October 31st, 2013
|08:03 pm - Fic: I'll Always Opt To Fall Down These Stairs|
So, yeah, I realised I've never written wingfic.
Title: I'll Always Opt To Fall Down These Stairs
Author: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: Buffy, post-series
Warnings/Notes: Mention of character death and damnation.
Word count: ~3300
Summary: One light Slayer and one dark, one good and one bad, one goes to heaven and one to... Well anyway, for all sorts of reasons, Detroit was just about the last place Buffy expected to run into Faith. With or without wings.
Written for The Chosen Two Archive's Fic Or Treat challenge.
I should probably point out that this story, despite some similarities, is not in continuity with my earlier story Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Anywhere).
Up there! Up there! Up there!
- Patti Smith
I'll Always Opt To Fall Down These Stairs
Buffy had asked Willow more than once if they couldn't solve the problem by declaring that evolution was just a theory. She gave thatup when Willow snapped and gave her a rant about evidence and fossil records and DNA and by the way do you know what else that went on for a couple of days and ended with them agreeing that whatever the cause, one old Sunnydale rule still held up: if you try to pretend the monsters don't exist, you'll soon find yourself joining them in non-existence. So the fact remained: Slayervore demons existed. And since there'd only ever been one, or on rare occasions two, Slayers at a time for thousands of years up until a few years ago, and no mention in Giles' old books of demons that specifically targeted Slayers, it seemed there was a bit of mystically enhanced natural selection going on that led to them showing up after thousands of Slayers became the norm. Either that or demons had really good guidance counselors that could spot a new market when it opened up.
But yeah, Slayervores: Big, ugly, always male for some reason that Dawn refused to elaborate on beyond saying that it was probably metaphorical, feeding on Slayers, not just by killing but also by sucking the Slayer essence from their victims. Which didn't exactly make them easier to kill. On the plus side, it meant you could track them using the same method they tracked new Slayers - they'd even found a few extra Slayers that way since Slayervores were really good at sniffing them out. In all but a couple of cases, they even managed to get to the new girl before the monster did.
Of course, they'd lost some. She tried not to think too much about that when she didn't have one to let loose on. This being Halloween, most of the Slayers had the night off when she got word that there was Slayervore activity, as well as a brand new unknown Slayer in ... Detroit? It was close enough for her to call in some backup, of course, but some things you need to do yourself. Sometimes you need to look one particular monster in the eye and tell it exactly why and for whom you're going to rip its heart out, and Buffy had learned that for some things, you need to take your chances when you have them.
Only this time, when she finally found the spot where the Slayervore was supposed to be, it was already taken care of. Mystery Slayer #231 must have defended herself, and quite successfully too, but it was hard to tell exactly how; the beast hadn't been stabbed or bludgeoned or run over by a car, it had clearly fallen from a great enough height to be turned into the world's ugliest puddle. Especially weird since there weren't any great heights here for it to fall from, this neighbourhood was mostly lowrises and barracks and unless gravity had a personal beef with this particular demon, there was something funny afoot.
Most of the passers-by seemed to quickly jump to the obvious conclusion: that someone here had really bad taste in Halloween decorations. Except one, who -
Buffy caught the eye of the woman on the other side of the street, staring at her. It couldn't be. But it clearly was, despite the woman wearing a winter coat at least three sizes too big, equally tent-like cargo pants and a wooly hat pulled down almost to eye level - and Buffy was even more sure when the other woman quickly looked away and started down the street. Not quickly enough, though; using every trick she'd learned from shopping sprees, Buffy made her way through the crowd, caught up with her and grabbed her by the shoulder. "Faith?!?"
Faith - for it was indeed she, even though it couldn't be - turned around and threw out her arms in an I-give-up gesture. "OK, busted. Let's do this again sometime. Are we done?" She tried to walk off, but Buffy wouldn't let her.
"Faith... you died. Four months ago."
Faith stared at her in pretend shock, mouth hanging open. "The hell you say!" She cut Buffy off before she could answer. "Really, I died? Gee, thanks for letting me know. Here I thought getting eaten alive by half a dozen Slayervores was just another day at the office, or maybe I got lucky with a whole football team with a biting kink. I died? No fucking shit."
