DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: AtS: "Orpheus", BtVS: "Dirty Girls".

Long Ride Home
By Nerdy Girl


Willow steered the car along the familiar stretch of highway between Los Angeles and Sunnydale, eyes staring intently at the road in front of her, hardly blinking and certainly not looking over at her companion. Faith was kind enough to return the favor, eyes closed, head tilted back, appearing to sleep, but Willow could tell that she was only resting by the uneven pattern of her breathing.

Finally, after nearly an hour Willow broke the silence.


"Yeah, Red?"

"I...I just wanted to say thanks for coming with me. I mean, I know you didn't have to, and I know that we aren't exactly friends. I just...I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry."

The slayer turned at that, looking over at Willow with a raised eyebrow.

"You're sorry Red? For what? I'm the one who tried to kill you remember?"

Willow did not meet Faith's gaze, preferring to continue staring out the windshield as the yellow lines of the highway blurred together.

"That was a long time ago. Things... things were different then. Hell, I was just a kid, but I thought I was so smart, thought I knew all about you, how you chose evil over good."

Faith reached out and put her hand on Willow's shoulder, finally causing green eyes to meet brown.

"Willow, I did choose evil over good. I killed a man, I tried to bring forth the apocalypse. I'm not proud of it, but you were right, I made a choice, and I've been living with it ever since."

Willow held Faith's stare for a moment before resuming her study of asphalt. She took so long to respond that Faith assumed the conversation was over, but Willow continued quietly,

"I know what you mean, about making a choice. It's just that before I thought I understood that the choices were easy, black and white, good and evil, but they're not. They're all grey and murky and confusing, and maybe you just want for a moment to feel like you have a little bit of power, and so you make a choice, and suddenly that's it, you've crossed the line and there's no going back and there you are, fighting your best friends, the people who love you, and maybe you do have power but you don't have control anymore."

Faith reached her hand out and brushed it against Willow's. "Um, Red...this is starting to feel more like a confession than an apology."

As Willow began to feel the familiar wave of emotion swell, she pulled over to the side of the road. Pulling up on the parking break she turned to Faith.

"That's because it is one." She fought to steady her breathing, using a meditative method she'd learned in England, but she couldn't stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she continued,

"Faith. I'm apologizing because I judged you, I thought you were evil and worthless, and I didn't think you were worth trying to save. And for the last few months I've had a lot of time to think about what might have happened if Buffy and Xander and Giles thought the same about me." At Faith's questioning look she continued with false levity, looking up at Faith through lowered lashes, "Um, count me in on the 'I've killed people and tried to bring forth the apocalypse club.'"

"Red! You?! I wouldn'ta thought you had it in ya!" Faith couldn't mask the admiration in her voice, but quickly recovered and softly asked, "But, why?"

"Because the line between good and evil isn't black and white. I...I guess...I don't know. One minute I was so happy, everything was getting back to normal, to the way it should be, and the next minute I was holding Tara in my arms as she died."

Faith reached across the car and held Willow's hand, but made no move to speak. Willow stared down at it as she continued, her voice hardening "The only thing I could think about was that the piece of shit who took Tara from me had to pay, not just with his life, but with pain."

Faith felt the energy crackling in Willow's hand, but made no move to drop it, she simply held firm even as it began to burn. "But it didn't end with that. He was dead and I still felt powerless, even when I had harnessed more power than any mortal has a right to, I felt...empty. And so I thought, why should anyone have to live in a world filled with so much pain? Maybe I should just save us all the agony, maybe in death we'd find peace. Hell, I didn't even let Buffy have that the first time..."

Faith squinted at that, not understanding, but remained silent. It was clear that Willow wasn't finished.

"But they wouldn't let me do it Faith. They all tried to stop me, to save me. They came back again and again after I'd hurt them, after I said horrible things to them, after I tried to kill them...they came back." A sob ripped from her throat, and she continued hoarsely,

"and Xander... he just kept telling me that he loved me, and finally I broke. And then, later, when it was over and I was at the coven with Giles I kept remembering how I told you that you were worthless, that you had made your choice, that there was no hope for you, and I'm sorry Faith, I'm sorry I ever said that and I'm sorry that we didn't try harder to save you. I am so, so sorry."

Faith pulled Willow to her for a moment, offering the smaller woman solace. When she tried to pull away she found that she could not, that Willow was crying openly on her shoulder. Faith whispered small comforts into her ear and rubbed her back, unsure of what to do or say. Finally Willow pulled back, and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

"We should go. The others are waiting for us."

"Yeah, we should."

A long while passed in silence before Faith finally spoke,

"Willow? I'm sorry too."

The End

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