Debts VIII: Memory by Te July 1999 Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd treat them a damned sight more responsibly. Spoilers: None. Summary: Reunion time. Ratings Note: R for violence, implied f/f, disturbing imagery, and also disturbing imagery. Acknowledgments: To Rae and Woodinat for fine audiencing, to Laura for putting up with a truly frightening amount of whining, to Dawn Sharon for many helpful suggestions... * Hey honey mine, I was there all the time... * We're out in the middle of this huge crowd of people. Street fair in Little Italy. The air is so spicy I almost forget I'm in a city and breathe real deep. Meat and ozone.... the air has been thick and a little frightening since I got to Chicago. I think I would've gotten out for health reasons alone if I was mortal. Or maybe I wouldn't have cared... But Dru's right at my side, and she's smiling... It's dark, so no one can see that her eyes don't shine the right way. Only I know. It's a thrill, beyond everything else, even. It's like I'm walking around with a loaded gun with no safety and I'm just pointing it at the world. Dru's got on a white dress. I thought I'd torn all of them up, but she found one for tonight... she looked so beautiful when she came out from behind that screen I got us I couldn't even touch her, not really. She just swayed on up to me, looked up at me and... looked. And I drowned in her eyes a hundred thousand times and then she touched my cheek and I just sort of leaned into the touch. She makes me growl but I can rarely make it come out as more than a purr. She's beautiful. But we're out here and we've been roaming, wandering. Back and forth. There's wine on the air. Thick red stuff, way better than anything I ever drank in high school. I kinda wonder who's funding this shindig. I think the Boss would've liked it, even with the booze. People running around laughing, eating. Little kids in pretty dresses -- though not as pretty as my Drusilla's. This would really be his scene. "Faith, I can't decide what to get... it all smells so *wonderful*..." And it seems like she's taking in the street vendors -- who all suddenly turn to beam at *her* -- but I know she's taking in the whole world. I love watching her breathe... she only does it when she's very excited. I think... I think all the information she takes in with her other senses is just too much, that breathing overloads her. I know she's swaying on her feet now... but when she's happy, she doesn't care about being overwhelmed. And I love the way she falls into me when she sways. Every time... it's like she curls into my body. I'm shaped by Drusilla, new with every touch. It makes something bundle up in my throat. I have to be careful... it's clear she doesn't want a scene this time, so I have to hold on to my human face. It's hard, but... there's something really hot about denying myself stuff like this when there's a point to it. And every time the bones ripple beneath my skin I get this hot-tight jab of fear and Dru looks over at me and smiles. She wants to be at the street fair, but she *also* wants a riot.... I love her. I do. And she's moving up close to a pretzel vendor when it happens. I first think it's arrows, but when two of them fucking *punch* through her, one in her arm, one in her stomach, I know they're crossbow bolts. Way thicker than arrows, strong as stakes. I get her bundled in my arms and I'm running before I hear the screams. Not my Dru... she didn't scream. Just fell against me again, but this time her shoulder slammed into me, nearly knocked me off-balance. I run. I hear something clatter to the pavement behind me, another bolt. I just run faster. Hit the dead end we usually both climb over but Dru isn't really with me right now, Dru can't climb and the thought of tossing her over makes me sick. Stupid mistake another fucking stupid mistake and I run back out into the street and I can fucking *feel* a thousand pairs of eyes on me and I know one of those pairs is the bastard trying to kill us but I have no *choice*. And the screams fade for a moment before flaring up again. It's what tells me I've changed, heartbeats before I feel it on my face. I'm too late, step behind, no more clatters but I can't trust that means anything. I take off down another alley and this time I can get through. Dru's legs bump against a crate and she moans so quietly I can only feel it. Her eyes are closed, one arm is stuck out beneath her, swaying with that... that fucking *thing* sticking through it and I run and run and then I have to set Dru down for just a second, just a second... It pushes the bolt in her belly a little further and her eyes fly open and her body arches and then she loses consciousness. I barely keep myself from howling but I know I have to take another second to get the bolts out of her. She won't fit down the manhole in my arms any other way... Finally, we're down in the sewers and I take off again immediately. For a terrifying few seconds none of it looks familiar but then there's that part that looks like it's just a dip but is really a twenty foot drop and I barely manage to get Dru balanced in my arms before I run off the little cliff. I've got her in my arms so I take every last jolt of impact in my legs. I