Forge Part Three - Heat
No she is definitely not happy to see me. The way my back teeth are rattling in my skull tells me so. She pulled me off the bed like a pro, didn't have a chance to really react. I'm out of practice I guess. Course lugging greasy males down a catwalk and watching them fly don't make much of a challenge for a Slayer..rouge or otherwise.
"Well B," I say as she grabs my wrist, bends it behind my back and steps on the inside of my left knee forcing me down. "Good to see you…ouch..too."
She's got me cold. "Submission move B? How kinky." I try and tilt my head back so I can whisper in her ear. "If that's all you wanted, you just had to ask."
If this was the B I once knew she would have acted a little flustered, maybe rolled her eyes or even relaxed just enough for me to break free. She yanks my trapped arm higher and grinds my knee into the rug.
"I know." She says. "But you're not who I want."
"Oh?" I try and smile around the pain I'm gonna feel for at least a day. "Who's the lucky victim?"
"No one you know." She purrs in my ear.
B? Purring? In MY ear? That's my game!
Gonna have to change my tactics.
"Would you believe me if I said I come in peace?" I say, trying to relax my muscles, get a little slack, maybe overwhelm her with a burst of strength. No dice, she just yanks and grinds again. Not good.
"No." She says sweetly.
I clear my throat. Control..control..don't lose control…never let them see you bleed. Okay..I'm okay..walls are up, walls are strong..I've been in worse.
"Fine…fine way to treat someone who helped you beat Mayor-Demon." I try.
"Yup." She says.
No no no no no no no…control..control..control…
"Don't you want to know..why..I'm here?" I say.
Her voice is still sweet, her tone warm. "No."
One last try..
"Spike sent me."
She doesn't relax her grip in the slightest.
"Why?" She asks.
So much said in such a little word. I hate you, I don't trust you, give me an excuse and I'll kill you. Or so I think; she already has tried. I can't say I know B that well, or if I did something has changed. Something critical, I'm missing something an element that I don't understand. Damn, this is dangerous territory.
"He said," I wince as the strain on my arm beginning to really kick up a fuss. "He said something about me and Red there having something in common."
I hear B give a derisive snort.
"And what on earth makes you think that you could have anything in common," And she uses her freed hand to force my head so I'm now looking at the sleeping form of Red. "With someone like her?"
They're right behind my eyes..the water. Not tears..water and if they come it's just because of the physical pain, no other reason. Just physical pain not any other God Damned THING! I open my mouth to speak but I know before I do that it'll sound like a croak. A weak, pathetic whine and I will not be weak, not ever gonna cave into the weakness. Not for B, not for Red and not ever, ever, for me!
I work what little saliva I have around and swallow. It'll have to do.
"I don't," Not bad, a little creaky but I'll take what I can get. "I don't know."
There's a short scream of metal being forced and the doorknob drops to the ground. The door swings open and Spike walks inside, ignoring the two of us completely, settles down comfortably in the nearest chair. He glances at us, B holding my arm behind my back with one hand, her other wrapped around me hair forcing my head around with one foot resting on my instep.
"Carry on." He says.
Then reaches into his jacket, pulls out pack of smokes and lights one up.
"I didn't invite you Spike." B says.
"Didn't uninvite me either. Sloppy." Spike retorts.
"Don't smoke in here." B says.
"Or what? You'll stake me? Hell, I can't do anything without getting a threat of a woody. 'Don't do this Spike, don't do that Spike. Don't breathe that way Spike.'" He snaps his fingers. "No, wait..I don't breathe so I guess I can do that."
Him and B glare at each other for a bit. She still hasn't let up on the pressure one bit and it's really starting to hurt. My muscles start to shake against my will.
"You're hurting her." He says matter-of-factly.
"Why'd you bring her?" B says.
"Figured she and Red might have something in common."
"She said as much but I find that hard to believe." B says.
"Oh come now Summers, you're far too smart to be this stupid." Spike says.
