running at me, snapping me back into the present.


Now _that's_ how a demon should die. Wicked cool. I love how they dust. No crap getting all over my leathers.


Okay, time to focus. No more daydreaming, even if half the lame ass baddies are toast. I mean, what's up with the 'Die, Slayer!' -- you'd think they could at least be original. Man, after the 234th time hearing that, it gets sooo boring. They should hire some decent writers to give them some better lines.


I look around the warehouse, scoping out the action, searching for more baddies to put out of their misery. Not that there are many left. Scratch the "half the baddies," it was more like the good guys were finishing off the remaining stragglers.

Yes! B and I are headed for an early night -- this is the kick.

I _told_ Angel this would be a cakewalk.


Speaking of Deadboy...Angel looks like he's holding his own against a group of vamps. Gunn and Wes are with him, fighting way better together than I've ever seen them. They're an incredible fighting unit -- so much better than when I was with them in L.A.


Another one of those clawed demons has the drop on B! Damn, she has her hands full already with green horned things.

I'm racing towards her, even before I can finish my thoughts.


I'm ten steps away. Nine. Eight, seven, six....

Damn it, B, look out!

Three steps.


"B!" I scream.

No time! I shove her hard, pushing her out of the way. No time to bloc-





Pain! Pain! Pain!
Pain! Pain! Pain!
Pain! Pain! Pain!


Fuck! The son of a bitch punched right through me! Fuck, fuck, fuck!

I'm waiting for the ugly ass demon to finish me off when I see it go flying away, slamming into the wall of the warehouse.


From the corner of my eyes, I see Red and her Wicca chick holding hands and pointing in its direction -- go witches!


I'm hit by a sudden wave of wooziness. All of my limbs feel heavy, like they've turned into lead. I feel like I'm underwater, or stuck in molasses. Everything seems to slow down; I can hear the fight going on around me, but it seems like it's a world away.

My hand, holding my stomach, is covered in blood. My blood. Fuck, I'm always being gutted. I'm fading around the edges. So tired. Why am I so tired?


It's so cold. The blood just keeps spilling out, no matter how much I try to stop it -- I'm not gonna make it.

It's not fair! I didn't have enough time to make it up to B.

I'm so damn cold.


I must have blanked out for a second, 'cause the next thing I know, my knees have hit the ground and the rest of me is buckling towards it. I would have fallen the rest of the way, but B's arms suddenly wrap around me, cushioning the fall. She must have killed the green things.


God, B. It hurts so much. Help me.


She's lowering me to the ground. I'm lying on my back now. Still so cold. Not my blood, though, I can feel its warmth escaping me. Flowing like a river. A part of me laughs at the cliché. I must really be fucked.

It hurts so much to breath.


I close my eyes for a second, and just try to feel B, fill my senses up with her. She's cradling me to her. I can feel her warmth pressed against me, her hair tickling my temples.

The pain's not so bad.


Wetness. Falling on my cheeks. Is it raining? I open my eyes with effort, and the world flickers into focus.


She's crying.


"B...?" I say, but it comes out faint, barely a whisper.

I can feel her tears falling onto my face. She's saying something, but I can't hear anything...just see her lips moving. Echoing silence.

I try again. "I love you, B."


It's getting dark again. I can't see for shit anything around us. But that's okay. B fills my vision. All I see is her. My golden girl. The only one I've ever loved. The only one I have ever wanted to love.


Her soft, silky, blonde hair - I love running my fingers through it. Her lips - I never could kiss them enough. Her beautiful eyes - I've lived for her eyes. They're frantic now, wild...but, god, so beautiful.


No, B, don't look so scared. I love you. You'll be fine. I love you.


B, I love y--



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