DISCLAIMER: Another day, another…they don’t pay me anything at all. I just do this to amuse myself and you. That’s what allows me and mine to slip under the radar while playing with characters created by those more fortunate than us.
ARCHIVING: A master list of my fiction can be found here. Please do not archive or distribute without my permission.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Howard Russell for all of the lovely commas.
I’ve made some pretty crappy decisions in my life.
This isn’t one of them. I now know how cats feel when they lay in a pool of sunlight. Yet another burning question answered.
At least that’s one.
This room’s a trip. Not what I expected at all. I figured a massage table or two in a box with more plants. This is more like a high-end hotel room. There’s nothing box-like about it. The walls on either side are right triangles. The exterior glass and most of the ceiling is one quarter of a circle, set inside the triangles. It’s like being inside a bubble.
Clouds drift by. The sky has a wintery cast, but there’s still plenty of sunlight. I can see why B. likes it here. It’s almost the same as being outside minus the chill.
Actually, this sort of reminds me of a burger joint I used to go to back in Southie. They had a dining area that was similar, but not nearly as nice or high up. And obviously there wasn’t a bed.
This place is all about the bed. It’s the focal point of the room. Following the theme, it’s this huge round thing on a stepped platform that takes up most of the floor. It’s comfy. Add a few more plants and that’s pretty much the tour.
No wonder the staff’s so tight lipped. I bet this place is really popular with philandering execs. It sure beats the hell out of the local Motel 6. Course, things might get a bit sticky if the little missus comes in for a facial.
B. sits down next to me. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather…?” she whispers. This is first time I’ve heard her actually sound nervous. It’s not a huge surprise that she doesn’t finish.
I reply, “Nah, it’s good. I’d rather be alone.” It’s funny, we’ve been together for a little over an hour now. Neither one of us has had a stitch on for most of that time. And she’s just now getting around to being nervous? If me nearly naked on a bed stresses her out, she seriously needs to stop giving me those looks.
It’s a pretty safe bet the looks aren’t going to end anytime soon. At least I hope they aren’t. I’ll take ‘lust’ over ‘contempt’ any day. But it might be easier if she was looking at my face. She’s not.
“Alright,” she replies. “But I feel it’s only fair to warn you.” This is just too weird. Her fingertips trail over the front of my robe. “Those rumors you’ve heard…” She pauses to contain a laugh and loosen the belt of my robe. So much for nearly. “The ones about my alleged goodness. They may’ve been slightly exaggerated.” She lays my robe open without even touching me.
I wish she would. She’s driving me nuts. But I guess that’s part of the game. I mumble, “I think I’ll live,” as I wriggle my arms free and roll over.
No thanks to Blondie.
She touches my shoulders with oily hands. It feels good. Between the mineral bath and the mud, my skin’s so dry it itches like hell. A massage is part of the package.
I bet Maddie wouldn’t torture me like B.’s gonna.
Nah, she’d be totally professional. And where would the fun be in that?
Enjoying the attention, I ask, “Care to answer my question now?” I don’t really want to ruin this, but if I can just get her talking…
She’s in no hurry. Actually, she’s more interested in my shoulders. It’s nice. Her touch is a lot firmer than I’d expect, given the size of her hands. But that’s not a surprise. What’s surprising is, after being hit by her so many times, I wouldn’t expect…
She knows exactly how to use her strength. Just enough. Not too much. She knows how to touch.
It never would’ve—
“Which one?” she replies.
Still pretty lost, I say, “The last—”
She doesn’t let me finish. “Look, I know you’ve got lots. I sure would.”
I kind of thought she’d just rub a little lotion in and call it good. She’s not. She stops to apply more oil. “Just relax. We’ve got plenty of time.” Moments later, her oily hands return to the small of my back. Using them both, she kneads my right side as she whispers, “Or I hope we do. But that’s really up to you.”
I’d be a fool to make her stop. I’m already pretty much a puddle, but this is just—
Even the oil smells good. It’s usually really sweet and flowery. This stuff isn’t. It’s got sort of a spicy smell.
She says, “You’re probably wondering if I’m the one Giles sent you after,” as she works her way down to my hip. Somehow, she finds that funny. But it doesn’t stop her. She speaks right though the snicker, “You may even be wondering if I’m really me.” Still concentrating on my right side, she moves back up my ribs. I feel a shrug translated in her touch.
Yeah, see, I knew I was right. At least she’s giving me credit.
“I could answer both of those questions for you,” she says. “But would my answers really matter? You’re gonna believe what you want.” She fills the gap with a sigh. “I guess we could call him.”
I hear the ‘wouldn’t that be fun’ in her tone and have to agree. “I think I’ll pass. I’ve had enough of Giles for one week.”
I wish I could see her face, but I’m pretty much stuck staring at a plant. At this rate she’s gonna put me to sleep. Giving up, I close my eyes and mumble, “But you’re right about all of that. Thing is, he knows I’m not a company girl.”
She stops caressing, making me fall silent. Her fingertips rest just below my shoulder. She’s looking at something, probably a freckle. It’s a reminder. This is an examination too. That’s one of the reasons she’s moving so slow.
When she starts back up, I finish what I was explaining, “I doubt he would’ve sent me if he didn’t want whoever came to judge for themselves.” Her hands are getting dry again. I add, “So, we’ll assume there’s slack and run with it,” as she reaches for more.
If there’s any tension, it vanishes. I’m not even sure there was. Maybe it was just me.
She lays her hands on the right side of my ass. Now it really is me.
“Alright, that’s good. I don’t want to fight with you,” she says through another sigh. “I’ve had enough, Faith. I’m sick of fighting.”
I can tell. It’s a struggle just to breathe right. She’s not being rough, but as she works the muscle everything around it moves. It feels, uh…
“What changed?” she asks. I hope she doesn’t want anything. It’s comes as a relief when she answers herself, “Not a lot. Not like you mean.” She’s dangerously close to—
Worst part is, I know she’s not really trying. Thank God. She’s running out of slippery stuff. I may have time to figure out how to breathe again.
“Or I guess that’s what you meant,” she says and withdraws.
She may as well be speaking Russian or French or…for all the good it does. I hear what she says, but—
No clue. I’m way more concerned with resisting the urge to roll over and…
Impulse control still isn’t my strong suit. And it’s been—
Things clear up when she fills in, “Why the sudden gayness?”
Oh, yeah…that. Pity I’m not really worried about that now. But I should—
I may not get better chance, so I admit, “Yeah, that was part of it.” B.’s pretty much been a role model for straight chicks everywhere. The Beefstick was a complete trip, missionary position and all. He was definitely a major sign that she’d be switching teams soon.
Here I thought Red was safe in her role as the token ten percent. She may have to move over. We’ll call it twenty. I wonder how she’ll feel about that.
Swapping sides, B. crawls over me, without touching. Good. My brain may not melt.
Any trouble I’m having putting things together really isn’t an issue. “There’s been no sudden anything. Not much has changed.” It’s not all that hard to keep up when all they do is repeat the same things. She snickers. I’m glad she’s having fun. “Just my perception.”
Her voice so soft, I nearly miss that last bit. It’s good that I don’t. That might be the most interesting thing she’s said so far. I could probably make an afternoon out of trying to suss out what she means.
Hopefully, I won’t have to. For someone who likes to talk, she can be a real pain in the ass to figure out sometimes.
When she goes for more oil, a few drops drip from her hands, splashing the base of my spine. I gasp in unison with her, “Oops.” No surprise. She sounds less than sincere.
This should be fun. I get to listen to more of her ‘business as usual’ speech while too warm oil trickles down my crack. Thanks, B. You’re a peach.
She dabs at the oil with a towel, cleaning most of it up as she says, “It’s just…I don’t want to talk about the past. Kinda makes this hard, y’know?” Reaching over me, she pours more oil in her hands. The craning adds an edge to her voice when she finishes her thought. “I’m afraid I might say the wrong thing.”
That’s the last thing I want. It’s kind of hard to say ‘sorry’ when what you did was—
I was a little less direct about it, but I tried to kill her. And she tried to kill me. Somehow, ‘I’m sorry’ just doesn’t cut it.
It’s so weird learning forgiveness from a vamp. And how to deal with regret. Not what you’d expect, but couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.
And I couldn’t be sorrier if I tried.
“That’s why I tried to skip out on ya last night. I don’t want that either,” I reply. My voice is too funny. I barely sound lucid.
One of these days, we’ll have to talk, but now’s really not the time. I’m glad she thinks so too.
“’Kay,” she says. It’s funny. There’s relief in that one little word. That’s good ’cause, while I may be set for grunting, anything more complex could be a problem.
“Umm…lemme ask you this—and don’t worry, I don’t want an answer,” she says.
Will be a problem. She doesn’t stop at the top of my hip like she did on the other side.
This is really hilarious. I snicker. She’s completely wrapped up in explaining. And I’m completely wrapped up in not wanting to drool on the bed.