Buffy quickly checked to see that the sun was still up, holding Faith by her upper arms just to make sure she was really here. "How - nevermind. It's OK, Faith. I know what you're going through."
Faith sneered, turning to leave. "Sure you do."
"I mean it." Buffy held her shoulder with an iron grip, quickly searching her memory for the right speech. "I've been there, Faith. I died saving the world and went to heaven. I was perfectly at peace, and then I was pulled back down to Earth and thrown back into fighting demons. All of this?" She hinted at Faith's get-up. "I know what it's like to feel cold. To feel like you spend every day in hell."
"Yeah, they just call it Michigan now."
"Joke all you want, but you don't have to face it alone. Even if you don't want my help, you know we have a support organisation for this sort of thing. We've done this. We know how to handle it."
Faith just looked at her. "You done?"
"I'll take that as a yes. Let's get it over with." Faith unzipped her coat.
Buffy shot her a confused look. "Faith, you don't have to - "
"Hold this." Faith carefully wriggled out of her coat and handed it to Buffy, then pulled off her wooly hat and brushed her hair back. To complete the image, she stretched her wings. The huge, black, bat-like wings really brought out the red horns sticking out of her hair.
"So, B..." Faith flashed her a cold smile and ignored the passers-by complimenting her on her Halloween outfit. "Tell me more about how horrible it is to have been in Heaven."
* * *
They really needed booze for this. Luckily, there was a bar nearby.
"So..." Buffy asked after they'd both slammed their first drink and ordered another. "You really...?"
"...To hell. Not just any hell dimension, the Hell."
"With the brimstone, and fire, and - "
"And the big guy with the pitchfork, and the nine circles, eternal torment, all that Dante shit the nuns used to warn me about."
Faith looked away. "Long," she muttered.
"Huh." Buffy drank and tried to figure out what to ask next. "And how did you get the ...?" She nodded at the wings, once again safely tucked away under Faith's coat.
Faith shrugged. "Works same as any prison, you behave and they make you a trustee. I was just getting used to it too, and then wham, I'm back up here again, right in time for Halloween." She laughed again, in that I'm-sure-someone-finds-it-funny tone. "Good thing, too. Bikini season's gonna be a bitch."
"Do you know..."
"How I got back here? Believe it or not, I got into a fight. Caught the wrong end of a spear. As far as I can figure out, if you die in Hell, you go to Detroit."
Buffy stared at her. "No way."
"My hand to... I mean, I can only call it as I see it. Haven't really looked into it, gift horse and all that."
"Alright, so..." Buffy tried to adjust. "But at least it's over now, right? You went to hell, you got out, shouldn't you be happy about that?"
"You don't get it, do you?" Faith emptied her glass in one gulp and grinned in that unsettling way again. "People have been telling me I'm going to hell since I was a kid, and I know I did my damnedest to prove 'em right. But I still saved the world. A couple of times by my count, at least once since I repented, plus a couple of years helping you train new Slayers and so on. If that didn't balance the scales, if that's still where I'm headed..."
Faith raised her voice. "Fucking right, 'oh'. And I mean yeah, redemption isn't about the reward and all that, but seriously, screw this crap. So you can stop pretending to care, I'm done with the whole dark-Slayer-light-Slayer-angels-and-demons-heaven-and-hell bullshit. I'm not going back to killing people, and if a demon gets in my way I won't mind giving him a quick flying lesson, but as for doing my bit in your fucking - "
After the bartender had them both thrown out for inappropriate language a few minutes later, they found themselves back on the street as dusk fell.
"OK," Buffy conceded. "So I really don't know what you're going through. But - "
"No buts. I'm out, I'm gone, just leave me alone."
Buffy stood her ground. "I can't do that. I don't accept that."
"Then let me make it easy for ya." Faith threw off her coat, unwrapped her wings and with a mighty flap took off into the sky.
But Buffy wasn't about to let her go that easy and grabbed her leg as she took flight. "Oh no you dooooooooooOOOOSHIIII-"
* * *
"Stop wriggling, B, I got you."
Strong hands grabbed her shoulders. Buffy took a deep breath and looked down on the buildings shrinking away beneath them as Faith's wings carried them up, up, and away. "Have I mentioned I hate flying?"
