by glossolalia

Slowly, she struggles out of sleep. Sheen of ice above her eyes, the surface spiderweb-cracking before she breaks through, leaves the black behind.

Black before her, too, dark silent hotel, everyone - gone. Absent.

She slips down the stairs, then slides outside. It's night again, the garden scabbed with shadows. As her eyes adjust, she can make out the shadows' eerie shapes swaggering over grass-fountain-wall. She stretches out the dull tension in her legs, her arms, wanders the shadows, regains her sealegs.

She hates sleep. She barely slept in jail (clang-guilt-stay on your guard), not after a year on her back, snoozing her life away.

Buffy dies; Faith takes a nap. One more shimmering reflection, paler and wispier than what's real. Realer, better, whatthefuckever.

She has a cigarette lit, her arms folded on marble, when something that sounds like nothing (kitten, wind) moves behind her.

She catches it. Him.

Connor, all glinting eyes and sharp bones, under her hand, lip curling in the smoke from her cig. Sickest of all, she thinks he likes this as she shoves him back against the wall.

"Do not sneak up on me." She shakes him by the shoulder a little, but he's still smiling.

"Didn't," he says. The knob of his shoulder rolls under her hand, poking through all the loose fabric of his shirt. Does anyone ever feed this kid?

And why does she care?

"Didn't sneak up," he adds. Smiles, looks down at her hand. The ash trembles on the cig's cherry, dusts the bone of his jaw. He doesn't flinch. "Came out and here you were. Not sneaking. Innocent."

"Innocent, my ass."

He blinks against the smoke. He's not trying to get away. He's small and bony and seems happy to be here.

The kid is creepy, there's no doubt about that.

"Any time you want to stop staring at my tits?" she tells him. "Would be just fine."

She's still wearing the clothes she fought Angelus in. Stiff with sweat and smeared with blood, rough against her skin.

Connor drags his eyes up, meets her gaze, and shrugs. "Sorry."

Spooky-flat voice. What's the word they always used for her?


Faith steps back. She leaves red stripes on his neck and wipes the back of her hand over her mouth. Something about him, after everything she's seen in Angel's head, something makes her think she ought to apologize for being so jumpy.

But he's still smiling, massaging his shoulder, checking her out again.

No apologies, then.

"Where is everybody?" she asks, sucking down the smoke, turning away from him.

"They'll be back."

He joins her at the wall, mimicking her posture, standing too close. Faith steels herself. "What, they tell you that?"

Connor looks over at her, eyes slitted and still. "They never tell me anything."

"You're doing it again," she says.

Connor doesn't answer.

Faith considers slapping him, just to see what would happen. That stillness, it's reminding her way too much of Buffy. How she'd just look and judge and never move a muscle the whole time. She shifts her weight back on her heels. "Have you ever even had sex, junior?"

Lashes flutter and lips twist. "Sure."

"With someone else," she says. "Not your hand."

The kid's pale and he's sneering as he straightens up out of his slump. All angles, cheekbones and lashes, pointy chin and bony shoulders. Big hands, too, lying there on the wall, the only thing that he got from Angel, apparently. Big hands, too heavy for those little wrists.

"Forget it," Faith says. She flexes her hands, rocks on her feet.

Shadows of leaves criss-cross Connor's face, give him a raccoon-mask, then a clown's, finally drop away as he leans in. He kisses her like he's drowning, big hands on her shoulders, waist, neck, grabbing at her. Kisses like a baby, all sucking mouth and teeth.

His palm on her neck, over the bite, pushing at it. Blood pounds right up against him as she shoves him off, but he's back again, and his eyes are dark, just lashes and a gleam, and his knee is sharp between hers.

When she woke up the last time, the first thing she did was wear Buffy's skin. Hazel eyes, gold hair, and she's staring back now, now, at someone that small, delicate, icy. And just like that time, Faith wants in. Connor twists under her hands, back against the wall, her heartbeat in her neck, pumping down her skin, and she kisses him back. For real, show 'em how it's done (Angel said that, maybe Angelus, it doesn't matter).

Connor croaks and gasps into her mouth, knots himself around her. Hungry baby-bird mouth soft, then hard, under hers. Slick skin and tongue, marble teeth and bone, and he's mewling, not trying to get away. Trying to get deeper.

He wants her. That much has been clear since she walked into the hotel. And that's enough, that's always been enough, for Faith. See her own face in someone else's eyes (Buffy always looked away), make him move, make him feel. Use her hands (kill the deputy, stake the vamp, strangle Xander).

Fuck. Xander. The last, other, boy under her hands, all big eyes and hard dick, and he wanted to kiss and cuddle and pat her hair and not be a bad guy, so desperate to do right he'd've died under her if he had to.

Martyrs belong in Sunnydale. There, you can die, you do die, sacrifice is everything.

But she never belonged in Sunnydale, and this is LA, and Connor is stronger than Xander, skinnier, younger-older and needier, fucking his tongue in and out of her mouth in time with his skinny hips rocking into hers.