“How many guys have you been with in the last year?” she asks. An involuntary groan slips out. I try to catch it, but fail miserably.
I’m so screwed. What’d she ask?
I struggle to remember.
It’s gone. My body trembles. It’s as controlled as the groan. She seriously needs to stop that.
But I sure hope she doesn’t. Figures, she does. She moves up to the small of my back. I draw in a shaky breath.
When she asks, “Okay, now…how many more than once?” the first question comes back.
Oh, yeah. Gossip. We’re discussing my not-so stellar love live. ‘How many guys in the last year?’
Hell, I don’t know. Being a convicted felon seriously cut into my social life. Besides, I was under the misguided impression that Wood actually gave a shit about me.
Between the annoyance and the fact that she’s done playing with my ass for the moment, the fog clears. She asks, “Not that many, right?”
I shake my head. Not that many at all. Actually, just the one. I never cared much for romance. I should’ve—
She reaches for more oil, asking, “You ever wonder why that is?”
The thing that pissed me off the most about Wood was feeling like I’d been played. I wanted to kill him. But I’m a good girl now.
A good convicted murderer. Yeah, that fits.
She doesn’t let me dwell. I’d like to think, or I wanted to—I hoped that when she got to my legs…
Yeah, this is worse. She might get another groan if she doesn’t stop that. See? I knew she could distract me.
Moving down, she says, “I can’t make a relationship last. I’ve really tried and they just don’t.”
I almost remember how to breathe. Oh jeez. She’s gonna expect me to roll over.
I guess I’ll worry about that when the time comes. Right now she’s concentrating on my calves and it feels good.
I feel kinda bad for her when she says, “It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even think it’s them.” It’s sad that all she wants is someone to care for. And someone to care for her. That shouldn’t be that hard.
Clearing her throat, she reaches across me again. She’s down to my feet. At first, she plays, trying to figure out if I’m ticklish. Hate to disappoint, but I’m really not.
She goes back to rubbing and talking, “You have to figure when people are looking, what they want is something familiar.” She shrugs. “Similar traits.”
Honestly, she could just stay there for a while. I swear I’d be fine.
Talk about your major life changes. It’s not been a week since I was sleeping in a gutted warehouse. Now I’m lying on a bed in some chic spa with Buffy Summers rubbing my feet.
I love having my feet rubbed. If the goal’s to turn me sloppy and useless, this might be the quickest way. But I think she’s picked that up.
I look down. She’s wearing nothing but a big ol’ grin. I’m not sure when she lost her robe, but—
What the hell am I doing? There could be actual drool this time and I—
“What’s actually similar to us?” she asks.
Y’know, I really hadn’t considered that, but it’s smart. Rational even. Thing is, relationships are anything but.
She does have a point.
She starts the toe pulling thing. I grin and she moves on to the obvious stuff. “Well, if you want the scruffy face and other related parts, you’re pretty much stuck with vamps and a few demons. Until someone gets the bright idea to whip up some male slayers, that’s how it’s gonna be.” A hiss of a snicker escapes before she mumbles, “And let’s face it, things are already too interesting with just the girls. I’m not sure we’d survive that.”
A few moments pass. Finally, she says, “I wonder if the kids would end up slayers,” pausing again to ponder. We both arrive at the same place. At about the same time. She’s just the one that has the nerve to say it, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t. Survive it, that is. That’d just be bad. The last thing I want is to be responsible for creating the master race. Things are already screwed up enough.”
I’m over it. I was kind of on the fence, but I need to just get real. She sounds like B. Unless they managed a personality transplant…
I still don’t know what she’s doing in Ohio. But then, I’m not sure what I’m doing in Ohio, so we can just call that part even.
She gives up on my left foot and moves to the right, reaching for more oil in the process. And somehow, she picks up her train of thought. “Outside of the pulp paperback scene, demons just aren’t really known for romance.” I’m impressed. Thinking straight may not happen for me for a while. “Funny, they aren’t inclined to send flowers…especially to the enemy.” I turn and glance just in time to see the eye roll. “There are one or two exceptions, but—”
Completing the turn, I roll onto my side. The sun felt good on my back, but my robe’s starting to stick. And I may end up with a permanent terrycloth stipple if I don’t do something.
Propping my head in my hand, I move so I can see her. She’s completely unaffected. Somehow, I thought she’d be more modest. Mindlessly playing with my foot, she says, “Anyway, you see my point. It doesn’t end well. It really can’t end well.” Another one of those humorless laughs slips out and she grumbles, “If anyone knows that, it’s me.”
I remember when we first met. I wonder if she understood how much I wanted her to like me.
I wanted to fit in. I sigh, hoping it sounds contented. Really, I am. This is nice.
I just tried too hard. And of course, I blew it.
I couldn’t have screwed up worse.
“I don’t ever want to wonder if I hurt someone like that again,” she whispers. She’s pretty much gone. Lost in her head. “Physically, not emotionally. That’s awful too, but physically is almost worse.” I turn onto my back, close my eyes and just listen. “Guys won’t tell you. Their egos get in the way.”
It surprises me when she moves my right arm, placing it across her lap. I want to touch her. When I don’t, she begins to caress it. “Next comes that thing where they act all intimidated. They try to hide it, but stuff just gets weird. There’s this feeling of inadequacy on their part. Like they can’t keep up,” she says and shakes her head. The movement transfers. I can almost see the eye roll, even though mine are closed. “That’s always fun.” She takes a deep breath. “In a really not kind of way.”
Yeah. That’s part of the reason I never bothered. ‘Get some, get gone,’ always worked for me. It’s comparatively low stress. But I can see the appeal of coming home to the same person, having them around to just hang with. I get it.
That life’s chock full of complications, but the pay off might be nice. That’s what I was hoping for with Wood.
And that went so well…
She stops to look at my tattoo. Tracing the pattern with her fingertip, she says, “There was this girl, one of the slayerettes. She was different, y’know?” She goes back to working moisture into my skin. “We started hanging out. She was totally into me. So I figured what the hell. I’m twenty-four.”
I snicker. It’s easy to see where she’s going with this. Why not screw up now?
And after a laugh, that’s exactly where she goes. “You’re supposed to make a bunch of stupid mistakes in your twenties, right? Be adventurous. Get it out of your system so you can be boring in your thirties.” She places my arm back at my side. Letting go a cold snicker, she snaps to the obvious, “Like I’ll make it to my thirties.” I’d be disappointed if she hadn’t. Neither one of us was supposed to see our sixteenth birthday. I think it annoyed them when we lived.
I, for one, plan to annoy them as long as possible.
Well, I wonder where she’s headed now. There’s only so much of me left to avoid. This should get interesting from here.
Oh, and she liked it. That’s why she’s here in this ultra-conservative, peanut butter candy loving, culturally deprived, backwater, bullshit town whose only claims to fame are P&G and a bad seventies sitcom that wasn’t even filmed here.
I smile when she says, “It was, umm…” She swallows. “Nice.” I open my eyes and give her a look. “Really nice,” she stresses, getting one of those goofy looks on her face. They never quite look goofy on her. Her smile’s still kind of pretty even if it is quirky. The smile fades and she admits, “No one’s touched me like that since—”
Huh. I wonder which ‘since.’
It’s cool. She can keep that to herself. I get the idea. The chick was in love. Sounds messy.
B.’s actually embarrassed. It’s about damned time. She hides her face. It’s cute. In a totally hot kinda way. She doesn’t need to continue, but I don’t stop her when she does. “I made sure she knew what was up before we went there.” Her hands drop to her sides. “That was just stupid, I know. Her having a clue didn’t make a bit of difference.”
I prop myself up, on my arms and say, “It’s cool, B. I think I get it.”
Shrugging, she says, “I felt awful, but what could I do? It just wasn’t that way for me.”
I’m not sure I should interrupt her again. I get that she feels bad, but— “There’s one thing I don’t get,” I say.
The big news is that she wants anything to do with me at all. It may take me a while just to get over that.
And that’s nothing. She really thinks we could work out? Again, I say ‘huh.’ And not in the normal, ‘I didn’t hear that,’ questioning sort of way, but in the flabbergasted, ‘I’m completely stumped by this’ way.
I have her attention. It might help if I said something. I clear my throat. It’s a solid stall tactic, but it doesn’t last forever. I force myself to ask, “Why haven’t you kissed me yet?”
Figures, I sound like complete shit. My face is actually hot.
“I’m not gonna,” she replies and my heart sinks. I turn cold so quick I almost miss the next part. “I need you to make the first move.” But I’m happy as hell that I do.
She gives me a warm, encouraging smile. “And if you do, I need it to be because you feel the same way.”
What a day.
Expectations are pretty iffy things. They work about as well as rules. I figure if I have one, I’ll always get the opposite. Or close.
But that sounds suspiciously like a rule.
