[personal profile] thecarlysutra

TITLE: Fixer Uppers
RATING: R
FANDOM: BtVS
PAIRING: Dawn/Faith, Buffy/Angel
SPOILERS: Post-“Chosen” and “NFA,” and completely oblivious to S8.
SUMMARY: Maybe this could work.
PROMPT: For the [community profile] femslash_minis Round 26, in response to [personal profile] snowpuppies, who requested Dawn/Faith with take charge Dawn, Angel, and sexy kissing.
NOTES: As always, I am hopelessly dependent on the world’s best beta reader, [personal profile] myhappyface. Every time she betas one of my stories, my heart grows three sizes and breaks that little measuring device thingie.

Faith bought a ticket stateside as soon as she heard LA’d gone to hell. For one thing, hell was her kind of party, but more importantly, she had a guy there. An extremely flammable guy. And she owed him.

LAX was OOS, so Faith flew into Oxnard, via a thousand fucking transfers, and then hitched to the border of the burnout zone, as far as she could get anyone to take her. She walked the rest of the way, into the black heart of the city of angels, the sky grey with smoke and ashes, no golden sun lighting her way.

Faith walked through the charred, debris-filled streets as though unaffected, breaking her stride only when an outright assault required her to. For the most part, those left on the streets—about sixty percent demon, but Faith imagined the ratio would change after nightfall—seemed content busying themselves with looting and general vandalism, though Faith couldn’t see a damn thing worth stealing, and everything already seemed pretty trashed. Storefronts gaped open; the streets glittered with crumbs of broken glass. Buildings smoldered, and here and there inexplicable fires burned steadily in trash cans and piles of rubble.

The hotel was the last place she’d seen him, so Faith headed there. But the Hyperion hadn’t been spared. The once lush gardens surrounding it had withered and scorched, leaving only slender, burnt skeletons of bushes and trees, fingers reaching up to the grey skies. Half the hotel’s windows were shattered or broken, and Faith had the impression that something large had collided with the building; there was a crater extending up to the third story, and loose bricks and broken plaster littered the building’s base.

The doors were gone, and Faith found the lobby empty and dark. The marble floor was pale with plaster dust, and as Faith walked through it, her footsteps left dark prints in the talc.

The age of the building hit her in a way it hadn’t during her previous visit. Maybe you didn’t notice things were old until they were in disrepair. Youth and health went together; she never thought of Angel as an old guy because of the grace and speed with which he moved, because of that body that wouldn’t quit, and the way his eyes lit up when he was proud or amused with her.

Up the curving stairs, the empty hallways. Dark, empty corridors. Hundreds of rooms, doors giving to Faith’s gentle touch.

“Angel? Hello?” Faith paused, listened for a reply, for movement. “Anybody?” She paused. “Echo?”

A milky light spilled out of a room at the far end of a third floor hallway. Faith approached slowly, fingering the knife in her belt. The city was crawling with demons. She wanted to find Angel, but she wasn’t going to get all sloppy and emotional over him, like another Slayer she could think of.

As she pushed the door open, Faith heard a quiet scuffling. She pulled her weapon into her hand.

She saw the sword first. She had heard somewhere, maybe on “Oprah,” a jailhouse favorite, that people’s brains pick up weapons first, but Faith liked to think it was her keen Slayer prowess that honed that skill. Sword first, and she raised her knife waist high, a defense position: locked and loaded, ready to strike. And then her brain left the weapon for the person holding it, and she stuck her knife back into her belt.

Angel lowered his weapon, too.

“Hey,” he said.

He dropped the sword to a nightstand at his hip, and then half lowered himself, half fell to, the bed beside it. Faith noticed the bruising darkening the cut of his jaw, speckling his collarbone, noticed his hands shook as he set the sword down. He was wearing loose clothing: a white undershirt, grey workout pants, and Faith had done the post-fight dress down enough times to recognize that he had places that hurt too much to have even the pressure of taut denim pressing against them.

“Hey,” she said.

She went to sit beside him on the bed.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” she said. “But this whole town smells like Newark Airport.”

Angel frowned. “I thought it was brimstone.”

Faith shrugged. “Well, that would certainly explain a few things about Newark.”

Angel smiled. “It’s good to see you.”

“I heard you were having some fun out here. You know me; I like to party.”

Angel’s face darkened. “I’m not sure that’s what I’d call this.”

“What would you call it?”

