A Second Is An Eternity
by Chazzman

She had already been found guilty. This was simply the punishment phase.

The jury had returned with their verdict. The judge had read it over and ordered the defendant to stand.

Silently, she rose to her feet and pushed her dark brunette hair out of her face. Her fingernails were chipped and broken. She didn't really care anymore. There was no way the jury could have understood the whole truth. They knew nothing about what had really happened. Just a few cold facts.

The victim had died because of a stake in the heart. She had put it there. The why and the wherefore had not mattered to the prosecutor, and she had not provided her public defender with any information that could have helped her. She did not care if she went to jail. It did not matter. They couldn't do anything to her that was worse than the constant ache she felt inside over what she had done.

The judge asked her if she had anything to say before the sentence was passed. She shook her head. She hadn't had anything to say in a long while.

"It is the determination of this court..."

She barely heard the drone of the judge's voice. She felt as if she were detached from her body. Little things suddenly seemed to zoom into focus then fade away.

"...having been found guilty..."

She looked at the jury and abstractly wondered how many of them were still alive because a vampire or demon that she had helped to kill wasn't around now to kill them.

"...10 years..."

She closed her eyes. Ten years. How had they come up with that one? She had thought for sure it would have been more. It should have been more. Though not for the reasons the jury thought.

"...the California State Correctional Facility for Women in..."

She lowered her head. When the deputies came to take her from the courtroom, she kept her head down. She didn't want to see 'them'. If she did, she was certain she would breakdown. The handcuffs were placed back on her wrists and she was led from the courtroom.

'They' remained in their seats as she was led out, and the rest of the audience exited the courtroom.

"So much for justice," Xander whispered bitterly.

"It's not right," said Willow softly.

"Quite," murmured Giles.

"Ten years," said Buffy in shock.

Wesley simply nodded and looked down. Another failure for my resume, he thought bitterly.


The ride in the prison bus was miserable. The bus was hot and smelled terrible. There were only six of them of the bus, but the rank smell of stale sweat that pervaded it was from a hundred other trips when it had been packed full. Still, she did not complain. At one time she might have, but now she accepted it as simply another part of her punishment.

Finally, the bus arrived at the prison where she was to spend the next ten years of her life. Or less. Her attorney had said something to her about parole and early release for good behavior. She hadn't listened. What did it matter? She had blown it. Her chance to make a name for herself was gone. Scratch that. She had made a name for herself. As a killer. They would never accept her now. That death was her legacy.

For a moment, she found herself wishing they had given her 25 years instead of just the 10.

The bus stopped and they were marched out and over to the prison dispensary. There they were given their clothes they were to change into. First, however, they were ordered to strip and subjected to the indignity of another cavity search. After they had dressed in their new prison garb they were taken to meet the warden.

Warden G. Tanner was, as expected, a bitch to them. She gave the usual speech about running a tough but fair prison, and what they could expect. When it was done the new prisoners were again marched off, this time to the cellblock where they were to be assigned. The cell she was assigned to had another woman already inside. The woman smiled at her as she entered and hopped down from the top bunk.

"Hi, I'm Tammy Logan," she said in a definitely 'perky' tone of voice. "I guess we're gonna be roomies for a while. What's your name, sugar?" the woman spoke with a slightly Southern drawl as she extended her hand.

Looking down at the girl's hand, she sighed and told her 'who' she was and watched the hand drop in response.

"OH WOW! Why Sugar you're famous. I heard about you on the TV. My word you look different in person. But then again you can't never make out no details on that thing they got in the Rec room. I can't wait to tell Bobby-Joe. I got me a real live 'CEE-LEB-BRA-TEE' for my bunky..."

As Tammy prattle on about everything and nothing, she sat down on the bunk. A celebrity? Sure, for the tabloids. For the white trash of America to point at and gape in wonder at the 'Star Killer'.

It was ten days before she saw her. They were in the 'Exercise Yard' which was what they called the couple of hundred square yards of dirt with a few basketball hoops and a weight set. She had been standing off on her own, as usual, when she saw her approaching.

She tensed up when she stepped in front of her, expecting the blow to fall any second. But instead when she met the other woman's eyes she found no judgement, no recriminations and no accusations. Only a patient calm that she would never have believed possible just a few months ago.

"Hello, Cordelia."



