DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to the show's creators; I own nothing but my interpretation of them.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My first fic, written before I'd watched any Buffy, so I can't specify spoilers -- sorry. Most of the info I base my Buffy fics on is gleaned from others' fics. When I finally did see a few Buffy episodes, I was disappointed, and haven't really followed it since.
PAIRING: Buffy/Faith
DATE: March 2002

Not Ready
By cyn#

'What are you gonna do, B? Kill me? You become me. You're not ready for that...yet.'

And then she kissed me, before running away. I didn't even try to stop her. I was too...stunned. That split second as we held knives to each other's throats, eyes staring into each other...I thought I finally knew.

I didn't though. I never, ever understood her until it was too late. Always, just a second too slow to grasp her intent, I missed so many opportunities to get close to her.

It wasn't until I stabbed her with her own knife that I knew what she'd meant.

'Kill her?' I thought I could, and I meant to; I was more than ready to. Her blood for Angel's. Reap what you sow. It was poetic justice.

And so we fought. Like we had so often in the past, during training, over Gwendolyn Post -- fluid and graceful, fast and hard -- punch, kick, jab, so similar to all those times, and yet so very, very different. The air was so tense between us, the stakes so high.

And then it happened.

And I knew. Finally. When I took her knife and shoved it into her...finally, I understood what she'd meant.

'You're not ready for that.'

As I pushed the blade into her, I felt sudden horror at what I was doing rush through me.

Too late to stop the momentum of the knife thrust. God, I'll never forget the feel of her flesh giving way, the sticky warmth of her blood trickling over my hand where I grasped the hilt of the blade.

Even as the blade pierced her, I felt sick, the nausea of what I'd done, what I was doing, overwhelming me.

And I understood.

'You're not ready for that.'

Allan Finch.

The deputy mayor. This is how Faith felt when she accidentally killed him. Overwhelming horror, and guilt, and panic.

I could never be ready for the vortex of emotions that swept through me as I stood with my hand covered in blood. Her blood. The wrongness of it screamed at me. So much guilt passed through me in mere milliseconds, so much 'what have I done?' panic...I could never be ready for it. Never.

At that moment, we were the same, Faith and I. That night in the alley, here on the rooftop. The moment of killing another human being. Horrific.

Stake in heart. Knife in gut. The same. Faith and I were the same. I had become her.

Only, Faith had covered her emotions with indifference, hiding behind a wall, pretending she didn't care. Defensive mechanism. I know that now. I was blind before. And I understood why because all I wanted to do now was deny, deny, deny that I'd stabbed Faith with every intent of killing her.

God, the feel of the knife going into her.

I could never be ready for that.

And then she stepped off the building.

Our eyes met, one last time, and I saw. I understood. Far, far too late. Love.

'Should have been there, B. Quite the ride.'

I saw the love in her eyes. For me. A single moment in time -- it seemed to go on for eternity, our eyes meeting in crystal clear silence. And then, eternity tumbled over.

And the sickening horror that I'd lost her, forever, crashed through me. Before I could know her. Before I could realize that I'd wanted her, that some part of me loved her wildness, her zest, her 'Want. Take. Have.' attitude...loved _her_.

And I was the one to kill her.

As I rushed to the edge of the rooftop, looking down desperately -- seeing her mangled body in the back of a passing truck -- another understanding came to me, adding to the sick feeling. Slowly, and yet, all at once, innately, from within, as though deep down to my bones, I could feel the truth...

She'd let me win.

She had been holding back in the fight. Just enough, that I'd never suspect, never question it. A fraction of a second slower than me, always that single fraction, so I'd have the upper hand.

She'd let me kill her.

And now it was too late. And she was right. I'm not ready. Not for any of it.


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