People think I'm stupid, or they think I'm a slut. I'm not though. I'm not either of those things. For example Spike's been referring to my past a little too far often and this cryptic shit, 'something in common', you don't have to be a rocket scientist, hell, you can even be a twisted wreck of a slayer and still figure that out. But I don't say anything, just..turn my head back and look at Red, asleep.
She twitches a bit. I can see her eyes rolling behind her lids. Slayer vision, sometimes it really kicks ass. Whatever she's dreaming though it must be a doozy. She's rolled over on her side, her head using the upper part of one arm as a pillow. The outstretched hand is clenching into a fist and relaxing..clench, relax, clench, relax…
Yeah, I recognize that nightmare. Don't ask me how, but I do.
I turn my head as best I can, under the circumstances, and try to catch B's eyes with me own. "Let me go." I say.
She stops glaring at Spike and turns to face me. She's cold. Very cold, I'm pretty sure I know what happened here, some of it at least. B's protective yeah sure, but this.. Never seen anything like this.
I meet her gaze for a second and then, against my will I find myself looking at her feet. I…I can't meet her eyes! I..I never back down from a challenge and..never..but I can't look her in the eyes.. The..accusation there it just cuts..cuts cuts cuts.. Can't ignore it..can't..escape..
Heh..'Denial ain't just a river in Egypt'.
"Let me go." I say again. "Please."
Wordlessly she does.
I stand slowly, I can hear the chair creak as Spike tenses his muscles. Is he being protective too? Or just cautious? I did nearly dust him a few days ago. His action, willing or not, seems to confirm my belief. Stretching my arm I hiss as the muscles protest their recent treatment..loudly.
I look again into B's face. She looks all relaxed no real threat. But the relaxation doesn't reach her eyes. Those are dangerous eyes. I used to stare into the mirror, in that crappy hellhole I call home, all the time. Watching my eyes..thinking they were dangerous..trying to 'practice' being scary looking.
B beats me hands down. Doesn't even know she's doing it I bet. Just knows she's letting me know she'll kill me if I try anything. I believe her.
Red jumps a little in her sleep again then starts to whine a bit. It's..a bad sound. B breaks the eyelock we're sharing to take a step toward the bed. Involuntarily I do the same but freeze.
Spike said it. Not B. She's kneeling beside Red, trying to be soothing, to be comforting. I can hear her crooning, like she's trying to sing some sort of song. I look back at Spike.
"Don't." He says again. "It would be…unhealthy." I don't think he's talking about B either.
I nod slowly. I know what's going on now, I figured it out. 'Something in common'. Yeah, sure..what else could we have in common? Now all I have to do is be willing to say it. I'm really tired.
I lean against the wall and then, not really caring, let my legs slide out underneath me so I'm now sitting on the floor. I pull me knees up, wrap my arms around them and rest my head. Won't let them see me cry, won't let anyone see me cry.
"When?" I ask. Who gives a shit if it's muffled. Fang boy has vamp ears, if he can't hear me..
"Not long enough." He says.
"Who?" I ask.
"Does it matter?" He answers.
Not really I guess. One last question.
Spike doesn't answer.
It's over. Too much, too fast. I've used the 'net some, I think I got some of the lingo down. 'TMFI' they call it. Too Much Fucking Information. Oh..Oh can I relate to that.. It's not bad enough I allowed myself to get dragged from LA, it's not enough that I just got my ass handed to me by someone I should have been able to at least fight to a standstill, it's not enough that they tell me..indirectly..all this other shit tearing what walls I have down around me, now he has to play fucking 'Mr. Fucking Mystery'!
"Are they DEAD?" I whip my head around daring Spike not to answer me.
Oops. Must have screamed the question too cause I see Red sit bolt upright out of the corner of my eye. She lets out a startled squack and Buffy's right there beside her to sooth the fears. I never had anyone to sooth my fears, to keep them from eating me. Doesn't matter much. Just want to know they're dead..that someone, somewhere, even if they are a someone who hates my guts, got justice. No.
"Faith?" That's Red, always commenting on the incredibly obvious. "What are you doing here?"
