|08:39 pm - dumps fic and runs|Title: From Nowhere, A White Wind
Characters: Buffy, Faith.
“I fell off my tuffet,” says B. She looks sad, like a hungry animal, her shoulders hunched and her hair hanging down the side of her neck. She has her hands folded loosely in her lap; Faith can see where the knob of her wrist cuts out from under her sleeve. “Unless I’m the spider? In which case I totally took that tuffet and made it webbily mine. That’s if Dawn was Little Miss. And she was sitting on death.
She looks sideways at Faith. Sunshine streams in through the big broken window, and her lashes catch the light; bracket her eye with tufting gold.
“I was never great with the creepy nursery rhymes,” she says. “Did I ever tell you about that time when I fell asleep in Psych and got a direct line to that week’s monster influx? Some little girl sang the whole plot to me, and the only thing I took away from it all was that I really wanted me some Riley-sex.”
Faith actually remembers that dream, but— “No.”
“Well, you were in a coma,” says Buffy, philosophically. “There were a lot of things I was gonna tell you, but then you went and woke up.”
Faith puts her weight forward, onto the balls of her feet, lifting her bare heels slightly off the floor. There’s broken glass everywhere, here around her bed, but under her soles it feels like pine needles. “Can we skip to the part where you try to kill me and then turn into a giant cigar?” she says.
“Did no one ever tell you that smoking is bad?” Buffy asks. “No, I guess they probably didn’t. You know, I always kind of figured that if I ended up in someone else’s subconscious, they’d give me some kind of handbook. How to Be Cryptic and Make Friends. Maybe I can suggest that, when I get where I’m going.”
“We’re friends,” says Faith. She’s allowed to say that, here.
“Sure we were,” says Buffy, sweetly. She stands up off Faith’s bed and walks forward. When she kisses Faith, it’s like the Mayor’s moist towelettes; one quick skip across the lips, and she’s clean.
Faith holds perfectly still. She waits for the knife.
Buffy steps back, and the only thing between them is the sunlight on her skin.
“Maybe we should take this outside,” says B. She looks old; older than Faith ever saw her. Her pants are soft and grey, and Faith can’t even imagine her legs.
They climb out through the broken window and onto the balcony, lending each other easy hands. There’s dust on the shattered frame, and it makes Faith sneeze when she hops over it. Outside the sky is china blue. Buffy looks up at the sun and says, “Dawn.”
“No way,” says Faith, “it’s almost noon.”
Buffy touches her cheek. They’re at the wall, now, without having crossed the tile. “Listen to me,” she says, holding Faith by the arms, by the eyes. “Listen. I will always love you. But this is the voiceover I have to do.”
Buffy is saying something else, the volume suddenly gone. Faith used to be great at reading lips but Buffy’s mouth moves like murder, smooth and meaningless. When the sound comes rushing back, she’s finishing a sentence, she’s pulling together her perfect teeth.
“Be brave,” she says, and she lets go.
It’s summer, just about, and in the yard people are sweating through their jumpsuits. They leave Faith alone. Even Alice, who’s been methodically giving Faith shit for two weeks now, all slow burn and elbows, keeps away. Faith isn’t surprised; she’s pretty sure she smells like death. Like endless gravity.
She waits for someone to come— Angel, or Wesley, or little Dawn Summers with a knife in her hands. She watches the sun move in its sphere.
Characters: Faith, Dawn.
The Christmas Faith stays over is the Christmas it snows.
“Hey,” says Faith, when Dawn shakes her awake; “haven’t seen that since Boston.”
Dawn feels like an idiot. Of course for Faith this isn’t anything special. To Faith, this is just weather. Maybe, says a little voice in Dawn’s head, Faith even brought it with her, packed it into her duffel bag along with leather jackets and the magical ability to make Buffy break eye contact on command. Maybe it’s snowing for Faith.
But— “It’s freaky,” Dawn tells her, like she can communicate a lifetime’s worth of sunlight in two words; like saying it’s freaky doesn’t sound exactly as stupid and juvenile as, it’s a miracle.
