Review @ Norwalker
Part 13 of
" Hello, Faith. I've been waiting a long time for you."
Faith watches warily as the tall man seems to uncoil himself from the chair. The movement eerily reminds her of a snake readying for the strike. All her instincts are buzzing, and she sets herself in a fighting posture.
"Daddy" Faith almost spits out the word. " Love to say it's nice to see you, but that's bogus. What's wrong, couldn't your boss wait for our little appointment?"
Faith's senses are humming, as if a demon is in the room. She circles her Father, using the movement to check out the rest of the front room. Nothing. Why am I sensing demon?
" No need to get all tense, Faith. I'm not here to fight with you," Paul DeMarco says, following her around, almost instinctively. " Just want to chat." His movements are sinuous, almost serpent like.
" I got trust issues. Don't like chatting with guys that break into my room," Faith growls, instinctively feeling danger from him." Speak your piece, then get out"
" Now, Faith, is that any way to talk to your father?" Paul says. Quick as lightning, he reaches out, grabbing her shoulders and stopping her in her tracks. " Stand still."
"Get your hands off me, unless you want to lose them, " Faith says. Seeing no response, she repeats herself, in Italian, "Lasciare mi andare , Bastardo"
"Ah. Tutto buono , tu parlare Italiano. Che sbagliato , piccolo ragazza? Impaurito?( Very good, you speak Italian. What's wrong, little girl? Afraid?)". While he's speaking, Paul pulls Faith into a bear hug, holding her tight around her shoulders." Sei mio figlia. Io vuole non far male tu. ( You're my daughter. I wouldn't hurt you)"
" Afraid? Of you?" Faith stamps her foot onto his instep, and he howls, releasing her for a moment. She uses that to grab him and throw him over her shoulder, and onto floor. She kneels over him, knife in hand." Oh, and the daughter part, dickhead? You're nothing but a sperm donor" She brushes the knife against his cheek. It's then when she sees it… the mark of the demon. Behind his ear. Shocked, she backs off.
" Very good, Fede" Paul purrs, sitting up, " you're as strong as I've heard. That'll make it all the better."
" You, you're the demon, " Faith almost whispers. She backs away from him.
" Yes," Paul says, watching her. " They didn't tell you. How droll."
" Where are your bodyguards? They said they're with you all the time." Faith looks around. She goes to the bedroom door, and opens it, looking in. " Where are they?"
" I don't need them. Not to see my daughter, do I?" Paul says, standing up. " What's wrong, Faith? Can't do it after all?"
" Not doing it here."
" Why not, Faith? Here's as good as anywhere."
"That wasn't the deal. This is my room. I'll be back in prison faster than…"
" Don't worry, Faith. I'm sure Wolfram and Hart will provide the best lawyers… anywhere." Paul comes over to her, towering over her. " Not like you haven't been in prison before."
" Yeah, well, not really jonesing to go back, if you catch my drift" Faith says, pushing him away, walking to another part of the room.
" Quit stalling, Faith. I paid for this" Paul goes over and puts his hand on her shoulders. " C'mon, Faith, you can do it. I know you're a murderer. You've done it before. Should be easy for you."
" Back off, prick" Faith mutters.
" Guess you need a little incentive then," Paul pulls a little black box out of his pocket, and presses a button.
The door to the suite bursts open, and Willow comes in, pushed by two burly looking men. The men leave her standing by the doorway, and advance on Paul, grabbing him by his arms. They force him to his knees and hold him down.
" Please, Faith, cara, don't, please don't do this," Paul pleads. He switches to Italian." Ecco il mio il trattare , Fede. Fare che hai stato contratto -fuori verso fare , e tuo piccolo amico bestiame. Fare non , e lei dadi. Mio uomini testamento assassinio suo prima puoi pari pensare verso salvo suo. CosØ , caro , eseguire il rituale , o lei dadi. Capire?( Here's the deal, Faith. Do what you've been contracted to do, and your little friend lives. Don't, and she dies. My men will kill her before you can even think to save her. So, dear, perform the ritual, or she dies. Understand?). Please, I know I did wrong. Don't kill me!"
" Faith?" Willow says, from the doorway, "What's going on? Who are these guys?"
" Red, leave. Get out of here!" Faith turns to Willow," Go. Now!"
" No! Please, Miss… Red? I… I'm so scared. Faith is crazy. She wants to kill me. Please, stay!" Paul again goes to Italian. " Se lei prove verso lasciare , Fede , lei testamento essere assassino. Meglio tenere suo qui!.(If she tries to leave, Faith, she'll be killed. Better keep her here!)." Paul turns to Willow, " Please, Miss… don't leave me here with her. I don't want to die. She's going to kill me!"
" Faith? You're going to kill him? Why? He's your father. Don't do this, please baby" Willow pleads with Faith.
Faith feels the trap closing in on her. The bastard. He's got me. I gotta kill him, here, now, or Red's dead. Damn him… why's he doing this to me? What'd I ever do to him?
" Red, you've got to believe me. I don't want to kill him, he's forcing me to."
"That's not true, Miss Red. I came to surprise her, make up for the way I've neglected her. She went mad, she… called these men in… and now she's going to kill me!"
The bodyguard on Paul's right addresses Faith. " Faith, should we tie him up now?"
" Please, Faith, don't kill me! Please!" Paul pleads convincingly.
" You bastard!" Faith hisses.
"Shut up, you!" The bodyguard on the left hits Paul.
" Faith, stop this. Don't do it. He's not worth it. Just walk away, please!" Willow is in front of Faith, begging her.
" I can't, Red, I can't" Faith says, regretfully. She pushes Willow out of the way. She reaches in her boot, and extracts a dagger… the blessed dagger. She smiles… it's a cold, hard smile, to match the expression on her face.
" No, Faith, don't!" Willow calls out. She runs after Faith, and grabs her arm, trying to stop her.
" Shut up, Red. I've got no choice." Faith pushes Willow away, against the door. Willow slumps down, sitting on the floor. She covers her eyes.
" Please, Faith, don't kill me, I'll do anything, give you anything!"
" Perch‚ Perch‚ sei tu fare questo verso me?(Why? Why are you doing this to me?)" Faith pleads
"Tu pazzo. Tu pensare IO vuole lasciare tu essere felice? IO odio tu ed io , tuo oh cosØ giusto famiglia. Sei immondezza presente , Fede. Lei testamento odio tu , sempre odio tu poich‚ questo. Tu testamento avere niente sinistro solo che sei. mio figlia. Presente tu testamento essere il demonio dovresti essere , cagna.( You fool. Did you think I'd let you be happy? I hate you, and your oh- so -righteous family. You're garbage now, Faith. She'll hate you, always hate you for this. You'll have nothing left but what you are... my daughter. Now you'll be the demon you should be, bitch.)"
Faith's anger turns cold. She comes behind Paul, and grabs his hair. She exposes his throat, and runs the flat of the blade over it.
