Wake (Da Capo Remix)
by Lar

It took time to set in, the missing of him. But when it did catch up, that emptiness clung to her like a leech. She withdrew until even Dawn stopped trying to reach her, turned aside not with harsh words but instead with the blank stare that unnerved the people who had tried to break through.

When Xander left for Africa and Willow took Kennedy to South America, Buffy felt entirely gutted. Everything she had come to call family, every structure that had been carefully set in place with blood and death and resurrection, gone in a wave of jet fuel and awkward goodbyes. By then it was too late to accept the offers because they had stopped coming.

Giles took her to England. She hated the thought of a country full of people who would sound like him and not be him, but she packed and nodded and got on the plane. She didn't even realize that Faith and Dawn had come along until they were all in the taxi and Giles was giving the driver directions to the flat.

Faith watched it all from the sidelines. She had Robin to think about and she liked being the one to greet the new Slayers as they found them along the way. It was something to stop her from thinking about going back to LA, to seeing about Wesley and Angel, because those goodbyes had been too quick with too much unsaid even for her. But when Giles asked her, Faith had shaken her head and said it was time for her to get a look at where the history comes from.

"You've been watching Eddie Izzard?" Giles had asked her, stunned at the idea.

"Come on, a guy in a dress? Hell yeah I'm watchin' that." She had winked at him and sauntered away.

Now here she was in a taxi with B and Dawn, and she couldn't tell who she wanted to smack in the head first. The spoiled little princess... or the younger spoiled little princess. Tough love was a concept Faith could embrace with a two fisted grip and she was all about embracing it right about now until someone screamed.

It turned out to be easier than she thought it would be. Giles took a sleepy and unresisting Dawn out for fish and chips, and Faith took Buffy to the first pub she could find. The men there were huddled around the television, alternately swearing and slamming back glasses of beer. After working through whatever the hell the barman said to them, Faith just went with a smile and a 20 pound note slapped on the bar and a request for vodka shots.

"Drink up, B," she told Buffy when there are three lined up in front of them. "Come on, let's get this thing over with."

Buffy looked up at her, blank expression that made Faith want to grab her and shake her up a little. Snap some of that fire back into her eyes, give the girl back her spark, even if it was just to see her pissed off again. "I don't want it."

"I ain't askin'," Faith told her, careless shrug of one shoulder as she downs her own. The heat of the path it traced to her belly felt good and she pushed one of Buffy's glasses closer to her hand. In the corner of the room, the men shouted and swore and stamped their feet. It sounded like it could be coming from another world than the one that Faith was standing in with Buffy here, all empty eyes. "So what, some guy dies to save the world and you're gonna sit around and mope over it? Way I think I heard it before, this isn't exactly something new for you."

There was nothing there, just the same stare with the same dull green eyes. "Old habits," Buffy muttered and looked at the shots, remembering a bottle of something that made her shudder after every mouthful. Kittens. Clem. Poker in the bar. And that's where she drew the line on remembering. Her fingers reached for the glass slowly, curled round, held.

"Time to break some old habits," Faith told her and touched her glass to the one Buffy held. She drew her stool over closer until their knees were touching. "What do you call it when they all have a big party after the funeral, everybody drinking and telling stories about the guy who died? Celebration of the things he did when he was alive, you know, send him off with happy memories instead of that wailing and crying shit."

Buffy picked up the glass and looked at it as someone behind her watching football stood up and kicked a chair away.

"Bloody hell, bunch of fuckin' knobs!"

She smiled at the glass, and took a breath that turned into a sob. Swallowed it down with the vodka and set her glass next to Faith's on the bar.

"A wake," she said quietly. "They call it a wake."

Faith nodded. "Right, a wake. He'd love it, B. You sitting around talking about him, telling stories about the things he did, making him a hero."

Buffy shook her head. "I can't make him a hero. He did that on his own. He did it for me." She blinked and then rubbed her eyes and dropped her head back, staring at the grimy ceiling. "Don't make me do this, Faith. I was fine with it the way it was."

Faith put another glass in Buffy's hand. "The hell you were. You weren't even alive. You were just taking up space. Is that what you wanted out of this? Everybody gave all they had, all those girls down there, Spike, Xander... all of them gave whatever it took. Don't fucking waste the rest of the life they wanted you to have."

Buffy looked at Faith as she drained her second shot of vodka and set her glass down on the bar with a heavy thud. "Who turned you into Dr. Phil?" Buffy asked with a sniff before she drank her own.

"Who?" Faith's forehead wrinkled and then she shrugged. "I know I'm just about the last person who you want to take any advice from, but I say that you had your chance to be in mourning. We had the funeral, B. Now let's have the party."

Faith's glass clinked against Buffy's last remaining shot and she waited, watched Buffy's hands on the bar top. One hand slid away and into the pocket of the jacket she was wearing, came back out clutched around something that fell to the bar with a thump.

"It's his lighter," Buffy explained as Faith stared at it. "He left it at the house, said he'd pick it up after."

Faith didn't speak and after a few minutes, Buffy tucked it away again and took her drink, breathing in the smoke and smell of beer and whiskey.

"He would've been glad to know I kept it," she said in a low voice and touched her glass to Faith's. "He would've liked that."

Faith nodded and they drank, and Buffy put her hand back into her pocket again, curled her fingers around the lighter until the metal warmed against her palm. "Next round's on me."


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