TITLE: Talking To The Trees
AUTHOR: Ray Harley
DISCLAIMER: Most of this belongs to Mutant Enemy etc... The rest belongs mostly to Jet Wolf and her pack. The Idea for the story is mine. There, that should scare off the nasty scary lawyers... do ya think?
RATING: R for strong language.
SUMMARY: Faith is struggling with her dark side again - or maybe her conscience? - and gets a visit from an old acquaintance.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The dialogue at the beginning is Angel's from AtS season one episode 'Sanctuary'.
Talking To The Trees
by Ray Harley
"Where are you gonna go? Back out into that darkness? I once told you that you didn't have to go out in that darkness
Remember? That it was your choice.
Well you chose"
That she had.
She watched them as they all headed for that fuckin' tree. She watched as they all sat, or knelt, or just simply stood staring into the distance. Most of the time that's all they did do - stare into the distance. Not many of them felt confident enough to meditate the way Glinda, or Mrs.G did. Though she was surprised to see Rona doing that one day.
Trying anyway. She lasted about ten minutes, and hadn't been back since. Though she'd seen Rona walking by the place a couple of times. If she didn't know any better she'd have said that Rona, regarding herself as one of the senior slayers, was trying to do her bit by setting an example.
She laughed at that. Still even she'd begun attending the class that Glinda had been giving. Mrs.G ran a class too, as did her ex. Buffy had given up her class, saying that she wasn't so good a teacher, and she needed time for her t'ai chi - which had turned into a class.
She'd screw the devil before she was going to one of those! A major character flaw, but one which seemed to define her.
"How'd that work out for ya?"
Most of them though, they sat, or knelt, and talked. To their loved ones, not always in the past tense. Since the battle with the Super Slayers that traffic to the tree had increased exponentially. Hell, even she'd come away scared by that one, but for a whole different set of reasons than the kids.
Especially the likes of Chrissie - who was only fourteen for chrissakes!
She sometimes got close enough to hear them talk. The first one she'd caught was Giles. As far as she knew he never meditated. He'd talked, his voice sounding rough, to Jenny (whoever that was). She was too far away to be certain but, to her chagrin, he seemed to have been crying.
She'd felt a little ashamed to be overhearing him, but she was back the next day, all the same, overhearing as one of the newer girls spoke to her mother.
She knew that because the girl had said maman repeatedly and finished off with, "Au revoir maman", and she knew enough French now to know what that that meant - actually she didn't care what it meant.
She didn't want to care what that meant.
She didn't ever want to get that up close and personal with one of the girls again.
Not even to Celeste, who'd arrived within a week of the battle with the Super Slayers. Still she had to admire the girl. She'd survived an attack on the family home, which had left her solo parent mother dying in hospital, and made her way, totally under her own steam, south to Trillium.
She was tough was that one. And imbued with some kind of psychic sonar, that had made her an asset to the team already. Six solo kills her first fortnight in town. The vampires simply couldn't move fast enough to defeat her.
Probably the sort that gave watchers wet dreams. Like Kennedy only Quebecois - not French - with Celeste's temper it paid to remember that!
Yeah, she liked her style.
The Summers sisters were a pair. They both started off talking to their mother then, when they thought nobody was listening, they began talking to Spike.
Well, alright, not every time but a lot of the time.
Dawn seemed to just miss the 'big brother' she'd known before Buffy's return from the dead. The protector who didn't treat her like a fragile little kid.
But Buffy? Buffy seemed to be mourning him. She found that hard to understand. As far as she was aware B'd not mentioned the vampire since they'd got back on the bus back on the edge of the great crater that had been SunnyD.
Well maybe she'd understood a little. She'd felt those kind of tremors - to the core of her very being when she'd thought, briefly, that Wood was going to die on her.
"So... how'd that work out for you?"
Red and the Carpenter sometimes came alone, sometimes together. They talked to each other, sometimes with very long gaps. She'd heard them mention someone called Jesse once. Sometimes it was Joyce. Sometimes it was Anya.
And sometimes they talked to Jenny too.
At least she knew who that was now.
When they came alone they were mostly silent. Though she had to try very hard not to laugh when Wood Boy began quoting his sales figures. But then, knowing what little she did about Anya, that wasn't so very hard to understand.
Even Andrew came down here to talk to Jonathan. She hadn't been sure what to make of that one. If the evil squirt could succumb..?
So she was surprised one day to find herself standing near the tree. Not staring into the distance, but not far off it. The sun was coming up on a night's patrolling mixed with some major partying at The Vortex. She couldn't understand why she was standing there.