"Papê , Ho un messaggio poich tu , da un vecchio amico.( Daddy, I have a message for you, from an old friend)" Faith whispers to him, caressing his neck with the flat of the blade.
" SØ , caro , che è?( Yes, dear, what is it?)" Paul replies, happily. He's won.
Faith puts the tip of the knife to his throat. " Angel sends his love."
Paul's eyes go wide, realizing that he's been betrayed. " Nooo!" He yells, but that's all he says.
Faith takes the knife, and in one stroke, cuts his throat nearly through. His blood, and his life, gushes out from the wound. His body falls over onto the carpet.
The bodyguards, reacting to their master's cry, turn to Faith, looking puzzled. She doesn't hesitate, but runs the blade across each of their throats, ending their lives, too. They fall over onto Paul's body.
Faith stands over them, holding the now bloodied dagger. She herself is covered in blood. Her expression is cold and cruel… no love is lost here. For a minute she forgets everything but the bodies in front of her, until she hears a moan from the doorway.
" Nooo….goddess…Faith… what did you do?" Willow is sitting there, looking frightened and shocked and sick. Faith turns around, still holding the blade.
" Red, no, baby. Please. He made me do it. He said he'd kill you if I didn't do it"
" He made you kill him? What kind of sick joke is that? No one wants to die… " Willow, wide eyed, gets up on her feet. She's pressed to the door, shaking.
" Willow… please, I'm not lying…" Faith starts to walk towards her. She forgets she still has the knife in her hand.
" NO! GET AWAY FROM ME! YOU… MURDERING BITCH!" Willow screams. She throws out her arms and casts a spell.
Faith finds herself flying through the air, away from Willow. She crashes into the wall, and slides down it, stunned.
Willow opens the door, and runs out, slamming it after herself. Sick, shaken and confused, Willow looks around, forgetting where the exits are. She finds the stairs, and runs down the stairway, fleeing from the images haunting her.
A few moments later, Faith stumbles out of the door, looking for her.
" RED! WILLOW! COME BACK" She calls out, but Willow is gone. Doors in the hallway open, and Faith retreats back to her room. Slamming the door, she slumps to the floor, in shock.
Gone. She's gone. She starts to laugh. It's a chilling sound, born of hysteria. You were right, daddy. She hates me. Good work. She thinks I'm a killer, a murderer. You're good, daddy, real good. Real good.
Faith stands, and walks over to where the bodies lay on the floor. She looks down at them, her expression cold and hateful. She moves to the body of Paul DeMarco, and spits on it.
So, daddy, things didn't quite work out for you. Poor Daddy. I hope you're rotting in the hell I sent you to. Bastard. BASTARD!
Her rage takes over, and she kicks the corpse. She raises her foot, and brings the boot heel down squarely in his lifeless face. Over and over, she kicks it, her smile frozen on her face, cold and cynical.
Tiring of the game, she walks away, circling the corpses, shaking her head. You thought you knew it all, you morons. But I got you. I got you all in the end. I win, I Win I WIN!
She starts laughing. She jumps up and down, raising her arms over her head. " I win, I win you pricks. I WIN!" Her laughter goes out of control, and she wanders around the suite, laughing and mumbling " I win" over and over. Finally, she sits down, hard, on the floor. Her laughter turns to tears, and she cries over what she's lost. Her life, and her love.
After awhile, she pulls herself together, and stands up. She wanders around, and finds her purse where she dropped it. Rifling through it, she pulls out the cell phone Angel gave her. She dials the first number in the speed dial.
" This is Faith. Yeah, it's done. But I need a clean up. I need you to send a crew to 15 Beacon St. Suite 515. No, it didn't go off exactly as planned, but it went off. Just send the crew over, now!" Faith hangs up, staring at the phone. Idiots.
She hesitates to call the second number. She knows Angel is going to be upset about Willow being involved in the…don't sugar coat it, Faith. It was an execution, plain and simple. Well, big boy, tough! Not my fault you're target gets tricky and shows up at my hotel room. Not my fault he… Faith punches # 2 on the speed dial, and listens as the phone rings.
" Hello, Angel? Yeah, well, it's done. He's dead… but there's a complication…"
Hours later, Willow is still wandering around in a daze.
She's not sure exactly where she is, and she doesn't care. All she can think about, all that's burned in her brain, is that scene in the apartment. She looks down at her suit jacket, and sees blood. She ditches it, and continues wandering, trying to get a grasp on sanity.
She feels like she can't breathe. Her legs are shaky and weak. She wants to vomit. She can still smell the coppery scent of blood. Feeling her stomach coming up on her, she ducks into an alley, and retches, her body shuddering. Feeling feverish, she leans against the wall of the alley, hoping she'll stay up and not fall down.
Oh, god, why? What happened, what made her do it? Oh, man… she killed her father. Why? I don't … the blood… god, the blood. Willow leans over, starting to heave again. That look … that look she had on her face… like, it meant nothing. So cold! How could she do it? How could she do that? Willow stands up, then leans over again as another wave of nausea hits her. What did he do to her? What did he say that made her like that… she looked so much like the ' bad old Faith'. That wasn't her… she isn't a killer, I know it. Not now. She's changed… I know it. I saw how she was when those potentials died. It was like she lost her family. She couldn't just kill somebody in cold blood… not like that. He must've done something to her. Something awful… god, why did I have to see that? oh, goddess… She starts retching again, nothing coming out. She stands again, and leans wearily against the wall. Her throat is sore from heaving, her eyes are red from crying, and her heart is breaking. How, how could she be a killer. So cold… how could I be so wrong about her?
Willow leaves the alley; the closeness of the walls, and the stench is just making her feel worse. She takes a deep lungful of air, hoping that'll make her feel less woozy, and it works. She feels a little steadier, a little more in control. Her heart, however, still aches. And her mind can't help but flash back to the killings. She shakes her head, trying to clear it. She knows she's missing something important. Why would she do it? Why in front of me? She said he was forcing her to do it, but why? Why would he want to die? It just doesn't make sense. None of it makes sense. Those men, the ones who held him down, where did they come from? Her father said she called them… but … it doesn't make sense… they didn't have time to get there from anywhere… and… they looked familiar… where've I seen them before…?
It hits her like a lightning strike. The pictures! They were the other men in the pictures. Faith said they were friends of her father… I think… god, I can't remember. But why would they be in pictures with her father, if he didn't know them? She wasn't lying… he was lying. He made her do it! Why? Shit, I don't care, I gotta get to her… she's alone… goddess, she… she thinks I hate her…
Willow, frantic, looks around, and realizes she's wandered a long way from the hotel. She hasn't a clue where she is. Crap! I don't have my purse, either. Shit, can't get a cab! She starts looking around, going from person to person, trying to get directions back to the hotel. Most people just avoid her, or ignore her. But finally someone gives her directions. She thanks him profusely, and following his directions, starts back towards the hotel.
Goddess, just don't let me be too late.
Faith stands in the middle of the suite, watching as the crew puts the finishing touches on the clean up. Her face is calm, a slight frown on her lips. Her eyes are flinty hard, glancing here and there around the room.