Faith had been attempting to engage Cordelia in a conversation for ten minutes without success, trying to find out what had happened. How had Cordelia gotten into this mess and what were Angel and Wesley doing about it? When she had first heard the news reports, she knew something supernatural had happened; Cordelia had been possessed or the woman had been a very human looking demon. However, when she had tried to call Angel's office, nobody had answered the phone and shortly thereafter it had been disconnected. From the media circus, she had assumed that Angel had had the number changed and was laying low so he could concentrate on helping Cordelia. Apparently unsuccessfully, as Cordelia was now in prison.

While Faith appreciated Angel's need to concentrate on helping his friend, she had been somewhat bothered by the fact that she had not heard from him in months now, not even a letter. She could not remember the number of times she had picked up the phone and almost called Giles or even Buffy. But always she would chicken out, her shame and her fear of the pain from their inevitable rejection of her always overwhelming her at the last moment.

So now, here she was with the one person who could really tell Faith what had happen and instead she was getting nothing. In fact, Cordelia's noncommittal, single word responses were starting to irritate Faith to the point where she wanted to slap her or shake her or something. She knew she shouldn't have expected Cordelia to say anything to her. After all, the last time they had been this close, Faith had given her a black eye with her elbow. Still, here they were in prison. Both of them convicted of murder. And Faith couldn't get jack from the bitch.

"Damn, girl," Faith muttered. "You got that silent thing going real good. Been taking lessons from Angel."

Cordelia looked up at that, and for the first time Faith had a clear view of her eyes. Faith had grown used to people looking at her in many ways. With contempt, with fear, with anger, with lust, with hate. Looking into Cordelia's eyes, she didn't see any of that. Just a resigned emptiness that sent a chill through her.

"Angel's dead." Cordelia said in a flat monotone before she stood up and walked off. Back to her cell.


She reminded Faith of a line from 'The Sixth Sense'. The one about the ghosts of some people not realizing that they were dead. Except that wasn't quite the same thing here. Cordelia behaved as if she was dead and her body just hadn't accepted it. Faith was not sure why she cared, but she knew she had to do something.

She had finally just worked up the courage to call Giles when Wesley showed up to visit her. She felt a wave of guilt remembering how she had tortured him, but she knew the real reason why he was there.

Not to help her, but rather to ask for her help.

For Cordelia.

Wesley looked at her for a moment. "When the Council hit squad came for you, I was given a choice. Betray Angel's trust in me, or oppose the Council. I never hesitated in deciding which side I would stand on. In the few months I worked for him, I had grown to respect not only him but also his judgement. I considered him a friend. You won't be surprised when I say that I don't have many of those. Now, because of some horrible twist of fate, he's gone, and my only other friend is a lot of pain because of it."

He had told Faith about the fading star's obsession with keeping her looks. How she had duped Cordelia and pumped her for information on Angel before drugging Angel with the hopes of getting him to make her a vampire in order to stay looking young forever. How he and Cordelia had fought with Angelus and he had been knocked out. When he had awoken in the hospital, he had been shocked to learn that Cordelia had called 911, had confessed to 'killing the bitch' and was under arrest for the murder of the star. When he had gone to talk with her in jail, she had refused to talk to him, or any of the Scoobs for that matter, isolating herself from everyone. Refusing all visitors except her attorney, whom she told nothing to.

Wesley figured that Angelus had killed the actress just before Cordelia staked him. He guessed that somehow Cordelia must have felt so guilty about Angel's death that she wanted to be punished and had therefore done nothing to defend herself from the accusations. He knew that Cordelia needed someone to talk to and a psychiatrist was currently out of the question. So finally, Wesley had come to Faith to see if she might be able to do something to help.

To see if she was willing to help.

Throughout the whole time he was polite, but even through the impassive face he wore, she could sense his inner turmoil. Faith knew that it had taken a lot for him to swallow his pride and come here to ask for her 'help'. The devil that ever lurked in the back of her mind was goading her to verbally attack him to provoke a reaction, but she withheld the hundred-and-one barbs, snips and quips about him that ran through her mind. She didn't want to be that person anymore.

"I'll do the best I can," she said quietly. Wesley arched an eyebrow at her simple response before nodding his head to acknowledge it. "Wes. I know you hate me. I know it took a lot for you to come here. I know I'm the one who messed it all up and that you probably feel my word and any apologies aren't worth a damn. I don't know how Angel saw anything in me worth saving, but he did. So I'm gonna do what I can to honor that, for him."