Really, it’s more of a system. An imperfect system that makes it a little easier to see my way clear sometimes.
Big disappointments are kind of rare when your expectations amount to ‘imagine the worst.’
It’s when I don’t know what to expect that things usually get fun.
And I get stressed.
I stare at the mirror, barely recognizing myself. The dress B. got me is pretty, tasteful, elegant…and about a dozen other things that really just don’t cover it.
I care so little about this stuff that I can’t even begin to describe it. It’s not sexy. Not really. At least I don’t think that’s what they were going for.
And if they hadn’t forgotten the back, they might’ve even succeeded.
I guess what I’m looking for is that it’s more formal than that.
That she got me into this damned thing is a miracle. Some girl at the spa did my hair and makeup. Talk about camouflage, I look like some rich, snobby bitch set for a night at the opera.
I can’t stand opera.
It’s weird. I could easily feel like some doll B.’s playing with, but I don’t. I never thought that for a minute.
Maybe it’s because she never acted that way. She’s been treating me like I matter. Like she really cares about me.
Thing is, you can play dress up all you want with someone like me. You’re not gonna change who I am.
I’m coal. No matter how much you polish me, I’ll never be a diamond. I think B. gets that.
Actually, she seems fine with that. This is the last thing I ever thought I’d feel, but I think she likes me the way I am.
She said she just wanted something different, a night out with some pleasant company and a good meal. She’d made reservations for us at some ritzy joint downtown.
They could use another name. Arnold’s just doesn’t cut it. That makes me think ‘fifties diner.’
And some better help. The waiter really wasn’t in it for the tip. Or it was figured into the tab. It’s pretty shitty when they do that.
I’m holding out for tomorrow night. She promised me beer and pizza. She even said ‘good pizza,’ but I’ll reserve judgment. People from California don’t know crap about good pizza.
No clue what’s up with that. Bread, sauce and cheese just shouldn’t be that hard.
I reach and pull the combs from my hair. It falls around my shoulders. I set the combs on my nightstand, scruffle my hair and grin.
Hopefully it’ll turn out better than tonight. It’s weird to think that might’ve actually been a date.
If so, it was my first. Figures I’d—
The expression on the waiter’s face when I tapped the bottom of the ketchup bottle was just too funny. It was being stubborn. He looked like he’d swallowed a bug.
B. offered to help. She was nice about it, so I let her. She got the stupid thing to pour without even trying. I don’t get how some people do that.
Maybe it’s just that I like to beat on things?
It was cool, though. She didn’t even bat an eye when I poured ketchup all over my steak and fries. The waiter wasn’t impressed. We got the, ‘Is everything satisfactory?’ treatment.
It was more than satisfactory. I told him that it was the best damned steak I’d ever had. And I meant it.
Somehow that didn’t make things any better.
Taking a step back, I sit on the edge of the bed, unbuckle and slip off my shoes. It feels nice to be out of them. My feet are sore. I rub them one at a time and stare at myself in the mirror. It’s still a trip.
If B. was playing some sort of game, that probably wouldn’t have gone over well. I wasn’t looking to piss her or anyone else off. I just have this talent.
But he’s not the first person who’s ever looked at me funny ’cause of how I like my steak. I can’t help that ketchup’s good. He should leave me alone and just try it.
Actually, I don’t give a crap about him, I’m just glad she didn’t care. She seemed pleased that I enjoyed the food. And I guess that was the goal. Mission accomplished. I’m stuffed and that was damned tasty.
I stand and reach around to unhook and unzip my dress. It slips off me. I catch it and step out.
Laying it on the bed, I go for the hanger and plastic cover in the shopping bag B. gave me for my clothes.
Suppose I could try to write this off as lust. But that’d just be too easy. B.’s never had the hots for me before.
Besides, if all this is is just plain lust, I wouldn’t be alone right now.
She wants more than that.
Strange. So do I.
It isn’t like we both didn’t know the score. There were some looks…a couple touches, but really…she did alright. The problem was me. How messed up is that?
Guess that’s why she was so nervous. She wanted the help to handle it. And I can’t say that I blame her. That would’ve been lots easier.
But we had a few things to settle. And we kind of did, so…
I don’t regret my decision.
When it came my turn, I tried to be nice. It didn’t work out that way.
Yeah. There’s no such thing. I think she trembled more than I did. And her voice…
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or—
I wanted her so bad. That ‘want’ turned into a serious ‘need’ as the day went on.
I feel like I’m gonna pop. After hanging my dress up, I flop on the bed. I seriously need to fix that. She’s gonna drive me to drink. Like that’d be hard.
Just knowing that she had on more jewelry than clothes really wasn’t helpful.
She wasn’t wearing that much jewelry.
I paid more attention to her than I did to my plate. At least I wasn’t the only one. I think she gets that a lot. She just kind of shrugs it off.
This is so weird when you consider our past. We flirted at first, but it was never anything more. Then things got—
And that’s exactly it. That’s the thing. You don’t hate like we hated and not—
There has to be something more.
And there is.
It’s strange to think that she could be right.
And I couldn’t be more wrong. This is all the opposite of what I expected. Yet somehow it’s not worse.
I close my eyes, remembering. It’ll be hard to shake this. She let me know how things are without being pushy at all. It was one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen.
She was rubbing the muscle and the tendon inside my thigh. It could’ve been nerves, but—
She wasn’t exactly looking at my face. Her throat moved. It was really slow. A thick kind of swallow. And her expression was just—
I shift my panties aside. No surprise, they’re damp to the touch. Everything’s so swollen and tender. I never let myself get like this. It’s always been easier to just fix the problem.
I imagine how that might’ve felt. Her lips are so soft. There’ve been guys, lots of them, but even if they wanted to, I never let them go there.
I don’t know. It’s weird. That feels too intimate. That and they expect—
There’s no way I’m going down on some strange guy.
I didn’t have the nerve to say anything, to ask or whatever. I probably could’ve just guided her. I’m not sure, but I don’t think it would’ve taken—
A tingle runs down my spine, slow like sweat trickling over my skin.
What the hell am I thinking?
I jerk my hand away, but the tingle keeps coming. Shit!
All of my muscles tense. My brain goes cloudy. I clench my fists, digging my nails in. The haze clears when I take deep breath. This can’t be the same. There’s just no way.
She’s not some guy. She’s not gonna fuck me, get off and go away. She’s gonna expect—
And I’m not sure I can do that. I’m not even sure what I want. I mean…
I know what I want, but I don’t know what it’ll be like.
How can I want something and not even know what it’s like? How do I even know if I’ll like it?
What if I hate it? What then? Will it just make things worse…’cause that’s exactly what I need? Groaning, I comb my fingers through my hair and make a fist.
It’s not like I don’t give a shit about her. But it’d be easier if I didn’t. What if I can’t handle this and it hurts her? What happens then?
Yeah, it’s a little late to worry about that now. I spent the whole day leading her on. I’m screwed.
Yanking my hands free, I put my panties back and spring to my feet.
My scalp hurts, but I couldn’t give a shit less.
I need to get dressed.
Hell, what I need is a cold shower.
And maybe an icepack.
God! I’m such a retard! It’s sad how I get myself into this shit. I don’t even have to try. It just happens.
Half-stomping, half-stumbling, I head for the bathroom, rinse my hands in the sink and dry them. My bag’s on the counter. Rifling through it, I pull out the first things I lay my hands on that aren’t made of denim or leather: sweats and a tee-shirt. I don’t give a damn what I look like. I just want something on.
I glance at the shower and think better of it. Somehow ‘cold and wet’ holds less appeal since Cleveland. And ice—
Yeah, ice is a profoundly bad idea. I can only imagine what she’d do to me with ice. I’m not sure I could return the favor, but—
Funny how she always does this to me. Even when she’s not trying. I never know which way’s up. She spins me every damned time.
I stare into the sink. The water’s still running. I scoop up a handful and splash my face. Cold water drips off my chin and nose, running down my neck.
Screwed up as I am, that’s probably part of the attraction. I get off on—
There’s no makeup remover, so I just use soap to wash my face. As I scrub, the soap turns gray. I rinse and repeat. It’s a little better the second time around. After rinsing off, I stare at myself in the mirror. Of course, I look like a drowned raccoon. I should seriously try to fix that, but I don’t care.
Yeah, whatever…there’s no sense worrying about any of this now. It’ll keep till tomorrow.
What I really need is some shut eye before the fun starts again. Maybe my brain will even spin down long enough for that to happen. I’m not hopeful, but—
I rub my face dry, leaving black marks on the towel and toss on some clothes. When I finish, it’s like the makeover of the damned. Add some curlers and I could pass for poor white trash.
Leaving the bathroom, I turn the covers down and get into bed. It’s amazing how stressful de-stressing can be. I’m done.
Hopelessly horny, trashed and done. I snicker.
I could only be so lucky.
Reaching up, I grab the extra pillow. The fake body helps, but not nearly enough. I wish she was here.
