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10 October 2009 @ 02:25 pm
Fic: Crimson Regret - 18/? (BtVS, Faith/Xander, Ensemble)  
Remember this?. I honestly cannot believe it has been four and a half years since I started writing this story. I am so sorry for the delay! (In the memories I've linked to chapter 12 is out of sequence, apparently I never added it originally and have only just done it.)

This is a short(ish)chapter. Dedicated to moscow_watcher for reading and reviewing this fic recently and kick-starting the muse again. Also, I had kinda written myself into a corner in the last two parts, but rather than ret-conning or back-tracking, I've gone with it and moved the action (such as it is) on a few hours to compensate. And now I'll stop waffling and actually post it!

Title: Crimson Regret
Author: Shona aka Mara
Ratng: PG this part, 15 overall.
Disclaimer: Not my sandbox - I'm just playing here.
Summary: As Xander spirals deeper into depression, Faith struggles to find a way to help, despite what's going on around them.

Previously: After the ride out of Sunnydale, Xander has shut himself away from everyone but Faith forces him out of the hotel and onto patrol. With blunt honesty and the lubricating influence of Mescal, they come to an uneasy truce only to find on their return the hotel is on fire and Kennedy is missing. Willow is seen using magic and Xander tackles her only to trap them in the flames. Faith pulls them out but on recovering in hospital there are conflicting tales as to what actually happened...




The next time he wakes it's to a world filled with confusion. There's a brief panic when he doesn't know who he is, let alone where he is. He closes his eye, takes a few deep breaths, feels a tickle in his throat that is anything but funny, and coughs and chokes his way back to clarity.

He's alone, but he's not alone. He shakes his head in an attempt to clear it and immediately regrets it as the room takes a dizzying tilt. He reaches out and grabs the edge of the bed, feels something like a cot rail.

Hospital. That's it, he's in hospital. Again. He drops his head back onto the pillows and sighs.

"Can you walk?"
Xander blinks at the question. The room had been empty, he's sure of it. "Huh?"
"We need to get away from here." A girl with long brown hair and earnest eyes is speaking and for a moment he has absolutely no idea who she is. "Willow knows where we are, she'll be back. It's not safe here."
There's something really wrong with this picture, Xander knows there is, but he can't figure out what.
"Huh?" He repeats, stumbling as she helps (forces) him up and thrusts his clothing into his arms.
He's almost overwhelmed by the smell of smoke coming from the fabric but even so there's something else, overpowering it, something like ozone and spent matches.
"She'll be coming. We have to go. Now." She's tugging at his arm and he can't think (doesn't want to), he can only react and he's pulling on his jeans before he registers he's moving.
"Willow? But..." He sways. Safe from Willow? That's not right. Willow is safe. Safety is Willow. She would never...

In a flash of memory he's back atop King Man's Bluff. Willow, in all her (un)Happy Goth, black-eyed glory. Willow, trying to end the world. She's not safe. Nothing about her is safe and he's known since that moment that she's on a knife-edge. It wouldn't take much to push her over. To break her. To make her not safe.

"Kennedy." He breathes the name, remembers someone telling him the girl was missing. Remembers the fire, remembers Willow standing there, chanting some spell.

"No!" He's shouting and pushing away. He stumbles across the tiny room and the girl
(Dawn, she's Dawn. She's always been Dawn)
is begging him to calm down but he can't. He won't.

There's a tug at the crook of his elbow and a burst of sharp pain is lancing up his arm. He's glancing down, seeing the blood from where the IV needle had been. He's frozen.

Blood.

Something is tugging at his memory, something he had seen earlier. Something to do with blood
(it's all because of you, you know that don't you?)
something important.

The memory is not coming but now Dawn
(the stranger)
is manhandling him into the plaid button-down he'd been wearing on his abortive outing - not a date - with Faith.

Faith.

The Vampire Slayer. A Vampire Slayer. His heart stutters and misses a beat. That's what he'd seen. That's what he to tell them all, to warn them. A vampire Slayer. One of them had been turned.

And Xander is suddenly hearing that voice again (if you'd said something, done something...) and he knows who she is.

He's turning to speak as the cool night air hits him and he realizes Dawn has led him right out of the hospital without him noticing.

She's leading him across the parking lot.

Right to where Kennedy is waiting.
 
 
Current Mood: nervousnervous
Current Music: Tori Amos - Time
 
 
 
Elenamoscow_watcher on October 10th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. God.

You convey perfectly the state of shock and confusion Xander experiences - bits of memories rushing into his brain, conflicting with each other - safe!Willow, Evil!Willow, Dawn's (un)existence, his (un) date with Faith.

Love the formatting. I usually don't like when writers put characters' thoughts in italics - but in this case it works well, creating the effect of distorted voices reverberating in Xander's head.