Wesley was quiet for a moment as he stared through the Plexiglas barrier into her dark eyes. "Thank you," he finally said before hanging up the phone to leave.


Meanwhile, back in her cell, Tammy Logan was in the middle of talking to her 'bunky' about her upcoming spousal visit. She was filing her nails and was oblivious to the small gasp of pain from the bunk above her as Cordelia clutched the side of her bunk, as yet another wave of images of pain and suffering swept through her mind.

Images about which she could do nothing.

Because Angel was gone.

And she was lost.


The attack came swiftly but not unexpectedly. Cordelia had just finished washing her hair when Sharon Capeshaw led her 'pack' into the showers to surround the girl. Other women quickly ended their showers and moved to leave the room.

"Hello, Mouse," Sharon said with a nasty glint in her eye. Mouse struggled as Vicky Rizo and Samantha Fuller grabbed her arms and clamped a hand over her mouth. "I told you I'd be back for you." Sharon had spent 30 days in isolation because Mouse had not been very appreciative of her 'attentions' and had told the Warden so.

Denise 'The Mouse' Greeley was 5' 1" and weighed 92 lbs on a good day. The two women holding her were a lot taller, a lot heavier and a lot stronger than her. When she saw the glint of metal in Sharon's hand from the handmade knife she started weeping, screaming into the hand and struggling even harder.

Sharon held the knife up in front of Mouse's eyes. "Now then. Where should we start? With your pretty little face or your precious hands, won't that be such a loss if you can't type anymore? Oh! How about those eyes-"

"How about your tongue so we won't have to listen to your lame-assed threats?" a sharp voice harshly interrupted.

Sharon spun about to find Cordelia Chase standing in front of her.

"My, my," said Sharon. "Aren't we the brave one."

"Not really," replied Cordelia. "It's just that I've seen far scarier things than half a dozen dykes in a shower." She spoke calmly as Sue Peters and Brandy Jon moved forward to grab her only to be waved off by Sharon.

"You think you can take me?" asked Sharon darkly.

Cordelia ignored the question and looked at the two women holding Mouse. "You're scheduled to get out of here in less than two years. You gonna throw that away because this skank can't ask for a date?"

Sharon's eyes flared wide, and she lunged forward with the knife. But Cordelia was expecting this and threw her hand forward to fling a large glob of shampoo into the attacking woman's eyes. The knife clattered to the floor as Sharon screamed and clutched at her burning eyes.

Cordelia quickly lashed out with her foot to kick Sharon away before she scooped up the knife and took a defensive posture as the other women moved towards her.

"Goddamn Bitch!" screamed Sharon as she tried to wipe the soap from her eyes. "Help me, goddamit. Get the fucking cunt!"

Sue Peters helped Sharon to a showerhead to wash out her eyes as Brandy, Cathy Evens and Jill Wattle moved to surround Cordelia. "You're dead meat, Bitch," growled Jill.

"I don't think so," said a new voice. The three women looked to the door and saw Faith standing there, hands on her hips, looking very pissed-off. Tammy, Cordelia's cellmate, had just delivered a note from Cordelia telling Faith that someone was going to be killed in the shower, and she had had the hardest time getting to the showers without appearing to be running, and drawing the guards' attention. "Now I'm trying to do the right thing here, turn over a new leaf and all that, and stop beating the shit out of my fellow man and woman. But you lot are makin' it real difficult for me to do that."

"You know since you've gotten here, you've talked a lot, but I ain't ever seen you in action and I've been thinking that maybe that's all you are. 'Talk'," Cathy told her.

"Thinking, eh," said Faith as she moved into the shower room. "You know, I don't believe that's your strong suit. You're just the meat."

Several minutes and many grunts, smacks and cries of pain later, Faith, Cordelia and Mouse exited the showers. Cordelia began to quickly dry herself and put on her clothes.

"Th-Thank you," said Mouse to Faith.

"Hey, no big," Faith said in a nonchalant sort of way. In truth she was beaming on the inside. Receiving thanks was addictive. But even better was the fact that Cordelia had sent someone to get her help. It wasn't much but it gave her hope that she now had a contact with the closed-off woman. "It's Mouse, right? I'm Faith and that's Cordelia."