And I s’pose that’s what’s important. That’s what I really want. I might even be able to get my head on straight if she was.
Yeah. The details will sort themselves out. They kind of have to. It’s not like we have much choice. And with any luck, we won’t kill each other in the process.
I thump the pillow and toss my thigh over it. For all my love of solitude, I don’t sleep worth a crap alone anymore. Imagining I can still smell her perfume, I twist my shoulders, reach and turn out the light.
I close my eyes, but that doesn’t last. My cell phone’s sitting behind me on the table by the patio doors. Stupid thing’s blinking. I try to ignore it, but it’s useless. The little yellow light flashes and I see the faint reflection on the wall in front of me.
Figures I walked out of here without my leash this morning. It didn’t even occur to me. Work’s really the last thing I want to think about right now. I’ve got enough trouble without their help.
Actually, I’ve got enough trouble because of their help. I didn’t come here on my own. All of this is pretty much bonus angst.
I shut my eyes to block it out, but just knowing it’s there is enough to bug. I open them in time to see the flicker. I’m not gonna be able to sleep with that. Sighing, I stretch to flip the light on.
Odds are, any hope I had of getting a half-ass decent night’s sleep just went out the window.
It’s probably Wood wanting me to execute a Girl Scout troop or something. I just know those cookies are evil. They have to be. Nothing that addictive can be good.
I grumble, “I’ll get right on that,” as I slide across the bed. My feet hit the floor. I go straight for my goddamned phone. Big surprise, the message is from Giles. It says, ‘I warned you that there would be repercussions.’ And there’s a picture attached.
I open it and stare unblinking for a second or ten, trying to get my head around what I see. The picture’s really crappy. It looks like Giles used his phone to take a picture of another picture that was almost as bad.
A man hangs above the doors of the school. He’s dressed in red shorts and a stained white tee-shirt. I can’t see his face for the duct tape. And there’s a cardboard sign around his neck that announces, ‘Faith’s dead.’
My skin crawls.
When I blink, the phone pops in my hand. I look down expecting to see it. I still feel it, but it’s gone. Something hits my toe. I stare at a little, rectangular part. It’s wrapped in blue plastic. There are two wires, one red, one black, coming out of it with a tiny white plug on the end. On the blue part there’s a symbol, a drop and a hand. The hand has a chunk missing, like a little bite’s been taken out of its side.
My mouth hangs open. I close it, clench my jaw and look up. About halfway across the floor is the screen to my phone.
When I see it, I feel the pull on my shoulder. I threw my phone? Why’d I do that?
My stomach churns.
I need to see that picture again. There’s no way that’s right. I must’ve missed something. The drywall’s dented where my phone hit it. I look at the broken pieces strewn across the floor.
Acid stings the back of my throat. I swallow to keep from choking.
The picture forms in my head, the sign, his dark skin, the duct tape mask, the noose, his bloated belly, the crotch of his shorts. That part’s darker than it should be. It looked like a shadow at first, but—
I didn’t miss a thing. The knot in my gut tightens.
I sprint to the bathroom, drop to my knees and heave.
Chunks splash as I grab the toilet bowl and cling. My body shakes.
It lasts forever. I retch until there’s nothing left and collapse on the floor.
Drenched and freezing, I tremble.
The truth’s right there.
Some vamps develop a signature kill. Angel had his ‘make the girl crazy’ routine. Kill her pets, her family…anything that means anything. Spike had that stupid thing with the railroad spikes.
But I’m not sure how stupid it was. Having a railroad spike driven through your body…pick a spot—it’d suck.
Kako’s one twisted bitch. I’ve found more than one piece of her handy work. She likes to bite a guy’s dick off and feed from the wound.
Keeping the girls out of that was fun. Last thing we needed was for some newbie to stumble across one of her victims.
I could snow myself by saying that there are lots of black guys in Cleveland. There are, but there’s only one that means shit to me.
That was personal. He was wearing my name. He was strung up just like—
‘Repercussions’? Fuck you, Giles!
But why? I don’t get it. After that show…
Bastard totally faked me out. I thought for sure he’d fat-fingered the remote when the trunk popped too. Slick sonuvabitch even opened my door for me. I got in like it was nothing. He walked around the back and…yeah.
I didn’t even make it out of the car. Man, I was pissed.
So how’d Kako know?
No clue. But what does it matter? The fact is she did. And he did. And—
Wood was the one who used to hassle us about staying in the barracks at night. The place was a goddamned school. He knew better! Best we could do was protect the place where we slept. That’s where everyone who wasn’t on patrol was supposed to be after dark.
But no…he just couldn’t stay put. That wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?
I roll onto hands and knees and use the counter to pull myself up. I’m not standing so good. Bracing myself, I turn on the sink. My mouth tastes like shit. I rinse it, splash my face and rub the back of my neck.
Catching the doorframe to keep myself upright, I stumble into the room and pass through it. I’ll be alright once I get outside. I nearly make it to the door. The need for a coat and some shoes stops me. I run around the room, collect stuff and bail.
I have no clue where I’m going. Some guy gives me a look when I stagger out my door. He thinks I’m drunk.
Not yet. Give me time. I find my legs and prove it, bolting down the hall. An elevator ride would just make me crazy right now. I shove the door open and jog down the stairs. Slowing down, I enter the lobby almost like a normal person. Bet I don’t look normal. Actually, I probably look sick.
That’s not a stretch.
At least I know where I’m going now.
Well, not right this minute. I need my shit. But I’m going back to Cleveland. And when I find that skank, I’m gonna—
Yeah, and going off half-cocked would just get me killed. First I need to get my head on straight. Right now what I need is a drink. I’ll worry about the rest tomorrow.
I push the door aside and get going. I make it halfway to the street before someone yells my name.
Oh Christ! It’s B.
What the hell’s she doing here?
In no mood to deal, I spin around and she asks, “Where do you think you’re going?” Her hand’s on her hip. What reason does she have to be pissed off?
Shit! Her timing just sucks!
This is pointless. I turn and keep going, glancing back to reply, “Out.” It comes off a lot harsher than I mean for it to. I’m not mad at her. I just want—
Her heels click against the pavement. She’s coming after me. Like that ever ends well.
Stopping again, I face her in hopes of smoothing things over. “Look, B., I’m sorry. Not now, okay? I need some space.” I put my hands up to let her know I don’t want a fight.
She catches up, reaches into her shopping bag and pulls out a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. “This kind of space?” she asks, passing it to me.
I don’t have to look. The bottle’s an obvious shape. I’ve definitely handled enough of them. It’s a fifth of Jack. That, or Jim Beam. Is it sad that I’m pretty sure it’s Jack?
“Yeah, I guess that’ll do,” I reply with a nod and she takes my hand.
Making a beeline for the hotel doors, she says, “C’mon.” I twist my hand free, but follow her anyway. “Can I get that?” she asks, motioning for the bottle. When I reluctantly give it up, she says, “It’s cool. You’ll get it back. I just—” Nodding at the entrance, she stashes the bottle in her bag before we enter.
It’s okay. I get it. These places don’t exactly like parties in the rooms. And that bottle wasn’t alone. It clanked against another when she put it away.
“Fair enough,” I reply and follow her in. She hasn’t changed one bit since dinner.
Once we’re inside the elevator, she says, “I made it as far as my car.” That she has a car is news to me, but I let it slide.
She reaches into her pocket, pulls out her phone and hands it to me. It takes me a moment to figure it out. Her phone has this tiny little trackball thing on the side. It’s really weird. I find the list of text messages. Most of them are from Giles. Of course, I get curious, but the last one’s all she wants me to see. I read, ‘I was regrettably terse with Faith, but she must understand that her actions carry consequences for us all. You know what this means. Please see to it.’
The same picture’s attached. It didn’t improve with age. I hand her phone back.
As the elevator doors slide open, she whispers, “I’m sorry.” She leads me straight to my room and waits for me to open the door. That she knows exactly where I’m staying isn’t really much of a shock. Earlier this evening it would’ve thrown me, but now—
I just open the door. She slips past me when I lean against the wall in the entry hall next to the closet.
Ignoring the mess, she strides across the room and sets her bag down next to the table. All I want is that bottle. The pieces of my phone hit the trash as she makes herself at home. She places the bottle on the table.
It’s Jack. Standard black label stuff.
Yeah, that’s truly sad. I would’ve won the ‘Bourbon by Braille’ contest.
I cross the room and sit down. The second my hand hits glass, she says, “You have a decision to make.”
I really don’t see that, but—
She sets a wine bottle next to the Jack and steps back. “I get the need. Trust me I do, but—” she says, turning away and moving to the closet. “I need you sharp.” Her fur trimmed coat slips off her shoulders. She hangs it up while she explains, “They’re gonna be coming for you. If you really want to hurt these bastards, all you need to do is stay put.”
I pick up the bottle and ask, “So where’s the decision?”
