Sometimes it is a bus but today it is a train and she barely notices the looks that they get from the other passengers as they walk by. She knows the image that they make, with Ruby’s brown curly head on her shoulder, their hair intermingling and you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
Because they are one.
Sometimes it is a child but today it is an old, kindly woman who says with wrinkles hiding her eyes that it is so nice to see sisters traveling together in these times. They make such a lovely picture with their wide eyes and soft curling hair, their short round bodies, those strong wide jaws; so soft and brown and warm.
Faith only smiles back, twirling her fingers through Ruby’s without waking her. Later, in the little bathroom, pressed together, their breath rising and falling as one, with Faith’s hand slipping under Ruby’s waistband to play her like a drum, with Ruby’s blood on her lips; they laugh the words to each other.
“Why are we going to Sunnydale again?”
Her voice is thick with sleep and Faith rests her cheek against her head for a moment before responding. “Little sis needs us, I think.”
Her eyes are closed, her fingers play an unknown song on Faith’s forearm, and she wonders for a brief moment of that long ago human life that the other woman so violently resists speaking of, that is lost to the thousands of lifetimes spent in a hell that tried so ineffectually to rip all the vestiges of softness from her edges.
“How do you know?”
“It’s a sister thing.”
Ruby opens her eyes and tilts her head up, “Like us.”
It’s blood. It’s just like mine.
Faith leans her head back against the headboard with a sigh, “We have to go.”
Ruby peeks her head out of the bathroom with raised eyebrows, her hair still wet, clad only in the hotel issue white terrycloth robe.
“Something weird is happening in Sunnydale,” Faith says as she throws on a relatively clean t-shirt and shoes. “I’m going to check us out and look up train times. We can get there by morning if we hurry.”
“I see that. Sit.”
Faith plays with the edge of Ruby’s robe restlessly.
“I’m not sure. Something. Something weird. I can’t put it together.”
“No I mean. What happened just now that made you need to leave immediately.”
Faith reaches for her phone, “Nothing from little sis today at all. Some cryptic txt from Buffy about Anya being in a coma. And some weird witch at the house. Then a voicemail from Wesley—” Her voice catches and Ruby’s eyes narrow. “I can’t make out everything he’s saying…”
And then their fingers are twisting together and Ruby’s lips are pressing against the pad of Faith’s thumb and their foreheads touch lightly. “I can be ready in ten minutes, okay?”
We are one.
Faith mixes their concoction of blood and salt together at the table with a paintbrush, occasionally squeezing her hand over the mixture to add more of her own to the bowl. At the door and window, Ruby has already painted every entry.
Slayer blood, blood of the demon.
Blood of a demon, Slayer blood.
Once, they were trapped by a swarm of demons out for the kill. The boys were somewhere else, had left them behind to play hero, they were wounded, but they had salt. With a palm full of blood and salt, Faith lined the openings to the little room.
Slayer blood, demon blood.
On a conference call with Wesley and Willow (Fred’s voice hovering anxiously in the background), they tried to make sense of it. An ancient magic. Not in any books. Not anything the Watcher’s Council had ever accounted for.
They explained it to Sam later, as Ruby straddled and fed him as she was wont, Faith at the table with a beer in hand, watching with a sly smile.
It wasn’t that the demons couldn’t get in – they crossed the threshold as if the salt wasn’t there, but then were suddenly screaming out of their hosts, leaving behind only the shells of human bodies alone with their damaged, tortured souls.
“Insta-exorcism!” Dean would deem it when he sees it in action.
Giles sends Faith a long-winded explanation “blah blah the soul is made stronger blah blah” –Demons are only able to hold on to the body because they are stronger than the host’s soul. Mixing the “innocent” blood of the Slayer with the blood of a demon who once was human, allows the host to push free, to expel the demon themselves. Faith can almost hear the British accent when she reads: “The dichotomy of victim and the free agent, tied together by the same blood; the Chosen One and the act of Choice, it awakens the soul within the host body, gives it strength to push back.”
Once a demon, always a human. Once a human, always a demon.
They are the same.
Running for their lives, bleeding and injured, struggling for breath, they didn’t feel the spark as Faith’s blood-soaked hand pressed into the wound on Ruby’s side, as they held each other up and propelled each other forward. That first time, scrambling for a safe space, they didn’t feel the connection, feel the jab through their souls as their blood intermingled and became one.
It was when their lips touched, lying on the abandoned couch in the corner, the cut on Ruby’s lip, the trickle of blood from under Faith’s eye lined the crease of her lips, and then they were inside one another, tied to each other, linked.
Flashes of a child crying on the street.
The strong smell of death and decay.
A heat that invaded and suffocated.
Heavy words thrown from far away.
What is the distance of a thousand years in the heart of a broken girl?
What is the worth of a thousand days in the mind of an unloved child?
Do two broken hearts make one.
“Are you asleep?”
“Those girls that I see…? Are they… are they sometimes Slayers?”
Faith turned over and rested her cheek on Sam’s broad chest, inches from Ruby’s. “Sometimes.”
They looked at each other for a moment, Faith reaching up to lazily play with a lock of Ruby’s hair, “Always, probably.”
“What is it like, having all their memories swirling around like that?”
“What is it like, pretending to not remember being human…”
“Sometimes I can’t tell if we are living their deaths or living the victory of their killer.”
“… or being tortured in hell?”
“Some are still alive.”
“There are many still alive.”
“Two of them are important to you. Sisters.”
“One is different. The younger one with all the hair.”
Faith smiles wistfully, “She is different.”
“She was… Made. I guess. She’s new but not.”
Ruby closes her eyes, “A Key.”
Faith is almost asleep, her breath matching the slow rhythm of Sam’s chest rising and falling, a hand in hers, when she hears Ruby’s slow voice, “A blood sister.”
Blood is life.
Her phone rings and it startles the elderly couple to their right, Ruby shoots them her sweetest apologetic smile as Faith fumbles to answer it.
“Dawn? … Who the hell is this? … Wait. What? Who?”
Ruby tries very, very hard to hear what is happening on the other line. All she hears is an unknown male voice.
“So… okay she’s awake though? And she had you call me … oh I … yes we’re on our way … yes Ruby is with — um no … Spike? Gods who the hell was— no shit? … Sounds cute … yes I’m focused … let’s just wait to see … Oh she said … wait what? … well she can tell me that her damn self … No not … Yeah we’ll be there by morning … Who is?! … Spike what the f— … Yeah, yeah okay. See you in a few hours … Love you too, dork.”
Ruby waits patiently. She’s never really had to deal with a “meet the parents” date and with Faith, a trip to Sunnydale is a little bit like, “Parents? Nah – let me introduce you to my entire extended family all at once.”
“We might have to call the boys in on this.”
Ruby squeezes her hand and sighs. Really though, they had been looking forward to a weekend just to themselves while the Winchesters went hunting up near Wichita.
“Apparently someone named Hoya is picking us up at the train station?!”