Nothing's the same as it was. She woke up, she paid her dues, she got out. The boy before her is not Xander any more than she is that Faith. Even if she's got her hand on his neck again, making him reach for it, exposing all that skin, even if her other hand's on his crotch, raking fingers over his dick.

Her lips burn, ice-hot, punch in the kisser, as she pulls away.

He's talking.

"...trusts you, they shouldn't, why would you care about him?"

And she has no idea what he's talking about, but it's not like she cares anyway. His face is a skull, a spectacle, just skin on bone. The only living things are eyes, and they're riveted on her, black-wet in the shadows, welling with - hate, need, something, nothing to do with her.

Angel. He's talking about Angel, topic of the day-decade-century. He wants to know, little boy face all twisted-up, he wants to understand, but there's nothing to understand.

Buffy used to be like that. Used to want to know him. She'd look away when Faith asked questions, hide Angel in his marble mansion-mausoleum, never tell Faith what really mattered, but who did Angel save? In the end, who needed him more?

Who, Buffy asks. She's always in the back of Faith's head, always sitting prim and proper and commenting on everyfuckingthing in her piping little choirgirl voice, her knees pressed together and hair shining in the sun, Who'd he fuck, Faith? Hmmm?

Buffy wouldn't say fuck. But heads are hollows and tarpit pools and she's been mucking around in Angel's all night.

"Fuck," Faith says. Shoves the kid down, kisses him again, and maybe it's been two years since she fucked a guy, but pants are pants and prison-dykes give it up just as sweet, so she's opening Connor's pants and straddling him. His big hands on her hips as she shifts and slides and sucks him in, tongue and dick in one fell swoop, and fuck if he's not crying.

Tears crunch down to salt under her teeth, the tendons in his neck grind in her hand, and his lashes are long as a girl's as Buffy's as Angel's, and he thrusts up inside her.

He's just a kid. He's Angel's kid. She should remember that - she does remember that. But it doesn't stop her. It just ramps her higher and hotter. His skin stretches over bones and ash as she grinds him down, squeezes and milks and sucks him dry. He comes with a squeal that makes her grunt.

Blood on her hand, smeared across his neck, as she pulls away and up. Her pussy's tight, the burn of friction gone unsatisfied, and she stumbles a little. Connor just lies there, blinking up at her, slow smile working its way across his face. It flickers away, his eyes narrow, and the back of Faith's neck starts to itch.

She turns, she's always turning, the garden's a carousel. Shadows spinning, following and lapping.

And Angel is there. Angel? Angelus. She doesn't know any more. The face she thought she knew, but wearing the demon's smirk. Clapping.

There's an old loony bin in Danvers, a couple towns over from her mom's apartment, built of copper and red brick, sprawling across acres and acres. Faith lost her cherry there, climbed through the empty rooms, spent nights chasing vamps before heading south with her first watcher.

That place, that's Angel's face. Haunted, psychotic, and it's drawing her in, making her taste pennies and come as she fumbles for a stake that is not there.

His hands drop, big and heavy, to his sides and he tilts his head.

"You're not going to kill me," he says.

"I can try."

"You don't even know who I am, do you?"

His voice is lilting and her pants are open and she has a boy's come smeared in her crotch and Faith fights for balance. Danvers, Jimmy Cormac's hand in bra, cobwebs clogging her throat. Angel, and blood on his mouth, diner and power ballads. No difference, not down deep, not in her dreams, not here.

He leans in closer. Her personal space, it's nothing, never was (thank you, 'Uncle' Gary; thank you, Wesley; thank you, Buffy Fucking Summers). He's close, and then he's closer, and he's saying, right in her ear, her pulse rushing to meet his voice again: "You fucked my son."

She wore Buffy, she walked Angel's head, she fucked Connor. Wounded Wesley. She's done everything, so why stop now?

Angel, Angelus, there's laughter in its mouth when she punches him. He wobbles but does not fall. His eyes drop, his frown deepens. I'm deep in, Faithy, deep and deeper.

Connor tackles him, Angel's skull (whoever's inside, that is his skull, there's no mistaking looks) rings and thumps on rock. Connor pummels at him, matching fists, and then harder when Angel holds his son's hips and laughs up at him.

She rode Connor, now Connor reflects her, on top of Angel, struggling to get free as Angel grabs his wrists and pulls him close.

Someone once told her that Angel drew. She's never seen it, but she sees it now, sees it in his hands on Connor, sees lines and spirals coming up, sees Connor arch and curse under the touch. Connor's eyes roll, like a horse's, a scared cat's, and maybe he's asking for her help.

But she's rooted here, in this black garden whirling around her, and this- this thing, father and son, Angel and Buffy, it's nothing to do with her. Private, intimate, and Angel whispers to Connor, makes him still.

Angel lied to her once. Let her tie Buffy up, let her believe she'd won, and she's never forgiven him that. He probably doesn't even remember. Watching them, Faith knows he's forgotten.

"You think you can take me, boy?" Angel flips Connor over, holds him down with one hand, looks over his shoulder. "Kids today," he says to Faith, then turns back. "Let Daddy clean you up."