Gotta admit, these boys know their stuff. Couldn't even tell anything happened. Oh yeah, no murder here. Uh-uh. She looks down at her hands, almost expecting to see blood. She feels her stomach churning. Oh, get over it, Faith. It's done. So just grow up, already.
" Were done here, Miss. Any further instruction?" One of the cleanup crew, the leader, comes up to Faith.
" You know what to do with the 'packages', right?" Faith asks, her tone neutral, all business.
" Yeah, we got the instructions."
" Great, you guys did good. Looks great." She nods, and the man starts to leave. " Wait a second"
" Yeah?" The man turns back to her.
" Tell Angel…" She starts, then changes her mind, " Never mind, I'll tell him myself, next time I see him."
" Ok," The man shrugs, and leaves. Faith is left alone in the suite.
For a couple of minutes, she doesn't move, as if trying to figure out her next move. But she already knows what she has to do. Get out of here before Willow returns. She walks into the bedroom, and flips on the light, heading for the bed where her bag is sitting. She lifts it up, having packed while the cleaners were working in the other room. Again she stands still. She can still smell Willow in the room, and she finds it hard to leave. She walks over to Willow's side of the bed, touching the pillow lying there.
" I'm sorry, baby" Faith says quietly. She looks down, in her mind's eye seeing Willow sleeping there. After a moment, she straightens up, shaking off the pain. She leaves the bedroom, and moves toward the hallway door. She reaches out to open it, then stops, and turns to look at the suite one last time. As if saying goodbye to this part of her life. She turns, and leaves.
Riding down the elevator, she tries hard to block out the memory that just a couple of hours ago, she and Willow were in this car, this very car, making out and giggling and … fuck it, that's over. Quit being such a wuss, Faith. The doors on the elevator open, and she crosses the lobby to the reception desk.
" Can I help you, Miss?" the clerk behind the counter asks.
" I'm checking out of suite 515. However, my friend may be staying longer. Just charge everything to the card you have on file"
" Very good Miss… Rosenberg?"
" No, DeMarco. Ms. Rosenberg will be staying on."
" Very well"
" Oh, and if you would, please see she gets this?" Faith hands the clerk an envelope.
" Of course. I hope you enjoyed your stay at 15 Beacon, Ms. DeMarco?"
" Oh yeah, it was great" Faith says, trying to keep the irony out of her voice.
Faith crosses the hotel lobby to the elevators leading to the parking garage below the hotel. As she waits for the car to arrive, questions start popping up in her mind.
So, where now, Faith? Gonna run away again? I mean, you really got this one down to a science. Fuck up and then run. You ever gonna stop and just face things, Faith? Or is running your answer to everything?
Faith enters the elevator, and pushes the button.
So, where to, Faith? Back to the grandmother's? Yeah, right. I think I blew up that bridge this afternoon. Like I really want to hang out with those sick-os. Faith chuckles bitterly. Oh yeah, that's a good one, Faith. The pot calling the kettle black, huh? You're the sick-o, bitch. Blood on your hands, baby. Daddy's blood. Yeah, well, he was a demon, and he got what he deserved. Oh, and those bodyguards, they were demons? No, but they weren't exactly innocents, either. They had plenty of blood on their hands. And that makes it right, killing them? They were fucking cold blooded killers. They had it coming. Yeah, what about you, baby? You have it coming?
Faith makes a frustrated noise. This is stupid. It's done. Nothing can undo it. Just gotta figure where the hell I'm going now. Faith reaches the garage, and exits the elevator, looking around for her bike. So, where to? Back to L.A. ? Yeah, what's there for me? Pretty much nothing. Everywhere has pretty much nothing for me. Shit on this, I'll figure it out later, thing is, get outta here, now. Can't … can't face her. I just can't.
Faith pauses, remembering the look in Willow's eyes. The horror she saw there, the … fear. Something she never wanted to see in Willow's eyes. Fear. Fear of her. Faith feels her stomach knot up. She wants to hit something, hurt something, break something. She trudges on, forcing herself to find her bike. She finally spots it, parked next to Willow's red bike. She hurries over and ties her bag on the back. She tries to ignore the red motorcycle next to hers, tries to pretend it doesn't mean anything to her. That it's just a bike, nothing more. But her eyes keep drifting over to it, imagining the red-haired witch sitting on it, smiling, laughing. She reaches out, and touches it, caressing it. Almost as if it were precious. She walks over, and hops on the seat, putting her hands where her lover's hands were, sitting on the seat where her lover sat. She closes her eyes, and imagines Willow riding in front of her, those god-awful pink leathers making her look so silly and so wonderful at the same time. She fights them, but the tears come anyway. She'll never see Willow riding ahead of her again. She'll never feel the touch of her hand again. Never taste her lips again. Never feel Willow in her arms again. None of that, it's gone. It's over. All over.
So, Faith? Who are you? What are you?
All of that? None of that?
Or just that girl, that little girl that wants someone to love her? Wants it so bad she'd sell her soul to make tonight go away?
Or maybe, something else. Something you don't know about?
Dunno, I just dunno.
Maybe it's time to find out.
Faith gets off Willow's bike, and gets on her own. She starts the engine, and sits idling for awhile. Then she puts the bike in gear, and drives off into the night.
Willow hesitates at the entrance to the hotel.
She's afraid of what she'll find inside. Police, and questions. And Faith in handcuffs, looking defiant and angry. Willow seeing her like that, knowing she's scared, needing to be held, and won't be able to do it. And the blood… afraid to see the blood again. And explaining what happened… trying to make it not seem like Faith's fault. She feels her stomach start to turn over again.
As quietly and unobtrusively as possible, Willow moves towards the entrance, looking in. Expecting to see Police in the lobby, waiting. For her. She's a little surprised when everything looks normal. Weird. Maybe… no one's discovered what happened yet? Willow walks into the lobby, and keeping away from the main crowd, makes her way to the elevators.
Riding up, she braces herself. Even if, somehow, it hasn't been discovered… there's still all that blood … ok, Willow, don't yak now… just hold on. It suddenly occurs to her that things might not be as they seem. What if it's a trap? That they've got guys on the floor, waiting for one of us to show up? And I step off the elevator, and they grab me and handcuff me and then they question me, and I break down, and they arrest Faith, and then there's a trial, and she's convicted, and she hates me because I ratted her out…STOP IT! There's no time for that, Will.
Willow steps off the elevator, relief pouring over her when she finds no police waiting for her. No police at all… and everything still looking normal. Ok, so far, so good… but I still gotta go in there, face the mess, help Faith out somehow… . Stomach doing flip flops, the butterflies having turned to dragons, she walks down the hall… what feels like the longest walk in her life. She pauses at the door, still not wanting to see that scene again. But knowing that she's got to do something. Gonna be kinda suspicious if I just stand out here all night. Sighing, bracing herself, she slides her keycard through the reader and lets herself in the suite.
