Chapter Fifthteen-The Other Side of the Coin
Chapter Fifteen: The Other Side of the Coin
Faith pulled tightly on her jean jacket in an effort to stave off the cold chill that lingered in the outdoor breeze, the dewy grass crunching beneath her leather boots as she traversed Restfield Cemetery. She had opted for a midnight patrol through the old stomping grounds rather than continue her futile attempt at catching some sleep. The cement walls and the old, beat up cot were just a little too reminiscent of her previous digs. Though she had insisted on sleeping in the basement as to not inconvenience anyone else at Casa Summers, the familiar sense of loneliness and the almost suffocating feeling of hopelessness had sent her out into the night air. Some mindless violence was exactly what the doctor ordered.
A non-temperature related shiver unexpectedly ran down Faith’s spine, her slayer senses suddenly awakening. Following her instincts, she stealthily made her way towards the unseen vamps, crouching down behind scattered tombstones along the way.
A group of vampires finally came into view and, by the looks of it, were tag teaming some poor schmuck. Faith knew that if she didn’t step in some time soon, the consistently clueless population of Sunnydale would be down yet another soul. Launching into the air, she pounced onto one vamp, immediately staking it between the shoulder blades as she smacked another to the ground.
Before the dust of her first victim could settle upon the graveyard’s well manicured lawn, Faith dashed in the direction of the dumb ass in distress. Honestly, what were they thinking? Anyone who valued their life in Sunnydale knew that the cemetery was off limits after dark.
Distracted by her inner monologue, she nearly missed the vamp that was catapulting straight for her. Abruptly sidestepping in mid-sprint, Faith avoided colliding into the projectile vampire that was flying at mach speed. Her eyes locked on the bloodsucker as he was hurled backwards through the air, landing on the hard ground with a sickening crunch. Watching the vampire over her shoulder, the Slayer nearly gawked as the pathetic excuse for a demon began to scurry away, tripping over its own two feet as it tried to escape.
Sighing heavily, Faith made an about face and began to chase after the retreating vampire. Jumping on its back, she tackled the vamp to the ground and, with an uncharacteristic no-nonsense attitude, quickly eliminated the one obstacle keeping her from finally meeting with the vampire tossing, midnight roaming, graveyard visiting moron.
Brushing off the thin layer of dust that coated her jacket and pants Faith turned around, intent on finding the mysterious vampire hunter. What she found instead was a stake, pressed firmly against her breastbone. On reflex, she fearlessly looked up to peer into the face of her attacker. The chocolate brown eyes that stared back at her burned with an intensity that bore into her soul.
The Slayer quickly shook off the haze that the stranger’s hypnotic stare had induced. Getting a better look at him, she had to admit he was definitely easy on the eyes. The black man before her was tall and from the strong hand gripping her shoulder, Faith could tell he was no lightweight. Being in such close proximity, she couldn’t help but fixate on how luscious his lips were or the way his muscled chest heaved as he tried to catch his breath from just taking out a swarm of vampires.
‘Get a grip will you!’ she mentally chided. ‘You’re getting all hot and bothered by a guy who wants to make you a slayer shish kabob. God, you’re so bent.’
“What are you?” he asked through mild pants, breaking through Faith’s internal scolding.
Before the Slayer could even articulate a syllable of a response, the stranger’s gaze shot to the hand that was pressed against her shoulder. “You’re warm,” he remarked, a hint of surprise noticeable in his voice.
As an expression of confusion appeared on his handsome face, the once restraining hand made a sudden, and incredibly inappropriate, move from her shoulder to her chest, a large palm taking the place of the pointy stake on her sternum.
Faith’s eyes went wide with indignation. Hunky or not, there was no way she was gonna just let this Blade wannabe feel her up. “Look Denzel. I don’t let guys get to second base without buying me dinner first,” she snapped, smacking the imposing hand off of her chest. “Or at least giving me their name,” she irritably added.
Thrown off by her strength, the stranger raised his brows in puzzlement, which immediately transformed into suspicion. The stake that was still in his hand was back again, hovering dangerously over Faith’s heart.
Faith groaned in annoyance. This was getting old. Knocking the threatening stake away, the Slayer grabbed a hold of Mr. Pent-Up-Aggression by the neck, pinning him back against a nearby tree.