“It’s simple,” she replies as I break the seal and unscrew the top. I start to take a drink, but she crosses the room and stops me, placing her hand over mine. “Wait. Please don’t,” she implores.
I glare at her. I don’t think she gets it at all.
She doesn’t let go. Looking a little desperate, she says, “I’ve only got one thing to offer. If you pour that out, I’m yours for the rest of the night. I’ll do whatever you ask.”
I don’t get why this is so important to her. I demand to know, “Why?” It’s not like I can’t fight with a buzz. There has to be something else.
She turns her back on me and walks away. “I just can’t deal with this,” she says, stopping at the far corner of the bed. “Every time something bad happens, you hide inside a bottle.” This sounds like an intervention. Bile rises in my throat. Cocking her hip, she rakes her fingers through her hair. “I’m not gonna put up with—”
“Fuck you,” I snap.
She spins around and snaps back, “No!” Her eyes narrow. She’s mad as hell. Closing the distance between us, she rages, “You can’t expect me to stick around and watch you destroy yourself.” I turn my head, unable to face her. “I want more than that. I deserve more!” She puts her hands on my biceps and shakes me, forcing my attention. “Look, I’m either worth it to you or I’m not.”
She backs off, leaving me to pick up my jaw. Destroy myself?
I need some time to get my head around that, but she doesn’t give me any. At least she cools off a little. “I’m not asking you to be an angel. Like I said, I get the need. Tonight’s been bad.” She goes for her bag. A hiss of a snicker precedes her admission, “I need a drink too.”
So, she doesn’t want me to drink, but she wants to drink with me? Uh…
As she heads for the bathroom, I ask, “What exactly is it you want?” I’m out of patience and it shows.
She sets her bag on the corner of the bed before giving me an answer, “I’m just asking for you to follow my lead. That’s all.” She reaches back to unzip her dress. “Sorry. This thing’s making me crazy. It itches.” That last part’s completely offhanded. But I can see it. I’d probably be climbing the walls if I was still wearing mine.
But her dress is different. It looks really uncomfortable. It’s a little like the fancy lace tablecloths my grandmother used to use for special occasions but stretchy with sheer silk between. The lace just kind of strategically covers what it needs to. She pulls it over her head. It’s not covering anything now. She’s down to a light copper-colored lace garter-thong, nylons and heels.
And I’m down to one of the two things that really kept me from really enjoying dinner. Funny, I’m not mad anymore. All that anger just kind of slipped away. She spun me again.
It’s no wonder considering…
My body does all kinds of fun things when she bends and twists to lay her dress on the bed. “I have a couple of conditions,” she whispers. “I want you here in the room until dawn. And you’ll drink only what I pour for you.” She picks her bag. “Don’t worry. I just want my fair share.” She makes me feel like a complete push over, but offers don’t get much nicer. Glancing over her shoulder, she all but purrs, “Do that and I’ll give you whatever you want.” Leaving me alone to stew, she disappears into the bathroom.
When the toilet flushes, I feel sick. She shouldn’t have had to do that.
I stare at the bottle in my hands. It’s no mystery what she’s after. I know she’s read my file. There’s a solid family history of substance abuse. I’m not sure I qualify, but I can see the concern.
Fact is, she means well. And I get what she’s saying. I wouldn’t want to be with me either if—
So, let me get this straight…
I can either spend my night miserable and dwelling on a bunch of bullshit alone. Drink this crap and probably end up hugging the toilet again. That or doing something painfully stupid. Jack and me—we aren’t fast friends.
Or I can share a bottle of wine with her and…
Not much of a choice. Screwing the cap back on, I put the bottle on the table untouched and get up. My mouth still tastes like shit. I cross the room and lean against the wall to wait my turn.
She comes out a few moments later and I can’t help but laugh. Her white cotton Hooter’s cami leaves her stomach bare. I tease, “There something I should know?” She even has on the orange shorts. They fit her like a pair of boyshorts might. Bet this is what most guys wish Hooter’s girls really looked like.
Grinning, she says, “Oh, yeah. There’s a lot you should know.” She laughs. “But we’ll get to that later. You make a choice?”
Slipping past her, I reply, “I’m in. First thing, I want is a picture of that.”
When she says, “Oh, no,” I stop just inside the bathroom door and turn to give her a look. She a little freaked. It’s kinda cute.
I say, “Don’t get your panties in a wad, B.” But I doubt she’s got any on. “It’s for me. Last thing I want is for the gang to know that much about your tits.” I don’t wait for the eye roll. I’ve seen plenty of those. More than my share. Brushing my teeth sounds like more fun. The patio door opens while I take care of that. It makes me curious, but I finish up.
She crouches next to the interior door when I come out. Why there’s a water balloon hanging from my doorknob seems like the thing to ask. I don’t get there. After balancing an empty bottle on the doorknob, she points out a string and says, “The bottle falls—” She touches a sharp, knurled ring that hangs around the mouth of the balloon. It looks sort of like a lock washer. I’m not even sure what it is, but its purpose is clear. The string connects the ring and the bottle.
I finish her thought. “And the ring busts the balloon.” It’s a simple trap, but I still don’t see the point. “What’s in the balloon?” I ask, trying to imagine what you could put into a balloon that’d make a bit of difference. It’d have to be something that wouldn’t hurt us, which pretty much narrows the field.
Standing up, she replies, “Sunlight,” through a mischievous smile. “Well, sort of.” I follow her back to the table and she gives me the rest of the answer, “Will’s been trying to create artificial sunlight for years. She finally got it figured.” She sits in the chair closest to the corner. “It’s really hard to make or we’d be using it all over. She sends me a little every now and then.” Leaning to take something else from her bag, she concludes, “Call it peace of mind.”
That’s pretty slick. I guess we’re set for the rest of the night. I don’t bother to ask why it’s not glowing, but it seems like it should be.
I sit across the table from her. “Are you gonna—?” I ask, pointing at the bottle of Jack. She may have a point. I still want a shot.
She’s more interested in the box in her lap. “I trust you,” she replies.
Well, that makes one of us. I grab the bottle and get up. It hurts a little, but I unscrew the cap and pour. The whole experience can’t end soon enough for me. Really, it shouldn’t take that long to dump a fifth of whiskey. And I guess it doesn’t, but it seems like forever. The smell makes my mouth water.
Now I really need a drink. I chuck the empty bottle in the trash and wash my hands. It worries me that they’re shaking. My mom’s used to do that.
All the lights are out when I enter the room. There’s a candle on the table and two glasses of wine. I guess the picture can wait.
If I was smart, I’d probably just go to my chair. But I’m not smart. That’s not news. I’m over it. I have been for years.
She looks up when I get close. I place my fingers under her chin and gently lift as I lean in to give her a kiss. Our lips brush and somehow it all feels worth it. Just once. Not much more than she gave me last night. I need her to know. Her mouth tastes like raspberries and wine. It doesn’t exactly mix great with the toothpaste, but at least that’s cinnamon. Peppermint would’ve been—
None of that matters. She still sends a shiver down my spine. I pull away. She wants more. We both do. But that’s enough for now. Plenty in fact.
I have her full attention. She looks as needy as I feel. Shaking it off, she picks up a box that’s sitting next to her on the floor and passes it to me. “I thought this was kind of funny,” she says.
The box is from the wineglasses. I glance at the words, ‘tenth anniversary,’ printed on it as she fills in, “But it’s not like I had lots of choice. Something to sleep in was about the same story.”
I set the box next to my chair. Point taken. Shopping after midnight here has its limitations. I pick up my glass, taking a sip before I inspect it. I think the wine’s the same stuff from last night. It tingles on the way down. I might even get a buzz. The bowl of the wineglass is cut to look like a flower. Lack of a choice aside, it’s kind of pretty. “I’d say you did alright,” I whisper and set it down.
So I can have anything I want. I’ve already been over this once tonight. I’m not sure what I want. Or I’m sure, but—
“What do you want?” I ask. For an impulsive question, it’s not half bad.
“World peace,” she replies, brandishing a sunny smile. Too bad her answer’s less than stellar. I feel like I should be humming Miss America, but B.’s just not that vacuous.
I shake my head and say, “That’s not something I can give you,” unable to hold back a grin.
Lifting her glass, she whispers, “You,” and takes a drink. Maybe it’s her answer or maybe it’s the tone of her voice. Doesn’t really matter. One of them or both sends another shiver through me. I flinch and she gives me a funny look.
When my brain reengages, I counter, “Why?”
She replies, “That’s a little more complicated.” So is she. It’s strange how she changes one moment to the next. She continues her thought, even though I’m lost in my own, “I explained part of it earlier. Most of it, actually. But I think what you’re asking for is ‘why now,’ right?”
Nodding, I add, “Yeah, and why here of all places?”
“Because it was easier for me to come to you,” she whispers. The nervous tension builds. “I don’t want you to hate me. I’m just afraid—” She has another drink of wine instead of finishing her thought. That seems like a fine idea. I join her.
