In Shadow
by Victoria P.

Sirius sat in the back booth of the bar, blending in with the shadows.

His whole life now was about blending in with the shadows, pretending he didn't exist. Ten years out of Azkaban, five since Voldemort's defeat, and he was still a fugitive, living a twilight existence between the wizarding world and the Muggle. With Wormtail dead -- and even now the thought filled him with a warm satisfaction, though Pettigrew had died at Voldemort's hand, rather than at Sirius's -- there was no way to prove his innocence. Or no way the Ministry was interested in exploring.

It didn't matter that he was a hero of the late war, Harry Potter's godfather, and an all-around great guy.

He was still a wanted man, and he lived like one, despite the protests of those who knew the truth. He told himself they were the only ones who mattered -- Harry and his friends, the Weasleys, Dumbledore and Hagrid and Minerva, and, of course, Remus.

He missed Remus, but refused to spend more than a couple of weeks at a time with him. It wasn't safe, and he had no desire to put his lover in danger. Remus had at first insisted on accompanying him, and they had roamed the world, Moony and Padfoot, lost in the joy of being together again.

But after a very close shave with the authorities in Tanzania, they'd fought about Remus returning home. Harry needs one of us safe and nearby, Sirius had said. And though Remus had protested, maintaining that the Weasleys were enough family even for the Boy Who Lived, Sirius had been adamant. He could go back to Azkaban -- the Dementors were long gone -- but he would not take Remus with him.

So he'd spent the past three years slipping in and out of Harry's life, Remus's bed.

He sipped the Glenfiddich slowly, savoring the smooth, smoky taste, and tried not to feel sorry for himself. He was in LA -- home of more generalized weirdness than even he was used to. It had been crazy here the past couple of weeks, which made it seem a safe place in which to get lost. Dark magic had been thick in the air, and it had taken all his skills to survive while the sun was gone. He was very glad it was back. Since he hadn't heard from Dumbledore, he reckoned it had been a local phenomenon, and that the local wizarding community had handled it. He didn't want to get involved, though he would have, if his old mentor had asked.

The shrill shriek of feedback blaring from the jukebox broke into his reverie. He looked up to see a young woman about Harry's age moving sinuously across the floor in time to the noise that had resolved itself into music. She held a beer bottle in one hand and the other ran over the curves of her body.

Sirius took that as an invitation to stare, and stare he did.

She was hot. He was old enough to be her father, but his body responded to the way she moved. Her dark hair swung as she moved in time to the beat, hips encased in tight leather bumping and grinding, full breasts bouncing.

He remembered a time, a lifetime ago, when he'd dressed like that, danced like that, been stared at like he was staring at her. Those days were long gone, but it was a thrill to watch the glory of youth on someone else.

He wanted to roll over and let her take him -- canine instincts honed fine even in human form at this point.

Down, boy, he told himself, amused at his response.

He was never sure, afterward, if he'd actually made a noise or not, but she spun and faced him, her dark eyes locking with his -- the eyes of a predator who has just found prey. He knew that look well. It sent a pleasant shiver down his spine.

She was at the booth in a heartbeat.

"See something you like?" she asked, and her voice was like the smoky burn of the scotch.

He grinned. "You know I do." He was, as always, surprised at the harsh rasp of his own voice. Years of not speaking for days at a time, spending weeks as a dog, had taken a toll on his vocal cords. Confusion flashed in her eyes for a moment, quickly replaced by interest.

She held out a hand in wordless command. He took it and they moved together to the music, which had changed to something slower, more bass-heavy. She pressed herself against him, and he could feel firm muscle underneath her soft curves.

She didn't look at him, keeping her eyes focused on a spot somewhere over his right shoulder as they danced, and at first, that was fine. He didn't like anyone looking too closely, either.

Her eyes were shadowed with a look he'd seen too often, especially in the eyes of Harry and his friends, young-old veterans of a war they shouldn't have had to fight. He noticed that the smudging underneath them wasn't just eyeliner, but bruising even makeup couldn't cover, and it suddenly hit him that he'd seen her face before.

He couldn't quite place it, but then, things had been so strange in LA the past few weeks, and neither Muggle nor magical news had been reliable. The bruises seemed to say she hadn't done as well as he at avoiding the dangers that lurked in the city.

"You all right?" he asked.

"Five by five," she answered, and he supposed that meant yes. She finished off her beer and led him back to his booth, where she also drained the rest of his scotch. She jerked her head toward the door. "Let's get out of here."

She led him into an alley around back, dirty and strewn with garbage. Private enough for a quick throw.

Even though he knew what was coming -- wanted it -- he was still startled by how quickly she moved. Her hands were everywhere, pushing up under his t-shirt, running through his hair. She leaned against the wall and pulled him to her, mouth hot and hard on his.

