the pearl


There are no real mirrors here. After the mistake with the breadknife, they've learned better. Nothing to break into sharp little points, jagged little edges up against the wrist, the leg, the long vein tracing down the forearm.

Plain polished metal, like the ancient days. Wavering dark images show up, reflections of the thick concrete walls, the white metal bars, and Faith. Faith is always in the darkness, never seen in the dim fluorescent light that flickers overhead.

Sometimes she just spends hours staring at herself, ignoring her cellmate and the continual shrieking and hair brushing, the entire world, trapped in a six by four cell, forgotten as she stares at herself. Trying to remember who she is. Where she was. What she has become, once a savior of the world, and now another fucked up teen convict, thank you Californian voters, 10-25 murder 2 because of a decent public defender and a plea bargain rivalling the best.

Last night during dinner, one of the other woman, lifer for shooting her husband in the back while he fucked his latest floozy, put a shiv to her throat, threatening death if she didn't get Faith's brownie. Afterwards, Faith spent a good two hours staring at that mirror, her eyes looking into the muddy murky reflection of eyes, surprisingly clear for the polished metal.

And after the first hour, all that was left were those eyes. Large, brown, recessed in the deep hollows of shadowed eyelids, pale skin, lank hair. The eyes stared back at her, her soul reflected in them, and in those eyes, there was nothing.

For a moment, there was a spark of something, just a hint, a shimmery oil slick upon the lining of her heart, a flash of happiness. Happiness that she had been broken so deeply, that she had paid for her sins with a loss of herself. Faith, or, rather, the girl who had lived, fought, killed, fucked, and loved — all for the thrill, no longer existed.


Faith's brown eyes were replaced by black ones — coal black and beady, barely peering out from underneath the heavy, frowning white forehead. Despair looked through the mirror, as she looked through all mirrors, and smiled a bitter smile, dragging her sigil across her chest, scraping along the rise and fall of her breasts. Another one. One more to fill her gallery of shadows and mists, the Gallery of Despair.

"Do you see, my brother?" she asked the thin man standing next to her. "Do you see how easily she turns to me? Your tales of epic battles, darkness and light in the eternal struggle, your stories of destiny...they failed her in the end. And she came to me."

The man, as pale as she was, his face seemingly chiseled out of the finest jade, simply raised a single pale eyebrow. "Really, my sister?" he asked. "Do you think that, because I am still re-discovering facets of my realm, that I do not keep track of all my dreamers?" He made a slight gesture with one finger towards the girl in the mirror.


A single envelope fell onto Faith's bunk, an envelope with fat, curvy handwriting. Faith's eyes moved away from the mirror, filling with tears as she blinked for the first time in several minutes, and picked up the envelope in her hands, carefully, as if it would explode or break or open like Pandora's box in her dry, ragged hands, releasing demons and doom upon the world.

But inside was only a single sheet of stationery, a letter in that same curvy handwriting. Faith read the letter, holding the paper away from her with care, then with the same gentle care, placed it back into the envelope.

She looked away, but not back to the mirror, nor to her bunkmate, or scanning the ground for object to bend, fold, mutilate into cutting objects. Instead, Faith looked out of her cell, towards the high ceiling of the prison, looking up at the empty ceiling with a single solitary look on her face — the look of determination. And as she looked up at the off-white tile, she smiled.


Despair looked up at her elder brother, shorter now, yes, but still too tall for her liking. "What did you do?" she asked in her crumbling voice, like rocks moving over a corpse. "What did you do?"

Dream smiled slightly, just the edges of a smile crinkling his mouth. "I gave her something no one could give..." He gestured towards the letter. "I gave her a dream."


Faith turned from her ceilingward gaze and picked up the letter again. She traced over the envelope with the tips of her fingers before pulling out the letter, opening it gently, savoring each word.


"Dear Faith,

"It's me, Buffy...."

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at