At least the toothpaste taste is pretty much gone. This isn’t half bad. Swirling the wine in my glass, I try to reassure her by saying, “I don’t hate you.” But again, I just can’t leave it alone. “Not anymore, at least.” Not that that’s bad. But it would’ve been better left unsaid.
“You might,” she replies and looks away. Her throat moves. It’s another one of those thick swallows. Maybe that was just nerves? She whispers, “I played you. You’re here because I wanted you here.” No, I’m here because Giles sent me here. I don’t bother. She can finish. “Really, you’re here because I thought it’d be good for both of us. This isn’t just about you, y’know?”
She says, “Look, Faith, this isn’t easy.” And she was doing so well up till now. I was cooling off. Getting comfortable. Those words have never been followed by anything good in my experience. I’ve heard them a lot. They’re supposed to soften the blow. Maybe generate a little mutual sympathy. They just make me cringe. I hate the fact that she said them.
I take another sip of wine to wash away the bitter taste as she goes on. “I know what happened in Cleveland.” Part of me wants to ignore her, but I stick it out for morbid curiosity’s sake. “That thing I told you last night. The thing I told Giles. I was talking about both of us. All of us, actually. All of the Sunnydale alumni. We’re all—” She clears her throat instead of saying ‘fucked up.’ That’s okay. I got that blank covered. “It’s scary that we’re leading this—whatever it is. We all need a vacation bad.”
Sad part, when she finishes, I have to agree with most of what she said. Knowing that she doubted my ability to handle a situation isn’t easy. And she’s right, I’m not overjoyed.
She glances at me, checking to see how I took it. I give her nothing in return. She shakes her head as I lose my glass. Holding onto it’s bad. The stuff’s not horrible at room temp, but any warmer and it’d just be nasty. “I tried to talk sense. Get Wood to send someone else. I got the obvious ‘who else do you suggest?’ There wasn’t anyone,” she says.
“What makes you think I needed your help?” I ask, letting the anger come through in my voice.
She replies, “It’s not that I thought you couldn’t handle it.” She springs to her feet. It’s funny, even in that silly outfit, she still pulls off threatening. I’m not even sure it’s her goal, but she puts me on the defensive. “That’s not what this is about. I don’t doubt you for a second. I know if this falls apart, neither one of us would—” Smart girl. She holds her tongue and takes her seat.
Drawing in a deep breath, she gets back on point. “It’s that I knew it would screw with you.” She gives me glance, locking eyes for just a sec. “I know it’d screw with me. I couldn’t think of another single soul who could handle that and not—”
She pulls legs up to her chest and hugs them. Now she looks really small. “There wasn’t anyone else,” she says. Her voice is small too. It gets smaller when she adds, “I felt like suggesting Wood, but—”
When she falls flat, I supply, “Dumb son of a bitch would’ve just gotten himself killed.” The statement makes my blood curdle. That it’s true makes it worse.
There’s this thing about kids. They’re more agile than adults.
Actually, it’s a couple of things. There’s the sympathy too. I’ll never admit it, but I was lucky to walk out of there alive.
“That wasn’t your fault. Wood was—” I hear the words and want to scream. That’s what she’s supposed to say. I’m just glad she doesn’t finish.
I can’t believe the asshole’s dead. Her saying that only makes it more real. I set my jaw, biting down instead of—
She considers what to say next. Or maybe how to put what she has to say. Who knows?
There’s a list of things that make this shitty. Shittier than usual. Things like this are never easy, but—
At the top of that list is how he died. His death might not be on me, but how he died…
Picking up her thought, B. says, “Wood put himself alone in a room with Spike.”
A tear slips down my cheek. I wipe it away with a trembling hand. My face is wet. I open my mouth and croak, “Stop,” but she’s already on it again.
“Can you think of another single human being who could be so tragically stupid? Spike’s not—”
I give up. Any more would just draw attention. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want that. What I want is to dig a hole. I want to fall into it, pull the ground in on top of me and go to sleep…forever.
Completely unaware, she goes for the obvious, “We’re pretty evenly matched. The only reason Wood walked out of there alive is because Spike let him.” She turns to toward me and I hang my head. My bangs fall in front of my face. I just hope she doesn’t notice. She mumbles, “And Spike let him go…” Her voice loses strength as she firms up.
Taking her glass, she stands. Her movements are really deliberate. It’s like she doesn’t want to alarm me. I can feel the debate. She knows I’m crying. What she chooses to do about it is walk away. I’m not even sure why, but I’m grateful. She sits on the edge of the bed farthest from me and says, “Anyway, when Wood wouldn’t listen, Giles and I started trying to figure out what to do. How to help. I came here to be close to you and—”
Clearing her throat, she whispers, “I’m sorry.” Her glass makes a faint clinking sound when she sets it down. I rub my eyes and look up. My hands are still shaking. “We both knew you wouldn’t come without a mission, so—” her voice catches “—he lied to you for me.” She probably thinks I’ll hate her for that. I suspect she’s crying too. When she adds a second apology, “I’m so sorry,” I hear it in her voice. “I wish there’d been another way. I was just worried about you.” She wipes her eyes. “Please try to understand. I needed to know you were safe.”
I really want to be mad. I have every reason in the world, but I don’t think I have it in me. I feel so numb. And really, this is just more of B.’s brand of caring. She’s never been good at letting things go.
I guess that’s lucky for me. I wasn’t done. I’m still not done. Not by a long shot. But without her, I would’ve just kept going until—
That might’ve been me hanging there instead of Wood. I can think of better ways to go.
At least this way I can get my head on straight before—
Like that’s gonna anytime happen soon.
Well, I’m done leaking. I wipe my eyes and go to splash my face. When I return, she’s curled up on the bed. I kick off my tennies and slide in behind her. She pulls the covers over us as I wrap my arms around her.
It’s so strange. The numbness is literal. I feel her move, but—
She turns onto her back. There’s a question in her eyes.
“Just hold me,” I whisper. “That’s all I want.”
I think I’ve had enough for one day.
White, frilly curtains billow in the warm breeze, reverse shadows in a dusky room.
I lay on my side, curled up on the end of the bed, watching her. She lounges in a corner chair, doing the same. Her hair’s darker than I remember. She has on a thick, white turtleneck sweater that extends to her mid-thigh, dark jeans and suede boots. I wonder why she’s dressed so warmly. It feels nice in here.
Neither one of us has spoken, but that’s fine. She still doesn’t need to talk.
This must be what comfortable silence is like. I’ve never found silence comforting before. Not when I’m with someone. Talking about something, anything, even if it really amounts to not much at all, passes the time.
Lightning flashes outside the windows on either side of her chair. This room must be at the corner of a house. I’ve never been here before, but it feels like home.
Thunder crackles in the distance. The silence afterward doesn’t last. She whispers, “You know one of us has to go, right?”
I wish it’d lasted. Silence was better.
“I know,” I reply. I’m not even sure how I know. Strange how something can simply feel true. There’s not a shred of supporting evidence. I just know in my gut that she doesn’t belong here. The fact that I don’t like it is pretty much meaningless. “I wish you wouldn’t,” I add, hoping it’ll matter.
“It can’t be helped,” she replies and I know that’s true too. I hate it, but—
The storm’s moving fast, getting closer. Gentle breezes become violent gusts. Curtains swell and shadows churn. Brilliant pulses drown out the twilight. There’s something not quite right about them. The light should be white. Maybe it’s the walls that aren’t white? Lit up they look like pages from one of Giles’ old books, minus the chicken scratches.
Now they’re just gray.
She rises to her feet, saying mid-stretch, “A storm’s coming.” I don’t know why she says it. It’s not news.
I try not to snicker. I can’t help it. B. looks nothing like Linda Hamilton. The laugh catches in my throat, broken off by more ripples of light. It has an orangey cast now. And the thunder doesn’t sound like thunder at all. It’s hollow. Each report resonates. So concussive, I expect to smell gunpowder. All I smell is her.
Really, it’s a blend of us. Faint traces of her perfume and shampoo…and my body wash mingle with the musky smells of sweat and heat.
Where’s the cold? If this really is a storm like she said, the temperature should be dropping, not climbing. I could be wrong about the smell. That may just be me. But she’s dressed for a part in Northern Exposure, yet somehow she hasn’t even broken a sweat.
She takes a step towards me, a flash goes off and I freeze. Strobes of light echo her progress. My heartbeat quickens. Every footstep reports with a clap. I wish she’d stop! As the sounds get closer together and the flares grow brighter, redder and more intense, the color washes from her hair. When she reaches the bed, the claps have become one solid roar and the light…
Fiery light pours in through the windows behind her, obscuring her face. A fine, smoky haze distorts the borders of the room.
What the hell’s wrong with her? She didn’t even notice that her little stroll teleported the house from the Midwest to the Sudan. Or somewhere beneath Jerusalem.