The first thing that hits her is the smell of cleaning solution and deodorant. Ok, weird… again. The suite is dark, so she flips on the lights… and nearly faints. NO blood… no bodies… nothing! She walks around, looking, but it looks as if nothing happened.
" Faith?" Willow calls out, hoping she's in the bedroom. Hoping maybe the last few hours have been a nightmare, and it's all ok, nothing happened, everything's good. " Faith?" She calls out, louder, but gets no response. Her hope starts to wither as she goes to the bedroom door.
She opens the door, and flips on the light… and Faith isn't there. She looks around, and notices Faith's bag is gone. Oh, damn. She hurries over to the closet, and opens it. Faith's clothes are gone. Oh, damn, oh damn! She hits the dresser next… everything that belongs to Faith is gone. She looks around for a note, anything… but nothing. All gone, without a trace, without so much as a goodbye.
Willow feels her bottom lip begin to tremble. Not now, no time for that now. I gotta find her. She sits down, trying to think of where Faith would've gone, but her emotions betray her. Everything that happened that night catches up to her, and it feels like she slammed into a brick wall. Her body starts to shake, and she unconsciously starts to rock forward and back, back and forward. No, no, no! I don't have TIME for this. I gotta find her. Where? Where would she go? Oh, god, where is she? Is she ok? What if that monster's thugs came and got her? Oh… what if she's hurt somewhere, dying, all alone? No, no, no, no can't think that way. She's ok, she's gotta be ok… but she's out there alone, all alone… where?
Willow tries to get up, tries to move, but finds she can't. She starts to shake harder, and the sobs start to come, and then the tears, and she's overcome. She sits there, crying, hunched over and feeling like her guts are on fire. Her body gives way, and she falls back on the bed, overcome with grief and anguish and just plain hurt.
She just wishes Faith were here. They could figure it out together, but she's not here, and she doesn't know what to do… where to go to find her. But she's got to find her somehow, someway. But right now, she can't think of that, think of anything.
Faith's gone… she's gone. That keeps running over and over in her mind, the thought hurting her in ways she never knew she could hurt.
Worse, she knows that Faith isn't coming back.
Faith brings her bike up the dirt road that was so familiar to her. One she used to hike up all the time in summers, so long ago. When things seemed less confused, less strange.
Her headlight hits the chain-link fence. Posted on the fence is an old sign, worn by weather and age.
Private Property. No Trespassers
Violators will be Prosecuted.
Faith had to laugh. That sign had been there since she was a child, and it never kept anyone out. Not anyone that really wanted to get in. She and the 'gang' of kids she hung out with always went through the rip in the fence (which they made) to get to the old quarry behind the fence. It was their favorite swimming hole, and they weren't going to let adults tell them they couldn't go there.
Faith doesn't even know why she came here tonight. Crazy, this is just crazy. Maybe she just wanted a place where she feels she knows herself, or at least used to know herself, once, long ago. Whatever the reason, she slips under the rip in the fencing, and pulling out her flashlight, scans the area around the old quarry hole. Her boots crunching in the loose gravel around the old quarry pit, her light illuminates the area around the water filled hole. Hasn't changed much, she thinks, as she plays the light around. She sees the scraggly bushes that try to grow out of the hard packed earth around the quarry pit, the gravel 'beach' where they would lie out and dry off after swimming, and the cliff… the high rise of slag and debris, must be 40 feet tall, where she would dive off into the pool below. A little smile pushes up the corners of her mouth as she remembers standing on top of the heap, looking down at the other kids, ready to dive in. They all were chicken. They wouldn't do it. But I would. Man, I musta been brave, or crazy, or a moron… or all of that. All she knows that it was all so clear for her up there; things were simple, she knew what was what, and had no fear.
Standing here now, she wonders why she came here. Maybe I was hoping I'd get some idea of who I am again, something would click in my head. Something. She squats down on the gravel, picking up the irregularly shaped stones. She starts tossing them into the quarry, hearing them splash through the water as they sink to the bottom… a hundred feet below. She wishes that she could toss away her fears, her uncertainties, her troubles as easily as she's tossing the gravel… let them sink out of sight, never to bother her again. But she knows that's just stupid thinking. She knew she had to face it down, deal with it. Not right now. Right now she just wanted to be here, be quiet. She didn't even want to think, really. Just be. Most of all, she wanted to be here with Willow, or be wherever Willow was. Just holding her. Feeling her warmth, letting the contact reassure her that it was ok, everything was ok. More stupid thinking Faith sighs to herself.
She saw the look on Willow's face tonight. The hurt, the betrayal … the fear. God, her eyes … I can see her eyes… how she looked at me… as if I would come for her next. Everything we've been through, everything we fought about, talked about, worked out… gone. Trust. Gone. Love? Gone. All gone in the stroke of a knife. Slashed and shredded and left on the floor. Bastard. He got off too easy for what he did to me. He should fucking die a million times, each one painful and slow, to pay. It's his fault, all his fucking fault.
Yeah, sure Faith. That's easy. Never mind you weren't honest with Red from the first. You never told her what you were gonna do. You just figured you could hide it from her. Yeah, ok, Angel said she wasn't to know about it. But fuck Angel. I shoulda told her. I didn't, and now she only knows what she saw. Faith the Psycho-killer-bitch is back, in full force. She watched me kill him and his bodyguards. What the hell do you expect her to think, idiot? She saw you do the slice and dice, for god's sake. Then you go and lamely blame daddy deadest, and of course she's thinking, like any sane person would, why would he want to die? At my hand? Crap, perfect, perfect, and damned just perfect. Daddy gets to put the shaft to me one last time, killing anything I had with her.
Faith, however, can't help but feel a little betrayed by Willow. She said she loved me, but doesn't that mean she believes in me? Couldn't she at least try to understand what happened? Listen to my side of things? No, ma'am, she just jumps to the conclusion that all the years I spent in prison, all the work I did to … change… were nothing, that I reverted back to killer Faith as soon as I got a chance. Well, baby, if you don't get it, that really sucks. I mean, talk about being hurt? Shit, don't I got a right to be hurt here? Oh, hell no. Not me, I don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, huh? Gonna be paying all my life for my screw ups, right, Red? Never mind you aren't exactly one of God's little Angels, either. Seems to me you have a bit of blood on your hands. I'd believe in you… why can't you believe in me? Now, when I really need it?
Faith gets up, and kicks at the gravel. She really wants something to break, to hurt. Kind of like she's hurting right now. Maybe that's the first lesson, Faith, babe. When the chips are down, you gotta know that the only one that you can depend on is you. They'll leave you, forget you, and turn their back on you; so you gotta watch your own back. You can count on you, and that's about it.
Faith in anger, starts grabbing handfuls of gravel, and heaving them into the water, one after another after another until she finally gets tired of it, and just stands there, her body tense, and her fists curled tight.
This aint helpin. I know it's time I learned more about me, who I am , and I guess that leaves only one place to go.
