I believe Slayers can share dreams. This statement comes from my own personal experience; it's not something I looked up in one of Giles's Watcher books, which are vague and ropey on the subject of telepathy among us chosen types. Maybe this has never happened before. If any of my predecessors ever walked through each other's heads, they kept mum about it.
Think I understand why: it's freaky. Freaky not knowing whether you're alone and your own mind is guiding you, or if you're just a passenger on someone else's night train. Or if your two trains are derailing, colliding, crashing into each other in a quiet dark smash of twisted emotions.
I still can't say who was acting as conductor, can't tell if I was dreaming about Faith or she was dreaming about me. Maybe we were dreaming about each other. I don't know how it works, only that it does.
It works. It's scary and dangerous and intimate and so strangely special that I can hardly bring myself to tell Giles about it. But I will. He should write this down for posterity, even if it never reaches future Slayers or never makes it past his former employers, the stodgy dopes of the Watcher's Council. I want the next Slayers to know about it, just in case they ever find themselves where I was.
The first dream was simple, easy to figure. We were together in Faith's old apartment -- on her turf -- which probably means that she instigated the first shared dream. It was her only way to communicate with me, and she needed to give me a tip on defeating the Mayor. She was quick and concise, laying out his only real weakness in a few well chosen words.
Then she touched my face, brushed back my hair, stepped close to me... and I woke up. It was such a tender, fleeting moment. I recall that I was not afraid of her, that I felt no discomfort in her presence, only anticipation and a bleary sense of disappointment when I woke alone.
First thing I did upon leaving my hospital bed was go to her and complete the refrain she had begun -- I kissed her. Softly, on the forehead. A chaste gesture of forgiveness and friendship. In the dream, she made her true allegiance clear, and I could not hold her mistakes against her.
I said a silent prayer that she would either heal quickly or pass peacefully, then I went to work. I did not linger at her bedside, reaming myself out for my hasty judgment, my anger or intolerance. She forgave me, I forgave her, we moved on. It's what Faith would have wanted. Straight-up, no muss, no fuss.
The mayor did not live long enough to enjoy his ascension. 'Nuff said.
Faith didn't pass away peacefully. She hung on with teeth and nails, clawing her way up to stable condition. But she didn't wake up. I went to see her a few days after graduation. Her doctors said she was defying death, that she should have been on the mortician's slab already.
I made some smart remark under my breath, about how the girl never did things the easy way, and they all gave me these ghastly, disapproving looks. Screw 'em. They didn't know anything about Faith. I wasn't exactly an authority, but I knew she was flinty tough and wouldn't go gentle into that goodnight. Faith was built to rage, against the dying light, against vampires, against the whole damned world which never even tried to treat her right.
I kissed her again, on the cheek, and left the hospital room. Whether due to my own weakness or selfishness, or because I felt her hating my tears, hating herself for being so vulnerable, I didn't make the visits a regular thing. In fact, I didn't see Faith again for almost four months.
Summer flitted past and it was time to go to college. Sunnydale University is very much like Sunnydale High, only with less flaming rubble. Willow and I registered for classes together, trying to arrange our schedules to coincide on a few occasions. I opted not to join her in Chemistry and Physics, but we agreed to share stops in English Literature and an interesting elective - criminology. When I went to bed, I left the yellow schedule printout on my nightstand.
I had the second dream that very night.
When I awoke in the dream, the lamp was on, casting dim light around my bedroom. Faith sat on the end of my bed, reading over my class selections with an amused smirk twisting her mouth. She wore black leather pants and a deep blue silk shirt, sleeveless to reveal her tattoo. She looked like a beautiful, deep bruise. I was oddly unsurprised to see her.
"Criminology, huh?" she muttered. "Gonna learn how to catch *all* the baddies. Lookout scum, here she come."
"Willow, Xander and me are gonna be Rupert's Angels," I explained, wiping sleep from my eyes, straightening my twisted shorts. "I get to be Farrah."
I heard leather squeaking as she uncrossed her legs, shifted her weight. "Good casting," she said, leaning across me to replace the schedule on the table. "Willow's the brain trust, Xander's the sweet brunette, and you're the resident kick-ass hottie."
Her voice was husky and laughing, though she didn't actually laugh. I smiled at her shyly and she smiled back, bright and happy. She seemed so healthy and vital, so alive.
"How do you feel?" I asked.
"Static cling in the brain," she said, tapping her temple. "Can't keep things separated worth shit, but it's getting better. Parlez vous Francais?"