Whichever…we’re not in Kansas anymore.
She sits down next to me, like nothing’s wrong. Reaching out to caress my cheek, she says, “I envy…” Her voice muddies. I can’t make out a single word. The rumbling’s just too loud.
Her hand moves to my neck. She leans in. I see her lips move now. Intently watching them, I long to hear what she says. Blonde hair haloes her face. It smells like wildflowers.
Her breath tickles my ear when she whispers, “I love you.” Hearing her voice comes as more of a shock than what she says. If I stopped to think…
I draw in a ragged breath. The racket fades to static as I let it go. Am I going deaf?
No, I heard her voice. It must be getting better.
Warm and moist, her lips caress the cleft of my ear and suddenly I don’t care.
The light’s so intense now I have to shut my eyes. Even behind closed lids, it’s not dark.
Moving down, she nibbles my earlobe and kisses my neck. I wrap my arms around her, interrupting the kiss. Her skin’s so soft. I wonder where her sweater went. Her head comes to rest on my shoulder as I turn onto my back.
Lacing her fingers through my hair, she cups the back of my head. Her other hand strokes my thigh. She rolls on top of me, parting my legs with her knee. I touch the small of her back. My hands creep lower. It’s getting harder to move them. I should probably be worried, but I just make do. And the way this feels…it’s worth every ounce of effort.
Our lips meet, but she nips and plays. When I reach up with my right hand, wanting to end the tease, her lips crush against mine. My nails dig in reflexively and she mashes into my crotch. I’m so soaked, her thigh slides against my pussy.
Pulling back, I whimper.
How long have I been naked?
She forces her tongue between my lips. Her mouth tastes sweet, like she’s been eating candy.
I relax my grip on her ass and she shifts her weight. Her hold on my thigh loosens. Funny, I didn’t even notice it.
She moves so fast I couldn’t stop it if I tried. Her fingertips skim over my clit, slip between my vulva, and push inside me. I almost flinch, expecting it to hurt, but it doesn’t.
Just the opposite.
She thrusts, using her whole body to deepen the stroke.
I groan, but there’s no sound. I remember now. There’s something wrong.
Light fills my closed eyes. My arms lay limp at my side. Even with all my strength, I can’t move them.
But she’s moving just fine. She leaves a trail of kisses down my throat. Her body writhes against mine. Flies buzz in my ears. Her fingers plunge and retreat.
I should be quaking, but nothing happens. It’s like everything I can do—
All that I am…
That’s sort of it, but not. Being buried would involve gravity. All of the pressure would come from one side. This isn’t that.
Her weight lifts and I barely notice. She bumps my arm. The damned thing moves easy enough for her.
What the fuck’s wrong with me? Being crushed from all around seems like it should hurt.
Maybe it’s what she’s doing? Pain and sex don’t exactly mix.
Well, they mix. They mix great in fact, but—
And why not her? How’s she so special? She can still move. She proves it by nibbling, licking and sucking a path to my right nipple.
With everything else, it really doesn’t seem like I should feel that.
Breathlessly, I struggle. My lungs won’t work.
Yeah, I’m putting up one hell of a fight. I lay perfectly still, but my whole body crawls. Now if my brain would just explode, we could call it a day.
Her thumb presses into my clit. The pace she sets is slow, but very firm. Long, deep strokes with a harsh push at the end.
This must be what it’s like to be shrink-wrapped.
I never wondered what that’d be like.
Good to know. Thanks!
Her mouth closes over my nipple. She drags her teeth over the tip.
Noiselessly, I gasp. No air comes.
This isn’t making me any brighter. And Lord knows I need—
She pads her teeth with her lips and clamps down. Her tongue curls around the tip, flicking, striking…
Scarfing’s one kink I never got, but I can sorta see the appeal now. My brain’s past mush. We’re to the point where I’ll be lucky to drool once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no.’
I can’t see how she doesn’t notice. She moves and it moves me. I don’t move on my own. I should be panting, crying, begging. Hell, an ‘Oh God’ would sure sound nice right about now. It’d be appropriate. I hang on right on the edge of a nervous collapse or a mind-blowing orgasm. Tough call. It’ll probably be both.
Mind-blowing’s right. Blood dribbling out of my ears wouldn’t seem out of place. If I’m lucky, I’ll just pass out.
I lost track. She’s moved on. Her hair drags over my ribs. She kisses my stomach.
Her hand moves in a tight orbit, crushing and pulling away. The rhythm is faster now, but just as firm.
She’s so close now. Her chin scrubs my pubes. Breaking contact, she whips her hair back. Her thumb lifts and her fingers slip free.
I don’t have to see her move to know. I can feel.
I need. The list is too long to go into.
I’ve stopped trying.
It’s so weird. Out of place. She kisses the back of my hand.
When she touches me again, it’s amazing. Another finger joins the slippery mass. It’s stubby, but so thick. She stretches me open.
And I was right about her mouth. I expected some sort of warning, a preamble, like a test lick or something, but she doesn’t screw around. A cool breath blows over my pussy as her mouth envelopes it. I’d shudder if I could. Her tongue sweeps across my folds, swirling, turning, and slashing up. She parts my lips, thrashing my clit.
The pressure lifts.
My ears pop as I draw in a starved breath and cry out.
The relief’s so fleeting. I open my eyes. Fire blazes all around me, lapping my skin.
As I stare into the raging inferno, my body goes numb. They say that happens. That it’s agony to burn to death, but it doesn’t last. There’s too much stimulation. A fatal case of T.M.I. The brain just can’t take it. It overloads, nerve endings sear and there’s no more pain.
Where is she?
I lift up and look down, peering through the flames. We lay on a bed of coals. I expect to see charred flesh, but neither one of us has a single burn. Her bangs are clumped and plastered to her forehead. The lower half her face is nestled between my thighs. We’re both drenched with sweat. Flames reflect off of our wet skin. It’s a really glamorous look.
But honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen anything more beautiful in my life. She said she loves me.
What I can see of her face is kind of pinched. But that’s an awful way to describe it. The little lines around her eyes are kind of cute. She’s lost. The only thing that matters to her now is me.
She notices me watching. When our eyes meet, my body wakes up. She draws a tight circle with her fingers, pressing up with the pads. I gasp. Ripples of pleasure wash over me.
Her hand lurches to life, stabbing inward. I shut my eyes and throw my head back. My elbows dig in, causing my back to arch. I cling for all I’m worth, balling the coals up in my fists. They’re so soft. It makes no sense, but it’d be a serious waste of time to ask why. I’ve got my hands full just dealing with her. What she’s doing is…
I feel it all, her lips, tongue and hands. One of her arms—the left one, I think—is threaded under my thigh.
That’s the real trouble, I can’t think. I’m doing well just to feel.
Her left hand’s locked around my hip, holding me down, keeping me from trembling away. The right one pounds an erratic rhythm inside me. Her lips press into tender flesh. They’re soft too, but firm. She suckles my clit. I even feel her breath. She pants greedily between lashes with her tongue.
She finally gets her ‘Oh God.’ At least, I think that’s what it was. I’m not the one in control. She is.
It’s funny. I don’t think she wants me to cum. This feels so clumsy, but that’s the last thing it is. She pushes hard and fast for just two strokes, then slows down for the next three and turns around to pound me again. Three, then two, then two, then three. Each set’s a little different. She varies pressure and speed, playing me like an instrument.
If she wants me to beg, I don’t disappoint. She gets the full show. I’ve never been fucked with such inept precision. Maybe that’s been the problem all along. She’s evil.
My head throbs. There’s so much pressure. All of my muscles are locked. I shake like I’m dying. My body’s on fire.
I find the strength to open my eyes. The fire surrounding us isn’t as intense. There’s less churning ash and smoke. I can see through it now. The walls and ceiling are gone. As far as I can tell, we’re just hanging here.
It figures…while I’m having one of the best fucks of my life, Satan’s interior decorator moves in and remodels the room. That’s just my brand of luck.
Oh well, she should feel right at home.
I stare into the distance, debating the pros and cons of consciousness. I could be missing something really good. Or I might just find the perfect reason to be humiliated when I open my eyes for real.
It’s a crapshoot. I think I’ll hang. Being on the edge of sleep like this feels good. What she’s doing feels better. Or maybe all of this is just a fantasy and I’m stewing in my own juices.
Either way, I’m in no hurry.
A speck catches my eye. It draws closer and attracts friends. Burned scraps of paper swirl in the fire.
Two of the frail slips touch and their edges knit together. More pieces get caught in the dance. They fill the gaps and two tattered sections become one.
At first I don’t get it. It’s just gray chunks of ash, fluttering around. But then, colors bleed through and part of a picture takes shape.
Okay, so…it’s a brick wall. Why’s that important?
I follow a section, watching it merge. Its edges are torn, white and ragged. When it joins with the whole, they blend, leaving a glossy finish behind.