“Who are you?” he choked, clutching desperately at the grip Faith had on his already tender throat. God knows his neck didn’t need anymore strain. After the wringing Spike had given him, he was lucky he wasn’t paralyzed.
“You first,” she said firmly.
“Robin Wood,” he answered, his voice strained. “I’m the High School Principal.”
Faith stared at the man in astonishment. “Still better than Snyder,” she mumbled as she let go of Wood.
Breathing heavily, Robin rubbed the soreness from his neck as he stared in bewilderment at the woman in front of him. “You’re not a vampire?”
“No shit Sherlock,” she crudely retorted. “I’m Faith and I’m a Slayer.”
Wood went rigid at her announcement. “Now I know you’re lying because I know the Slayer and you aren’t her,” he said before launching himself again at the brunette.
Using his momentum against him, Faith grabbed a hold onto Wood’s arm, spinning him about before tossing him into the air. A loud thud broke through the silence as the Sunnydale High Principal landed on the ground, several feet away.
“You were saying?” Faith asked smugly.
Wood groaned from his spot on the damp grass. He pushed himself up onto his hands, tipping over onto his side to look up at the Slayer. “But how?” he asked in a state of shock. “Buffy’s the Slayer.”
“You know B?” Faith wondered though she wasn’t really surprised. All the do-gooders in this town were always in cahoots.
“Yeah,” he answered gruffly as he got to his feet, feeling his ribs to see if he’d broken any in the fall. “And I know there’s only supposed to be one Slayer.”
Faith shrugged. “You can thank some cosmic loophole for that screw up. Apparently the guys who started the whole Slayer line never considered CPR.”
“I still don’t get how there are two Slayers,” Wood stated, still clearly baffled.
“You know for a school type you’re pretty slow on the uptake,” Faith quipped. “Buffy nearly drowned and cuz her heart did technically stop for like half a second, some other slayer got called. When she got killed, yours truly here ended up wining the destiny lottery.”
Wood’s eyes moved rapidly from side to side, trying to come to grips with what he was being told. “But if you’re a slayer, where have you been? Why haven’t you been here, on the Hellmouth?”
Faith exhaled noisily as she leaned against one of the larger tombstones only a few feet away. Did she really want to go into this with a complete stranger? Especially one who was friends with Buffy? The Slayer paused for a few seconds. Then again, what did she really have to lose? She didn’t know this guy, so if he got all uneasy around her because she opened her mouth, no loss, no foul. What was another name on the Faith Haters of America membership list?
“I’ve been in L.A.?” she vaguely replied, preparing herself to drop the bomb that was her past.
“Doing what?” Robin wondered earnestly.
“Hard time in a state penitentiary,” Faith answered in a forthright manner, hoping her upfront response would mask the shame she really felt.
Wood simply stood there, mouth agape as he stared in bewilderment at the Slayer. “F-for what?” he stuttered slightly.
“Homicide,” she rasped, unable to suppress the guilt.
Wood continued to stare, his face completely void of emotion as his brain attempted to register the information. A slayer who had taken a human life. It was a concept he couldn’t grasp, let alone understand. To him, it was unnatural, a literal crime against nature. Having been raised by a Watcher, albeit a retired one, any knowledge he had of his mother’s calling revolved around a slayer’s obligations to humanity. Even when his mother had been alive, it had constantly been drummed into his head that a slayer had an essential duty, which made her special. Perhaps it was his young age at his mother’s death, but his perception of her had become one of moral superiority. A hero worship that had emerged from grief, fueled by the upbringing of his conservative, surrogate father. And eventually, as he grew into adulthood, that unrealistic view soon transferred to all slayers.
It was why he now felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him. “I think I need to sit down,” he muttered as he took a seat next to the Slayer who shouldn’t be.
Faith remained quiet, beginning to second guess whether or not divulging that much about her past had been such a good idea.
“How did…I mean…how could…” he trailed off. Wood cleared his throat before making a second attempt. “How did this happen? Wasn’t your Watcher there to guide you, keep you on the right path?”
Faith turned her head slightly to stare questioningly at the man beside her. “Never knew you were on the up and up with the whole slayer and watcher dynamic,” she remarked snidely.
