DISCLAIMER: Don't own them. Wish I did. Joss is a lucky Bastard.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: All eps fair game through Grave.
Slayer & Wiccan: Redemption x2
Faith was lying on her bunk; however, unlike all the other days for the last three years, she wore the clothes she had arrived in. She opened the letter that had arrived for her the day before.
I will meet you outside the prison on your release. I am looking forward to seeing you. When you're done reading this put the paper up to your lips for a magic surprise. See you soon.
She put the paper to her lips to feel the magical kiss again. It was such a change from the first letter she'd received.
Dear heinous bitch-
Buffy just got back with the good news about your sentence. I hope that some big woman named Bertha holds a knife to your throat so you know what it feels like. Well, off to the "Faith's in Jail" party. Here's hoping you never get out.
Faith didn't know what made her do it, but she had written back apologizing for holding Willow at knifepoint and making her and the other Scooby gang members miserable. She hadn't expected to get a letter back but she had.
Do you really think a few paltry "I'm sorries" from someone as worthless and skanky as you is going to make a difference? Who do you think you are?
So Faith wrote her back and told her. She told her the things she had been learning from her counseling sessions and the anger management classes. For every letter she wrote she got another back from Willow. Each one less and less angry and hateful. Until finally:
I admire the strides you've made in changing yourself. You have proven yourself a far stronger woman than anyone including yourself ever expected. I look back at those first letters I wrote you and find myself ashamed at how cruel I was. I would like to extend to you an offer of friendship. I would love for us to become true friends as I think that we have more in common than either of us expected.
Don't feel ashamed of your early letters. They served a couple of purposes. One, they kept me from feeling alone and prevented me from becoming like so many others in this place. Secondly by having to write about my feelings and the changes in myself, I was more aware of who I am and my own self-worth. I have always wanted to be your friend even if I had a screwed-up way of showing it. You are truly the finest of the Scoobies and I would love to be your friend. Both now and when I (hopefully) get out after my parole hearing in a couple of years.
From then on they became best friends. Willow told Faith of her frustrations with Buffy's behavior during the whole Adam fiasco. She told of her feelings for Tara and how their relationship had developed. Faith wept when she heard of Buffy's leap into the Abyss and then rejoiced when Willow brought her back. She read of Willow's growing use of magic and while enjoying the newer, more powerful person her friend had become, she was developing qualms about how much dark magic she was using. She wrote innumerable letters to Willow expressing these concerns. She talked about how seductive the dark side was and how Willow had to be careful and stick to the white magic that had given her her powers in the first place. In the midst of these letters were ones full of jokes and raunchy tidbits that made them snicker. They discussed their histories, with Faith talking about her mother's boyfriends and Willow talking about being a wallflower with absentee parents. They discussed everything they could think of from politics and books to favorite sexual positions (after Faith admitted to preferring girls). Then Faith took the biggest risk in their friendship.
I need to tell you something and I will understand if you hate me. I never told you why it was that I held you at knifepoint. I didn't need to but in my fucked-up little head it was the only way I had left that I could be close to you. I know what you're thinking-- "huh?" I can even see that adorable furrow your forehead makes when you are perplexed. That's right, all I have ever wanted was to be close to you. However it wasn't meant to be. You perceived me as a threat to your friendship with Buffy, and romantically you had Oz. Hell, I even fucked Xander because I thought it would make me feel closer to you. Well, that and I was wicked horny. There, made you laugh. Anyway over the last few months as we've grown closer my feelings for you have only grown, till I'm about ready to pop. I realize you have Tara and are very happy. I just needed to finally tell you that I am in love with you. You are the woman I dream of every night and wake up thinking of every morning. I will understand if you hate me and no longer wish to be friends. But even if you don't return my feelings I hope our friendship will stay intact.
She heard nothing back. For weeks there were no letters. Nothing. Finally she received a letter that for the first time made her consider breaking out.