“My fault, mostly.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

Angel sighed, then flinched, bringing a hand to his ribs. Faith arched an eyebrow.

“It hurts when I breathe,” he explained.

“Yeah, broken ribs’ll do that to you,” Faith said. She blinked. “Did you say, ‘breathe?’”

Angel laughed, and then flinched, because it hurt when he laughed, too. “Yeah.”

“Okay,” Faith said. “This I gotta hear.”

***

“So I’m happy for you and all,” Faith said. “But the Powers could have picked a less crappy time for you to get your cosmic atta-boy.”

“You’re telling me,” Angel said, absently dusting his fingers over the DIY stitches holding together an ugly cut on his arm.

“Tell me you haven’t been, you know, actively courting death out there.”

“It’s my fault.”

“You could have called me, asshole.”

“To clean up my mess?”

“Turnabout’s fair play, or whatever,” Faith said.

Angel shook his head. “You don’t owe me anything. And you know no one can do your penance for you.”

“Still,” Faith said. “How much atoning can you do if you’re dead? I mean, I have nothing against Regular Joes fighting the good fight, but I generally prefer they do it when they look less . . . you know. Pulpy.”

“I haven’t been going out,” Angel said.

Faith blinked. “Huh? I definitely didn’t see me winning this argument. Especially not retroactively.”

“I mean . . . I would,” Angel said. “But . . . I don’t know. I guess it’s this human healing thing. All I seem to do is sleep.”

Faith relaxed. “Oh. Yeah, well, you’re beat to hell. I’m sure that’ll be less of an issue once you’re battle-ready again.”

Angel frowned. “I hope so.”

Faith heard a noise rising up from the belly of the hotel—movement. She slid off the bed, slid her hand around the hilt of Angel’s sword.

“It’s okay,” Angel said. “It’s just Connor.”

The sword in Faith’s hand fell to swing by her hip, felled like a kite with the wind going out of it.

“You and the kid on better terms these days?” she asked uncertainly.

“Yeah.” The corner of his mouth quirked up into something resembling a smile. “You’ve missed a lot.”

“So they tell me,” Faith said. “You can fill me in later.”

She set the sword on the nightstand, and then walked two paces from the door to await Junior’s arrival. Assurances from Angel aside, Faith did not meet challengers from the flat of her ass.

Faith listened to footsteps echoing up from below, footsteps growing louder. Then there was a moment of silence. The door swung smoothly open.

Connor’s face froze for a moment in passivity before morphing to surprise.

“Um,” he said, and promptly tripped over his own feet.

“Looks like he remembers me,” Faith said, slanting a glance back at Angel.

“You’re hard to forget,” Angel said dryly.

Connor cleared his throat, less a manly clearing of the air than a rending noise.

“So, um, visitors?” he asked.

“I wasn’t planning on any,” Angel said. “Or I’d have gotten out the good china.”

“And maybe put on some clothes,” Faith said.

“I thought you preferred me half-naked.”

“I, um . . .” Connor extended a white paper bag in his father’s direction. “Dinner?”

Angel accepted the bag. Faith grinned.

“Aw. Is Junior taking care of you?”

“It’s the least he can do,” Angel said, glaring up from his food, “what with all the deliberate, reckless disobeying me he’s doing these days.”

Faith looked at Connor. He shrugged.

“One of us still has superpowers. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be putting them to good use. You know, fight the good fight? I thought that was your whole thing.”

Faith smiled. “I’m with the kid.”

“You’ll get hurt,” Angel said. He frowned at his pita. “How does this go?”

Faith helped him right his dinner.

“What are you feeding him?” she asked Connor.

“You’ve been through downtown, right? The variety of places available for takeout these days, shockingly, has been affected by recent events.”

“Do you want some?” Angel asked. “This stuff tastes like grass.”

Angel was a doting parent and currently most of his attention was on trying to keep his dinner assembled, so he missed Connor’s expression. Faith, however, did not.

“No!” Connor said. “You—you, uh, need your strength; I can get something for Faith later.”

Angel shrugged, unaffected, and continued eating. Faith kept her eyes on Connor; he finally noticed, and squirmed.

“Why don’t you show me around the neighborhood, kid?” she said. “I’d like to get the lay of the land.”

“Um,” Connor said, but then Faith had him by the arm and was all but pulling him bodily from the room.