"How now?" I blinked at her and she grinned broadly.
"Tweedy Bird's trying to teach me French while I can't fight back."
I was shocked and my face must have shown it. "Giles hasn't said - "
"It's a secret. Shh." She placed a finger on my mouth as if to shush me. "He comes by a few times a week, reads to me from the newspaper, does language drills and such while I'm trying to think about other stuff. It's like, donnez moi un break, you know?"
"He can be a bit of a stick sometimes," I said, nodding. "I wish Giles had told me about these visits. Maybe I could have come along."
"No. I don't want you there."
The blunt way she said it bruised me, stung me. "Why not?"
"The body's all pale and withered. Pity from you would kill me." She shook her head and fixed me with a hard stare. "Don't want you to see me like that. I'd rather you shot my I.V. full of cyanide."
"Faith, support and pity aren't the same thing."
"Oh, *now* you want to support me? Bit late in the game to change tactics."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Everything you ever did for me was out of some screwy sense of noblesse oblige, because you felt sorry for me. I don't want that from you. I didn't then, and I really don't need it now."
Her words hit home. I wondered if she heard Giles say "noblesse oblige" at some point, if his secret visits were influencing her vocabulary. It's not a very Faith thing to say, but it fit like an Iron Maiden and it shamed me.
"I didn't know how to deal with you," I confessed. "I wanted to be your friend, but I never figured out how. I never knew the terms."
"Trust would have been a bitchin' place to start." She had eased away from me by then, scooted almost off the end of the bed, withdrawing. "How many times did the inner sanctum convene to discuss Slayer business while I was left watching telly in that fleabag motel? You never let me in."
It was true. We discussed her as if she were a charity case, never made the effort to include her in anything but pitched battles. I didn't know what to say, so I fell back on the lamest reply in the book: "I'm sorry."
She lunged at me so fast that I was startled back, my skull banging hard against the headboard. Faith grabbed at my wrist and held it in a vice grip.
"Goddammit, don't say that!" she hissed, her breath hot in my face. "Don't ever be sorry, Buffy, it's a waste of time. I never wanted you to feel sorry for me... that's not what I need from you."
Her grip on my wrist loosened, fingers drifted together until she held my hand. She was so close to me, her face inches away, her body coiled alongside mine above the sheets. Every time we'd ever been this close, she'd either hit me or kissed me. I was very still, very quiet, waiting for her to choose.
Faith chose the kiss. Maybe we both did. I don't know.
I always knew she was attracted to me, and I'm loathe to admit how much I enjoyed that knowledge. There were moments where I thought about admitting it was mutual, but I was never that brave. And there was Angel, always Angel, to consider. Convenient to attach my cowardice to my feelings for him. He deserved better than to be used as a justification, an excuse, but I'm not perfect. I'm almost certain I didn't abuse the attraction, that I didn't actively use Faith's desire to manipulate her. Almost certain.
It was only a dream, but even now, if I concentrate hard enough, I can feel that first long, pillowy press of her lips on mine. In a few dark, low moments (as well as a few bright, high ones), I had fantasized kissing Faith in some flirtatious, experimental way. I never imagined that such a hard girl's mouth could be so soft, so warm and sweet, and I never saw myself as being so unwilling to end the kiss.
Those silly imaginary kisses were at my instigation, and I was in control. In this dream, her mouth led mine, danced me through the brief swirl of steps which left my heart racing, my head dizzy. After a few seconds, she pulled away and looked at me, her dark eyes brimming with shadows.
"If you had it to do over again, would you let me in?" she whispered.
Would I have made the effort to include her more? I don't know. She scared me a little, her arrogance and temper put me off stride. Would I have tried to understand her? Yes. Would I have let her slip away without a fight? God, no.
"I would try harder to make things right for you, Faith," I answered.
"Would you let me in?" she repeated.
I looked deep into her eyes, past the fear and the anger, and I saw how much she needed someone to trust, someone to trust her. When I bowed out of the game, she turned to the mayor for what she needed. I cursed myself for being so blind in days past, and I gave her my answer.
"I would... do things differently."
"So would I."
She gave me a blacklight smile, sinister and glowing, and she ripped away the sheet covering me. In one long, heated glance, she looked at my body from heel to crown. In the dream, my toenails were painted purple. Maybe it meant nothing, but I remember it clearly because the moment I noticed the color, I felt her hands slide under my t-shirt, nails raking across my stomach.
"Will you let me in now?" she asked. "Swear to always tell me the truth? To let me believe in you? Will you try to believe in me?"