Tara is dead. I had to write that first before I break down again. A stray bullet killed her when Warren (the robot guy) tried to kill Buffy. I haven't been well. I finally understand what you and the others meant about the dark side. Oh, Faith, I killed him. I tortured him and then I killed him. I went after the other two but Buffy and Giles stopped me. I was in so much pain I tried to end the world and was stopped by Xander. I hurt him. I hurt my best friend since kindergarten. The doctors say the scars won't be very visible but I will always see them. All he said was that he loved me and I hurt him. Every time he said it I cut him again. How can they forgive me like this? How will I ever be able to forgive myself? I'm not ignoring your letter and I don't hate you, but I just can't deal right now. I hope you understand.
That night Faith picked up the phone for the first time in two years and dialed a number she knew by heart.
"Hello," said a voice she knew had to be Dawn's.
"Is Red, I mean Willow, there?"
"Sure, one moment." Faith heard the phone clatter down and Dawn bellow, "Willow, phone Some woman who calls you Red."
Faith heard another line pick up and Willow's tear-roughened voice. "'K, Dawnie, you can hang up now." The phone clattered as Dawn hung up.
"Oh GOD, Faith." Willow started to cry, great heart-wrenching sobs.
Faith murmured platitudes and comfort until Willow's weeping calmed down.
And Willow did. With many pauses for tears she explained about her supposed magic addiction and Tara leaving her and finally getting her back only to have her killed a couple of days later. She explained about the fights with Buffy and Giles and the killing of Warren. Her attempt to end the world. Finally when it seemed that she had no more words left, she admitted that she really wanted to die.
"No, hon, you can't die. The Scoobies need you too much and I need you even more than they do."
"But it's so hard without her. Buffy and Xander try to help by telling me they understand why I did it, but it's so obvious that they are scared of me. Not to mention the healthy dose of I told you so in their gaze."
"Well, they were always good at that. Listen, Red, I can't tell you that what you did was right, 'cause we both know it wasn't. And I can't tell you that you will get over it because we both know you won't. What I can tell you is that the pain will lessen and you will learn to live past it. Hopefully you will even find someone who causes you joy like I did in you. The other thing I recommend is talking to Angel. He's very good at listening and helping with the whole redemption thing. Always remember, though, that I am here for you in any capacity you need. Please keep writing me and let me know how things are going."
"I can tell you one thing. I will never be practicing magic again."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"What? Were you not here for chapter and verse of why I should never practice magic?"
"I was here. But the one thing I always noticed about you and the magic is that you have never been trained. I mean, you've been muddling through, practicing the things you read in books, but nobody has ever sat down and showed you what to do and how to keep yourself safe since Jenny Calendar and that was all basic. I think what you really need is someone who can show you the true path of white magic; someone who can fully explain the rules and show you how to be a powerful witch without resorting to black."
"Hmm, you may have a point. I'll mull it over and talk to Giles to see what he thinks. Maybe one of the local covens he knows can help if I decide to try."
"See, there you go. That's the way to start thinking. Much better than being a bitter bonehead like I was."
"Thank you, Faith."
"For calling when you did. For reminding me that there are still things in my life worth living for, even if " and here her voice broke, "even if Tara's not here anymore."
"I'm so sorry that she died. I know how much you loved her. You know all you have to do is say the word and I will be there for you. S'not like these walls could stop me."
Willow chuckled tearily, "No, that's ok. I don't want you to mess up your parole. Just "
"Keep writing me. I couldn't bear not having a link to you."
"Of course, Red. Listen, I have to go. The guard I bribed is starting to tap her watch. Keep writing me and if you need me, know that I am here for you. I only have a year left until my hearing."
"I know, and you have no idea what a comfort I think that will be in the next few weeks."
"I love you, Red."
"Thank you, Faith. You have no idea what it means to me that someone does."
"The others do too. They just need to remember that."
So they continued to write each other. Willow told of her reconciliation with the others. And of how before Giles went back to England he hooked her up with the white witch coven he had been dealing with. She talked about the difficulties of the witches making her start over from the beginning. It was worth it to her, though, because she was beginning to see where things had gone so very wrong.