Once she was sure Angel was out of earshot, Faith turned on Connor, pinned him to the wall.

“You wanna tell me what that was about?”

“Um,” said Connor.

“And don’t give me any of this, ‘oh, Faith, whatever do you mean’ bullshit, because the last time I saw you, you were about to put the old man down, and gee, remember how that ended?”

Connor sighed. “I’m drugging him.”

Faith could guess her expression, because suddenly Connor had his hands out in front of him, protecting his face and other easily breakable parts, the international symbol for please don’t hit me.

“It’s not what you think,” he said. “I mean, it’s just some Ambien, totally harmless, and . . . just—look, I . . . I don’t want him to get hurt, okay? If it was up to him, he’d be out there 24-7, doing his helping the hopeless thing . . . but he’s human now, and all squishy and breakable and slow, and he doesn’t realize—”

“So you’re doing it to keep him safe.”

“Well, yeah,” Connor said.

Faith took her hand off Connor, let him away from the wall.

“I’m trusting you,” Faith said. “For right now. But if I find out you’re playing me—if you’re hurting him—I cannot express to you—”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ll kick my ass,” Connor said. “Message received.”

***

A tour of the Hyperion’s ravaged grounds took almost half an hour, and when they returned, Angel was drowsing.

“It’s getting dark out,” Faith said. “Your kid’s gonna take me out for a night on the town.”

“You two try not to get into any trouble,” Angel said. His voice was slurred, far away.

“Go round us up some weapons,” Faith said. “I’ll be down in a minute. I wanna talk to your old man a sec.”

Blind panic flashed across Connor’s face for a moment. Faith stared him down.

“Just shop talk, tiger. Unwad your panties.”

Connor frowned, but left. Faith plopped down on the bed; Angel moved a few sluggish inches to accommodate her.

“You okay, dude?”

Angel stretched with the languorous fluidity of a kitten drugged on warm milk.

“Told you,” he said. “All I do is sleep.”

Faith paused for a moment, studied Angel’s face, gentled by sleeping pills and the comfort of sitting talking with an old friend while his son was standing outside, unarmed.

“Yeah,” she said finally, “well, like I said, that’ll wear off once you’re a little less broken.”

“Yeah.”

“Seriously, Angel,” Faith said. “You’ve seen it out there.”

Angel squinted at her, struggling unsteadily to sit up on his elbows to regard her. “I thought we’d been over this. You know, how it’s my fault and all.”

“Let’s focus,” Faith said. “We need to get this shit cleaned up. I mean . . . you’ve seen it.”

A flash of desperation cut across Angel’s face. “I know. But I . . . I can’t . . .”

“I didn’t mean, you know, like, ‘we’ in the way that you and I go and get shovels and swords and stuff and do it all ourselves. I see you in more of an advisory capacity, at least until your ribs heal up.”

“Don’t call Buffy,” Angel said.

Faith fanned her hands in surrender. “Furthest thing from my mind.”

“I mean it.”

“Who needs her?”

“I’m not ready to see her,” Angel said. “I’m serious. There’s plenty of help that . . . that I’m . . . not . . . you know what I mean.”

Faith pushed him gently back to the mattress.

“You are so uninteresting stoned, Angel. It’s a real shame.”

***

So B was out. Not that B was her first plan, because, hello, as if. But having B eliminated as a plan made Faith aware of how little a plan she actually had. Dammit.

So Faith called the first number in her phone that was both useful for demon fighting and not Buffy.

“Heeeeeeey, Dawnie, hope I’m interrupting something.”

***

Faith was exhausted and dawn was pink on the horizon when she and her tour guide returned to the Hyperion.

“Okay. Shower, power nap, and then we’re back out there,” she said.

Connor groaned. “Don’t you get exhausted like a normal person?”

“What can I say? I love what I do.”

“That’s a good thing,” a voice cut in, “Because it looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

Connor froze in the doorway. Faith continued into the lobby, dropping weapons and excess clothing as she went.

“Mini B,” Faith said. “You made pretty good time.”

Dawn scowled, the expression completely destroying the illusion her posh, adult wardrobe had created, and making her look like a cranky tween.

“I am not mini!” she said. “And I was just in Mexico, so it’s not like it was an eighteen hour flight.”

“What were you doing in Mexico?” Faith asked. “Donkey show?”

Dawn wrinkled her nose. “Ew.”

“Just a joke,” Faith said. “Where are the troops? When I called for backup, I expected, you know, backup.”