think I hear something snap but I don't take any time, just run and run and I get our door cycled open but before I can close it behind me hands catch me by the jaw and *jerk*. I can smell him before I feel the first angle of the twist, do my best to send my head the other way without dropping Dru. Something cracks and my left arm gives out on me entirely, something in my legs too. I fold over but before I can go down completely I push back a little with my right leg and tumble us both over, further into our home... The home I found for us. I've got her settled on the pillows I've left on the floor but the world is skewed weirdly and I can't really move. Instinct takes over and I grab my own head and *snap*. I'm screwed on tight again. Not real tight, though. One good punch and -- The hit comes from behind. Short sharp punch from behind and I can see where a hole has been fucking *drilled* through from the abandoned sub-basement above us and I know this was planned. And I know it wasn't Spike that hit me, and not just because I'm looking right at him while he looks down at me. I know and I take another hit in exactly the same place and all of a sudden I'm hearing everything through this... this fucking pillow of whatever *she* shattered because dead or alive, it just fucking *has* to be that girly cologne shit. I freeze up and she knows her cue. "What's the matter, Faith? Aren't you happy to see your daughter?" And then she's in my line of vision, crawling out from whatever she's been doing to Dru. Crawling. The shift on her face... it's ugly but it's also so fucking compelling I can feel part of me trying to reach out. And then I look past her torso and realize the reason she's shimmying up to me... worm-crawling up to... bulked up like some fucking... fucking thing that just *ends* and I keep my mouth shut. "Oh... Oh, fuck Buffy, did I do that?" And it sounds so stupid giggles bubble up out of nowhere, but I manage to swallow them. It's too much. And look at her. Still right where the forces of Good command. Her skin is still more peach than dead somehow. Her demon face... her demon face is perfect just how it is. I feel the laughter yowling for release, but by then I can only pass out. * I wake up muzzy to find Buffy straddling Dru and her... her stumps just hang there. Her hips themselves aren't moving. She's tying up my Dru. I move toward her immediately, or try to. I'm trussed up like a fucking turkey. And, right on time, Spike gets a good one to my ribs and I'm flipped on my back, struggling and helpless. Again. I curse and Buffy looks over then. She's not in game, and even though she doesn't look quite like my memory she doesn't look like anyone else, either. She cut her hair at some point. Some dead stupid part of me wants to feel the spiky ends -- Suddenly, after *weeks*, I hear that fucking buzz and it tears through me that "she's lovely now yours now forever punish punish her she hurt the sire yours to punish --" I shout for it to shut up, start slamming the back of my head against the floor and fuck it hurts before there's even impact. I only get in three slams before there's a thick arm under my jaw, another curling over my forehead. "Shut up." Spike's voice, but he's not the one holding me. Buffy... swung over here. I feel sick again and I know it shows. "Awww, Faith... don't you think I'm pretty anymore? Everything we do is the same, right? Wasn't that what you said?" "You're pretty no matter what you do, B. Especially when you killed me." Spike's eyes are on me again, not Dru. It's all I can do -- "God, that was always the worst thing about you. You honestly *believe* you're the victim in all this --" "Fuck that, B -- we both know you'd have been nowhere near my place that night if you hadn't decided to kill me for fucking *parts*. Slaying and killing, remember that?" I can't even tell if that sounded good. The words don't mean anything anyway. It's... empty. Old, somehow. Her arm tightens around my throat and I can't get any more words out. She's so tight around me she'll break my neck if she fucking *flexes* but all I can really think about is what I left her to -- "A word of advice, Buffy -- long philosophical discussions about ethics are rarely a good idea when *you're* not the one tied up and inches from death." She snarls at him. I can hear it. Feel it, too. I can't stop thinking I couldn't have planned revenge better if I'd been able to try. I know... I *know* there's just enough of my Buffy left to look at what the rest of her is and puke. And then the arm that was around my head is gone and there's a stake pointed at my chest. From the edge of my vision I can see Spike moving toward Drusilla. I whipsaw in Buffy's arms reflexively but it doesn't do me any good. Drusilla hasn't even twitched. He's going to kill her while she's unconscious... I can't really decide how much of what I feel is gratitude and how much is contempt. Is he afraid he'll remember it's *Dru* he's killing? Fucker. I pray he remembers every night for the rest of his life. But I'm not going to watch her die. I close my eyes and I still can't stop thinking about Buffy. I wonder if we'll be able to kill each other again in Hell. End. End Notes: Lyrics stolen from "Reasons To Be Beautiful" by Hole.