Summary: Life and death push you outside the comfort zone.
Characters/Pairing: Faith, Giles (Faith/Giles)
Timeline: Set during Season 8 Retreat Part I | #26 when Faith and Giles are on the run from the mobs targeting Slayers.
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence
Word Count: 1600
Author’s Note: This is a continuation of Solid Through. Unbeta’d so all mistakes are mine. I think I'm going to just perma-dedicate all my Faith/Giles stories to snickfic because it's all her fault.
“You reckless fool! You’re not going to throw your life away! You’re too important! I won’t let you! Do you hear me?!”
He keeps on shaking me, slamming me back against the brick wall. The alley is dark as pitch and I can’t see for shit, but it wouldn’t matter if I could. I’m already on overload with his hands clamped down on my shoulders and his yelling in my ears. Damn, he’s pissed. I’ve never seen him like this before. I didn’t know Giles could get this angry. More than angry. Full on rage. Damn. Damn.
I’m slapped stupid, just gaping at him. I can’t even move. Feels like he’s got me shoved into a corner and I can’t see my way out.
I bet he wants to strangle the life outta me. Any second now he’s gonna wrap his hands around my neck and squeeze. I don’t even know what I did wrong. I just did what I always do, lay it all out there. ‘Cause yeah, my life doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. I was protecting him from the mob of crazies hopped up on Slayer hate. I was doing my job. I was protecting him.
I was doing right. I was doing good. Where the hell does he get off? I’m not gonna let him boss me around. Hell no. Fuck no. If he shakes me one more time I’m gonna—
“You can’t. You just can’t. I can’t…”
Broken. He sounds broken and his hands slide off my shoulders like he can’t hold on anymore. Why’d he stop? (Don’t stop.) Where’d the anger go? What the hell just happened?
He stumbles away from me, falling back till he hits the bricks on the other side of the alley. My shoulders tingle right where his hands used to be and I hate it. I hate remembering what it felt like having his hands on me. I don’t wanna remember. I wanna feel it. He should’ve kept on shaking me. He didn’t have to stop. Didn’t even hurt me yet.
Ah fuck. And here I thought I was over needing to be punished. Guess not. Great. Just fucking great. I slam my head back against the wall. Just start banging it over and over. Maybe if I hit hard enough, I’ll set it right. Fix whatever’s whacked skew inside me. What a fucking mess.
“Don’t,” he says, and it sounds like he’s the one being strangled now. “Faith, don’t. Please don’t.” He’s struggling to breathe. I can hear him panting. Then: “I’m sorry. I didn’t… I’m sorry.”
And I freeze. Just freeze and try chewing on his words. What is this? He’s sorry? For what? It’s my fault. It’s always my fault. What’s he got to be sorry for?
“What the hell?” I say ‘cause I’m thinking it so hard I can’t not say it.
“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” Now he’s at a loss for words. Any other day, we’d be up shit creek without a paddle and he’d be working the riddle. More than half the time I already know the answer, instinct and all, but he’s always there, putting it to words.
Here, now, the one time I need to hear him work the riddle and he can’t. I need the answer and he can’t give it to me, so I’m screwed. On my own. I forgot how much it sucks being on my own.
I close my eyes and play it back, rewind till we’re on the other side of town being chased by three bozos bent on murder. One guy’s holding a gun and he’s got his sights on Giles. So I wave my arms, yell, “Over here, asshole!” and make myself the bullseye. He takes the shot and I dodge. The heat of the bullet blows past and burns my neck. Close but no cigar. He had his chance. My turn.
I’m on him before he can even dream of pulling the trigger again. I snap his wrist and he drops the gun. Then I kiss him goodnight with my fist. The other two step up. I duck the crowbar on my right and kick out on my left. Dude yelps, straight-up cries for mommy and falls to his knees. Must’ve hit him where the sun don’t shine. I play rough, kids. My playground, my rules.
Last one standing, he’s got a death grip on the crowbar and he’s after my head. I duck and slide in close, grab him by the wrist, spin around and yank hard till he’s flying head over heels. Flying only gets him so far and he smashes into a garbage can. That sound? Music.
I head back to Giles, stop to pick up the gun and pocket the ammo, then we’re outta there. We run down the back alleys and make our way through the deserted streets. We keep on running till our trail gets cold and we find a dark alley to hole up.
This alley. Now we’re here. We’re here and what the hell? Life and death, tension running high, and I did what I had to do. We almost died but we didn’t and it’s ‘cause I took care of it. End of story. Done.
But my mind’s still on playback, only the record’s broken ‘cause I keep hearing him say it over and over.
You’re not going to throw your life away! You’re too important!
All I can think is: since when?
The only reason I’m important is ‘cause I’ll throw it away. I’ll throw down ‘cause I don’t matter and every life I save, that’s how much I’m worth. Only time I’m worth shit is when I’m throwing it down.
The words don’t make sense. His words don’t make sense and they keep looping. I keep hearing it and I keep not getting it ‘cause he’s wrong. He’s the one who doesn’t understand. He doesn’t see it the way I do. He doesn’t see me the way I…
And it clicks. I get it. He thinks I’m important. Hand to god, he thinks I’m important. That my life is more important than his. And I’m just fucking floored ‘cause that’s total bullshit.
I shove off the wall and make my way towards him. My knees are shaking, but I gotta get there ‘cause he needs to understand this: I save him, he doesn’t save me. Doesn’t matter how much he cares. I’m the one who dies and he’s the one who lives.
By the time I’m there, I’m shaking like it’s below zero and I just stripped naked. By the time I’m there, I’m squinting through the dark trying to see his face. By the time I’m there, it doesn’t matter what I was gonna say ‘cause I already lost the words.
Now, I’m stuck on a whole ‘nother mindfuck: he cares. He cares way too fucking much.
This is the part where I run. When things get heavy, when I don’t wanna carry it inside ‘cause I don’t know how, I slam the door and I get lost. ‘Cause every time I tried before, I crashed and burned. I can’t take it. Not again. Not with him.
This is the part where I run, but instead I listen to him sigh and I can tell he’s shaking his head, trying to get it together. Then he says, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
He’s sorry. He’s sorry and I’m screwed.
How’d we get here? I don’t even remember. We get each other. That’s how it worked. How we worked. We made a deal and we signed on for the mission and along the way, we watched each other’s backs. It was good. Better than good. And now…
“I don’t get it,” I say again and I can tell he’s about to apologize so I cut him off: “No. Shut it. You say you’re sorry one more time and I’m gonna… What the hell, Giles?”
And then I’m kissing him. My lips smash against his and my hands are fisted in his shirt, trying to pull him closer. I can feel the shock roll through him and I just dive deeper till we’re hip to hip and I’m plastered against his chest. He doesn’t kiss me back, for a split second he doesn’t kiss me back, and I’m about to let go, just shrug it off and pretend it was all just a fucking joke. I can twist my own knife, make it burn all on my own. Just watch me.
Split second goes by, my heart’s dropped into my gut and my lips are numb, but it’s okay now ‘cause his arms are wrapped around me and he’s teasing my lips open and making himself welcome. I stutter, full body stutter, like I forgot how to live and then bam I’m zooming into overdrive.
This is what happened, this is what’s happening: we used to get each other, but then it got flipped inside out. The good got out of reach and I miss it. I want it back. I wanna get inside, get back to where we understand. He wants it, too. I can feel it.
No words, right?
We don’t need words for this. We’re gonna find our moment. Just him and me.
Damn, best kiss of my life and we haven’t even started.
We’re just getting started: him and me.