“I came to assess the situation first. It’s protocol.”

“Which means it’s useless and time-consuming. God, you’ve turned tweed already; can’t you just assume that when something pings my Oh-Fuck-o’-Meter, it means bad times?”

Dawn shrugged. “Protocol.”

***

Faith was serious about the shower thing. It wasn’t just the necessity of washing rancid demon fluids out of your hair. Shower time was good, introspective alone time. Even in prison, which was kind of ironic, considering how many other naked people you shared shower time with, but whatever. Something about the ritual of bathing made it easy to block all the other shit life threw out you out of your head, and just focus on the important things.

So no backup: that kind of sucked. She and Connor had worked full out from dusk til dawn, and they’d seen no appreciable difference. Plus, going to kid sis was supposed to eliminate all this Watcher’s Council middleman bullshit. Well, fuck. Really it should be no big surprise that the Summers Mistrust of Faith extended beyond B, but still. It fucked with a girl’s day.

And. Shit! Little B. When the fuck did that happen? Wasn’t she eleven, like, yesterday? How’d she get all maybe it’s Maybelline with the “Gossip Girl” hair and shit? And woman-shaped. She was by and large woman-shaped, like B but leaner, no baby fat, and okay the red-haired thing usually freaked Faith out, reminded her of Howdy Doody or whatever, but it was totally working here.

Thoughts! Okay, bad thoughts, and the thing here was to focus, and apparently the shower was useless for that now. Faith shut it off, and stood for a moment, dripping, before shaking the water violently from her skin, her hair, her body.

***

Faith found Angel in more or less the same state she’d left him in, halfway between waking and dreaming, the unfunny drunk squinting up at her.

“How’d it go?”

Faith hopped onto the bed beside him. “Fine. Except, you know, for the general shitstorm that’s brewing outside.”

“So no change, then.”

“No, there’s a change. Small change, but change. Backup’s here. Very lame backup.”

Angel squinted. “Huh?”

“I called Dawn—not Buffy—for a small army of Slayer backup, and guess who showed up?”

“Not Buffy, right . . . ?”

“Could you focus? World to save here; your love life not the most important issue at hand.”

“I know, I just—”

“Dawn. Just Dawn. My army is one soldier, and she doesn’t even have super powers.”

Angel groaned, his head lolling back into his pillows. Faith’s eyes ran over the constellation of bruises from his jaw to his sternum, imagined shapes. Turtle, bunny rabbit, throwing axe, death star.

“That’s about par,” Angel said.

Faith scooted down the mattress until her body was lying parallel to Angel’s. Her wet hair fanned out over her pillow, chilling the sheets around her. She could feel newly human Angel radiating warmth, and thought of how funny that was, him hot and her cold.

“It’s gonna work out,” Faith said.

“Yeah.”

“I mean it.”

“I know.”

“I mean, it’s what we do. We mess up, but we can fix it.”

“I know,” Angel said. Faith wasn’t sure why he sounded so unsure, but she hoped it was the drugs.

***

“Listen up, ginger,” post-nap Faith announced on her way down the lobby stairs, “Here’s what’s going to happen: you get on the phone with whoever’s directing the troops these days, and tell them we’ve got a rodeo and a half in Hell A, and—”

“Done,” Dawn said.

She rose from the sofa, where she and Connor and a few dozen books were spread out. She met Faith as she came off the stairs, crossing her arms over her chest and regarding Faith with a steely cool Faith was unused to receiving from anyone who weighed less than their Italian leather boots.

Faith stopped dead. “Really?”

“Really,” Dawn said. “I got a look around when I was driving in from the airport—pretty sure I’m not getting the deposit back on my rental car, btw, thanks for the heads up—and while you and Angel were having your cuddle, I made some calls.”

Connor chuckled until Faith shot him an ugly look.

“Um, I filled Dawn in on what’s been going on here, and we’ve been doing some research . . . you know, spells for demon population control, that sort of thing.”

Faith raised her brow. “You’ve filled her in on everything you’ve been doing here?”

Connor averted his eyes. Faith returned her attention to Dawn.

“So when can we expect the cleanup crew?”

“‘Gee,’” Dawn said, “‘Thank you so much, Dawn, for flying halfway around the world and then doing all that logistical stuff for me. That’s swell of you!’ That’s—”

“You said you were only in Mexico,” Faith said. “Also: there’s not even a Bizarroworld me who says, ‘swell,’ unless I’m referring to what someone’s face is gonna do when I’m done with it.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. Faith relented.