Faith told her about her continuing therapy and how she was beginning to take an active part in the prison community by teaching proper exercise and defensive martial arts to the other inmates. She talked about how working against other weaker opponents was helping her learn control in both movement and in emotions. She discussed her decision to stay celibate until she left prison and how difficult it was with as many offers as she had.
Gradually their letters started to become more personal again and Willow discussed her healing from Tara. They discussed the nature of darkness and how to believe oneself worth redemption. They discussed everything except Faith's feelings for Willow and whether or not Willow returned them.
Faith came back to herself as she heard her cell door open.
"All right, Spencer. Let's go. Your ride is waiting for you out front."
She sprang to her feet and grabbed her bag before following the guard to the out-processing area. Once she was done signing the various forms she turned to the guard.
"Thank you, Officer Michaels. You made what could have been a truly miserable time bearable by keeping control of your guards and caring for your prisoners. Don't ever lose that."
"Thanks, Spencer. Now get out of here before that pretty redhead decides you aren't coming."
As she walked out of the gates, under a sky that was threatening one of those fast hot summer storms, Faith paused to look at the woman leaning against the red convertible that she knew Giles had given her. Willow had aged beautifully. She was her usual slender self, but it was obvious that she spent time working out. The shoulders and arms under the tight black tank were firmly muscled, and the legs encased in the tight blue jeans were as long and firm as Faith remembered. Faith glanced at Willow's feet and snickered. There were the much-debated Doc Martens. Faith remembered several letters in which she insisted that they were required footwear and Willow responding that since she was "not large with the butch" she didn't see why she needed them. Faith had finally won and a few weeks later received a letter from Willow extolling the virtues of her new Docs.
Willow couldn't believe how nervous she had been about this trip. While she had shared with the Scoobies the progress that Faith had made they were still wary. Buffy in particular was worried because she knew that Willow's emotions for Faith rivaled the ones she had for Tara. Willow watched as Faith paused to look at her. Goddess, the years had been good to her. Faith had filled out all of the promise her body had three years before. She had obviously been no slacker in the weight department either, from the look of the firm, smoothly sculpted muscles in her arms. Her face told the real story, though, reflecting a hard life including three years of prison in the defined cheekbones and slight crows' feet in the corners of her eyes. The clothes she wore fit differently due to the change in her muscles and body over the three years, almost like she was wearing a skin that wasn't hers anymore. Which Willow guessed was true since she was not the Faith that wore these clothes into the prison.
Finally Faith moved up to stand in front of Willow and paused, unsure whether she should hug her or not. The question was answered when Willow pulled her into a strong hug that pressed their bodies together. Faith returned the hug and turned her face in towards Willow's neck, getting a whiff of that scent that was exclusive to the witch. The hug broke and they looked into each other's eyes as they stood there with their arms loosely wrapped around each other's waist.
Finally Faith broke eye contact and with a half-nod said, "Red."
Willow gave a wry smile. "Faith. You know, one of these days I'm gonna come up with a name for you."
Faith laughed. "Nah, not me. I'm impervious to pet names."
Suddenly they were looking into each other again, their bodies drawing closer together and their heads tilting as if to kiss, when suddenly the clouds overhead burst with a warm drenching rain that caused them to leap apart with a yelp.
"Quick, get in the car," Willow hollered as she ran around the car to leap into the driver's side. Thank God I had the roof up, was her only thought.
Finally they were both in the car wiping wet hair out of their faces, drenched to the bone. Willow looked over at Faith and they both started to crack up. They ended up leaning against each other gasping for air, both exquisitely aware of the other's body. Finally, with their faces mere inches apart, they looked into each other's eyes again. Willow's reflected dancing humor and desire with an underlying hint of sadness. Faith's were pools of hesitant hope and desire. Suddenly Willow leaned forward, bringing their lips together as her hands slid up the side of Faith's face. Faith froze for a moment in shock before beginning to return the kiss. She kept it calm even though her heart was pounding out of her chest and her body was screaming for her to deepen the kiss.
