Title: Locked Out
Author: Beer Good
Fandom: Buffy, s5, shortly after "No Place Like Home"
Word count: ~1200
Notes: Written for Fuffy Day 2017. Assumes that Faith was 16 during s3 with all that that implies, I dare you to find canonical evidence I'm wrong.
Summary: Faith's turning 18 in jail, which is a good opportunity for the Council to get rid of her without having to break protocol. Unless Buffy finds time to get involved, in the midst of all the Dracula magical key sister hellgod mess.
You think you know. What you are, what's to come… you haven't even begun.
When the guard escorted Faith into the visitor's area and she saw who was on the other side of the glass, she almost pinched herself. She was sure she'd dreamed this. Sitting down, she probably stared at Buffy a few seconds too long before grabbing the phone. Every detail of her face looked the same, but still different. Older? Serious, but not slit-your-throat angry. So that's a plus.
After about ten seconds, Buffy opened her mouth. "OK, one of us should probably say something. Happy birthday?"
It was about the last thing Faith had expected. What day was it? They were all the same in here. They had meatloaf the day before yesterday, so today must be… "You're a week early. But thanks."
Buffy looked around at the concrete, barred windows, and armed guards. "Wow. This is really... I mean, I thought you'd be in..."
"What, juvie? Not for murder, B." She hadn't planned on the "B", it just slipped out. So easy to get back into it, to let her guard down, to remember what it was like to breathe freely. For a second, she felt the old rage stir again; she was stuck here and fucking Blondie could just walk out and go back to her life. "So now what, are you gonna sing too?"
"God, no. And they wouldn't let me bring a cake. I had a gift for you, but …" Buffy tapped on the thick glass, which earned her a disapproving look from one of the guards.
"Eh, I'd probably trade it for smokes anyway. But thanks. Not like anyone else remembered."
Buffy gave her a weird look. "Well, except our British friends. Their traditional birthday present should be right on schedule."
"You know." Something seemed to dawn on Buffy. "Oh crap, I never...You don't know. OK, short version. When a Slayer turns 18, the Council puts her through something called the cruciamentum. Your powers are temporarily taken away and you're put in a life-or-death situation. If you survive, you're worthy of Slayerhood. If not, well... You know the drill."
"Huh." Faith shrugged.
"Aaand you don't seem surprised."
"Just figures, y'know? The last topping of shit on a shit sandwich. Kinda surprised they let me live this long." She looked out at the rain pounding against the barred window and wondered if there'd at least be a sunny day before Thursday. "So they're coming for me? Same guys as before?"
"No. Giles says they fired them. Murdering a Slayer just isn't the British thing to do, I guess. But if they can do it by the book…" Buffy grimaced. "Our best guess they'll slip the drug to you somehow, and then one or more guards and/or prisoners will suddenly turn out to have fangs."
Faith suddenly realised what was weird about Buffy. She wasn't looking at her. She seemed to be, but there was no eye contact, like she was just looking at her own reflection in the glass. "Gotcha. So how do I know you're not here to do it for them?"
That did it. Buffy looked straight at her. She'd forgotten how much she'd missed that. "Would I do that?"
Faith absentmindedly scratched the scar on her belly; weird, Buffy really seemed to want an answer to that. "Like this? No. Not your kinda darkness."
"Faith, I - " Buffy looked away, seemed to chew something over, then turned back to her reflection. "We have something that'll neutralize the Council's drugs and we're working on a way to get it to you. Probably with magic, we don't know who we can trust with this."
A fresh vamp bite on Buffy's neck. How did she not notice? "Look, you don't owe me anything. I can take care of myself. Besides, like you said, I always knew the drill."
"I don't owe you anything!?" Buffy glared at her. "Duh. I'm trying to do you a favor here. Believe it or not, Faith, I don't want you dead. If something were to happen to - "
Faith held up her hand. "OK, chill. I appreciate it, really. It's just, last time I tried to say I was sorry you threatened to kill me, so…" She looked away from the glass and lowered her voice, probably enough that Buffy couldn't hear her. Fuck it. "For what it's worth, though, I am. You, Riley, Xander, Willow, Joyce… Shit, what I did to Dawn. Me of all people."
When she looked back up, Buffy was looking straight at her, her jaw set. She held Faith's gaze for several seconds before speaking. "You could probably break out of here, right?"
"Maybe. For a few more days, if what you say is true. But that'd kinda miss the point." The bite, the serious face, shit, Buffy even being here … Something big was going down and she was plan B. Again. A fucked-up murderer spending her 18th birthday serving life and waiting for someone to put her down. She looked around at the grey concrete, at the bars, at the armed men manning every exit, all of it pressing down on her. Then she looked at Buffy and she looked so very tired, so alone despite it all. How did she ever think either of them could just walk out? "We never really had a chance, did we, Buffy?"
Buffy just looked at her. Then she said again, "We're working on a way to get it to you. Just trust me this once. Please."
* * *
Two nights later, Faith's awakened by someone gently shaking her shoulder. She looks up and Buffy's there in her cell, somehow. She seems to glow. Well, her dreams do get weird. "Hey."
"What are you - " Faith mouths the words.
"You don't have to whisper. Nobody can hear or see us. Willow cooked up some sort of time bubble mojo thingy, it should hold for an hour or two." That'd explain the glow; beyond it, everything just looks paused, the bars and walls impossibly far away. She holds out something to Faith. "Here. Happy birthday. Spend it all in one place."
Faith takes it and stuffs it under her pillow. And because this seems like the good kind of dream, she reaches up to cup Buffy's cheek.
She's had dreams where she's not in prison. She's had dreams where Buffy struggles and screams beneath her for all sorts of reasons. She's never had a dream where Buffy simply climbs into the narrow bunk with her and holds her. No glass between them, no guards or impending apocalypse or whatever has Buffy scared shitless, just them.
She touches the scar on Buffy's neck; it's so quiet in here, she can hear her fingers brush against skin. "Who?"
"You wouldn't believe me."
She doesn't press the question. Doesn't need to know. Just kisses Buffy and wraps her arms around her, expecting to wake up, or for Buffy to punch her in the face. Instead, Buffy just clings to her tighter, like she finally understands something, and she's so very real and so very there.
The next morning, Faith tells herself she dreamed it all. But her bed is warm and there's a syringe under her pillow with a "2" drawn on it. She jams it in her arm and takes a deep breath. For the moment, she feels bulletproof.