Faith blinks, once, slowly, the smudging mascara at the corner of her eyes like a hollowness in bone. “Sure,” she says. “Absolutely it is. I mean, hell, you guys have palm trees. Can’t tell me that’s natural.” It’s not clear whether she’s talking about the snow or the palm trees. She sits up, the blanket slithering off her in a rustle of braid. She smiles. “Maybe today’s the day I kill a yeti.”
“I don’t think so,” says Dawn, turning. In the window the snow falls steadily. It could be one looping moment, with every particle of filled or open space replacing itself in turn.
“No?” says Faith, getting off the couch and coming to stand next to her. “Something did this.”
Faith looks around, slowly, her eyes tracking across the stretch of snowy street and then across the living room. She looks like she’s working through a problem; like she’s wondering what she can take without anyone noticing that it’s gone.
She looks at Dawn, and smiles.
“I trust your instincts,” she says. She sounds like she means it. Dawn wants to ask her why: hello, Hellmouth, it’s probably a zombie yeti— but she presses her lips together and breathes in cold through her nose.
Faith goes to open the door. She sticks her hand out into the clear air. “Any sign of Bigfoot?” Dawn asks. Faith glances at her and flashes a quick, soft smile, all teeth and fading lipstick and the movable shape of her face.
Dawn hears her mother upstairs; the soft sounds of her shedding sleep. Faith leaves the door open, and takes a step back, with her hand still held out in front of her like it’s just something someone attached to the bare end of her arm. On the radio, the weatherman says something about the sun not coming out all day. Faith turns her white hand over, presents it palm-outward to the dark, and Dawn doesn’t believe him at all.
Characters: Buffy, Lilah Morgan.
A/N: Goes AU from episode 5x20, "Spiral", because there is a part of me that wishes Buffy had sought outside help in getting Dawn back instead of going catatonic. Well, I say 'part'...
There was a girl waiting in her office when she got out of her 8:00, and Lilah thought for a moment that it was one of Angel’s pet moral compasses. She had the trembly self-righteousness act down cold: it came off her in damp waves. It was probably going to cost Lilah a fortune in dry cleaning, in fact. The vice president of Special Projects had no use for a chair which exuded virtuous fumes when you sat down hard.
But she also stank of desperation, from her darkening roots to her bloody bootheels; and it was company policy to give due welcome to despair.
“I don’t believe we have an appointment,” Lilah said, smiling.
“Yeah,” said the girl. “I mean, no, we don’t.” She held Lilah’s letter opener— silver, pure— between two fingers, and the tip blurred a little from the controlled motions of her half-open hand.
“Let me,” Lilah murmured. She leaned across the desk with the vague intention of taking the knife off the antsy kid, and maybe throwing in a gentle handclasp, while she was there. A moment of calm eye contact.
She ended up flat on her back, breathing hard, pure silver edge held to her naked throat and the girl’s knee pressing into her stomach.
“I’m Buffy,” said the girl. “You know. The Vampire Slayer?”
“Okay,” said Lilah, hoping that her voice broadcast understanding and compassion and— and this was important— humanity. She made a note to check on whether Faith had died in prison; someone in Records would know.
Assuming she didn’t end up a stain on her own newly acquired carpet, that was. But Lilah was an optimist.
“How can Wolfram & Hart help the Slayer?” she said: speaking with care, in case her head fell off.
“That pretty much depends on you,” said— Buffy. Which, god— at least ‘Faith’ was a name you could take seriously, even if the irony bordered on cartoonish.
Lilah tried to focus. She was aware, in the back of her mind, that the last time she’d been in this position, there had been a cadaver on top of her.
It really didn’t help that Buffy kind of looked like Darla, minus four hundred years and every visible trace of panache.
“Then how can I help you?” she asked.
Buffy put the letter opener down. “I need—” she began, and then she rolled off of Lilah, flowing from the ground up to her feet, the shadow of her legs grown long. She went to the window. She rested her hand against the glass.
“I have a sister,” she said, looking tired.
Lilah sat up, gingerly, and tested the side of her neck. The skin was unbroken, except for the scars already made. She could still feel the weight of Holland Manners’ body crushed against her breasts, but there was nothing on top of her, and she could move again.
“How did you find us?” she said.
“Does it matter?” said Buffy. In the glass her reflection lay pale and fine over the city. Lilah was reminded, again, of Darla; Darla as she had been.