She tasted of scotch and beer and youth and things he'd thought lost to him long ago. He closed his eyes and let instinct take over, reveling in the feel of her body against his. He lifted her -- honestly, she did most of the work herself, wrapping her legs around his hips and practically climbing into his skin as their kisses and caresses grew more frantic and heated.

She was grinding against him, the friction driving him mad, her lips trailing fire along his neck. It was the best thing he'd felt in ages. Sorry, Moony, he thought, vaguely guilty, though he knew Remus wouldn't blame him. It had been a long time since he'd left England, even longer since he'd been with a woman.

He took her face in his hands and kissed her again, slanting his mouth over hers almost desperately, eager for the connection, the proof that he wasn't just a shadow, clinging hopelessly to a life that no longer existed.

Her skin was soft and seemed to glow even in the harsh yellow streetlight. Those eyes, old and sorrowful, seemed to see right through him. And he suddenly remembered where he'd seen her before.

Her picture had been splayed across the Muggle papers a few days ago -- she was like him, a fugitive.

"Faith," he whispered.

Before he had time to mutter a spell, his back was against the wall, a knife at his throat. "I didn't tell you my name."

"Take it easy," he said, mind racing. He was six inches taller and easily sixty pounds heavier, and she'd moved him like he was nothing. He was going to have to be at his charming best, at least until he could get his wand out. Of course, getting his wand out was what had gotten him in trouble in the first place, he thought wryly. "I'm not going to turn you in." She didn't move; the metal was cold against his skin. "I'm actually... wanted, myself." It wasn't a badge of honor, it wasn't anything to be proud of, but it might just save his skin tonight. There was a time he might have enjoyed the danger, but he was getting too old for this.


He didn't think it was possible to pour so much skepticism into one word, but she managed. "Yes." He took a deep breath. "Not here, though. In England."

"Yeah, they wanted me there, too," she said. "But the Council is gone. We're all that's left now." His confusion must have shown on his face, because she laughed, a bitter, mocking sound. "It's the end of the world, again, man. Just another apocalypse in sunny southern California."

Well, that would certainly explain why the sun had been blotted out for a while, and the huge number of vampires lurking about.

"I'm not looking for trouble," he said, and almost groaned at the cliché.

"Well, you found some," she said, grinning, but she lowered the knife, leaned in and licked his neck where the point had been pressed. He was unable to stop himself from heaving a sigh of relief. "You all right there, English?" she whispered.

"I'm getting too old for this." And he hadn't meant to say that out loud, but she laughed.

"Aren't we all?" She swung them around again, that preternatural strength striking a chord in his brain -- Council, vampires, extremely strong young girls...


"Got it in one."

He opened his mouth to ask another question, because the Ministry had always denied such a creature existed, but she stopped him with a kiss. "No more talking," she murmured against his mouth, and he was happy to comply.

He'd been worried that the little interlude with the knife would have a ... deflating effect on him, but luckily, he wasn't quite that old. He slid his hands up under her shirt, so much soft, hot skin that demanded to be touched. She made approving noises low in her throat as he cupped the heavy weight of her breasts.

He moved one hand down to her waist, fumbling with her fly. She broke away from him and he whimpered.

"The car," she said, her breathing ragged. "Round the corner. More comfortable." She flashed a wicked grin. "Easier on you, old man."

He laughed and let her lead him around the corner, to a small blue sedan. Nicer, more grown-up than what he'd have expected of her. Didn't look like something she'd own. She didn't have keys, which jibed with that impression. A friend's, maybe? He really didn't care much, he wanted to get inside the car, so he could get inside of her. She moved as if to break the window, but his hand on her arm stopped her.

He pointed his wand at the door. "Alohomora," he whispered, and the locks clicked open. He waited for the scream of an alarm, ready with a silencing charm, but it didn't come.

"Not bad," she said, not questioning, pushing him down on the back seat and straddling his hips. She rolled her hips and leaned forward; he pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses along her neck and collarbone before taking her mouth again, the rough velvet glide of her tongue against his sending up sparks behind his eyelids. She pulled away long enough to shuck the leather trousers, kicking them to the floorboards. His fingers found the wet heat between her legs as she unzipped his jeans, causing her to twist and thrust against his hand, low noises sounding in her throat.

He gasped as she stroked him, but he wasn't interested in any more foreplay, and neither was she. He muttered a contraception charm under his breath as she sank down onto him, engulfing him in tight, wet heat. He groaned at the sensation.

His hands settled naturally on her hips as she moved above him, the sleek lines of her body beautiful in the half-light of the street. He pulled her down, his mouth seeking hers, the thrust of is tongue mimicking the thrust of his cock inside her. He ran his hands over the firm muscles of her thighs and ass, wondering if he could stop time and stay there forever, suspended in the heat and pleasure of her body.

Her face was in shadow, and he didn't have to worry about the too-old eyes or the bruises, or the apocalypse she said was coming. He had every confidence they'd be coming first. Under other circumstances, he might have been concerned that he was still making bad jokes, but he didn't have the brainpower to think about it now; she was making his eyes roll back in his head.

