I don't remember exactly when I wrote this, though I'm assuming it was sometime during summer '99, for obvious reasons. I found it when I was cleaning out some old floppies over winter break. In retrospect, it strikes me as a remarkably accurate character study. But then I would say that, wouldn't I?
Anyway. They're not mine, they're Joss's, more's the pity. But hey, if he ever wants someone to take Faith off his hands - well, he can just drop me a line, okay?
by Maya Tawi
So for two years now I've been actively battling the forces of evil, at Buffy's side. I thought I'd seen all kinds. Of evil, I mean. Vampires and demons, oh yeah, all sorts of demons. Big-time evil there.
We've even fought the First Evil. The first ever. Original-flavor evil. Well, okay, Buffy fought it. Well, she didn't exactly fight it, to be perfectly honest. But she did, you know. Thwart it.
The point is I've seen a lot of evil over these past two years. Generally of the supernatural kind.
And the thing is, it makes you forget. It makes you forget people can be evil too.
But I guess I've been reminded, huh? I mean, look at Faith. She's evil, right? Way evil.
I guess I kind of liked her when she first came to town. I mean, she was so -- so cool and tough and funny and wild, and she had all these great stories, and, well, just listening to her talk was so... fun. And I was still kind of going through Buffy-avoidance at the time, which I'm not really proud of now, but it's over. I mean, so I felt abandoned. I'm only human.
Fun. That was the word for Faith. She was big on finding the fun. And Buffy... wasn't. And I didn't exactly want to dwell, so....
Like I said, I'm over that now.
And then they hit it off, the two of them. And I was pushed to the side.
Buffy was -- is -- my best girl friend. My only girl friend, really, because Cordelia doesn't count anymore, with the whole not-talking-to-me thing. But against another Slayer, what chance did I have? I mean, they shared things. Things I'll never understand due to my distinct lack of Slayerness.
But then Faith turned evil. So it was okay again.
Okay between me and Buffy, I mean. Not okay that Faith was evil, of course, 'cause, well, that was bad. Obviously. But okay between me and Buffy.
Like, when things went bad for her? I was there. Not Faith.
But the thing is, I don't see why she thought she had to turn evil. Because we gave her chances. Buffy was her friend. What more did she want? But no, she had to go kill a man --
-- well, accidentally, yeah, but she should've had better reflexes, should've stopped. If she just didn't enjoy slaying so darn much, maybe -- maybe --
-- and then blame it on Buffy --
-- and that's just wrong. Completely inexcusable. Because Buffy would've helped, offered to help, and Faith just turned on her, lied to Giles, tried to make everything her fault --
-- but we still would've been her friends, if only....
I mean, I would have -- Buffy would have....
But Faith made her choice.
Buffy was saying something the other day. About Faith. About something she
(did I say that?)
"That I've always looked down on her," Buffy said. "That I thought I was better than her."
"Well --" I gave her this look, impatient, but still affectionate, 'cause Buffy's my best girl friend -- "Buffy, you are."
"Oh, I know. I mean, I should hope so. That's what I told her, you know? But I still... I feel like I could be her. Like it's just by luck, you know, just by chance that I'm not. I mean, if I didn't have you guys, well, who knows...."
"Buffy," I said firmly, "you could never be that cold."
One hundred percent certain.
"But do I come off like she said?" she asked anxiously. "To people in general? Like I'm patronizing them. Like I'm all, 'Ooh, I'm better than you are'?"
"Of course not," I exclaimed. "Buffy, Faith was just feeling less than you. Which -- which is true, because, she is. You don't have to act like you're better for people to know you are better." Did that come out like I meant it to?
"But even at the beginning," she pressed me, "when Faith first came to town, I did think I was better than her. I mean, yeah, I was jealous and all, but still. What if she picked up on that? What if I never lost that attitude -- what if I always treated her like second best?"
Am I missing the part where this is a problem? "She is second best."
Buffy gave me a sideways glance. "Chicken or the egg, Will?"
"Besides," she continued, "you liked her at first. You and Xander both."
Don't remind me, Buffy.
"You could never be like her," I said instead, glad to change the subject, to go back to her earlier question, because I wasn't sure I liked where this was going. "You'd never be evil. No matter what."
"I don't know," she said, staring at the ground.
"What's not to know? Were you planning on donning the Vader helmet without telling me?" Joking with Buffy, 'cause we're best girl friends. And whatever she shared with Faith could never compare.
Then she said something. Something about how, if you never had something, and that was the most important thing in the world to you, and you had the chance to get it, what would you do for that chance? if that makes any sense?
I tried not to think about it. I try not to now.
I don't think I want to know what she meant.
It's nice out. I used to take long walks all the time at night. Not so much now, for obvious reasons.
I don't want to think about this. But I am.
Too many thoughts. I need to clear my head.
So I'm walking. And of course I'm armed, because that'd be ironic, wouldn't it, to survive Faith and the Mayor only to get bit -- but if vampires seem like the lesser evil nowadays, well, it's not so hard to understand. Vampires are simple. Vampires I can kill.