All this fire and my blood goes cold. I may actually be losing it. I take it back! I want to wake up.
That’s great! Now if I only knew how. I have no idea.
The torn photograph flattens, enlarges and expands. When all I can see is it and the fire, the picture comes to life.
Wood’s legs twitch. He kicks the wall. It’s probably just a death throe, but it swings him on the rope.
I feel sick. “Why am I here?” I demand.
Some strange girl hisses in response, “Fuckin’ worthless little twat.”
Kid’s got some serious anger issues.
And a foul mouth.
I look down. That’s no kid. Kako approaches my position. She’s hard to miss. Her waist-length black hair fans out behind her, whipped by the breeze. She wears a red cocktail dress that makes her look like she’s dressed in her mommy’s clothes. I don’t know the story, but she must’ve been turned pretty young.
Really, she looks like a strong gust would carry her away until you get to her face. The pointed ears work, but the rest—
She’s got a permanent case of game face. There comes a point when it just never goes away. Makes me wonder if that happens over time or if one day they change and they can’t change back. Kind of adds a new twist to that tired parental line, ‘You keep doing that and your face’ll stay that way.’ I can see some sire—
I find a snicker…somewhere, though there’s nothing funny here.
Her nose is the worst. It must’ve been really smallish ’cause all that’s left are a few ridges between her big dark eyes and two slit-shaped nostrils.
It’s a real head-turner.
And that was no response. She doesn’t even know I’m here. But the stupid little cunt was talking about me.
I hadn’t even heard her till now. I wasn’t missing much. She may look like she’s twelve, but she’s got a voice like she’s six. It’s creepy.
I’m surprised she got her hands dirty over this. I must’ve really pissed her off.
Is it sad that all I can think is ‘good’?
Wood’s still a dumb motherfucker. A past tense ‘dumb motherfucker.’ Doesn’t matter how you slice it. Screwing with a vamp who needs four small rectangles in the space where it says ‘age’…
For me, that’s not smart, but for someone like Wood, it’s absolutely insane. Still flips me out how he died, but B.’s right, the fact that he had a death wish isn’t my problem.
Kako passes beneath me and I turn around, expecting to see the vacant field across from the school. It’s weird enough that I’m floating in midair inside a huge fireball. But when I face the other way, I’m standing on the rough wooden floor of an abandoned building. The only thing that doesn’t change is the fire.
The place is similar to my last two-one-six address. The corner I stare into has bare, grungy red brick walls. Decades worth of black dirt and ruddy brown fuzzy dust rests on globs of mortar that squeezed through between the bricks when they were laid. The ruddy brown comes from the tattered insulation that drapes from the rough beam ceiling.
Off to my right are the remnants of a few modernish offices or storerooms. It’s the wallboard that makes me think ‘modern.’ The drywall cubes look like ruined building blocks. They’re a little out of place. What makes them fit is they’ve been shredded by looters looking for copper scrap.
It’s a classy place. Lots of room to move around, but so disgusting and busted up the only moving around you wanna do is just what it takes to leave.
Leaving sounds awfully good. I don’t have a stitch on. And I still feel B. I’m not gonna look down. Seeing her kneeling between my legs…
This feels messed up enough. I don’t need the visual.
Gaps in the rotted gray floor boards bring back fond memories. They let the chill in and rats out. Makes sleeping in places like this lots of fun. And the image of B. that much more disturbing.
All this really narrows it down. There are hundreds of these places in the Greater Cleveland Area.
And we need to narrow it down.
A stack of crates sits between the corner and the new construction. They’re marked with every single symbol you least want to see in the hands of a psychotic, ancient vamp who’s bent on your destruction. It’s a fun picture. Words like ‘caution’ and ‘explosives’ are stenciled on some of the crates. Others just have the red diamonds you see on gas tankers.
And here I am standing in a fiery maelstrom. If this was real, any issues would sort themselves out. And level a few city blocks in the process.
Suddenly, I’m not alone. This cake really needed some icing. The room fills with uppity white boys. They materialize out of nowhere one at a time or in small groups. It only takes a few seconds and I’m surrounded.
The only real icing here is that they don’t notice me. Half the residents of Elkton could’ve just dropped in and it wouldn’t look much different.
Well, no one’s wearing prison O.J., but that’s minor. The major is the sea of muscle-bound, bald-headed dipshits sporting jailhouse tats and bandannas.
Glad this is a dream. I’d be so screwed.
Kako yells, “I’m done fucking around,” drawing their attention. She stands on the highest crate. The boys cheer.
She raises her talons to call for order. The hands and feet are the first things to go when vamps outlive their expiration date.
Someone seriously needs to fix that.
When the commotion dies down, she says, “Bring me the head of a slayer and you’ll join me. I’m granting your wish, boys. You can be like me. And the one who brings me the head of Faith Lehane will sit at my right hand.”
Now there’s a real treat. All the baby rapers in the room will be lining up to fill that vacancy.
Who am I kidding? As whacked as these boys are, they might just think she’s a prime piece of ass. The Aryan tats I notice here and there are even more icing. This picture just keeps getting better and better. Now we have Nazi skinheads with bombs and god knows what else bent on our destruction.
She jumps down and the idiots make way, clearing a path for her as she leaves. One of them passes right through me. It’s completely cringe-worthy. After that, I avoid them, dodging and weaving to reach the open aisle.
Bitch has a real flair for the dramatic. She stops in the open bay door, glances over her shoulder and barks, “Now get to work!”
I roll my eyes and almost miss the surge. As the boneheads rush the crates, they depart with less grace than they entered. The room comes apart.
My eyes snap shut against blinding light. That doesn’t end the barrage of images. They appear so fast I can’t even keep track.
A deafening roar fills my head. I bring my hands to my ears to block it out and snap upright in bed.
The splitting headache makes me queasy, but at least I’m awake.
At least I think I’m wake.
My right hand goes from my ear to my mouth without being told. It really doesn’t help that my fingers are sticky and smell like pussy.
I let both hands fall to my lap. Worst case: I puke and piss off the maids.
The dream ended with the usual montage of faces, places and things. I open my eyes. Y’know, it’d be helpful if whoever the shitheads are who choreograph these things would show me the backs of the flashcards too. ’Cause as it is, I almost never figure out where any of the shit fits until after the curtains are closed.
All that takes a solid second to…
B. sits at the end of my bed, hugging her legs and looking horrified. Her eyes are glassy with unshed tears. She finds the nerve to look at me and a stream of ‘I’m sorrys’ pours out. The second round gets a ‘so’ tossed in for good measure and the third an ‘Oh God’ before just for fun.
I get it. ‘She’s sorry.’ I just don’t get what for.
I consider breaking up the repeat-o-girl act, but she snaps out of it on her own. “It looked like you were hurting yourself. I just—” she mumbles, planting her forehead on her knee.
No clue what she means, but I’m not exactly with it, so…
As I mull things over, a couple more pieces of the dream crop up. There was a digital display with four places that all read zeroes and about four or five different gargoyles. Weird, creepy little guys. One of them had water coming out of his mouth.
It takes my mind off B. while it lasts. She’s a totally different story. A truly disturbing story. She’s falling apart like she thinks she hurt me. Or I guess that’s it. I just don’t see how she gets that. It’d be great if she was the only one. I might stand a chance of getting it figured and help her out.
I’m way too screwed for that. My head feels like a balloon. A big, throbbing, aching, ‘about to pop or float away’ balloon. And no wonder. That was my first erotic nightmare. I really didn’t think those two things mixed.
And they really, really don’t.
The P.T.B.s just had to stick their noses in and make things that much worse. Or I guess that’s how that works. Whatever.
Stupid slayer dreams are so real. You’ve got no control. Whatever it is—whoever it is that runs that show—they don’t let up till you’ve seen the credits.
I may need therapy.
What I should do or say’s kind of a mystery, but I need to make her understand so we can fix this. Digital numbers—never a positive sign.
Not exactly cryptic either.
Giles has to get the girls out of that place. I could just say that, but she’d think I’m crazy.
I may be, but that’s so not the point.
My head hurts like hell and moving just sucks, but I’m not as sick at my stomach anymore. I slide to the end of the bed, reach out and cup her face in my hands. I have to coax her to meet me halfway. A few gentle shushing sounds when she opens her mouth and a request, “Kiss me,” do the trick.
It’s completely messed up. Another mystery, but—
I smell better on her than I do on me. And the taste…
It’s really faint and I really don’t expect it. But it’s also pretty unmistakable. I guess she—
So that part of the dream was real?
Hell, I dunno, I guess it must be something like that. I can’t even imagine, but this isn’t your standard morning breath unless I’m really missing something.
On her the combo brings another issue sharply into focus: my pussy hurts almost as much as my head. And that’s seriously saying nothing good. She might have a point.
I let go. I’d really like to keep this up and see where it leads, but right now…
She doesn’t look upset anymore.
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