“Thank you, Dawn, for all your hard work. I hope you didn’t sprain a finger during all that strenuous dialing. When will there be more Slayers?”

“Tomorrow, earliest. Look forward to full occupancy in a few days. We have a bunch of other operations up and running,” Dawn said, raising her voice to drown out Faith’s protests, “so it’s going to take some time to get a good ground presence. But they’re coming. Don’t worry.”

Faith took a step toward the girl. “Not worried. This? This is my annoyed face. You may want to make a note of it, just for future reference and your own instinct of self-preservation; this is usually what I look like before I start punching people.”

“Whoa,” Connor said. “Maybe you guys could dial it back a bit? You’re going, like, from zero to catfight in, like—”

Dawn and Faith rounded on him at precisely the same moment. “Shut up!”

***

Faith held the bandages while Angel awkwardly changed his own dressings. He sat at the edge of the bed, naked from the waist up, his hands slow but diligent. Faith held the bandages and meted out tape, and watched Angel’s bruises bunch and stretch, changing shape as he moved.

“It’s weird,” she said, but she could not remember how the conversation had started, how they arrived here, “I mean, I guess I never really thought about it, but I expected her to still be, you know, a kid. Like that teenybopper she was when I first came to Sunnydale, you know. But she grew up.”

“Children will do that.”

“Shut up, I know. But . . . I was surprised when I saw her this time. I mean, I saw her when I went down to Sunnydale to do the whole crater-in-the-earth thing, but I guess I was kind of focused on impending doom so I didn’t really think about her then, either. But she . . . she grew up, Angel. Like, into a person. And it’s weirding the hell out of me.”

Angel looked up from his unsuccessful juggling of a new bandage for his ribs, plus the tape to hold it in place.

“You didn’t really think of her as a person,” Angel said. “You only viewed her peripherally; she was more like set dressing. You’d be weirded out if you’d come back here and found, I don’t know—”

“The building all beat to shit, a big hole in one side?”

Angel frowned. “Okay, maybe not the best example.”

Faith took the tape and the gauze from his hands, rebandaged the wound herself.

“What was that? You guys get hit by a tank?”

Angel surprised her by grinning. “A dragon.”

“No way.”

“Yeah. Honest to God dragon. Breathed fire, flew, the works.”

“Past tense? Tell me that was your kill.”

Angel just grinned. Faith slapped her knee.

“I am so jealous!” Faith’s eyes drifted to the window, the cityscape available through Angel’s half-parted blinds. A grey, slightly-smoking world. “Maybe there’s another one. You think?”

Angel’s smile faded. “I don’t know. I haven’t really—”

Faith fixed her eyes on Angel. “Well, if there is, I got dibs.”

***

Dawn insisted on joining them for evening patrol.

“I thought this was your area,” Faith said, motioning to the piles of books Dawn had amassed, surrounding the couch like wobbling, dusty fortress walls.

“You don’t know anything about my area,” Dawn said, marching over to the weapons cabinet. “I’ve got lots of areas.”

She shouldered herself between Faith and Connor, yanking a battle axe from its hook. The weight of it got the better of her as soon as it was freed from the cabinet, and it clattered to the lobby floor. Dawn’s arms followed, and then the rest of her.

Faith righted the girl before she hit the floor, rolling her eyes. She selected a sword light enough to be wielded one handed, and handed it to Dawn.

“Try that one, killer.”

Faith remembered—a long time ago, before the scythe and the baby Slayers, before prison and redemption, before the coma, before she was bad, even—Dawn tagging along behind Buffy as the older girls met for patrol. How old had she been, then—eleven? Twelve? Faith was never good at guessing that kind of thing, but all Faith had thought all night, between Dawn’s whining and her bickering with Buffy; between the girl’s squealing and running when they finally found a vamp; between Buffy saying all the way home, Mom is going to kill you! I’m so telling; was how grateful she was to be an only child. But even visually, that Dawn was completely unrecognizable from the one that stood before her; Faith was interested to see how the girl’s battlefield demeanor had changed.

Faith studied the girl as they walked out into the waiting streets. She could see Buffy in her, now: Dawn walked with her back straight, her head held high, sword carried like an accessory: a new handbag, perhaps. Some stylish trifle.