...And I thought about her --
-- and there she is.
Leaning against a lamppost like she has a right to be there. Like this is her town. And my God does she look like a slut, what is up with those clothes --
Okay, feet, turn and run --
I'm not running. I won't run. I'm not afraid of Faith.
(do I sound like a born-again or what? geez.)
She smiles at me, catlike, tilting her head back and watching me through narrowed eyes. Her hair's loose over her leather jacket --
(and what's with the leather girl look? it's like she's wearing the whole cow --)
-- she looks evil. But she's not carrying a weapon. Not that I can see.
Except, of course, her Slayerness in general. Which I lack.
I'm not afraid, I'm not running, I'm... frozen. Can't move my legs. So I'm not running.
But I'm not afraid.
She speaks first, and she says my name. Names have power, you know. She never told us her last name.
"Willow Rosenberg," is what she says. "You know, I have finally figured you out."
She knows my name. But I'm better than she is.
"I have you figured out too," I say. And I'm not afraid.
"You're nothing but a bully, Faith. You're stronger than everyone else, so you think that gives you rights. You think you're better than us. You think that makes you less of a loser, just because you're a Slayer.
"Well, you're wrong. You're still a loser. You're the lowest of the low. And you know what you'd be? If you weren't a Slayer? You'd be nothing. Absolutely nothing. You think if you have some kind of power, if you're working for the Mayor now, that'll change? Not a chance."
She waits for me to finish. Her expression doesn't change. I tense, waiting for the punch. Faith never has a good comeback.
"So I'm a bully, huh?" The revelation doesn't seem to faze her. She claps her hands together, slowly. Golf clap. "Hey, good for you. You stood up to the big bad monster again. Bet all your friends think you're real brave, huh? Super Willow."
She keeps on smiling. Grinning, now.
"But you're not brave. You think you are. But what you are, really, is selfish."
"Selfish?" I echo. "Don't you think you've got me mixed up with, oh, say, you?"
She shakes her head, still smiling, always smiling. "Not me, Twinkie. More owed than owing, that's my motto. You got something handed to you on a silver platter that I dreamed of for my entire life and never... ever... got."
"Oh yeah?" My voice isn't shaking. There's no way I'm afraid of her. "What's that?"
"Everything." She takes a step closer. "Every-fucking-thing. Friends, family that cares about you, the sweet, doting boyfriend --"
"Family?" I have the sudden, insane urge to giggle. "Family? My mom? She doesn't care. She doesn't know I'm there half the time --"
It's like someone just turned the thermostat way down. Her voice is cold, soft but hard as ice, and she's staring at me in, like, disgust. And in her eyes... I can see the faintest glimmerings of something furious.
And, you know, I've never seen her this angry. Even in the Mayor's office, when I cut her with words and she could only hit me back
(because in a battle of wits Faith is always the unarmed participant)
she still wasn't as angry as she is now. Even when she was losing, when she was smiling as she promised me "deep pain", looking forward to it --
-- nothing compared to now.
Now she's just pure, cold, black rage, and I'm terrified.
"Doesn't care?" she repeats, her voice still soft. "You wanna know about not caring? Huh? Not caring is sitting in the bedroom getting drunk off your ass while your boyfriend's in the next room fucking your daughter --"
She almost screams the last, then breaks off, suddenly, breathing hard. She exhales and continues, calmly,
"-- and not doing a damn thing about it. That is not fucking caring.
"No," she says, and it's like a switch's been flipped, because suddenly the rage isn't there anymore. But I know it's not gone. That kind of thing doesn't just go away. But she's smiling again. "No, you had everything. And you were too selfish to want to share.
"Oh, it was safe for you to like me in the beginning, wasn't it? 'Cause B and me, we weren't exactly friends then, right? You'd condescend to hang out with me as long as I wasn't a threat to you. But as soon as that happened, well. You know what comes next."
She steps forward. I step back.
"You offered me friendship? Yeah, right. Buffy would've been my friend, yeah -- as long as you made sure you always came first. You couldn't even stand to share your friends with me, and you expect me to believe you would've given me a fair chance to be on the side of good?
"Selfish is exactly what you are. Too fucking selfish to share."
"Like Buffy should've shared Angel with you, right?" My voice shakes; I try to steady it. "You tried to take him from her. What kind of friend is that?"
She just shakes her head again, brushing off this deepest betrayal with nothing more than a gesture. "You just couldn't stand that we shared something you weren't a part of, could you? Too jealous. The poor forgotten sidekick --"
"I'm not a sidekick."
"Dream on, witch-girl wannabe." She smirks. "You're sure as hell not Buffy's equal, are you? You're not the star of this little drama. You think you can understand her? You think you can get close to her, stand beside her? You can't even imagine what she is. You're not a Slayer."
And it hurts. More than anything else she's said, it hurts. Because more and more, I've been thinking that exact same thing.