Just standing there. No thoughts, no desire to talk to the damned thing. Just standing staring at the fuckin' tree.
She snorted and made to turn away.
"Five by five, Fiver..?" There was a brief chuckle, which really irked her.
"Go screw yourself!"
"Now, now. Temper tantrums aren't going to help you."
Slowly she turned and stared at the blonde woman standing there. As casually as she could, she bent down and picked up a piece of earth. Still with her heart threatening to leap out of her chest, she tossed it at the figure.
It passed straight through.
She wanted to cry out but something in the apparition's manner stopped her. The woman held her hands up and smiled in a gentle, definitely non-first-y way.
Damn, but she needed to stop hanging around with Red and her pals!
"I'm not the first."
"How do you even know about that. Last time I heard you were alive and working the good guy act real good."
The image shrugged. "Well I did die for a minute there. But I'm still working for the good guys. Studying to be a watcher actually."
"What are you doing here?"
The woman smiled and shrugged again. "Well you confessed to me once. Maybe the powers think that we have a connection." She looked thoughtful for a second. "Angel saved both of us, so maybe we do."
She turned away from the apparition and stared at the memorial tree again. She stepped up to it and placed a hand on it. She even closed her eyes for a second. Then embarrassment claimed her again. Embarrassment - and anger. She ripped her hand away.
"Not finding it so easy, huh?"
She shook her head, not entirely out of annoyance. She turned and stared at the image of Kate Lockley once again.
"So," she whispered, maybe because she was more than a little afraid that someone might be following her example. "How does this work?"
The apparition smiled at her sympathetically. "Well... I don't think you're ready for the full-on mantra schtick. Maybe you'd be better having a word with Giles."
"Well, for one he's been where you are now, and what he did to that Super Slayer proves that side of him is never going to release him."
"It never goes away?"
Lockley reached out as she stepped up close. She felt the apparition's touch as a brief breath of wind. "The darkness will always be a part of you now." She smiled in apparent contemplation. "Maybe not in the way it is for Willow, but Giles knows more about what you're going through than anyone you'll ever know."
She turned and touched the tree again. "Oxford's never seemed like he'd be willing to talk to the likes of me." She turned to see Lockley smiling at her again.
"Maybe you should just ask for help? Ever thought of that?" She shook her head. "You're not alone any more, Faith. You never were."
She looked up and found the apparition gone. Smiling enigmatically she left the tree to it's own devices and headed for the building that was slayer central.
It didn't take her long to reach the watcher's office. She paused outside for a couple of minutes, more terrified of entering than she was by any demon she could think of.
She was about to knock when Andrew came out. She jumped as he opened the door, and thanked her lucky stars that he wasn't the most observant product in the world. He seemed, as ever, delighted to see her.
Andrew stepped past her. "How very fortuitous. I've just returned with the mail. There was a package for you, vampyre slayer."
She restrained herself from slugging him. It was hard. Instead she tried to make it look as if she was ignoring him and stepped into Oxford's office.
"Ah, Faith, Andrew has just dropped off something for you. It's from the MacFadden's. They rang yesterday to say they'd sent something of Hazel's down for you. They thought she'd want you to have it."
Faith was stunned into complete silence as Giles handed over the package.
"I rather think it's a book."
It was a book. She took it from him and turned it over. Trying to decide what to do with it. After the several minutes that the watcher allowed her she opened the package and pulled it out.
The legend Watership Down stared back at her. She was finding it hard not to cry. Why'd the damn bitch... She cursed herself for even thinking that. She'd killed the damned murdering bitch, Hazel ha...
She looked up as Oxford spoke again.
"You wanted to see me?"
She was totally lost for a few seconds, until the reason she'd been at his door came back to her.
"I think I've got my answer for now." She made to turn away but thne thought twice. "But... if we can do a one on one..? Maybe tomorrow."
He looked thoughtfully at her and nodded. He glanced at his diary and smiled. "One o'clock?"
She nodded, not really listening to him. He was smiling as she left, well aware that anything he had to say would be lost to her now.
She sat down in front of the memorial tree and opened the book. Then she looked up.
"I don't know what all this shit's supposed to be about. But you told me once why you called me that... name. I know I promised to read it. And I know you knew that was a pile of crap..."
She smiled at the air.
"So I guess I just read, huh?"
She found the page she needed and steeled herself for some major embarrassment.
"The primroses were over. Towards the edge of the wood,.."