“I thought you were an inside pet,” Faith said.

“Yeah, well,” Dawn said, “if I didn’t broaden my fields of interest, I’d’ve died forever ago.”

“It’s, like, the family business for you, right?” Connor said. “Yeah, I get that.”

Faith rolled her eyes. “Some of us are in it for the fun. The flash. The sex.”

Before Connor could respond, they were set upon. Five against three—not Faith’s favorite odds, but they were just your garden variety vamp, so she was hardly worried. Adrenaline pumping, her pulse beating against her ears. The familiar weight of her weapon in her hand, and—Oh—the dance. Her body played like a Stradivarius: the perfect instrument, honed by ancient skill, beautiful and flawless in performance.

Through the fray, through the red pulsing of her pounding heart, Faith caught sight of Dawn’s svelte body twisting to the same music. Her eyes sparkling, cheeks flushed, auburn hair haloing around her as she thrust and parried.

As the ashes settled around them, Dawn caught Faith’s eye. Grinned.

“Okay,” she said. “Maybe part of me’s in it for the sex.”

***

Connor caught ninety percent of the splatter during the decapitation of a proig demon, and all but ran upstairs to shower as soon as they reached the Hyperion. Dawn and Faith stifled giggles watching him go, and went to stow their weapons back in the cabinet.

“You’re not bad,” Faith said. “For a civilian.”

Dawn slanted an oh no you didn’t look at Faith. “I’m awesome for a civilian.”

“I don’t know about that. I mean, even if I forgive your technical mistakes, I still have to handicap you for being B’s little sister.”

Dawn frowned. “Technical mistakes, my ass. Also, stop comparing me to Buffy. We’re nothing alike.”

“Aren’t you technically made out of her?”

“Shut up.”

Faith raised her hands in self-defense. “Hey, don’t get so touchy—”

Dawn huffed impatiently, and took several steps toward Faith, her boot heels clicking softly on the great stone tiles.

“No, really, Faith. Shut up. You talk way too much.”

And Faith was rarely taken by surprise, rarely taken at all, but that was exactly what happened. Before she could catch on, Dawn’s hands were running through her hair, and Dawn’s lips were pressing against hers, and Dawn’s delicate weight was pressing her back, back, back. And it was a good kiss, and that took Faith by surprise, too. Buffy had been practically a virgin at this age, older, but Dawn was kissing her like she knew what she was doing, like she’d been playing the game for years.

They both closed their eyes as they kissed, and their body-to-body contact created a force that pushed them back away from the weapons cabinet, away from the stairs, into the center of the room. They had their eyes closed, and the force drew them back, and they shuffled awkwardly over the slick tiles, over each other’s feet. They tripped over the stacks of books Dawn had left sitting around the sofa, giggling and breathless as they jostled apart and came back together, their faces sticky with shared lip gloss, their thin fingers crawling through each other’s clothing.

Dawn pushed Faith to the couch. Faith sat, legs spread, and looked up at the girl. She practically glowed with life, her eyes lit, her cheeks flushed and glowing. Her long curls fell around her slender neck, slender shoulders—bare, bare. Faith lifted up her hands, accepted Dawn’s soft girl flesh into her waiting palms. Dawn settled her weight against her, their pelvises kissing, Dawn’s legs folding to either side of Faith’s hips. Dawn let her weight settle in her knees, giving her leverage to move her sylph’s body against Faith’s.

Faith was not used to being on the bottom, ever. But maybe this could work.

***

Faith found Angel sleeping. She figured that there was probably some saying about letting sleeping ex-vampires lie, but this was kind of an emergency, so common sense would have to take a backseat. She shook him awake.

“I’ve got a big problem,” Faith said, scooting beside Angel on the bed, without giving him time to orient himself.

Angel blinked the dazed blinks of looking directly into the flash, struggled to sit up.

“What’s wrong? Is it worse out there? I thought Dawn said backup was on its way—”

Faith waved dismissively. “The whole apocalypse thing? Old news. I’ve got a bigger problem.”

“Bigger than the apocalypse?”

“Well, not a normal one, but what you’ve got here’s a babyocalypse. It’s hell on simmer.”

Angel just stared at her, waited for her to finish.

“We had sex,” she said finally.

Angel blinked. Looked at Faith, then down at himself, the rumpled bedsheets.

“Um,” he said.