"Tell you later." B says. She turns to Spike. "Well Spike, you going to answer her question?"
Spike gets a disgusted look on his face before rubbing out his cigarette on the sole of one of his boots
"You people have no appreciation for Drama." He says. "Yeah luv, they're dead." He pauses and looks as if he's remembering something then shoots a really nasty smile at me.
"Twice over dead."He says.
I nod. Then feel the hand on my shoulder.
Damn, I'm really messed up, if someone as clutzy as Red can get off her bed, walk over to me and put her arm on my shoulder without me noticing…
"Faith, are you alright?" She says.
I must look like a mess. I like a lot of mascara, the few people who I listen to long enough, or just want to fuck, have always told me I have 'nice dark eyes'. Is that so me bucko? Well, my soul is also dark, just not that nice. Chomp chomp! Anyway, I always use a lot of mascara to ..accentuate my 'nice dark eyes'. What with these stupid tears it's probably running down my face. Long black streaks, hey I'm the Crow!
'It's a Raymond Chandler evening, and the pavement is all wet, and I'm standing in the shadows, cause it hasn't happened..yet.'
I love that comic.
Ah..if life could only be that simple.
"Faith." Red repeats, got lost in thought I did. "Are you alright?"
The words slip out before I can gather the wits to lie.
"No Red, I'm not." I look at her, crouched next to me. B's standing right behind her ready to protect. Heh, B, the Big Bad Slayer, to Serve and Protect. And me? Why to 'Rend and Dismember' of course.
"I'm not okay." I say again and look her dead in the eyes. "And neither are you."
She reacts as if I shot her. Tries to stand up, can't quite make it and falls back where B grabs her, spins her around and envelops her in a hug. She's whispering something in Red's ear, something I can't hear but I can see her nod and she turns and gives B a kiss on the cheek.
Oh. Oh oh oh oh..oh..I ..I..
It's not fair! It's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair! Why couldn't I have someone like that when I needed it? What did I do? Wasn't I good enough? I wasn't always like this..this.. thing! Why couldn't I have had someone?
I guess I'm about to start crying again because next thing I know Spike is now crouched next to me. Great. First a complete goob sneaks up on me and now an actual Vampire. I'm so dead.
"This was a mistake." Spike says. "I'll get her out of here, back to LA." And he reaches out to grab my arm.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" I scream. My arm shoots out, slams into his breast bone, and Spike is sent across the room. He hits the wall with a crunch and slides down to the floor. He gingerly touches his chest and winces.
"On second thought, I'll just sit right here. Maybe have another cigarette, you don't mind do you Summers? No of course you don't."
It's weird, emotionally I'm going to pieces but at the same time I'm seeing everything, remembering everything..of two minds. Maybe it's a Slayer thing, maybe it's just a me thing. Red and B finish up their whispering conversation and Red moves back to crouch beside me.
Ha! I saw her coming that time, goob couldn't sneak up on me a second time, yay me.
"No." Red says. "I'm not alright. But I'm getting better. I think we should have lunch tomorrow."
I jerk away from her.
"Nu uh." I shake my head. "Not happening. We have nothing to talk about."
Red puts her hand on my shoulder again, it's a soft gesture, something I needed a long time ago but don't want now. "I disagree." She says. "I think we do. I also think you'll be there."
I grab her hand off my shoulder. "Well I say we don't."
I pull myself to my feet. A little wobbly, a little shaky, have to lean on the wall for support. Another weakness. Fuck.
"You were right the first time Fangy." I say to Spike. "This was a mistake. Let's go. Leave the lovebirds together, you're paying for the bus ticket back to LA."
I walk to the door ready to fling it open and march out into the dark. How's that for Drama Spike?
"Faith." Damn you Red.
"You're wrong." She continues. "It'll never be over if you go."
I turn around and give a weary sigh. I am going to beat Spike into the ground like a tent peg for all this shit.
"I know that." I say. "I've known that for years, I've known that forever. Doesn't change anything though."
