Debts III: Epilogue by Te June, 1999 Disclaimers: None of these characters are mine. Spoilers: Graduation 1 Ratings Note: R for language, some violence, disturbing imagery, implied f/f. Summary: It won't end. I think this story has a whole lot to do with the fact that Pares kept calling "Eulogy" epilogue, no matter how many times I reminded her. <g> Acknowledgments: To the Spike and Dawn Sharon for fine and patient audiencing, and to Katie for fast-cool beta. * I don't know how long it was before I opened my eyes again, and I didn't stop to think, either. The Boss' hired gun was still right there next to me. I could see him even though I hadn't quite turned. Feel him like a goddamned infection and it burned everything right through me and I *wasn't alone*. I hadn't even heard its voice at first, sexless and low. It just kept talking and talking. No pause at all. It was this buzz right at the back of my neck, and it tried to stay that way. Talking and talking but not giving me any chance to talk back, or even really listen beyond the constant "it's OK it's OK don't you know it's OK for me to be free in you see you OK I am you don't worry sleep sleep sleep..." And I know. The last thing I knew before I died and I know it again now... I hadn't known *shit*. I heard myself growl and I fell on Mr. Tagalong and I couldn't even control myself to *fight* for a second, all I can do was press him down with all of me and it feels *wrong*, and buzzboy in the back of my head chirps in with all this "no, no, he's the sire! The sire freed us sleep little one you're me sleep it's OK don't hurt the sire.." I ignored it as best as I could and got my hands around the sonofabitch's pale little throat. *That* still feels just right. And his eyes are black and confused and scared... and I squeeze and squeeze and when I feel my face get heavy I know what the buzzing was and I just squeeze harder. And that's when the buzzing stops and all I have is this... this *screaming*. The fucking demon... it felt like it started ripping my brain apart, handful by screaming handful. The next thing I know I'm a fucking ball on the floor and all I can hear is the SIRE the SIRE the SIRE and I can't shut the demon up, can't find it, can't stop it, anything. Helpless again. He kicks me in the ribs, clumsy but hard enough, and all I can do is cough. And I think to myself that it's just fucking like my life to keep on going, like I'm some pathetic movie director or something that doesn't know how to stop with the third sequel. He kicks me again and then there's light spilling into the room and then the only thing spilling is dust. And the Boss is talking in my ear with that pent-up little Opie voice he gets when he's angry, the one I don't think I could keep myself from laughing at even if he was pulling my intestines out at the time. But no one is kicking me anymore. "Did he hurt you? *No* one hurts my girl. I swear, are there *any* decent young men out there anymore?" And then he goes off on his own rant and I don't have to listen to a thing but his heartbeat. He doesn't sound anything but human. I knew he wouldn't, but I still feel satisfied by that. Buffy wants to think he isn't human. Buffy would be quite fucking happy to believe that every bad thing out there comes with God's own mark of disapproval. I tried it just her way, too. But somehow whenever *I* said it I was being a monster. I guess I just never learned all her rules. I can remember wanting to think that the only reason it never worked the way it should have was because of that. If I just figured out how to do things her way everything would've been fine, but she made it too hard, expected too much. I swear if I ever do that shit to myself again I'll hand her the fucking stake she needs for me myself. How fucking pathetic is it to moon after a het girl who'd look down her nose at you even if she *did* admit she liked the way my mouth -- my soft little mouth -- felt on her breast? I can't make my skin feel right again. The demon is still ripping at me but the sound it's making is just one long scream of siiiiiiiiiiire. I tell it to shut up and cope and I can't even pretend it's listening. I can't help wondering if this is the real reason so many fucking vampires are nothing but these stupid kill-eat-fuck reptiles. How much of this lost-soul crap is really just the demon buzzing and buzzing at you until you bail for your own fucking sanity? I won't run. I won't sleep. No fucking way Angel is tougher than me. I can smell the Boss, too. He actually wears Old Spice. I'm not surprised that I want to kill him, but I hate that I want to touch him again. I know he doesn't want that, even though he's holding me. And just like that the ripping stops in my head and it's all take him take him take him take him and I'm moving before I can think, before I can stop myself. The flesh on his neck had already started to sag before whatever happened that made him stop aging and the demon is speaking in my own fucking voice when it says to tear it away. But I don't even get my teeth in part of the way. Not enough force for that when he's invulnerable, can't hurt him eat take eat eat kill take feed -- "*Faith*." And I don't know which of us howls but I know it's me that snaps to and listens. Face still heavy wanna bend and rest it in the crook right there sleep bite take and *I* howl again and it trails off into this animal growl and fuck I never could make a sound like that but I know I have to remember that it's me now. Me. *Me*. "*Faith*." And this time I can get my eyes back up to his own again and he's not angry. He looks at me and his eyes are wistful. No, happy. Proud? "Once you hunt you'll feel better, Faith." And his voice is just the same as ever. I want to smile for him but it feels like a mountain range is sliding down, pushing down on my eyes. My mouth is stuffed with huge teeth I can feel trying to scissor at my lower lip and oh God I don't need a mirror to know what I look like -- And there's this weird pressure on my face, like air is trying to push at me but then I see that it's his hand. The Boss' hand... he's trying to caress my cheek... I howl again, silently this time, to drown out the demon before it can say what I know it wants to. I can do this. "Don't ever think you're not beautiful. You're still my girl." For a second I'm angry. I know I'm going to have to fight back tears because that's what the Boss can do to poor, Daddyless little Faith anytime he wants to because he knows just what to say. And then I realize there are no tears to fight. None at all. And all the teeth in my mouth want to shine bone right the fuck out at the world... "... strong forever now, Faith. Strong and beautiful." "Who do you want me to hunt tonight, Boss?" And when he chuckles it's just another reason to keep smiling. Nothing has really changed. I know that now. The demon is quick to tell me I'm absolutely right, that it's OK, OK, OK.... This time I turn the growl on it. When it starts tearing at me I tell it how many ways I know to send us *both* back to hell. "You're learning how to control it, aren't you, Faith? So *soon*!" He claps his hands like a kid in some old movie and this time I *know* it's pride. "You haven't even *fed* and you're learning. Oh, I have the best girl in the *world*..." He trails off and his eyes shine at me. "You go out and hunt anyone you want, hon. You *deserve* it." Yeah, I do. I'm the best girl. End.