Dark prick into white face, shadows slicing over them both, tying them up together. Angel hums, tells Faith he can taste her. Connor yowls and fights.

This isn't Angel. This isn't who Angel wants to be, this isn't the man who held a baby all night long.

She met that man, deep inside Angel's mind, and this is no one she's ever seen. This isn't Angelus, this isn't Angel, and she has no stake. She's got nothing, watching lies and history weave themselves around the figures on the ground, watching deepthroating and helpless-jerking hips. She's got, she is, nothing but aching hands and empty pussy.

Lips gleaming (not with blood, worse, delicious) Angel kisses Connor. Fist in his shirt, smashing their mouths together. Angel kisses, and kisses, and never comes up for breath, drowns them both, and Faith is on her knees.

She got kicked out of Sunday school before ever getting to take First Communion. Broke her granny's heart. But now she's back on her knees, crawling for it, touching Angel's shoulder, slipping in under his arm.

Any port in a storm, shelter that's shaking apart, watching and gasping.

That isn't Angel, and who is Connor? Connor's as impossible as she is, more so. At least she's human, even if she's secondary, the unneeded spare to Buffy's perfection. Connor shouldn't be here, Connor is outside logic, and Angel groans when the kid bucks beneath him.

"Show you how to treat a lady," Angel says, sitting back on his heels, arm around Faith's waist, fingers playing over her belly. "Selfish little brat."

Connor blinks, his lower lip swollen and bloody, glances at Faith. He doesn't know what Angel's talking about.

"Up," Angel hisses at her, his hand going down her pants, between her legs, cupping her. Scrape of nail against clit, there, and again, until she's rocking back and forth. Sheets and frames of pictures - Connor's face, watching, the black sky (no stars, bottom of the well) - pass before her, up and down. Angel chuckles the whole time.

"Got to grease 'em up," he tells Connor. Faith growls, tries to pull off, but Angel pushes her down and slides two fingers inside. "Get 'em ready and wet, they'll let you do anything."

At that, Connor nods, the little prick.

Faith clamps down on his fingers and pushes herself up, sitting on his hand, punching wild and reckless. Her fist gets air, nothing, before Connor twists it behind her back.

"You wouldn't kill him," Connor says against her mouth, tongue scrolling her lips, her chin, "so what do you care?"

This is hell, or something near it, the bottom of some pit, La Brea sucking down the tigers and wolves. She's trapped here, Angel fucking his hand in and out, Connor kissing her, and the worst - there's always something worse, this is just this moment's worst - the worst is she likes it. Likes it, wants it, wants more. Gets off on it. She lifts her hips to Angel, brings Connor down with her. Her pants get pulled off, her hand's on Connor's prick again, then Angel's face is in her crotch, his hand batting hers off Connor, and he's the star of the show.

He's Buffy's soulmate. Mate and match, perfect for each other. They only ever saw each other, saw themselves, two alone in the world. Center of it all, his mouth around her clit, chin rubbing her hole, hand pumping his son's cock.

This is Angel's nightmare, breeding with her own dreams - she's dreamed of this, gotten off again and again to thoughts of his mouth, his dick, his stupid fucking heart - making bastards and demonspawn of them all.

This is how Connor was made, out of Angel, out of nightmares and needs. Broken mirrors and grinding regrets. He falls back on his elbow, thrusts into Angel's hand, touches her breasts and squeezes them, and who's the psycho now?

Angel, for wanting this.

Her, for enjoying this.

Connor, for being this.

Black over her eyes, flashes of red and white, blood and starlight, as she comes, shrieking once, bearing down on Angel's hand, turning away, looking into the shadows. She'll fall deeper, fly farther, just close her eyes and be away.

Preserved in tar, monsters of the past get pulled out with wet-sucking sounds, Angel's fingers leaving her hole, Angel's mouth on Connor's, and she doesn't look until the extraction is complete. Until she's covered in shadows sharp as razors, deep as wells, and then she does.

Then she wishes she hadn't. Sees Connor on Angel's lap, bony beauty bouncing, hair catching invisible light and flashing. Sees his ass, small and round, sees Angel's cock, hears wetsighs and fleshsqueaks, can't look away. Hears Angel saying names like a rosary, hears Darla and Buffy and thinks he might be crying.

She's imagined this, all her life, ever since she got to Sunnydale. But she was on his lap, or Buffy was, anyone else, but this is a boy, a spawn, a shard of something else, cursing his father and making him grown.

This is Angel and Angelus, smirk shimmering over downcast eyes, guilt poking like broken bones out of demon skin, this is the same being, two names, staring into a mirror.

Staring, and growling, and fucking himself, his boy, and Faith is forgotten.

The hospital in Danvers had floors littered with broken glass. It crunched under her boots, dusted her skin and hair, scratched at everything long after she'd left the grounds. She ran out over the rolling hill, cresting to the town, kept running as Jimmy's voice died behind her.

Ran toward the sea, over sand and grit, for the water to wash it all off.

Her heroes always break down. Sand castles patted out by gimps and cretins, crumbling in the rain.

Her eyes are closed, she sleeps on, watches everything she wanted whirl in black.


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