"It could." B steps into the conversation. Great. The Witch and the Slayer want to play Dr. Freud Ping Pong with my brains. "I can't understand what's happened to her Faith. I can't understand what happened to you either but..I dunno..maybe you two.."
And I'm in her face. Phew, still got the speed. That's good.
"We could WHAT?" I hiss. "Bond, become 'bosom buddies'? Somehow, 'lean on each other' and then put this behind us? I _had_ this all behind me until Fangy back there, in a fit of samaratism, decided to drag it all back out and now I don't know how to put it back! You're right though, you don't understand. You could never understand!"
I think I give this strangled laugh, sob combo. My ears aren't exactly working right though so I can't be sure.
"You know what the absolute kicker is? Huh? Do you wanna know? Hm?" I'm right in B's face, I can see her great big blue eyes now and this time, this time, I'm in control. Finally. It feels good too, and it'll only cost me my soul. A bargain.
"The kicker is, I don't understand it either! Neither does your precious little wiccan bed-warmer!"
Red gives a little whimper but I ignore it. I kinda get distracted by the fact that B just backhanded me hard enough to spin me in a cool seven-twenty and I'm down again. Still in control though. I win..hee hee.
B's standing over me, fists clenched. Oh God, she's going to give me a speech. I'd rather she hit me again even though I think she loosened a tooth.
But she doesn't give me a speech, just a title. One I've had for a very long time.
Been called worse.
I crawl to my feet, now when the room wobbles it's not 'cause of my weakness. Another victory.
"C'mon Spike." I say. "You owe me a ticket back to LA."
"Spike stays." B again. I'm in to condition to argue so I settle for a shrug.
"Fine then." I say. "I'll walk, hitchhike, use my body to pay for the way if I have too and go on with my merry life."
Ha, and these people don't think I plan ahead.
"Don't let the door ..never mind." B says. "Just go."
"Faith." Red again. Doesn't she ever let people just leave?
"I'm sorry." She says. Cheap shot.
I look at her.
"Why?" I ask. "I'm not."
And I'm going to keep believing that until the day I die. Which, with any luck, will be tomorrow.
I take one last drag of my fag and then grind it out on my boot like I did it's mate. Ouch, Darkie sure can pack a punch.
Sorta glad she just stalked out the door means I only have one Slayer to worry about. My life, un-dead or otherwise, sucks.
Speaking of only having one Slayer to worry about..
Summers accentuates each part of her sentence by bouncing my head off the wall. If I'd known she'd be that upset about cigarette ashes on the carpet…
I manage to get one hand up and stop another head slamming. I'm a Jethro Tull man, not into metal. "I can't bloody well answer your question while being brained against a WALL!" I shout.
She lets me go. I just had a cigarette and I really want another but without Darkie to distract her I'd be pressing my luck.
"Why." Buffy says again.
Red's behind her, looking a little overwhelmed. Ah, wake up from a nightmare into another. Yes indeed, life does suck!
"Told you why." I say.
"Yeah..but..but what were you thinking?" Red says. "She hates us, we hate her well..maybe hate is too strong a word but we definitely don't trust her, just cause..I mean..yeah..okay. Just cause she had a 'bad something' in the past doesn't mean she's not dangerous! That was really stupid Spike, not that I'm saying you yourself are stupid, what with having survived over a hundred years with Dru and Angelus, couldn't do that and be stupid but I am saying…"
Maybe the other 'Scoobs' find this..tirade habit of her 'cute and adorable' but in my case it just drives me up the soddin' wall.
"Shut." I say. "Up."
She does and while she's doing that Summers ricochets my head off the wall again!
"Don't talk to Willow that way!" She snarls.
"Yes Mum. I'm sorry Mum, can I go outside and play Mum?" I mumble holding my head to stop the ringing bells of Notre Damme.
"Wait till the sun comes up." Ooo. Nice one Red. I just glare at her, not gonna let her know she actually got a zing.
"So..um..you gonna answer my..er..Buffy's question? About, why you brought Faith all the way from LA and all that?" Red says.
