Rating: 15 for language (what's that make it in US money, R?)
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. I'm just playing in Joss Whedon's pretty big sandbox.
Previous chapters can be found here
Edit So now I'm home I can upload the song that cured my block on this yesterday. It doesn't have any lyrical link to the story - well, not really - but the emotional variants within in it triggered something that made me get back into the frame of mind I need to be in to write it. The song is "I Remember" by Damien Rice and is in a way two songs, at around the 2min 20 mark it completely changes and becomes a little chaotic. Seemed to fit with the frame of mind of both Xander and Faith in this story.
I remember - Damien Rice
He matches her shot for shot, barely noticing the taste as the fiery liquor works its way into his system. All he knows right now is that he’s not going to let her have this little victory.
She drinks in silence, watching him over the rim of the glass and he wonders if being the Slayer gives her a higher tolerance for alcohol. Somehow he doubts it, and part of him realizes that she’s really laying all her cards on the table here.
She’s potentially baring her soul to him in an attempt to get him to open up to her. He knows he should be touched by the gesture but the part of him that would be is swallowed up by the yawning pit of emptiness inside him.
He slams another shot back and reaches for the bottle, it takes him a couple of attempts but finally he grabs it.
“You’re some piece of work Faith.” He hears himself say.
She doesn’t answer, just knocks back her own drink and reclaims the bottle.
“You think you’ve got all the answers, dontcha?” He carries on regardless, “Well maybe I’m not asking for answers, maybe I’m not asking for anythin’.”
He frowns at his own words, they made sense in his head before he said them but as soon as he opened his mouth they turned into something else.
“Aint got no answers.” She finally says and Xander smirks at the slur he can hear in her voice. “Just got time and no place better to be. You wanna talk? Go right ahead, I’m listenin’”
He shakes his head. “Not gonna talk, got nothing to talk ‘bout.” Another drink, this one he sips at, he thinks maybe he’s hit his limit for shots.
“You’re so fucking self-righteous, y’know that?” He says. Huh, apparently he is going to talk after all. “With your fucking superpowers and your whole ‘good-girl-turned-bad’ deal.” He stops, frowning again. “No, that’s not it. S’the other way round – bad to good. Thassit. Tryin’ to prove you’re St Faith nowadays. Well guess what?” He drops his voice to a whisper and leans forward conspiratorially, “It’s not always about you.”
He sits back again, pleased with himself as she pushes her glass around the scarred table-top. She doesn’t look up as she answers. “Xander, it’s never been about me.” She says it so quietly that he barely hears her and the simple honesty in her tone takes him aback. This isn’t the Faith he thinks he knows. She sounds so… small.
He can’t answer her, after all what can he say?
She slams back her shot and grimaces a little. “So, what was the deal with you and demon chick anyway?”
He glares at her, daring her to say anything derogatory about Anya, and she meets his stare head-on with a smirk.
“Lemme guess,” she continues. “You had break-up sex, right? An’ then you just kept right on having break-up sex. Gotta tell you somethin’ ‘bout that.” She leans forward, mimicking his earlier movements, and stage-whispers. “After the first time it stops being about break-up sex and starts being about having a fuck buddy.”
She takes another drink and attempts to pour one more for the two of them. Most of the liquor splashes onto the table, something she finds incredibly funny and he glares at her while she laughs. How would she know what it was between him and Anya at the end? How could she know that they were close to something new? That maybe, just maybe they were moving towards being a couple again. That maybe she could have forgiven him.
“It’s just sex though,” Faith breaks into his thoughts and he blinks.
“Y’know that, right? It was just about sex – everyone could see that.” She peers at him, “You do know that? It didn’t mean anythin’?”
He doesn’t say anything, but he knows his thoughts are writ large across his face. She laughs and he feels the anger rise again at being the butt of her joke – how dare she laugh at him like that?
“Oh you are just too precious for words, Harris! Sex can just be about sex, don’t have to mean anything more than that.”
“It’s just skin, right?” He snaps at her, his last thread of patience finally snapping, and is rewarded when she pales slightly.
“Yeah.” She says in that small quiet voice. “Sometimes it’s just skin.”
He turns away from her, proud of himself for scoring a point in this sparring match, and thinks back to Sunnydale, to Anya. Oddly, this time he’s not immediately drowning in the depths of grief, maybe Faith’s ‘mystical drug’ really is helping. He smirks a little, he knows that’s not it – God knows he’s drunk enough of this stuff in the past week. Maybe it’s the company… no. He stops that thought in his tracks, he doesn’t need anyone to get him through this, and he definitely doesn’t need Faith.
Something haunts him though, he can recall with crystal clarity every single time he and Anya were alone in those last few days, but he can’t remember a single conversation they’d had.
Could Faith be right? Is he holding onto a false memory? Reading more into what happened that was actually there?
He doesn’t want to admit it, but he thinks maybe that’s exactly what he’s been doing. His mouth goes dry and he can’t speak. Looking up he can see Faith watching him with a softness in her eyes he’s not used to seeing there.
“C’mon, time to blow this joint.” She remarks, standing and holding her hand out to help him to his feet. His gaze drops to her hand, he doesn’t get where she’s coming from, what her angle on this is, but he thinks maybe right now he can let her in a little. He’s got time to reflect on this tomorrow, right now he’ll let himself go with the flow. It’s easier than the alternative.
He takes her hand and lets her lead him outside.
Neither says anything more on the walk back to the motel, there’s nothing to be said. Instead, they walk in silence and Xander realizes he’s still holding Faith’s hand like a lifeline, he thinks maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Two blocks from the motel and Faith tenses suddenly, he frowns and realises his eye is stinging as smoke carried on the wind irritates it. He scans around for the source but somehow he already knows where it is.
Faith sprints away and he follows quickly, the fireball that had been the motel coming into sharp focus as he draws near. People are milling around outside and he scans the crowd quickly, looking for familiar faces.
“Xander! Faith!” Dawn comes hurtling towards them with tears streaming down her soot-marked face. Faith grabs her shoulders as Xander search turns frantic.
“Dawn! What happened? Is everyone alright?” Faith asks, all trace of slurring gone from her voice in an instant.
The younger girl shakes her head. “Ken… Kennedy’s not here. No one’s seen her since…”
Xander’s world drops away. Kennedy’s gone. Which as far as he can see can only lead to one thing and he doesn’t know if he can deal with this. Not now. Not again.
“Willow.” He breathes.
To be continued...