Without another sound, Faith turns and walks away from the quarry. She knows now were she has to go, even if she doesn't want to go there. But she has to know, know who she is. She slips back through the fence, hops her bike, and keys the ignition. With a roar, she points her bike back towards Boston.
Willow sits up suddenly, just realizing she's fallen asleep. She looks blearily at the clock radio on the nightstand and sees it's 3 am. She groans. Damn, I didn't mean to sleep. I don't have TIME to sleep. I gotta find her. She's gotta be out there somewhere, and here I am, snoozing. But she's tired , incredibly tired. I'll just rest my eyes for a second…
Willow nearly jumps a foot when she hears the door to the suite burst in. She gets up and carefully looks into the front room. She sees a group of policemen looking around the suite. She walks out of the door, and the group parts. IN the center are Principle Snyder, and Mayor Richard Wilkins.
" Well, golly isn't this a mess?" the Mayor, looking at the suite, smiles a goofy smile. He looks over Willow's shoulder, " Well, hello Faith. It's been a long time, I must say. Glad to see you haven't lost your touch!"
" Thanks, boss. But hey, not mine!"
Willow whirls around at Faith's voice, and sees the bodies , the blood, everything returned to how it was before she left. Faith is standing by the bodies, holding the knife with her thumb and forefinger.
" What? This isn't… it can't be real!" Willow protests, trying to cover for Faith.
" I assure it's very really, missy," Snyder sneers, looking at Willow," though I have to say, not unexpected. I always knew you'd come to a bad end, Rosenberg. Hanging out with those weirdos you call friends."
" Huh? I don't get it… what do you mean?" Willow says, looking confused.
" Why'd you do it, Red? I mean, geeze, killing these guys…" Faith says. She turns to the Mayor and Snyder, " I'm glad you're here. She was scary. I mean, I found these guys lying here, and the knife… and she was standing here covered in blood…"
" No, that… that's not it, not at all. I didn't kill anyone. She killed them." Willow starts to panic, especially when she sees the looks Snyder and the Mayor are giving her.
" Tsk, tsk. That's not very nice, accusing someone else of murder, when you know you did it, " the Mayor says, " I mean, I know my Faith wouldn't kill anyone… unless I told her to."
" Trying to weasel out of it, Rosenberg? How do you explain the blood all over you?" Snyder stares at her.
Willow looks down, and sees herself spattered with blood. She has blood on her hand, and all over her clothing.
" But… but, this… I didn't… I mean…" She's looking to Faith for help, but Faith is looking at her like the others. Like she's guilty.
" Faith, you got to tell them. I didn't do it. You know I didn't do it," Willow says, really getting scared now.
" I do? Gee, Red, I can't say that. I mean, it's not like you haven't killed before, " Faith points at the bodies, and Willow realizes one of them is Warren, flayed. She gasps, and backs up right into the wall. " You think I should take the blame for your stuff, Red? I thought you loved me."
" Yes… no… I mean… yes… no… no… oh, goddess, I don't know what I mean, " Willow moans, sinking down the wall.
Faith comes over to her, a strange expression on her face. " But you thought I was guilty, didn't you? I mean, I saw your eyes, Red. I felt your fear. You thought I reverted to Psycho-killer girl again, without even giving me a chance. Isn't that right?"
" Faith… I…." Willow cries. " I didn't know what to think."
" PCP, " Snyder says, shaking his head.
The mayor nods his head," I don't know what's with young people today. No respect, no patience. Just kill and kill, then blow up the Mayor when he wants to bring order to the town. Can you believe it?"
" You seemed to know what to think, Red. I was evil, that's what you thought. What was it you called me? Oh yeah, murdering bitch. Right"
" I was scared…" Willow says, lamely.
" Of me. Because you still don't trust me, Red. You're willing to believe that I would just kill somebody out of rage. You didn't even stop to think, did you?" Faith looks at her, sad expression on her face." You still don't see me, Willow. Not the real me."
" What do you expect, Faith?" Willow turns on her, " you talk about trust, but do you trust me? Do you tell me everything? Or even, most things? Don't think so! I'm not a child, Faith. I can deal, if you'll only trust me."
" Enough from you, young lady!" the Mayor says, grabbing her arm and pulling her to her feet. He turns to Snyder. " The young people are the future of this country. They need a firm hand, to guide them on the right path, don't you agree?"
" Oh, most certainly, " Snyder says, grabbing Willow's other arm, " Discipline. There's simply not enough discipline in the young people of today." He handcuffs her.
" Faith… please, don't let them do this to me."
" Not only can we do this, but there's precedent. And, frankly, I'm almost tingling," Snyder sneers, " Oh, by the way? You're expelled, Ms. Rosenberg."
" I hope you're learning a lesson from all of this, young lady, " the Mayor says, " this is what happens when you're defiant of authority. When you accuse people falsely, and jump to conclusions. Oh, yes, and when you forget to wash your hands." Wilkins pulls out a box of moist towelettes, opens the box, and uses one to wipe his hands. " Yuck, germs. Nasty things, so unsanitary!" He offers one to Willow.
She looks at him like he's crazy. She looks at them like they're all crazy. She struggles, but Snyder and the Mayor just hold her all the tighter.
" Please… Faith… don't let them do this … help me" Willow begs her.
" Sorry, Red, " Faith says, shrugging, " You should've believed in me. Trusted me. Goodbye, Red. Be good and take your punishment." Faith turns her back on her.
" Good for you, Faith," Mayor Wilkins says, " I knew you could do better than her!"
" You know, I think I'm having another tingle moment" Snyder says. With the help of the mayor, he starts to drag Willow away.
" Noooooooo" Willow, struggling with the bed sheets, wakes up, really wakes up this time. She looks around, and sees the clock on the nightstand. 3:30 am. Freeing herself from the tangle, she gets up, feeling disoriented. She walks into the bathroom, and splashes cold water on her face. Looking at herself in the mirror, she looks almost as bad as she feels. Her eyes are all puffy and red from crying. Her clothes are disheveled, as if she's been on a drunk. And her mouth feels like 1000 barefoot demons have been marching through it. She feels like she wants to cry again. Feeling sorry for yourself isn't helping, Will. Get with it.
Forcing herself, she straightens up, and then strips off her clothing. She turns on the shower, and lets the warm water wash over her, the tiny needles of hot water penetrating her skin and muscle, relaxing her a little. She stands there for a few minutes, just letting the water wash over her, not thinking, just feeling. Finally, she quickly soaps down, and rinses off, and hops out… feeling better, if not quite herself. Toweling down, she walks back into the bedroom, and dresses. She looks at the clock. 3:45 am. Still too early to do much of anything. Goddess, why did I have to fall asleep? Faith might be anywhere by now. I just wish she'd left me a note, something, … anything. It occurs to her that maybe she did leave a note. I never looked, not really.
She spends the next ten minutes tearing the room apart, vainly looking for a note. When she's done, the place looks like it's been hit by a hurricane, but no note. Damn, nothing. She must really be pissed off at me. It's then that she notices the flashing light on the phone. She walks over to it, and sees it's indicating she has a message. She picks up the phone, and hears it ring through.
" Front Desk"
"Yes, this is Ms. Rosenberg in suite 515. Is there a message for me?"
" I'll check"
The clerk is gone for a few seconds, then comes back on the line. " Yes, Ms. Rosenberg, there's an envelope down here at the front desk for you."
Willow feels her hope spark to life. " Great, I'll be right down to get it."
" Very well, Ms. Rosenberg. Or I can have it brought to your suite."
" Really? Great, do that"
" Very good, Ms. Rosenberg."
Willow walks into the front room, and spends the next few minutes nervously pacing. Finally, there is a soft knock at the door, and she runs to answer it.
" Ms. Rosenberg? The desk clerk asked me to bring this up" The bellman says.
Willow tips the bellman, and taking the letter, closes the door. For a moment she stares at the envelope, afraid to open it. Afraid it won't be from Faith. Finally, she tears it open , and reads the message inside.
I really fucked up this time. I know you must think I've gone insane. What happened tonight must've freaked you, totally. I know that. There's an explanation, honestly. I didn't kill him just because I hate him. I admit hating him. But there was a reason. I'm just not sure you'll believe me right now.
I don't know how to make it right with you. I don't know if I can make it right with you. But I want to try. I've got to make this right with you, somehow.
So what I'm going to say next is really hard, because I don't want to do it. But I saw how you looked at me, I saw how much you were afraid of me. God, I never wanted to see that. Ever. I think right now you need some time. Me being there will only make things worse. So, I've gone away. Give you some time to think. I know I need it. I've got to figure things out.
Maybe right now, it would be good if you went to your grandmother's house. I know you feel safe there, and that's best right now. I'll try to contact you there later. Once I get my head straightened out. I'll tell you all of it then.
God, this letter sounds cold, but I don't mean it to be. Just, I can't think of what to say. It's coming out all wrong. Just remember, I love you. I'll always love you. I'd never hurt you, not deliberately. Please, you gotta believe that.
I love you,
Willow looks at the letter, and her hand starts to shake. She crumples the letter, and throws it away from her.
No, no way. That's not gonna happen. You're not gonna get to just run away. Not this time, Faith. No. I'm gonna tear this city apart if I have to. And I know just where to start!
Her face set in its resolve mode, Willow walks over to a chair and sits, waiting for the morning.
Henry Jeffries couldn't sleep. He sat in the kitchen, a cup of herbal tea at hand, trying to relax. But he couldn't. He was worried about his granddaughter. And feeling a somewhat guilty.
Poor child. She was so upset. What do you expect, Henry? She learned that her grandfather is… was… her grandmother's servant, that she was part of a family that never made her FEEL part of it. She doesn't know why things were the way they were. She only knows she was treated like a stranger, shuttled around, left to the care of strangers, never feeling part of anything. Then to learn that even the excuse she had was bogus, that it shouldn't have been that way… Henry shakes his head. He knew it was a mistake, a huge mistake, he and Margaret had made. We should've done it differently. I should've taken Faith, raised her as my own, explain to her at the right time. But Margaret…
At that moment, there was a loud pounding at the front door. Startled, Henry jumps out of his seat, and tying his dressing robe, hurries to the front door. The pounding continues; it sounds like the front door is going to be torn off its hinges. From upstairs, Margaret calls down from the Balustrade.
" Henry, what's going on? Who's at the front door at this hour?"
" I don't know. I was just going to find out," Henry calls back, hurrying through the foyer to the front door. Picking up the bat he keeps in the umbrella stand by the door for just such contingencies, he opens the door a crack, holding the bat behind him.
On the stoop stands a very upset looking Faith. She's dressed in her typical style; dark leather clothing. She frowns at Henry, showing her displeasure at having to be here again.
" Hello Jeff … crap, what do I call you now? Grandpa? Gramps? Grandfather? Poppy? " Faith's voice sounds cold and distant.
" Just call me whatever you wish, Faith" Henry Jeffries says.
" Ok, how about… asshole then?" Faith says, her voice turning caustic. " So, is the wicked witch of Boston awake?"
" Faith… I don't care what you call me, but you will address your grandmother by her name, or at least by grandmother."
Faith looks at him with condescendingly." Says who? You?". She laughs, bitterly.
" It's alright, Henry. I think Faith has a just grievance. " Margaret, dressed in a robe, enters. " Hello, Faith".
Faith , a little thrown by her grandmother's pliability, looks at her with suspicion, tight-lipped. If there's one thing I know, it's that the grandmother doesn't give up without some kicking and screaming. What's goin' on here?
"Aren't you going to say anything Faith? Or did you just try to pound down the door for fun? Little late for hijinks , Faith."
" That's a scream, coming from you. Considering how you've been lying and playing tricks on me … what? Only my whole life!"
Margaret looks tired. She shuts her eyes, as if hoping things will be different when she opens them. She sighs heavily.
" We have a lot to talk about Faith. Standing here in the foyer trading insults isn't going to get it done. Please, come sit with me in the parlor."
" Naw, don't think so. Tired of being the fly in your parlor," Faith stands, arms crossed." This is pointless. Don't know why I even came."
" You came because you want answers. You want to know why. You deserve that much, at least" Margaret replies.
" I want my life back. I want things as they were before they got screwed up. Can you do that for me?"
Henry and Margaret exchange a look. Margaret comes over to Faith, who retreats back a step.
" What happened?"
" You know, really not your business, " Faith says, moving away from Margaret." What I wanna know is why. Why all the lies. Why was I treated like a stranger by my own family… that's a joke. My family. The fucking Cosa Nostra has a less screwed up sense of family."
Henry comes over to Faith, and puts a hand on her shoulder. She shrugs it off, but he puts it back again. She looks up at him.
" Faith, what happened tonight?" Henry inquires, looking into her eyes.
" Nothing, nothing happened, " Faith says, lowering her eyes. " I'm just tired of these fucking games, ok?"
"Just leave me the fuck alone, ok?" Faith says, shrugging him off, walking away from both of them. She hugs herself, trying to cover her feelings.
Henry walks over to her, and puts his arm on her shoulder. He reaches over, and lifts her chin.
" Faith, it's me, ok? You know you can tell me anything… anything at all." Henry says gently.
" Nooo" She cries out, then softer, " nooo". She tries to scrunch away from him, feeling shame and remorse and a dozen other emotions. " Please, just let me alone".
" Henry, maybe you should…" Margaret begins, but Henry holds up his hand to quiet her.
" Faith, you know I don't care what you've done. I'll always love you, always care about you," Henry says.
Faith turns to him, her face red, and her eyes bright with tears. Her lip starts to tremble.
" I killed him. I killed him, " Faith says, her voice choked, " and I wanted to kill him. I hated him, so much. I hated what he did. Who he was. They're right, they're right. I'm a killer… nothing but a psycho- bitch killer. Because I enjoyed watching him die. I did… I wanted him to die!" She leans against him, laying her head on his chest. She's starting to sob, and he holds her." I'm bad, they're right. I'm nothing but evil. God, I don't want to be this way".
"Shhh" Henry quietly rocks her, letting her get her grief out, " It's ok, it's ok."
Margaret stands watching as Henry comforts Faith, her hands clasped in front of her. That could be me, should be me, comforting her. If only I'd done things differently. If only.
" Faith, there's so much you need to know yet. " Margaret goes over and stands by Henry and Faith, " I think maybe we should go into the kitchen… the parlor is just too … formal for this." She leads the way into the kitchen, followed by Henry, who's holding Faith.
A little while later, Faith and Henry are sitting at the table, while Margaret is moving around, preparing tea. You can see that Henry is uncomfortable with Margaret waiting on him, but she waved him down. She needed to keep busy.
" You know so little about your family, Faith. That's my fault. I should've done things differently… so much differently," Margaret says, regret tingeing her voice." But I was … afraid. You were the one spoken of in the scroll, the one who … it was so difficult, with Sarah being as she was, and her getting pregnant by that … thing."
Faith just looks at her, eyes hooded, keeping her thoughts to herself.
" I know you can't forgive me for that, Faith. I can't blame you. I pushed you away, because I saw Sarah in you, and it hurt to be reminded of her everyday. But that doesn't mean I didn't care about you. I just didn't know how to show you. So I kept you at a distance. I was afraid, Faith. Afraid to love you. I feared feeling that pain again, and feared what might happen to you."
Faith looks at her suspiciously.
" Our family's very old, Faith. We came here 400 hundred years ago from County Tyrone in Ulster. But we are older, much older than that. And we're part of a larger clan… a clan dedicated to fighting the darkness."
" Like the Watcher's council" Faith says, cynically. Her face reflects her disgust.
" The Watcher's council is for the most part composed of a group of self important fools. It once meant something, but it's degenerated of late into nothing but a joke, as far as I'm concerned."
" Hey, watch it. I like Giles," Faith says, defensively.
" Rupert Giles is one of the few exceptions. I'm hoping that as Chair of the council he'll put it back on it's true course, but he's got a fight on his hands."
" You know Giles?" Faith looks at her, not really buying any of this.
" For many years… but that's a story for another time, Faith. Right now, I've got to tell you about your heritage."
" Oh, please, enlighten me." Faith rolls her eyes.
Margaret continues, ignoring her slight, " Faith, you're part of a larger heritage that's been dedicated for centuries to fighting the old ones… the ones who ruled the earth before mankind. Our history is long, and we've been involved in a lot of apocalypses that never were recorded. The slayers aren't the only ones who fight the darkness, Faith. There are many of us, scattered about the earth, fighting. Our reality is under constant attack from those who would destroy us."
" Ok, not saying I'm buying this crap, " Faith says, her tone sarcastic," but what's this … group? What's the name?"
" We don't have a 'name' Faith, or a formal organization, or any of the trappings that the Watchers seem overly proud of. We just are, and we know who we are. It's like a feeling… you know one when you meet one."
Faith laughs cynically, " oh, your good, grandmother. Gee, what? No secret handshake? No symbols or signs… just a feeling? Kinda vague, don't ya think?"
" The powers that be charged us with guarding this reality. I suppose you could call us the Guardians, but we never really formalized the name. We don't work that way. We're truly a secret society, Faith. And there is a sure way to tell if someone is part of the group." Margaret turns her head, and pulls back her hair, revealing a birthmark behind her ear." Look familiar, Faith?"
Faith unconsciously touches her head behind her ear, where her own birthmark lies… the exact same one.
" Everyone of the clan has one… that's how you tell if they are truly one of us."
" Ok, this is sounding hokier by the minute. Why should I buy any of this crap?" Faith shakes her head. " The birthmarks, just a coincidence. What's the real story?"
" This is ' the real story' , Faith. Like it or don't" Margaret says, feeling irritated. God, she's so stubborn!
" Right, so what, grandmother? You go out at night, and what? Fight demons with a sword or something?" Faith is almost laughing now.
"Faith, stop acting stupid. I know you're brighter than that," Margaret is getting angry now. Old habits die hard, right? " Fighting the darkness involves more than just going out and fighting a threat when it appears at the door. We, our clan, use influence to fight the forces that oppose us. We are involved in finance, politics, a dozen different ways to influence the way things turn out. Evil isn't just about mystical power, but the day by day influence that turns people, cities, and nations towards the dark … or towards the light. Your swords are made of steel, ours are made of words, money and power. Either way, we're doing the same thing, fighting for the same thing. To stop them; stop them all."
"Well, it's all different now. I'm impressed, " says Faith, who obviously isn't.
" Maybe you're right. Maybe I shouldn't bother trying to explain it to you," Margaret shoots back," but I thought you wanted to know why things are they way they are."
Faith starts to make a smart remark, but sees her expression and restrains herself.
" Ok, sorry, " Faith says ," go ahead "
" Our family came to America about 400 years ago, because this new continent was beginning to show signs of being settled. We came to expand our reach, early on. Try to get a step ahead of those we fight."
" Amongst our number was one called Aaron. He was inclined more towards the mystical. Some called him a prophet, some called him a fool. Either way, he wrote the sacred scroll that you delivered to me this morning. It contains what I guess you'd call a prophecy."
" Oh, I know," Faith interjects, " Big bad, world end, gotta kill it or we're all demon chow, right?"
" No, smarty, not at all. It prophesies the coming of one of great power and influence. She will be born in the later years. She will be the child of a demon and human, and will have a dual nature because of it. She can go either way, for good or evil. Either way, it will be a great struggle for her, because of her dual nature. One thing is for sure, she will destroy the demon that sired her. Or he will destroy her. Once she does this, her true path will be revealed to her."
Faith shakes her head, and stands up, backing away. " Uh-uh… not buying that… I'm… I'm… not her. Get it?"
"Sit down, Faith, " Margaret says to her. She turns to Henry, " Can you get me the scroll off the table in the parlor, please?" Henry rises and leaves the room.
" Listen, you're nuts. Ok? This is all nuts. I'm not listening to anymore of this!" Faith turns, and starts to walk away. I'm getting outta this fucking nuthouse before I'm as loony as they are.
"Run if you want, Faith, but you can't escape who you are, " Margaret says calmly, " believe me, I didn't want this. I didn't want it to be true. I don't want you burdened with this. But all the signs are there. I knew the legend, but I didn't have access to the scroll to verify it. It was stolen long ago by Wolfram and Hart. It wasn't until Angel took over the L.A. office was I able to track it down. That's what he sent to me."
Faith stands with her back to her grandmother, head hung down, shaking it back and forth. Not wanting to listen, not wanting to believe. Henry returns with the scroll, handing it to Margaret.
" Listen, Faith. This is directly from the prophecy", Margaret starts to read, " And there shall come a time, in years hence, that one shall be born of the dark and light. She shall be of us, but not know us. She will be a great champion, one who is chosen. She will struggle with that which fights for her soul. She will know greatness, and she will know defeat. In the end, she will destroy that which created her, or it will destroy her. Only then will she find her way, and know what is her destiny."
Faith stands, shoulders slumped. Suddenly, without warning, she strikes out, punching a hole in the wall in front of her. Margaret and Henry jump up.
" I won't do this. I won't," she says, quietly, " I don't want this. I don't want any of this. I just want to be left alone!"
" We don't always get what we want, Faith, " Margaret says, a note of bitterness in her voice. " you don't have a choice. It's your destiny."
" Like hell!" Faith growls, whirling on them, " you can shove that destiny up your collective asses. I'm outta here. I don't have to do this!" She starts to storm out, but Henry stops her. " Let me go, before I forget you're my grandfather," Faith hisses.
" Tell her, Margaret. She deserves to know why she's hearing this now!" Henry says.
" No, she has to make up her own mind," Margaret says, " that shouldn't have anything to do with it."
" Tell her, Margaret. Tell her, or I'm leaving here, too." Henry threatens.
Margaret looks like she's been slapped. " You wouldn't, Henry. We've been together for nearly 40 years… please, don't say that!" Margaret's strength seems to melt out of her, and she sits down , almost falls down.
" Tell me what?" Faith says, not pulling away anymore. " Tell me WHAT?" She repeats, firmly.
" Tell her, Margaret!"
Margaret looks away, not wanting to look at Faith. " I'm dying, Faith" Margaret says, softly. Almost inaudibly.
Not softly enough. Faith feels a sharp pain in her stomach.
" I've got maybe 6 more months. Maybe less. I have a brain tumor. Slow growing, but it's malignant. I…" She trails off, not wanting to think about it anymore.
Faith stands there, stunned. She feels she can't breathe. She doesn't want to believe it. Nothing can kill her… disease is afraid of her. She's never been sick… never. What she really can't believe, however, is what she's feeling. She expected to rejoice when the old woman finally died. Be jubilant, celebrate, party hearty. She didn't expect to feel like this. Like someone cut her stomach out. I hate the old bitch. Why'm…dammit, why'm I feeling like this?
" Why didn't you tell me?" Faith says, harshly.
" I didn't want your pity. I wanted to make you understand…"
" Trust me, I don't feel sorry for you."
" Wait. Change that, I do feel sorry for you. If you hadn't been such a bitch to me, treated me like crap, you might have a granddaughter standing in front of you who really cared."
"Faith!" Henry says, anger rising.
" No, Henry, calm down. She's right. I don't deserve anything else." Margaret sighs. " That's not the point, however. I can't take care of the day to day business of the family fortune anymore. I need someone to do that now."
" Wait a minute. Lets not get crazy here!" Faith is really getting upset now." I don't have a clue as to how to handle money… hell, I can barely pay for myself. And you want me to manage the family money? Are you sure that brain tumor hasn't already made you nuts?"
" I'm sick, Faith, not stupid! I have plenty of financial advisors onboard that will handle the technical parts of the fortune. What I need is someone who can make the tough decisions."
"Oh, yeah, that's a good one. Me? No way, lady. I'm so not right for this!" Faith shakes her head.
" I know you think I haven't kept tabs on you, Faith. But I have. You make the tough choices, even when it goes against your own interests. You have the right instincts, Faith. "
" Uh-huh, that's why I chose to side with Mayor Wilkins? Because of my great decision skills?"
" Faith, it's not about this decision, or that decision that determines your ability. It's taking it as the whole. And you've exhibited your ability to do the right thing, even when it costs you everything… even your freedom."
" Stop… just stop" Faith raises her hands to her head, as if her head hurt, " you can't just dump this on me, and expect me to decide on the spot. I need time. To think about it."
" Faith, I'm sorry, but there's just no time…." Margaret says, but Henry interrupts her.
" Margaret? " Henry shakes his head at her, " She needs time. How much time do you need, Faith ?"
Faith looks to Margaret, then to Henry.
" I dunno. A couple of weeks, maybe more. You dumped a lot of crap on me. I need time to figure it all out."
" Ok, Faith, I understand. 3 weeks then." Henry turns to Margaret, who nods.
" I'll try to be back sooner if I can," Faith says.
" Try, Faith. Really try," Margaret says, sounding tired.
" What about Miss Willow? What're you going to tell her?" Henry asks.
" Not an issue…" Faith says, turning away.
" She really cares about you, Faith," Henry says, kindly," I think she deserves some explanation."
" After tonight, I don't think she does, " Faith says. She leaves the room.
" Faith…!" Henry calls out.
" Henry? Let it go." Margaret says.
" Just let it go, Henry," Margaret says, getting it. Henry sits down next to her, looking at the door where Faith left. Both of their expressions are grim.
Faith walks down the stairs to the street where she'd left her bike parked. The night seems closer somehow, as if everything is more intense, grabbing her eyes and ears and senses. It's as if her mind were storing the sights and sounds. She realizes it might be the last time she sees it. She turns and looks at the front portico of the house she knew so well. Sometimes I think, too well. A little frown graces her lips, and her brow is creased. She doesn't know what she'll do now, if she'll be back or not. But her mind's eye, acting like a camera, stores the image in her mind. She reaches out and touches the stair post, then turns away. She hops on her bike, and starts the engine.
She doesn't know where she's going yet. Maybe New Hampshire, maybe Maine. Maybe south. Doesn't matter. Wherever she goes, that's where she'll be. As long as it's not here.
Anywhere but here.
An hour later, Henry finds himself in the kitchen, once again. He's glad Mrs. Jeffries went to see her sister this evening. She's a wonderful woman. He loves her to death. But all the Sturm and Drang of this place can make her … crazy. Not that he can blame her. He sits with his herbal tea, his eyes feeling grainy, but his mind too active to let him sleep.
He's worried about Margaret. She's still sharp as a tack, but the disease is beginning to show in some of her movements and actions. Soon it'll be very bad for her. He knows how independent she is. How proud she is. How hard it is for her to ask for help. He has to figure out how to give her help without it seeming to be help.
He's worried about Faith. He knows no matter how tough she acts, she still young. Very young. This is a lot to put on her slim shoulders. He'll help her as much as he can; so will Margaret, for as long as she's able. But in the end, it'll be on her to do what needs to be done. Can she handle it? Is she ready? I just don't know. Then there's that aura of sadness about her. He knows it has to do with Miss Willow. He hopes somehow, she makes it up with her. He hopes she doesn't make his and Margaret's mistake. He shakes his head, and sighs, sipping his tea.
He hears a knock at the front door. Looking at the clock, he sighs. Pulling himself up, he ties his robe, and walks to the front door. He looks through the peephole. He opens the door, a small smile on his lips.
A very worried looking Willow, her eyes ringed with dark circles, stands on the portico.
" I'm sorry for the late hour, Jeffries, but…." Willow starts. Henry steps back from the door, inviting her in with a gesture.
" Come in, Miss Willow. I've been expecting you."
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