“My mom was a slayer,” Wood revealed, his voice gruff.
“Oh,” Faith replied automatically in surprise. It took her a few moments before the implication of that tidbit settled in. “Ohhh,” she repeated in a much more somber tone. “I’m sorry.”
It was Wood’s turn to stare back doubtfully. “What for?”
“If your mom was still around, I wouldn’t be a slayer,” she explained matter-of-factly. “So, I’m sorry.”
“Thanks,” he replied solemnly “I guess.”
An awkward silence fell between them. One that Faith knew ten seconds in, she had to break. “I never really had a Watcher,” she said quietly, answering the last question Robin had asked her before they’d become sidetracked with the fate of his mother. “The first one didn’t survive more than a few months and Buffy and Giles always had this father-daughter thing no one could come between. So by the time Wesley came around, the last thing I wanted was a Watcher telling me what to do.”
“Is that when it started?” Wood genuinely wondered.
“What? My going over to the dark side?” she joked lightheartedly.
“Yeah,” he chuckled slightly, glad that Faith had found a way to lighten the mood between them.
Faith suddenly panicked. Wood was getting way too close for comfort. “Uhhh…I think I gotta go and…stake some vamps or something,” she lamely announced as she stood up, preparing bolt.
The Slayer sighed again. When she had decided to disclose the ugly truth about her past, she’d never expected it to go this far. The Slayer had never exactly opened up about her fall from grace with anyone. Mainly from a lack of options regarding those who would actually take the time to listen to her. Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies had already written her off as some loose canon that should be avoided at all times. That was unless they needed some extra muscle to take out another baddie. Because that’s all she was to them—a last resort.
Faith knew Angel would never turn her away but there hadn’t been much time for heart-to-hearts during their last reunion. Not to mention that he was Angelus for half of the time and you never opened your mouth around that bastard, let alone your heart. Maybe if she hadn’t come back with Willow she could have stayed in L.A., and caught up with Old, Soulful and Broody. He probably would’ve managed to pry all that touchy feely emotions stuff out of her. Angel always had a knack for breaking down her barriers.
The prison psychs, however, had never managed to make a dent. The whole time she’d been on lockdown, Faith had not once discussed why she had turned herself in. How could she tell these people that the reason she felt angry and alone and completely ostracized from the rest of society was because she was chosen to spend the rest of her life slaying vampires? They would have strapped on the straight jacket and sent her off to the asylum before her hour was even up.
So the question was, did she wanna cross this point of no return with Wood? Like she had previously rationalized, for all intents and purposes he was a stranger, someone who really knew nothing of her past. He didn’t have any preconceived notions about her and he already knew all there was to know about her supposed secret identity. So really if she was gonna open up to anyone, Robin Wood would be the ideal candidate.
“You really wanna rap about my problems now? Are you looking to be the guy who puts the "pal" in principal for me?” she uttered derisively, testing the waters to see if he truly cared. If he backed off, Faith knew he wasn’t the shoulder she needed to lean on.
Wood’s brow raised skeptically at the Slayer’s one-eighty mood swing. He wasn’t dissuaded though. His daily interaction with teenagers taught him that the more walls a person put up, the more they needed someone to talk to. It was Faith’s defense mechanism, one he had seen a billion times before.
“Actually, yes I do,” he replied solidly.
Faith paused for a moment before sagging slightly in acceptance, not having to carry on the keep-people-at-bay bravado. “I thought he was a vampire. It was a mistake,” she began slowly. “I was in total denial after it happened, like I didn’t even care. Buffy tried to get me to open up, but I just pushed her away. After that, I wasn’t exactly invited back to the Scooby meetings.”
“Scooby meetings?” Wood repeated in confusion, not really getting the pop culture reference.
Faith continued on, oblivious to his puzzlement. “I always figured the world owed it to me. That I didn’t need to follow the rules because if it weren’t for me, this town and the rest of the world would be nothing but vampire chum. So when a job came along where none of the rules applied, I jumped onboard.”
“I’m guessing it wasn’t an honest living,” Robin remarked.
The Slayer snorted. “That’s for sure. I was basically playing head goon for Buffy’s annual Bad Guy. Mayor Wilkins was gonna demon it up, basically wipe this town off the map. And I was his muscle, I did his dirty work,” she said glumly, thinking back on all the horrible things she’d done.