"And don't give me that 'Something in common' load again." The Slayer adds.
"Fine." I say. "Right, well and good. I'll tell. But you won't like it. Sit, sit children, Uncle William has a story to share."
I move back to the seat I had taken earlier and slump into it. The two sit on the bed, Red puts her head on Summers shoulder. I try very, very hard not to roll my eyes.
"Do you remember," I begin. "Angelus's 'modus operandi when it came to hunting?"
Both the girls shudder. Obviously they do but I feel the need to live a little vicariously off 'the good old days'.
"Re-runs are a bitch but what the hell." I say. "When Angelus spotted a girl he fancied he'd go out of his way to learn everything there was about her. Her family, her friends, her favorite places and favorite people. Even her favorite pets and animals."
I take a chance and light up another fag. No one says anything and I exhale deeply. Just to keep in practice.
"After he was satisfied with what he knew he would then go about systematically destroying her world. Friends would be slain, pets butchered, if she had a favorite spot in the garden he'd burn it, a special book, or memento that she treasured, he'd destroy it. He would do anything and everything to hurt her."
"He liked to watch people hurt." I take another drag before continuing. "When he was satisfied with his victims performance he'd feed. Of course eliciting a few more thrills by doing the regular hunt, chase, terrorize thing. If they had..performed..well enough he'd kill them. If they didn't…well..then he'd use them for his 'Art'."
I shake my head in disgust. "Stupid poofer." I mumble.
They're both sitting there, staring at me. Funny, I thought they knew all this already about dear, dead Angel. Maybe I went a little overboard. Oh well, thems the breaks.
"What…what does this have to do with anything?" Red stammers.
Guess Summers can't say much, looking as she is, like she swallowed a truck.
He shoots, he scores! Yes, yes..I am The Man.
"Oh not that much Red." I say. "But there is a point which I am reaching even as we speak."
For a little diversity I put this cigarette out on my hand. Ouch..yes..but..well..Red's eyes just got real big. Piffle, that was nothing.
"Once." I pick up the story. "Just once, my dear GrandSire convinced me to try his game. I was bored, Dru had gone off to ..do something or other..raid an orphanage I think. So I gave it a go. I found a most stunning young woman a few nights later. She was a beauty I can tell you… long brown hair, big blue eyes..belonged to a family of wealth and stature. Just the kind of people I hated. I followed her, watched her..got to know her family and friends..her..world."
"And?" Red demands.
"And I set about destroying it. The first to go was her father. Ripped his throat clean out I did and listened to him burble. A few hours later I took my perch outside her room. I expected to find her sobbing or just staring into space. I mean..something! But..get this..she was dancing! In her room, long night gown flapping. I know she'd just been told about her fathers death. I had heard the servant deliver the news but she was dancing. Laughing too. A real scary laugh."
Summers is just staring at me, puts an arm around Red, pulls her tighter, pulls her closer. Oh, I am doing well tonight.
"So I was a wee bit upset at that and I go ballistic." I continue my story. "Over the next three nights I quickly and in a very brutal manner, destroy everything I though she cared about. Her friends are found garroted in an alleyway, her mother winds up with a slit throat and dumped off a church tower, dear elder sis accidently falls in front of a horse and buggy while her little doggie is found the next morning gutted."
With every sentence, with every word I say Red moves closer and closer to the Slayer. The Slayer on the other hand seems to be getting pretty relaxed. She's just lazily holding Red, swinging her legs, idly kicking the floor.
I'm not fooled. She's ready to jump out of her skin..or break down and cry. Whatever..either works for me.
I lean forward and rest my elbows on my knees.
"Here's the funny bit." I say. "After my every night making her personal abbitior I'd stop by her room and see what effect I was having. And I'll be damned if.."
"You are." Summers interrupts.
"Well duh," I say. "Don't interrupt, didn't your mother teach you any manner? Now..as I was saying. No matter what I did I'd find her dancing around her room, laughing her spooky laugh. And this is a laugh I found disturbing after spending twenty years with Dru! But..I was curious. I hadn't touched her before, none of my kind had. Before me she had seemed to be a perfectly normal, happily living, meal on wheels. So I did a little digging."