"God," she said, hips pistoning against him. Her hands gripped his shoulders and he knew he'd have bruises but he didn't care. She clenched around him, pulling him in deeper, making him lose what little control he had left.

"Faith," he growled, glad he at least knew her name, even though she didn't know his and didn't seem to care. He bucked wildly, fingers splayed against the soft white skin of her hips, grunting as the orgasm ripped through him, and bliss radiating from his cock to his extremities as he spilled himself into her.

She was still shuddering, slumped against his chest, when he was done. He wrapped his arms around her and held on tight.

She didn't allow it for long. She rolled onto the floor and grabbed her trousers. He eased out onto the sidewalk and fiddled with his fly, years of one- night stands not making the post-coital situation any less awkward. She looked down, brow furrowed. "You're some kinda witch?"

"Something like that," he said. "Allow me--" he pointed his wand and murmured a cleaning charm.


He looked away, tucking himself in as she pulled her trousers on. Now that it was over, he wanted to get away, and he had a feeling she wanted him gone just as quickly.

They were standing there in strained silence when someone behind him said, "Faith!" A female voice. "I was worried-- You had sex in Xander's car?" He grimaced at the abrupt change in her tone and turned to get a look at Faith's friend. She was a redhead, not quite as fiery as a Weasley, but close. Thin, fine-boned, she radiated power.

She squinted at him, nose scrunched up, and he wondered if she recognized him. It had been years since he'd been in the news, and he no longer looked like a skeleton with a mop of dirty, tangled hair, but if this girl had grown up in the wizarding world, she might just be able to place him.

"Sirius Black."

Well, shit. That was bad. And the evening had gone so well up until now.

"You know this guy?" Faith asked incredulously.

"He's, he's wanted for killing a whole bunch of people. He's been on the run for years -- he's dangerous."

Faith shrugged. "So am I. So are you. Didn't stop Wes from breaking me out of jail when he needed me, or Fred from calling you." She jerked her head in his direction. "He's got the mojo, Will. Like you." Her smile was knowing. "I heard about what you did last year."

That seemed to throw the witch for a moment. "I--"

"I'll just be going," Sirius said.

"Not so fast," the redhead snapped. He waited, ready to Disapparate should it be necessary. "When I was in England this summer I met with some... people." She looked at him, eyes narrowed. "They seemed to think you were innocent."

"Oh. Well. Yes. That is true," he said vaguely, wondering how she'd met Remus. Because Remus was the only one going about trying to convince people of his innocence these days. Of course, people tended not to take a werewolf's word for anything, so it didn't do much good, and only made Sirius feel guilty.

"Really?" Faith asked, seeming to sink into herself, her bravado gone. He got the feeling that she was not.

He nodded, wanting to reach out to her, but he couldn't take his eyes off the redhead, who was speaking again. "Better safe than sorry, though." He sighed. He didn't want to duel with her. "Faith, you can take him."

'She already has.' He pushed the irreverent thought away. His often- inappropriate sense of humor had gotten him into scrapes many times over the years, but he'd finally learned to curb his tongue, at least.

"I already have," Faith said, echoing his thought. He was impressed at how quickly she'd recovered her confident mask.

"Look, why don't you just forget you ever saw me, I'll forget I saw you, and," he looked at Faith, "we can just remember that we had a good time?"

He was feeling guilty enough as it was, he didn't want to hear about Remus still trying to convince the world of his innocence while he was out shagging women young enough to be his daughter. And the only way the redhead Willow could have known about his innocence was if Remus had been one of the people she'd met. Goddamn small world.

"Faith, I really think we need to turn him in to the authorities or something. Let them deal with it."

"To who?" Faith asked. "Look, Willow, I don't know if you noticed, but it's not exactly normal here in Lala land. The sun was blotted out for days and the inmates are running the asylum. I don't think there's any authorities to turn him in to."

Sirius nodded. The Slayer was making good sense.

Willow frowned. "We could go back to the hotel, talk to Wesley-- he's bound to know who to call."

"No." Faith's voice was hard. "If you turn him in, I'll turn myself in, too."

'My dear girl,' Sirius thought, touched, but certainly not going to let her do anything heroic on his behalf. He didn't need her protection, though it warmed him that she'd offered it so willingly.

"Faith, we need you."

"Yeah, you need me, 'cause I'm a killer, right? Just like you." Willow flinched and looked away. "But if he's innocent, he shouldn't have to go back to prison."

"We don't have time for this," Willow argued. "If he's innocent, then they'll let him go."



"That's the deal, Willow. Let English Bob go, and I come back to Sunnydale, bail B's ass out."

While Willow looked to be searching for more arguments, Sirius made his decision. He took Faith's hand, dropped a quick kiss on her palm, and Apparated, returning to his shadow life.

It was safer for all of them that way.


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