Magic Mirror
by Te
November 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd check myself in someplace

Spoilers: General S6 and S7 stuff, up through Conversations With
Dead People.

Summary: Andrew knows how it goes.

Ratings Note: R.

Author's Note: So much for the theory that if a show is dark and
sick enough I won't feel the need to write fic.

Acknowledgments: To Debchan and Jenn for audiencing, and to my
Spike just because.

Feedback lets me sleep at night.


It starts with the whispers in the night.

In Mexico, the darkness never felt entirely dark *enough* to
Andrew -- and never mind what years on the Hellmouth could do
to your appreciation of light. There was something about all that
crushing heat, the humidity, that made every breath feel like an
old man's dying efforts.

It made the nights deceptive, and short.

And the whispers made it shorter, no matter how he tried to bury
his head under the thin pillows, or tune into Jonathon's wet,
unhealthy-sounding snores.

The whispers were in no language Andrew knew.


It starts with the refrigerator door, actually, and the little game he
played as a child.

Move the glowing letters from his brother's coaches just a bit to the
right so his straight A report cards could show, only to come down
the next morning and find them right back where they'd been before.

Or, really, there were always more.

The game wasn't about being noticed.

The game was about pretending there wasn't a game.


"You're dead," Jonathon said, and Andrew could tell by the tone of
his voice that he was still sleeping.

He could turn, be sure, but then he wouldn't *see*...

Andrew breathed through his mouth, trying to make as little noise
as possible. Trying to stir the *air* as little as possible, because...


"Oh God, no..."

"He always was the weakest link, wasn't he, buddy?"

And if Andrew squinted, he wouldn't be able to see the door
through Warren at all.


Or maybe it was about hooding. He's always liked that word. It
brought to mind all those really cool chicks in the books. The
ones who were too weak and small to wield a sword, and weren't
witches (we don't we don't oh Warren no) but still were a part of
the team.

They had falcons, or hawks, or some other kind of big, trained
birds. Hooded because they would attack anything moving once
they could see.

Hooded because they were so *angry* at the illusion of being

Andrew knew all along where he really belonged, and he practiced
his hooded, untamed looks to navigate his way through school.
(blinders can be so kind)

It was just a matter of finding the way *in*.


"God, last night was *horrible*," Jonathon said around a mouthful
of something Andrew couldn't even pronounce.

"Guilt is a useless emotion, my son." Andrew was proud of how
smooth that came out, but Jonathon just snorted at him.

"Yeah, like you're getting any more sleep than I am. You've got
more luggage under your eyes than... than *Cordelia* would take
to Paris."

His heart seized in his chest, hard and painful like a fist. He heard
his fork clatter to the floor of the little cantina from way too far
away for anything like reality and all he could think was: he won't
take this from me. Not like this. Not again.

But all Jonathon said was, "hey, it's okay, we're in this together
right? Two desperate hombres on the lam. We'll figure it out."

And Andrew nodded numbly, and prayed for nightfall.

When Warren would tell him what to do.


Possibly, it had something to do with self-knowledge. Andrew
believes he knows himself very well.

He's believed this for quite some time.

It's a necessary function of living mostly inside your head, whether
inside the home or out. There's no one in there but you, unless you
manage to get yourself possessed by something sentient.

Andrew has managed to avoid that, and has rambled the twists and
turns of his own mind searching and searching for anything to...


There once was a little voice that screamed 'look at me' so loud
that Andrew would hunch in on himself for fear that someone
would actually hear it, and he'd be forced to perform.

There once was a chance, maybe a few, *for* him to perform,
and he did as well as he could, but no one saw him anyway.

Or, well, they *did*, but... he could look in their utterly
unhooded eyes and see what they saw, and it wasn't anything at
all like what he knew to be true.

Andrew would say self-knowledge has a lot to do with it.


"This is what we've wanted all along," Warren said, and he was
so solid Andrew couldn't see through him at all.

More real than the boy on the other side of the room, tossing
and moaning and whining in his sleep. So much more *real*. "And
we..." It was still hard to say, though. What he really wanted.

But Warren, God, Warren was even smarter now that he was dead.
Smarter and more powerful and (better), because Andrew didn't
*have* to say it. Warren just reached out and.

It wasn't a caress. Nothing like one.

It was cold, strong fingers in the sweat-damp curls at the nape of
his neck and a grip Andrew knew was at once insubstantial as
smoke and unbreakable as iron.

It was the utter absence of breath on his cheek as Warren leaned
in close and said, "and we can be together."


"Do you really think they'll let us be in their gang?"

And it froze Andrew for a moment, actually knocked him right out
of the loop of his thoughts -- they couldn't be shameful once
they were shared, could they?

But that was the problem, because there was Jonathon solid and
undeniable against the backdrop of the frighteningly clean new
high school. Frighteningly *pure* new school, and he was asking
about belonging.

And Andrew, oh Andrew *knew* that question, and every (nasty)
little thing that lay beneath it. He looked into Jonathon and saw...

It wasn't himself. It wasn't.

But it wasn't so bad, either. It was just... a guy. With a big brain
and a lot of useful power and. And.

The sound of his own voice was hollow in his ears, but it seemed
to be enough for Jonathon.


It's ending with Andrew walking in the footsteps of the dead. He
likes the way that sounds. He likes it a lot, actually.

It has an almost fantastic ring to it, like it should be written in
some really cool font -- no -- *stamped* in some really cool font
on the leather binding of a book older than old.

He doesn't know where he's going, but Warren knows, and sometimes
Warren looks over his shoulder and grins at him.

The warmest, most open grin Andrew's ever seen outside of television.
So confident. So sure.

So sure of *him*.

Like Andrew would never (I know *you* weren't the one who left me
to die, Andrew.) betray him, no matter how oddly... right Jonathon
looks in this fresh, new high school. Warren knows.

Warren understands. Warren *believes*.

Andrew follows.


But, really, it doesn't end until Jonathon won't shut *up*. On and
on and *on* about the people who (put them here, right here,
digging a hole into the worst, so awful no no it's for Warren) hurt
them, and ignored them, and broke their precious, special three
even without Jonathon's help. Without Jonathon's *betrayal*.

And for what? For *who*? Women who laugh and scratch and
scream and die?

People who don't give a *damn*.

And through it all, Warren just stands, waiting and smiling.

Andrew knows that face. It's the one Warren saves for when he
knows everything is going to be okay. He doesn't have to say a
word. Andrew hears it. You see? You see what I told you?

Jonathon was never really one of *us*.

And as the knife slides in, through skin and fat and muscle and
every red thing beneath, Andrew knows it's the truth.


It starts with Jonathan's blood finding the proper paths to the
best, most powerful summoning Andrew's ever even dreamed of.


It ends with the glaze filming over Jonathan's eyes, showing
Andrew nothing and no one but himself.

At last.