Gradually the kiss grew in intensity as Willow pushed her tongue into Faith's mouth. Faith couldn't believe this was happening. Sure, she had planned to try and court the witch and the letter had given her some hope, but she had definitely not been expecting this and oh God, did it feel good.
Willow heard Faith whimper slightly and abruptly remembered that she hadn't had anyone in three years. Not to mention the fact that she had some very definite plans for Faith's first day out, none of which included wild animal sex in a car. Wild animal sex in a bed, however, was a whole other story. She broke the kiss and they stared at each other while their breathing calmed down.
Slayer strength won out "That was "
"Definitely intense and unexpected."
"I know. It wasn't supposed to happen until later. When we had gotten to know each other again. After all of the plans I had for today were done. Possibly not even until tomorrow "
Faith, seeing a full-fledged Willow babble in the making, cut it off with a light kiss. "Hey I'm not complaining. In fact it was probably a good thing that it happened now so that I'm not acting like an adolescent boy on his first date all day."
Willow chuckled. "Well when you put it that way," and leaned forward for another quick kiss.
"So what are we doing today, Red, 'cause I gotta tell you if you keep kissing me like that we will be headed for the nearest bed, and I'm pretty sure you have other plans."
"You're right. First things first: shopping."
"I hate to break it to you, Willow, but they don't pay you in prison. I'm broke."
"Ah you, that is where your first present of the day comes in."
"Presents. For me?"
"Un huh. You remember back when Buffy had Giles reinstated in the council? Well, I convinced her that since she had been impressed with the progress you'd made in prison that she should make sure that you would be well taken care of when you got out. I told her that we didn't want you to have to go back to that fleabag motel and she agreed. She convinced Quenten that it would be better for everyone if you and she had a salary because then you would be able to concentrate on your slaying duties better."
"That was wicked cool of her."
"Yes, she was very cool. I thought she was channeling you there for a bit with the attitude she was throwing around. Anyway, he agreed and after a bit of haggling you started getting a paycheck into an account with me as co-signer until your release. Now, once you and Buffy had regular income, I started to invest some of it as well as some of mine and some of Xander's, and we are all now reasonably well off." Willow reached into her backpack. "So here is your bankbook, checkbook and debit card as well as some cash. If you look on the entry of the book you will see an amount in pencil written under the total. That is what you could spend today alone without making a dent in your balance."
"Holy shit!" Faith looked up at Willow with shining eyes. "Barring you, this is the most wonderful thing anyone could have ever gotten me. I have never had a checking account, much less the money to put in one. Thank you."
Willow smiled happily. "So what do you say we go spend some money?"
As they walked into the mall, Willow looked over at Faith. "When we decided to help you when you got out one of the first things we did was check out your apartment. It was a bit of a mess because of the broken window. I guess the mayor didn't have time to get it fixed. So we fixed it up and left it for you. I have to admit, though, that I have been living there for the last year though. I just couldn't " Her voice broke, and Faith put a hand on her shoulder, "I just couldn't continue to live in Buffy's house and it helped me feel closer to you. I'll move out now that you're back, though, either to the dorms or my parents' place."
"You don't have to do that. I'm not sure I can go back to that apartment anyway, too many memories. And even if I do I can always crash on the couch or we can get another bed or something. Honestly, I'm so used to living with another person after the last few years I'm not sure I can cope with living alone quite yet."
Willow smiled understandingly. "Well, since I had planned for us to stay here in L.A. for a couple of days, why don't we shelve it and deal when we're back in Sunnydale."
Faith leaned over and gave Willow a quick kiss, "That's what I love about smart chicks. You're so sensible."
Willow chuckled. "Come on, you goof, I'm sure you'll want new cowhide and some games for that contraption of yours."
"My Playstation is still there?"
"Um hmm. There's also a new system out now called Playstation 2."
"Excellent. Let's shop."
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