"She had been raped hadn't she." Red says quietly.
I cock my finger like a gun and shoot her. "Bang." I say.
"And, you must interested, this was before all the 'lovey dovey' understanding stuff was so prevalent. This was the heyday when public image was more important then people. Her entire family had practically disowned her in every way save in name. Her 'friends' had turned on her, her father wouldn't talk to her, sis refused to even acknowledge her existence and her mother.."
I pause again, hey I at least appreciate drama.
"Her loving mother was making arrangements to have her sent to a convent."
"Bet that pissed you off." Summers says.
"You have no idea." I answer. "Here I was trying to have a little fun, follow in the footsteps of my 'elders' and in fact it turns out I was doing her a favor! I was truly disgusted."
"So what did you do?" Red asks.
"Oh, I ate her." I say. "Figured maybe I could get her to scream once, get at least a little something out of all this effort. I burst through her window in the middle of the night, balls to the wall demon and did that..y'know..menacing stalker advancing thing kind of walk. Licking my lips, baring my fangs..the whole deal."
"Didn't work did it." Red says. I get up out of my chair and start to pace.
"No it certainly bloody well didn't!" I exclaim. This little stint down memory lane has just gotten me angry.
"You know what she said?" I ask rhetorically. "She said, and I quote, 'Of course, I was avenged by a devil' and then just bared her throat. Tweaked me right off she did and I went to town, by the time I was done..well…she had a closed casket service. Let's just leave it at that."
I slump back in my seat. "The worst of it is..the absolute worst..was the taste."
"She tasted..bland, brackish..I barely could get down one mouthful it was so..plain." I shudder in recollection. "Like opening a fine bottle of wine and getting vinegar."
"That's why I'm doing this." I say.
"Not for you Summers." And I point to the Slayer.
"And not for you Red," And I spear her on my finger. "Though you are a sweet lass and if I were living I might actually enjoy your company."
"I'm doing this for me." And I stand up again. "I'm doing this so you can be happy Red. Because happy people..taste better."
And I head out the of their room.
"Sorry about the door ladies. Have a nice evenin'." I say.
Behind me I think I hear Red start to cry. Feel a little ashamed of that. I didn't want to make her sad..but..they did ask.
Curiosity, cats..a lesson to be remembered.
I exit the building a few moments later. Not surprising Faith is waiting outside. She's hugging herself and seems cold despite the warm air and heavy leather coat she's wearing.
"Got a cigarette?" She asks.
I give her one.
"It's too late for the bus." She continues after I light her up. "Got a place I can crash?"
"I got a crypt" I offer.
"Great." She mumbles.
"It's furnished." I say.
"Right then, follow me. We can stay up all night, do each others toes and watch 'Passions'." I say.
We walk in silence for a few minutes and I weigh the pros and cons of asking. She could dust me..ah..what's life without risk?
"When?" I ask.
"What?" She responds. She's stopped walking so I do too.
"When?" I push the point home.
She shakes her head. "Not long enough."
"Who?" I demand.
"Does it matter?" She bites back.
"Are they dead?"
She just stares at me. Why..I don't know..who cares? This is fun.
"Are they dead?" I repeat, let just a touch of the demon out, make the old oculars glow a bit. Just for laughs.
"…no." She says quietly.
"Want them to be?" I offer. "Gimmie the address. I can make a few calls." I could too.
"I..that…uh.." She stutters.
"Look luv, it's a simple question." I say. "'Do.You.Want.Them.Dead?'"
She ..just..looks at me. "No.." She finally mutters. "No. No I don't."
I smile, one of my, 'I'm such a sympathetic guy' smiles.
"Of course you do." I say. "You just don't know it yet."
I resume my lazy gait in the direction of my 'home away from home'.
I guess she feels she has nowhere else to go and resumes following me a few seconds later.
This has been a really great night.