"Actually it's Denise, Denise Greeley, but I've been 'The Mouse' for a long time," Mouse replied quickly. The truth was she was still pretty shaken by what she had just been through. She was desperate to make friends since being in prison. Her second day here, Sharon had tried to force herself on her. Latter a very battered Denise had told the Warden the truth when she had been asked about who had attacked her. After that, people had avoided her and her nickname of 'The Mouse' had taken on a more unsavory reputation. Now, after seeing what Faith had just done to Sharon's mob, she seemed like a very good friend to have. Looking at the silent other woman, Cordelia Chase, she said, "Look, I don't know why you stuck your neck out back there but thank you too. When they grabbed me, I thought I had no hope."

Cordelia jerked up her eyes from where she was putting on her shoes and stared at Mouse. Her sincere gratitude was painfully obvious, but at Cordelia's dark glare she backed up. After a moment, Cordelia nodded and finished putting on her shoes. "No Problem," she said with a growl. "It's what I used to do - 'Help the Hopeless'."

Standing abruptly, Cordelia quickly exited the room. Mouse looked worriedly at Faith. "Did I say something wrong?"


The next day, rumors were flying everywhere about what had happened to Sharon and her gang. They had been found about 5 minutes after Faith and Mouse had left the changing room. Most of the damage had been a lot of cuts, bruises, broken noses and concussions; however, Sharon was nursing a broken jaw; Sue and Jill each had a few broken ribs; Brandy's wrist was broken and Cathy had lost a tooth. All refused to talk about what had happened.

Faith was actually surprised that the Warden hadn't ordered a lockdown.

Faith spotted Cordelia walking down the main hall in cellblock D.

"Can we talk?" Faith asked Cordelia as she ran to catch up with her.

Cordelia shrugged as she continued to move rapidly down the corridor. Faith wasn't sure where she was going until she spotted the sign. Library.

Faith had never been in here so she was surprised at the size. The room was 20' by 30' with several rows of bookshelves. Law books lined the walls whilst general books and ancient magazines occupied the racks in the center of the room. The prisoner who served as the librarian sat bored at a desk by the door.

Faith pulled Cordelia towards the back of the room where the bookcases would muffle their conversation.

"OK. What's the what?" Faith asked in a low voice. "I know that with our history I have no expectations to be calling you a friend. But considering the situation I would think you could at least let bygones-be-bygones and talk to me. You've blown me off every time I've tried to talk to you. Then, I receive a note asking for help, I come, I help and you just walk off without so much as a 'Thanks Faith'. What the fuck? I'm trying to help you here, trying to stay on the straight and narrow."

Cordelia looked Faith straight in the eye and said, "Thank you, Faith." It came out flat and unemotional. Faith stared back into Cordelia's dark eyes, wanting more than anything to just grab her and shake her or slap her. Anything to get her to show some sort of life. "As for the note, you didn't have to answer it. I simply was letting you know that someone was going to die if you didn't do anything. Is that all you wanted?"

"No, dammmit. That's not all," Faith said determinedly. "How about you tellin' me what that was about yesterday? How did you know what was gonna happen?"

For a moment, Cordelia appeared as if she was going to refuse to answer, then she seemed to fold inward, sat down and looked at Faith. "I'm a seer. I get visions from the Powers that Be. Painful, head splitting visions. People in trouble. People about to get hurt or killed, usually by some nasty, slimy demon thingy." Cordelia's voice became started to take on a hysterical twinge. "People who were supposed to be saved by Angel. He was working for his redemption. But can't save them anymore. Because I killed him. And now, he'll never get rede-"

Faith interrupted Cordelia by placing a finger to her lips and softly shushing her. Faith was never one for touchy, feely emotions, and she never saw Cordelia as the type either. But right now, Faith could see in her eyes how close she was to the edge. She reached down to take Cordelia's hands and clasped them within hers.

"Calm down. Good. Now take a couple of deep breaths. Ok?" Faith waited until Cordelia looked back up and nodded.

"Alright then. Talk to me."


Wesley picked up the phone as Faith settled in to the chair on the other side of the visitor's lounge and picked up her extension.

"Faith. How are you?"

"I'm five-... I'm doing OK, Wesley," she looked down still uncomfortable about meeting his eyes.

"And Cordelia?"

Faith looked down. She wouldn't betray any confidences that Cordelia had imparted to her, but still Wesley needed to be appraised of the situation. "She's still learning to adjust." Faith stared intently at the table in front of her. "She had a vision the other day."

Wesley looked up sharply.

"It was in the showers here, some bitch wanted to kill another girl. I stopped it. Had to use a little of the ol' ultra-violence, but nobody died."

Wesley nodded. "So, she is still receiving the visions. Has she told you about any others?"

Faith shook her head. "She said that was the first one since..."

"Angel," Wesley finished for her. "So she is talking to you."

"Not, exactly. More like I'm talking to her and askin' questions and occasionally she will answer one of them."

"Even so. It's a start." Wesley paused before continuing. "I want to thank you again, because right now, I believe that you are the only person who can help her, and you didn't have to."

"You're wrong, Wes," Faith said as she shook her head and looked up to meet his gaze. "I do have to help. She's where I was when Angel stopped me. She wants to die. I can see it in her eyes."


It was softly raining outside. She lay on her bed and listened to the steady dripping from the ceiling. Running along the floor. Trickling down the drain.

Like her life.


She had no life now. She felt so dead inside.

The darkness was comforting to her now. It was odd.

She used to prefer the spotlight.

But now she wrapped herself in the shadows with the rest of the monsters. A killer.

She knew Faith was trying to do the Angel thing. Earn redemption by helping save Cordelia. She was sorry that she would have to disappoint Faith, but she just didn't care anymore.

The trickling continued on.

"I'm sorry," she whispered to no one.


It was raining on her. She felt cold and wet.

Faith knew that she was dreaming. For one thing, she was outside.

For another, Buffy was there.

Standing next to a grave.

"B? What's going on?" Faith asked uncertainly.

"You forgot something," Buffy replied calmly before turning back towards the grave.

"What did I forget?"

A flash of lightning and suddenly she was in the showers of the prison. The sound of pouring rain was replaced by water from one of the showers running.

Cordelia was holding off that bitch Sharon and her gang with a little, homemade knife. Faith tried to say something but they could not hear her over the noise of the shower.

Faith moved to shut off the shower. She turned around to find everyone was gone. Looking at the door to the changing room she saw a line of blood running from the entrance to the drain.

Faith moved to follow the trail but stopped when she saw Wesley sitting there in that chair that she had tied him too. Beaten. Bloody. Defiantly glaring back at her.

"Only five basic torture groups, right Faith?" he said.

She stared. "Wes...I...I'm so sorry."

"Amateur," said a voice that made her freeze up.

She looked around and found herself in Angel's Mansion. Buffy was chained against the wall while Angelus was cutting into her stomach with a scalpel. Disemboweling her.

Buffy giggled. "That tickles, Angel." She noticed Faith staring at them. "What are you waiting for?"

Faith stepped towards her.

"No. No. No," said Giles as he rushed into the room, grabbed her and pulled her back. "You have to stay on your path."

Looking down, she saw that she was standing on a path of yellow bricks that were covered with a stream of blood flowing down the center to her feet. She began to follow the blood and ran into Willow wearing her ridiculous overalls.

"Would you like a slice of my brain?" Willow asked, holding up a large cake plate with a brain on it. A silver knife and cake server gleamed next to it.

Faith ignored her and kept walking.

On the side of the road stood Riley, wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos and posing like a muscle man. "Hey, baby. Could you oil me up?" he asked nodding towards the bottle of baby oil on a nearby stand.

"That's my job," said Buffy as she suddenly stepped forward to grab the bottle. She looked at Faith, "What are you waiting around here for?"

Faith proceeded along until she saw the blood trail leave the path of yellow bricks and head into the woods. She looked further down along the yellow bricks and was sure she could see Xander with that girl she had seen with him at Giles' apartment.

So she followed the blood trail. She was sure she knew where it would lead, to Allen Finch. It got darker as the trees grew closer.

Any minute she expected to end up in that alley with Buffy and Finch's body.

Only she didn't.

She ended up back at the grave with Buffy.

"Well?" asked Buffy. "Did you find it?"

"Find what?!" yelled Faith.

Buffy just sighed and shook her head as she turned back to the grave. It was filled in now and there was a headstone.

Faith gasped as she read the inscription.

And then she lurched awake out of bed.


To be continued