She was asking so much, maybe too much, and my mind could not focus. Her fingers teased my breasts, hot hands circled around and squeezed in a whispery rhythm. I shuddered, shook hard from the spine, and my teeth clenched tight. No one had touched me that way except Angel, and I hadn't wanted anyone since him. I kept my eyes wide open, fastened to her face.
"This is only a dream," I said, as if to clarify the circumstances, to assure myself that promises made here were not enforceable.
"Is it?" Faith grinned, her hands running wild under my shirt, palms scorching my nipples. "Feels real enough to me. Whaddaya say?"
"The letting me in thing, B. Thought I was the one with dain bramage," she teased. "If we could start from scratch, right now, would you let me in?"
It was only a dream, I told myself. I was over the age of consent, able to deal with the sexuality implications, and her hands on my body felt incredibly good. Faith knew exactly where to touch me, how hard to press, how tight to squeeze. She knew what she was doing. I decided to let it happen, to say what she needed to hear in order to make it happen.
"Yes, okay, yes," I breathed, lifting my mouth for a second kiss.
Her hands retreated from under my shirt, one slid up to cup my jaw as her mouth closed in on mine... that was when she hit me.
"Liar," she whispered, slamming her fist against my jaw.
I was in shock, too tense and dreamily aroused to block the second blow, which crashed against my temple and knocked me senseless. I heard a soft grind, like metal and leather sliding in an intimate embrace, and then I saw the knife -- the one I plunged into her torso on the eve of my graduation.
"I've had a while to think about this moment, B," she growled, light flashing off her wicked blade. "I know right where I wanna put this puppy."
"Faith, no, don't - "
I felt the blade punch between my ribs and sink deep into my chest, a cold intrusion ripping into my heart. I gasped and tried to scream, felt blood rise in my throat, trickle over my lips. That's when I got my second kiss.
"It's a twisted world when the knife feels like justice, eh, girlfriend?" Faith said, smiling at me with my blood shining on her lips.
I tried to speak, words gurgling incoherently in my flooded throat, and she shushed me again, tenderly pressing her fingers to my lips.
"Shhh. Shhh," Faith cooed. She jerked hard on the knife and the blade pulled out of my body, leaving a jagged hole in my chest.
She stood up and headed for the open window, but before she made her exit, she turned back to me and spoke once more.
"Crucial point, B. Next time I ask you a question, don't fucking lie to me."
I woke up at four in the morning with an ache under my skin that no amount of rubbing could soothe. I felt empty, hollowed out. Twenty minutes of crying in the shower didn't help. Neither did a long hug from my confused mother, who shambled out of bed and made a pot of coffee, then sat up for hours listening to me talk about anything and everything but my dream of Faith.
After breakfast, I called the hospital and checked on Faith's condition. The duty nurse told me "that girl ain't changed a bit, honey," and I worried that her words were too true. By lunch, I had convinced myself that it was just a nightmare. Brought on my a bit of fatty meat or something, right, Ebenezer? You and me should find Dickens and fuck him up, eh buddy? Dreams suck.
After dinner, I took one of mom's Unisom pills and settled down, wishing for a long, uneventful slumber.
My wish went typically unanswered.
I dreamed of being alone in a church, lighting a candle for the ones I couldn't save, and walking home with an unsatisfying sense that no one heard my prayers. Two blocks into my journey, vampires attacked. Lots of vampires. More than I've ever seen in one place, more than perhaps exist at all in Sunnydale. I fought, but I grew tired and was eventually beaten down.
Faith strolled past the fight, humming, flipping the now storied knife high into the air and catching it by the handle. Desperate and afraid, I called to her for help.
"Where's Velma and Shaggy?" she asked, apparently referring to Willow and Xander. "They're your friends, B. I'm just another pedestrian."
"You're a Slayer!" I yelled.
"Only when it suits you. Fickle, fickle," she said. "Can't hang around forever waiting for you to make up your mind about me."
She stuck her tongue out at me and walked away, flipping her knife and humming. The vamps united, fell on me as one, and tore me apart. I felt my right arm rip away from my shoulder socket before the pain and the sound of my own screams woke me.
I called the hospital again that morning. The same nurse told me that no change was listed on Faith's chart. I asked her to go to her room and actually look at her, but she claimed to be too busy to do that. I was too afraid to go there myself.
That night, I didn't want to go to sleep. I went to work instead and wound up sleeping on the job... at least, I think I did.
End Part One