And in some distant part of my mind, I can't help wondering when she got so good at hurting people. When she got a comeback.
Faith is still talking, still smiling. She saunters towards me, slowly. I can't turn away.
"Oh yeah, Miss Holier Than You, you all gave me a choice, all right. You gave me the choice of being second-string Slayer, second-best friend. Second best. Story of my life, huh?"
She pauses, leaning in close. The words come rapid-fire, like bullets.
"When I was with you guys, I had nothing. You weren't my friends. You never, ever would be. You're Buffy's friends, and God forbid you had to share her with anyone else who could understand her better than you. You wouldn't ever let me be anything more than second. Even Buffy looked down on me. I was the charity case. A way for you guys to feel good about yourselves. You were so fucking determined to help poor old second-best Faith, so it's her own fault if she doesn't listen, right? You did your goddamn best.
"Well, let me tell you something, sweetheart. I knew exactly what you were doing, all the time. And you know what? I don't need your charity. What I need --"
She breaks off, abruptly, looking slightly stunned. Stunned by what she was about to say? What was she about to say? O Wise Omniscient Faith, what do you need?
(a stay in a mental hospital)
I don't know. And I don't care. She's wrong. Of course she's wrong. She had every chance. But Faith doesn't work for things. Faith has to have things come to her.
(did I say that out loud?)
If I did, she's not listening. She's turning away. And in the yellow glow from the streetlight, she looks almost
no, not evil, almost... innocent. Like a young girl. Like an angel....
Faith innocent. That's a laugh. She was never innocent.
"What I need," she repeats, almost inaudibly so is she talking to me? should I be listening?, "is something you could never give me."
And then she turns to face me, dead-on, her lips curling into maybe a smirk. Maybe a snarl. Maybe a sad half-smile.
"But I have it now."
The maybe-smile disappears abruptly.
"And there's no way in hell you're gonna ruin it for me."
And then, then the punch comes, and oh look the world is spinning now are those stars? am I looking at the stars?
Then the stars are gone....
Some time later I open my eyes. I'm staring at the sky. At the stars.
I raise my head tentatively. It's pounding like the SHS brass band is giving me a private performance in my skull.
Faith is gone.
I was never afraid of her.
(but you were afraid of what she'd say)
No. No. I'm not. I wasn't.
She's wrong. I'm not like that at all.
I'm not selfish. And we gave her a chance. We really, really did. I mean....
Even if we didn't... and we did....
She turned evil. Nothing excuses that. Nothing.
Faith had a choice.
Faith just doesn't take responsibility for her own actions. She never did. She's like a child that way, always wanting to put the blame on everyone else. She made her choice.
And it's her own fault.
What did she need? What does she have now that she needed so darn much?
I don't know. I don't know how Faith's twisted mind works. Power, probably, she wanted power. And now she thinks she has it. But we'll stop her. Buffy and I, and all the others, we'll stop her. Too bad for Faith.
I'm crying. I should stop now. She was wrong. She was always wrong.
Buffy said something, that day.
"It's like... if there was this one thing, all through your life, that you never, ever had. And just having that one thing would make everything else okay. If you had the chance to have that thing... well, what would you do for that chance? How much would it be worth to you? Does that make any sense?"
I don't care, Buffy.
"I don't want to talk about Faith anymore, Buffy."
Because she's not your friend anymore.
She's the selfish one. I'm not like that.
She opens the door.
"Willow?" Her expression changes. "Oh my God, Will, what happened?!"
I'm still crying.
"Buffy," I hiccup, "am I -- am I selfish?"
"Oh, Willow." She takes me into her arms. "Of course not. You're the most loving, giving person I know."
I cling to her like I'm drowning. Going down for the third time and she's my only lifeline.
Maybe I am. Maybe she is.
"Shh," she's saying. Soothing. "Shh. It's okay, Will. It's okay."
She leads me inside and closes the door against the night. Against the evil.
Faith was lying. Buffy's right and Faith was lying. I'm not like that.
Not like you. More owed than owing? That's the most selfish thing I've ever heard.
Nobody in this world is owed. And Buffy and me, we're best girl friends. And whatever you had with her could never come close.
I think about it at night. Sometimes. What she said.
Sometimes, when it's dark and I'm alone and everything hurts, I think maybe she was right.
Well, right a little. A little right.
Maybe I was too selfish to share. Maybe we never did give her a fair chance. Maybe she shouldn't be blamed for not wanting to be second-best. Maybe I did want Buffy all to myself.
But Faith made her choice.
So say there's something you never had in life. Something you always wanted. Something that would make it all okay.
Say you had a chance to have that thing.
What you'd do for that chance? That's one of those things that defines the kind of person you are.
And we all know what Faith did. And we all know what she was.
I still don't know what it is that Faith thought she needed. But it doesn't matter, now. The Mayor's dead, and Faith is in a coma. She's never waking up.
And whatever it is she thinks she needs, I hope she finds it in hell.