“Not me and you, dumbass,” Faith said. “Trust me, you’d remember that. Me and—”

“Oh,” Angel said. “Yeah, I thought that might happen.”

It was Faith’s turn to be shocked and confused. “You did?”

“Well, yeah. And, I mean, I’m not thrilled about it, but you could both certainly do worse . . . and it’s really hard to find someone in this lifestyle, you know. Not that it has to be a commitment thing, because, well, I know you and I expected that, but . . .” He frowned. “What are you so upset about? It’s not like you to get worked up over your sex life.”

Faith sighed. “B. I’m trying to be a better person, you know, especially to her, and I go and bonk her little sister.”

Angel blinked again. “I’m sorry, what?”

“That’s a thing friends don’t do to each other, right? Have sex with each other’s siblings. And after I did Captain America . . .”

Angel held up a hand. “Wait. You had sex with Dawn?”

Faith nailed him with her No shit, Sherlock look. “Yeah. Do I need to get you a helmet or something? What have we been sitting here talking about?” And she realized. “Wait! Who did you think I had sex with?”

“Connor.”

Faith wrinkled her nose. “Connor? He’s a little skinny for—hey! You wouldn’t be thrilled if I did the kid? Am I not good enough for your son?”

“First of all, he’s not skinnier than Dawn,” Angel said. “And I wouldn’t be thrilled, you know, because your attitude towards sex tends to run . . . kind of shallow.”

“Meaning?”

“You know what I mean. Long-term relationships are not a priority of yours.”

Faith grinned. “And you want grandchildren?”

She couldn’t be sure, but Faith thought she saw Angel blush.

“Weren’t we dealing with your problem?” he said.

“Yours are a lot funnier.”

“Listen,” Angel said. “No matter what you do, Buffy will definitely be mad—immediately. That’s just shock. But it’ll only be temporary, unless you do something else to make it permanent.”

“Okay. Like what?”

“Like breaking Dawn’s heart.”

Faith squirmed. “I’m not really good at the whole affairs of the heart thing.”

Angel grimaced. “Well, I hope you’re not looking for advice from me.”

“Good point. At least I’m not hiding from my girlfriend.”

Angel raised a brow. “Dawn’s your girlfriend?”

Faith groaned, and let her body plummet backwards into the soft nest of Angel’s bed. She stuffed a pillow over her face, deadening her subsequent shriek.

“No! No, I don’t have girlfriends, or boyfriends for that matter—”

“But?”

Faith threw the pillow aside, and sat up so she could look Angel in the eye.

“But . . . I don’t know. It’s not just about B, really, or about being a better person. I just . . . I just don’t wanna treat Dawn like a Netflix movie, you know?” Comprehension failed to dawn on Angel’s face, so Faith elaborated. “You know, it suddenly shows up at your house with very little involvement from you, you skip all the ads and most of the talking scenes, and you completely ignore the bonus features. Then you send it back like nothing ever happened.”

“I . . . think I know what you mean,” Angel said finally, though his expression suggested that this was a lie. “So don’t do that.”

“But the alternative is to keep her,” Faith said. “And I’m not sure about that, either.”

***

Faith stepped off the stairs to find a new Hyperion. The books surrounding the sofa were gone, replaced by a motley assortment of suitcases, duffle bags, and backpacks. Someone had done a Starbucks run; the front desk was covered with cardboard coffee cups and sticky pastries. Several teenage girls were milling about the breakfast, chattering amongst themselves.

Dawn, clearing discarded cups and wrappers, caught Faith’s eye. Faith’s first instinct was to run, but she forced herself to make the walk of shame over.

“So, I woke up and you weren’t there,” Dawn said. “Classy.”

Faith studied her shuffling feet. “Yeah, well.” She looked up. “Didn’t you get the memo that I’m a bad influence and generally no good? I’m pretty sure the Scoobies still have some lying around.”

Dawn snorted. “Whatever. You can’t get me to hate you that easily.”

“Don’t be so sure. It’s kind of my skill.”

“Still super dramatic,” said a voice from the back offices. Buffy emerged, wiping toner off her hands with a paper towel. “And you’re not even recently post-coma. I’m beginning to think this is a thing with you.” She turned to Dawn. “I think I got the stupid printer fixed; all it needed was a little well-aimed violence.”

“Printer?” Faith asked. “You a secretary now?”

Buffy frowned. “Maps. For the girls.”