“Was it the money?” he wondered.
Faith shook her head. “There wasn’t really any money.”
“Then why?” he prodded further. He was still trying to understand how a slayer could have rejected every moral fiber in her being for, of all things, a job.
“At first I just wanted to stick it to Buffy and the Superfriends,” she started to explain, a twinge of disdain evident in her voice. The frosty reception she’d received at the Summer’s house hadn’t helped to quell the old animosities that still lingered below her tough surface. “So I started playing both sides, reporting all I knew about Buffy’s weekly antics to Wilkins. But after a while it stopped being about payback. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I belonged somewhere,” she began to explain hesitantly. These were troubled waters they were about to embark upon. “Wilkins was my Giles.”
“So he was like a watcher?” Wood wondered. “An evil watcher?”
“No…I mean…yeah he was evil but…that’s not what I meant,” she awkwardly corrected. “Remember that father-daughter thing I mentioned that Giles and Buffy have going for them? I had that with Wilkins. I was his Faith, his little firecracker.”
Robin’s eyes lit up, the light bulb finally going off. “He made you feel loved,” he said understandingly.
“Yeah,” the Slayer uttered in a shaky breath. “I know it wasn’t really love because how could someone so evil possibly know what love is. But it sure felt like it.” She added the last part in a strained whisper.
A multitude of image involuntarily popped into Wood’s head: the resolute look on Buffy’s face when she had stood between him and Spike, the cold fury that had flared in the outraged vampire’s eyes at his treatment of the Slayer, the soft touch that had ended Spike’s blind fury, the tender glances the couple had briefly exchanged after the vampire had confessed to matricide.
Wood refused to admit they shared anything remotely close to love, but he’d be in some serious denial if he didn’t at least acknowledge that it sure looked pretty convincing. He shook off the train of thought. Though he told himself he needed to pay attention, to play Freud for the sake of the emotionally fragile slayer, Robin knew he was partly doing it as a means of distraction. To keep his mind off of the fact that he should have never stepped foot into the Summer’s basement earlier that evening.
“What happened to the Mayor?” Wood asked, pushing for further conversation though he had a feeling he already knew the answer. If Wilkins had been Buffy’s enemy like Faith said, and the blonde Slayer was still alive and well, then the Mayor must have been defeated.
“She killed him,” Faith replied sorrowfully.
“She killed a human?!” he asked in alarm.
Faith groaned. “Did you miss the part where I called Wilkins a ‘Bad Guy’? You know that’s slayer talk for demon, right?” she asked tartly. She was getting a little annoyed at how everything she told this guy was so earth shattering. Especially when it concerned the sanctity of a slayer’s duty. Or more like anything that supposedly violated said sanctity. “And as if Miss Exceptional Moral Standing would ever lay a hand on a human,” she heatedly argued before taking a pause to rethink her statement. “Well…except for that time she put me in a coma.”
“She what?!” Robin sputtered in astonishment.
“Yup. Perfect Little Buffy Summers almost killed me,” Faith revealed bitingly. “Stabbed me in the stomach with my own knife.”
Robin despairingly rubbed his bald head, sighing heavily. “Why?”
Though his voice was hoarse and weary, his dark brown eyes danced with untamed stupefaction. Faith turned away from his disheartened gaze. Sure it was annoying but it was hard to stay peeved when the guy was looking at her like a kid who just found out the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist.
“I shot her boyfriend with a poisoned arrow. It was this vamp poison where the only cure was draining a slayer dry,” she answered him flatly, her focus centered on a space of green lawn a few feet away. “So B figured my blood was the best antidote.”
“You shot Spike?” he asked, his mood perking up momentarily at the thought of Spike in any form of bodily harm.
“Who said I was talking about the Bleached Wonder?” Faith asked indignantly, stealing the nickname that Xander had used earlier that night.
Robin’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Then who?”
“Uhh…Angel,” she responded matter-of-factly.
Faith rubbed her forehead. She could feel the beginnings of a headache pounding at the interior of her skull. “Angel, the original vampire with a soul,” she clarified, giving him a ‘like-duh’ glower.
“Are you saying that Spike isn’t the first vampire Buffy has been involved with?” he inquired, carefully stating his words.
“Yeah,” she curtly replied. “I know I’m not always up to date with current events but I’ve been locked up in a jail cell for the past three years. What’s your excuse?”
“Two vampires,” Wood mumbled, totally dumbfounded. “She’s been with two vampires?” he asked, the pitch of his voice rising with incredulity.
“For a friend of B’s, you’re kinda outta the loop,” she remarked.
Wood disregarded her comment, his mind still dwelling on the history of Buffy’s love life. The bile building in his stomach started to rise. “How could she even…I mean when she told me about Spike…I still can’t believe…” he unintelligibly tried to express his bafflement. “Buffy’s a slayer. How could she lower herself to being with a vampire? Let alone two?”
Faith quirked a brow. “You think it’s that cut and dry?”
“Of course. Vampires are evil. If they weren’t evil, there wouldn’t be the need for slayers,” Wood argued resolutely.
“So everything’s so black and white for you?” she wondered, unsure why she was suddenly defending Buffy, even if only in an indirect fashion.
“I can’t believe you’re supporting this,” he grumbled, shaking his head.
That was it. Faith had had enough. Jumping off from the tombstone she’d been sitting on, the Slayer spun on her heel, her determined gaze centered on Wood’s disapproving face. “Whatever delusion you’re under, whatever way you think slayers should act, you desperately need to get the hell over it!” she sharply bitched. “Slayers aren’t perfect. We’re not these fucking superheroes everyone thinks we are.”
Robin crossed his arms, unimpressed. “You’re human. You make mistakes. I get it,” he solemnly replied. “But what you fail to realize is the part of making mistakes is learning from them. Buffy won’t even fess up to any wrong doing. And you…well, you seem to think that slayers deserve some sort of absolute pardon. Like it’s owed to you.”
His last remark made Faith see red. “You fucking bastard,” she growled, automatically raising her fist to punch the asshole’s lights out. She didn’t though. Her hand fell back to her side, tears stinging her eyes. “So much for no harm no foul,” she rasped softly before spinning around, wanting to get as far as she could from the biggest mistake she’d ever made.
“Faith,” Wood called out to her, instantly regretting his use of the Slayer’s own words against her.
She just kept marching in the opposite direction. Until a strong grasp whirled her about. “Let go of me,” she gritted out, glaring at the hold he had on her arm.
“Faith, look…I’m sorry. I crossed the line,” he apologized.
“Yeah well, it’s my fault for thinking I could actually talk to someone with it ending in them hating me,” she retorted cuttingly.
Robin loosened his grip around her arm. “I don’t hate you,” he said gently.
“Yeah, well you’ve got a funny way of showing it,” she warily sighed, her stubbornness waning.
“I just…it’s just…” Robin trailed, experiencing trouble in explaining his behavior. With a long exhale of breath, he sat himself back down on another tombstone, head slightly bowed. “I didn’t mean to attack you, Faith. But tonight has been one of the longest in my life and it’s been nothing but shock after shock. The things I’ve seen tonight, the things you’ve told me, it’s as though everything I’ve known to be true was all a lie,” he said somberly. “I’m can’t believe I haven’t had a nervous breakdown yet.”
Faith relaxed, taking a seat back next to the distraught Principal, hoping he would see the gesture as an acceptance of his apology. “Is that why you’re out here? Hanging around cemeteries after dark?” she inquired softly, though her tone was slightly reprimanding. “You beating on vamps to get your mind off of something?”
Wood rubbed the back of his neck, keeping his gaze to the ground so Faith wouldn’t see the shame in his eyes. “I tried to kill Spike today,” he confessed.
It was Faith’s turn to stare at him wild eyed before bursting out into laughter.
“I don’t see how this is funny,” he grumbled.
“Oh, believe me this is freakin’ hilarious,” she giggled, wiping away a tear. Inhaling deeply, Faith cleared her throat. “You try to slay Buffy’s new beau the same night I show up at her door. Man, the Karma gods must have it out for me.”
Wood winced at the implication of her words. “I guess we have one thing in common then,” he said glumly. “We’re both in Buffy’s bad books for trying to kill her boyfriends,” Robin elaborated.
Faith sobered up at his statement. “Why’d you do it?” she asked tentatively.
“It’s kinda personal,” he replied guardedly.
The Slayer stared at the man next to her with a reproaching quirk of a single eyebrow. “You’re kidding me, right? I mean, I let you get all up close and personal with my ish and you can’t even give me a reason why you wanna completely screw things up with your best buddy Buffy?”
Wood groaned in protest, but dropping his shoulders moments later in surrender. “Spike killed my mother,” he said feeling like a broken record. How many times had he actually said that today? The words were starting to lose their dramatic affect.
Faith gasped under her breath. “Didn’t see that coming,” she whispered to herself.
“Look, I know my friendship with Buffy is probably unsalvageable, but at the time I thought I was doing what was best,” he attempted to defend himself.
“And now?” Faith vaguely wondered.
“Now what?” he said, unsure what exactly the Slayer was asking.
“Do you still think trying to off the vamp was for the best?” she restated.
Wood shrugged. “Both Buffy and Giles had warned me. They told me there was some important prophecy that said Spike might have something to do with stopping the apocalypse, but I didn’t want to hear it. I couldn’t believe that the monster that killed my mother could actually have a hand in saving humanity,” he started, uncertain where his train of thought was going. “I even convinced myself that I was doing Buffy a favor. Spike was just a distraction, keeping her from her mission.”
“Sounds like you’ve changed your mind,” Faith noted.
Robin exhaled loudly. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “I was so sure I was right. I knew Spike had to die. I thought that finally avenging my mother would help with the pain, even if only a little. But then…”
“What?” the Slayer gently pushed.
“I really fucked up,” he admitted in disgrace. “I was so set on revenge, that I did some things I’m not proud of.”
“Well for one thing, I took advantage of Buffy and Spike in a moment of weakness,” he began to clarify. “I even allowed myself to use physical force against Buffy when she was distracted.”
Faith didn’t ask when this scenario had exactly played out or what it really entailed. She already knew Wood had made his attempt on Spike’s life some time that evening before she had shown up. The Slayer figured she’d find out about it soon enough. “So you acting like an ass changed your mind about Spike?” she asked with a crumpled brow, not really getting the connection.
Wood shook his head vigorously. “No, it wasn’t that,” he said firmly. “I’ve never seen a vampire look so guilty,” he confessed, pausing briefly as he reflected on his own words. “It was like there was no amount of physical pain that I could dish out that could even compare to the torture I saw in his face. And then it hit me. He was already suffering. Suddenly my need for retribution seemed so…pointless.”
“So what happened to vampires are evil?” Faith inquired, reiterating Wood’s earlier statement.
“Why do you think I’m out here?” he replied dismally. “I was hoping to get some perspective.”
“Did it work?” she wondered.
“No, not really,” he answered honestly. “The vampires I killed tonight, I know they’re evil. I know shoving a stake through their chest was the right thing to do. It was nice feeling that again,” he commented, his tone bittersweet.
“For the past twenty five years, there were things I thought I knew as fact. Solid and unchanging rules that have to be adhered for the universe to properly function. That was until today,” Wood explicated before becoming very agitated. “What am I supposed to know is true or not if what I see with my own eyes flies in the face of everything I’ve ever believed?” he uttered, posing the hypothetical.
Faith reached out and placed a hand on his arm. The guy could definitely use a little bit of comfort.
Robin’s eyes focused on the small hand gently touching his forearm. “If I accept that a slayer can love a vampire, that a slayer can kill a human being…” he paused for a moment, unable to continue. “I have to consider the possibility that my own mother was capable of the same,” Robin finally declared.
The Slayer squeezed his arm slightly. She understood his turmoil now. Robin Wood had been thrown into a sea of grey and was now drowning in the ethical ambiguities.
“No one thinks twice about what it really takes a slayer to kill a vamp. Everyone thinks it’s as easy as stake in heart, presto changejo, you got a pile of dust,” Faith softly commented. “No one really knows what it’s like.”
“What do you mean?” Wood asked, wondering how Faith’s words had anything to do with his personal anagnorisis.
“You know how they give psych tests to soldiers to see that they haven’t gone mental from all the killing they had to do?” she posed, hoping the analogy would help Robin connect the dots.