Xander's reaction at blood initially frightened me - could he be the one who got sired? But, apparently, it's not him - doctors would have noticed that he doesn't have a pulse.

So many intriguing bits. Who had been turned? Willow? Kennedy? Faith? (If you follow the grand BtVS tradition, it must be Faith - because a romance with a Scoobie is usually a kiss of death in Buffyverse.)

*pets Xander*

I'm so happy you updated your fic. Hopefully you'll have inspiration to continue.

(I will be Internet-less for the next week, but the first thing I'm going to do when I get online again will be checking your LJ).

*hugs*
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I owe you such a debt for bringing this story back to the fore - it's always been right up there with my favourites and I've felt horribly guilty about abandoning it.

I'm planning to update it a whole lot more often, in fact I'm hoping to have it concluded definitely before the end of the year - maybe a lot sooner.
smhwpf on October 10th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. Goddess! Crimson Regret is back! Wow, that must be... I don't like to think how long!

Yay!

And it is still awesome and dark and atmospheric and everything!

Except... I think your writing's got a lot better since the last installment. Not that it wasn't good back then... but you seem to be doing more with... I don't know, stuff!

Anyway, may I say again, Yay! *g*
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
*grins*

The lovely moscow_watcher discovered the story recently and reviewed each part as she read it. It brought it all flooding back and made me want to finish it.

Thank you - I think in this part especially I focused on language usage because there is a very definite feel I wanted to create. (I waffled about the tense in my reply to waddis further down). I also have to admit to having read a whole screed of books using the bracketed input style lately and when it came to putting the confusion and absolute chaos of the situation across, it seemed the perfect way.

I'm so glad it seems to have worked!
hpchickhpchick on October 11th, 2009 05:28 am (UTC)
Won't have a chance to read until tomorrow, but....SQUEEE! So excited to see you're still writing this.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sticking with me long enough to see it come back around again!
tessarintessarin on October 11th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Great job on this. This chapter along with the two previous ones really nicely set up the chaotic thoughts that occur during times of crisis. Like the character's I'm now somewhat lost as to what is going on, but in a good way.:-) Looking forward to seeing how this unravels.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I'm so glad the basic confusion is coming across. One of the themes I want to have running through this whole thing is second guessing assumptions.

Almost a 'Trust No One' philosophy as it were.

More will be coming soon - I promise!
Saffiulla Karmanskarman on October 11th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
Glad to see this again. Just had to read the whole series from the start to get what's been going on.

You've managed to confuse me, with Xander's thoughts. It seems there is a Slayer who's been turned. Could be Kennedy, could be Faith. However, I doubt it's the latter because previously, she was in ICU. She wouldn't be if she had no pulse. So, my guess, it's Kennedy. IF she's been turned. Which the vamp from earlier could be an allusion to. Though how she let herself be turned and so quickly has risen....

So, maybe not. Maybe, she's just pissed at Willow for dumping her and at Faith, for seemingly taking her place in Will's heart. And did something. Like maybe set the hotel on fire?

As for Dawn, I hope she's not turned, if that's what's happened to Kennedy. Hopefully, she's just been lied to.

I'm looking forward to more of this story. It's been way too long.

the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
I oculd tell you who's been turned (if indeed someone has and he's not just having the hangover from hell...) but that would mean you wouldn't read the rest of the story!

I promise it will be nowhere as long a wait for the next part.
Wolfram D. Scottwaddis on October 12th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
Well, I have no idea what this is, seeing as the last time you wrote in it was way, way before I even developed the slightest interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But I like it. Saying it's not my pairing of choice is an understatement (relatively neutral on it), but you're writing it in present tense, which is a plus, and the characterization are great, which is a plus.

So I'm probably heading back to the beginning. Thanks for sharing.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: btvs//faith/xander connected - mewhiskyinmind on October 12th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
*grins*

Thank you so much!

The tense I'm working with is a deliberate choice - one which used to drive my beta reader insane. Certain parts of the story are in different tenses and even in this part I took a definite decision to have a slight shift. (And here's where I almost wish I was writing in German because I know what the tenses are called in there!) I've been calling it 'present imperative' but that's just a made up phrase I think - it moves from "he thinks" to "he is thinking" because I want to show a loss of control - does that make sense? I may be thinking too much about the minurae here!
Wolfram D. Scottwaddis on October 12th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
It may be "present passive," but that sounds a little to weak, so don't use it.

Back when I was working on a story called Extra, I used present tense whenever one of the characters was having an episode as a result of his OCPD. Worked pretty well, I like to think.
Elena: Scoobiesmoscow_watcher on October 18th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
The tense I'm working with is a deliberate choice - one which used to drive my beta reader insane.

Oh. I usually write in present tense because I often forget about sequence of tenses (it doesn't exist in Russian language). I wonder if it drives my beta insane :)

*ponders*