“So we can do the military lockdown thing,” Dawn explained.

“I must say,” Buffy said, “being in charge has really fostered my appreciation of cartography.”

“You get squarer daily,” Faith said. She turned to Dawn. “You called your sister?”

Dawn shrugged. “Not, you know, specifically. I just put out a general call: you know, party at Faith’s place. Bring your own weapon.”

“You know me,” Buffy said. “I love the nightlife.”

Faith’s brow rose. “And that’s the only reason you’re here?”

Buffy’s eyes slid from Faith’s gaze. “Yeah, well. Dawn may have filled me in on a few details pertinent to my personal life.” Her gaze lasered in on Faith, her courage stoked with irritation. “Speaking of: you can’t take a second to text me: ‘Dear Buffy, the love of your life’s human now, just FYI?’”

Faith shrugged. “Didn’t seem like it was any of my business. All that’s between you and Angel.”

“And believe me. He’s going to be punished for not telling me himself.”

“He’s kind of beat up,” Faith said. “You might want to keep the whips and leather underwear to a minimum.”

Dawn wrinkled her nose. “Ew. I so don’t need to hear this.”

***

The only light in the room filtered in through the blinds: jailhouse bands of sunlight. Even through the dim, Buffy was able to recognize the cashew curl of Angel on the bed; his dimensions were so familiar to her that she had the sensation of measuring him out by hand every time they flittered through her mind.

As she walked closer, Buffy could see Angel’s breaths—real breaths—coming long and deep, rocking his chest like the tides. She slipped off her shoes, and lifted his blankets, and climbed in beside him, curling her stomach along his spine, settling the front of her pelvis against the back of his. Buffy pulled the covers back up, and closed her eyes. The warmth of him was real all around her; it had soaked into the blankets, the mattress; it burned against her body where it touched his. Buffy closed her eyes and concentrated on his warmth and the sound and movement of his breathing, the gentle rocking of a ship being pulled out from the safety of land, into the great romantic unknown of the open ocean.

“I told her not to call you,” Angel said softly, his voice small and waterlogged from sleep.

“I know,” Buffy said. “Not that my feelings are hurt. Jerk.”

Angel stretched some of the sleep out of his muscles, the buttons of his spine pressing into Buffy’s abdomen, her sternum. She opened her eyes and watched the muscles in his neck and back flinch and expand.

“I was going to tell you,” he said. “I just . . . I didn’t want you to see it like this. I wanted to be better.”

Buffy slid her hand around Angel’s middle, settling to the soft spot where his ribs gave way to boneless, vulnerable underbelly. She used this leverage to turn Angel onto his back, at the same time moving her own body over him, so he looked up from the flat of his back to see her arching above him.

“You have never looked better,” she said.

***

The army of Slayers milled about them. The constant traffic had cleared much of the dust and debris littering the lobby; the dusting, coupled with the frenzy of activity now constantly buzzing within it, gave the Hyperion a first class facelift. She looked years younger.

Faith and Dawn stood behind the counter partitioning the lobby, pairing girls to weapons, answering questions about the lay of the land, the game plan. Their command center stood as the eye of the storm, an unnatural calm amidst the flurry of chattering girls.

“So, now what?” Dawn asked.

Faith poured over one of Buffy’s military lockdown maps, extensively marked with roller ball notes detailing nest sites; recent, demon-related landscape changes Rand McNally had not yet acknowledged; and, in Angel’s neat, girlishly pretty handwriting, thoughtful tips on appropriate weapon and tactical strategies for the given situation.

“Well, I guess we’ll break into groups of ten or so, take different quadrants. We’ll roll as soon as it gets dark.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I was totally talking battle strategy. God, are you always this hopeless at girl stuff?”

Faith kept her eyes on the map. “Pretty much, yeah.”

Dawn bumped Faith’s shoulder with her own. Faith reluctantly met her gaze.

“We’ll have to work on that,” Dawn said, and smiled.

“I don’t think you know what you’re getting into,” Faith said. “I’m kind of a fixer upper.”

“Yeah,” Dawn said. “But I’m good with my hands. Besides, I’ll bet you clean up real nice.”

With a mixture of surprise and horror, Faith realized she was blushing. She never blushed. Caused blushing, maybe; blushed herself, never.

Dawn caught her eye, and winked, her blue eyes sparkling.

Maybe this could work.


From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

February 2010

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28      

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags