Near You Always
Not B/A Fanfic
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Disclaimer: I am not Joss Whedon.
Rating: PG-13, Rish?
Distribution: Let me know.
Her skin was wicked pale, I mean, you could practically see through it. Her eyes were half closed, but it didn't matter, because you could see through the lids. The fire that had always been there was dim now, as if once the world stopped needing her, she stopped needing it. Maybe that was true, 'cause it sure as hell seemed like what wasn't a life threatening injury suddenly spiraled into this massive half-alive trance-like state and Buffy wasn't fighting it at all. She was just willing to role over and die. Not me.

I wasn't willing to let her role over and die.

For reasons I'm not about to go into right now, or ever, I really seriously cared about B, in a she dies I die kind of way. It's always been that way I guess, only whereas my purpose in life used to be to kill her, it's keepin' her from killin' herself this time around. I get it now, the thing with Spike. He was the only one fighting this war that looked at her. The rest of us, we looked
her, sure; and yeah, if she died we woulda noticed. But how many of us noticed she was already dead inside, where it matters?

Not a damn one. Except him. And he's gone now, so I have to step up. 'Cause the only way to love Buffy Summers is to wanna kill her. And the only way to actually kill her is to love her. And when you finally get to the point where you're admitting you love her, the last thing you want to do is see her die. And she doesn't get any of that.

Death isn't physical anymore than torture is. The Master physically killed her, but really he only shook her up a bit. Angelus had nearly killed her, but she was able to hold on to Angel's love for her, and it didn't hit her as badly. And me? I hurt her, I'm not denyin that. But I didn't really love her then, anymore than the Master did when he killed her. Oh, I knew she was beautiful, kinda hard to miss, and I could respect that she was a great Slayer (the greatest, if you wanna get technical), but she was totally wrapped up in Angel, and resentment lead to hate and contrary to popular oppinion it is not a fine line between love and hate. Polar opposites, actually, they just get confused sometimes...

I'm getting distracted. The point is, death isn't physical. It's emotional. The minute B stopped feeling, the minute she let her soul crumble into dust around her, that was when she died. Not the minute she jumped off that damn tower and into Spike's bed (okay, so not exactly, but close enough); not the million minutes afterwards when she did break down. But the one minute, the second even, when she realized she would. She set herself up to break down and she did, irreparably. That was the end of it for her.

Which didn't make watching her fucking almost corpse any easier on me. Or any of them, really. 'Cause the Scoobs were snappin' outta whatever funk they'd been in for two years, and realizing that Spike, Angel and I weren't the only ones who'd ever loved her, and we weren't the only ones who did then. They do. Xander, Willow, even Giles to some extent (in a father-daughter way, I hope), love her. They wouldn't have hung around this long if they didn't. They wouldn't have come so damn close to destroying her if they didn't.

"Faith?" her voice was soft, breaking, like the rest of her, and it took a minute to register that she was speaking. "I don't want..."

"Shh, B, you need your rest," i told her gently. Her eyes sparked for a minute, a defiant look daring me to make her passing through them before fading away into the dull green that they had settled in.

"I don't want to die," she whispered, ignoring me. I rose an eyebrow.

"Don't you?"

"The sword," she rasped suddenly, ignoring me. "The sword, it could have been poisoned..."

"Giles is looking into it," I told her. She held out her arms, her bone thin, fragile arms to me, and I forgot that I wasn't supposed to show her I cared. I crawled into them, and I let her hold me, whispering softly, though I didn't know what words she was whispering. "I don't want you to die either."

"I know," she informed me. I looked up from her shoulder to stare into her eyes. "I see you watching me sometimes..."

"Oh," my answer was deflated, flat almost, as if I'd been expecting her to say 'that's why I don't want to die,' or something equally cheesy that I would totally make fun of her for saying if she had, but still would have been nice. And then my disappointment washed away, because her lips were on my, ever so lightly, and I forgot that I was supposed to be with Robin. I forgot that I was reformed. I forgot everything but her lips and her tongue...
God she's using her tongue!!

"I can't be in love with you," she whispered. "'Cause that's always gonna be Angel." I nod in understanding and try to stand, but her weak arms hold me down to the uncomfortable hospital chair. "I can't be in love with you. But I can love you, if that's enough."

She looked insecure suddenly and I smiled a little, not answering her question. "You rest."

She could love me. As long as I was willing to give her up when Sir Broods-A-Lot came galloping back on his big white horse to save the day and ride of into the sunrise without bursting into a pile of ash. It didn't really take a lot of thinking.


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