“Uhh yeah,” he responded, still not following.
“Those shrinks should really come up with something for slayers too,” Faith casually commented.
“But you’re not killing anyone,” he argued, becoming frustrated since he didn’t understand how this was supposed to help him through his moral crisis.
“Close enough,” she rebutted, crossing her arms.
“There is a big difference…”
Faith immediately cut him off. “Do you know what it feels like to shove a stake into a person’s chest? Except for the turning to dust, it’s pretty much just like staking a vamp,” Faith heatedly informed the doubtful Principal. “And I should know.”
“What are you saying?”
“Being a slayer, it’s all about the hunt. You tell yourself that they’re vamps and they’re evil and they need to be killed, after a while…” she paused, unsure how to go on without giving Wood the wrong impression. “After a while, right and wrong, good and bad, they’re all just words.”
Robin said nothing. He simply stared at the Slayer, afraid of what she was implying.
“The power you have. How you decide if someone lives or dies. It gets to you,” she continued. “I know I rag on B for being such a tight ass but I get why she’s like that. It’s cuz she has to be. If she wasn’t well…you know…” she trailed off, pointing to herself to illustrate her point.
“Helps too that she has friends and family. They keep her grounded. Maybe if I had that, maybe I wouldn’t have let it totally take me over,” Faith said mournfully.
“So you’re saying you don’t have anyone?” he asked suspiciously.
“Well nowadays with the whole rap sheet I got, I’m lucky if I got an emergency contact,” she snidely quipped in response. “But before that I was still pretty much on my own. Everyone I knew here was B’s friend.”
“And your parents?”
“Dad bolted when I was a tot and as far as I know, moms is back in Boston, probably drowning in her bottle of Jack,” she told him bitterly. “It’s probably why it meant so much, when Wilkins took me in. He loved me because I was so far gone. Really all he did was make it worse,” Faith added dejectedly. “And that’s another thing.”
“The fact I went to Wilkins in the first place.”
“I thought you did it because you wanted to belong?” Wood countered in confusion.
“Yeah but I felt like I belonged because he got me. He saw the badness inside me and accepted it with open arms. It was nice having someone I could relate to, even if it was because we were both evil.”
“If what you’re saying is true, about slayers having these feelings, couldn’t you have found this connection with Buffy?” he inquired dubiously.
“I couldn’t relate to B about homework and chores. What makes you think we’d try to open up to each other about this stuff?” she heatedly argued. “She’d probably deny it anyway.”
Wood absorbed the information, his gaze shifting from the brunette at his side to the horizon, wondering how long it was until sunrise. It felt like he’d been talking to Faith for an eternity. “It’s why she’s with Spike, isn’t?” he asked, his demure voice lacking any contempt or disgust.
“Yeah,” Faith answered, her own brown eyes looking out at the starry night sky. “She needs him because he gets her, more than her buds or Giles or even her kid sis. Spike doesn’t judge, he accepts the ugliness inside of her. Loves it even.”
“She love him back?”
Wood wasn’t sure why he asked. It might be because if she did then she would be accepting his ugliness. To love him she would have to accept the good and the bad. Robin wasn’t sure if he was comforted or disturbed by the notion.
Faith shrugged. “That’s a whole other can of worms,” she quipped, jumping off the gravestone. “C’mon. I know I could use a drink. Or fifty.”
Automatically, Wood stared at his wristwatch. “It’s 3 a.m.!”
“So what? You wanna head back over to B’s? Mend a few bridges?” the Slayer asked, completely unconvinced.
Wood groaned. He wasn’t ready to face Buffy yet. He was still on systems overload everything he’d learned and experienced that night. Robin felt as though he had too many things to think through before he could face the Slayer he had betrayed. Not to mention that Buffy was most likely asleep at the moment, which meant he’d have to wait until morning to speak with her. That also meant spending the rest of the night at home, alone with his thoughts.
“On second thought, a drink sounds good,” he accepted, joining Faith as she headed toward the cemetery gates.
Maybe getting a drink with Faith would relax him a little. It didn’t hurt either that the Slayer was a great distraction, gorgeous and stubborn. Robin Wood just prayed that she’d had her fill of talks about slayers and vampires for the night.
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