"You're the one who decided to hitch a ride." Faith took a firmer hold of her and hauled her up until she had a good grip around her waist. "Now chill and I'll put you dowwoaaaah."
Suddenly the entire world seemed to spin around as Faith lost control and they both went into a tailspin, instinctively clinging to each other as Detroit whirled up towards them, wind whistling past their ears... until Faith somehow managed to get on top, stretched her wings out to break the spin and took a few careful flaps to keep them up.
"OK," Buffy said when she got her breath back and managed to relax her deathgrip on Faith's wrists by a tiny fraction, "that was a little too close."
"I'm not a taxi service, these things aren't balanced for two." Faith tried to make a slow turn to gain height, and ended up almost doing a barrel roll before she got them steady again. "OK, this is going to sound weird no matter how I say it, but you need to take my pants off."
"My hands are kinda busy at the moment." Faith re-established her grip around Buffy's waist. "Or I could just drop you, do it myself and try to catch you before you splat, but gravity's a bitch, y'know?"
"Do you ever think about anything but - "
Faith shot her an amused glance. "Don't act like it's nothing you haven't done before. I know you must've worked hard to repress what we used to get up to back in the Sunnydale days, but you're gonna have to get over it pretty quick because I'm not in control of - woooooah!" She did another barely controlled sideways slide to avoid colliding with a very confused seagull, who came within inches of flying straight up her loose cargo pants. When she looked back down at Buffy the grin was gone. "Look, I can't fly in these things. Just trust me for once, OK?"
"Fine." Buffy reluctantly tried to let go of Faith's forearms. It was surprisingly difficult, her hands liked having something to hold on to right now. Faith took an even tighter grip around her waist, pulled her close and kept her from falling, but still.... Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look holy CRAP. "Um, could you fly a little lower first?"
"You're the one who's supposed to like safety margins. Just do it already."
So Buffy reached behind her back, fumbled around a bit ("Lower, B. No, really.") and finally found the buttons to Faith's pants, which caught on the wind and fluttered down towards the city like a large and rather drunk bird. Faith unfurled the pointy-tipped tail she'd kept tucked inside them, stretched it out like a tailfin, and took off into the sky with newfound confidence.
"You have a ... of course you do." Buffy relaxed and looked up just as they passed through a wisp of low-flying cloud and came back out into the moonlight, her eyes tearing up from the wind. Faith's eyes were clear, though - apparently the horns acted as some sort of aerodynamic spoiler. Huh. So that's what they're for. She looked up at Faith's face, calm and self-assured, her hair flying around it and seeming to melt into the starry sky. For the first time Buffy felt, rather than just clung panic-stricken to, Faith's strong arms around her and the warmth of her body against her back. She reached down and put her hands over Faith's. They were cold, but they were unmistakably Faith. She noticed Faith's bare legs pressing against hers in search of warmth, hooked her feet around Faith's ankles and suddenly felt like she was really flying rather than just dangling. It was weird, especially since they'd been on friendly but not exactly whateverthehellthatwasbackinsenioryear hot-n-heavy terms after the spell, but for the first time in four months she didn't feel like half of her was missing and could barely remember why she used to find Faith so annoying. "Um, Faith?"
"You got it." Faith grinned, rolled over on her back and did a headlong dive back down into the darkness that made Buffy briefly wonder if she'd have to change pants, too.
Right. That's why.
* * *
"OK. Ground. Good." Buffy took a few steps to get her legs back and make the world stop spinning. The old wrecking yard they'd landed in wasn't exactly the most scenic spot in town, nor the sweetest-smelling, but it had the advantage of being very firm. She turned back to Faith, who looked less sure of herself now that she was back on the ground - not to mention cold, since all she had on was a sweater, her boots and a pair of very unfashionable Y-fronts worn backwards (it seems very few lingerie stores cater to women with tails).
"So..." Buffy finally broke the silence. "What is brimstone, anyway? Is it, like, rocks that runneth over, or...?"
Faith cocked her head. "You really thought I was tryin' to get you to screw me in mid-air?"
"Does your mind ever not live in the gutter?"
"I mean seriously, that's a thing? Crash risk and lack of traction aside, it's fucking freezing up there. My bits are pretty much frozen solid." Faith shrugged - rather impressively, with the wings and all - and walked up to Buffy. "Come on, Buffy. It's been, what, seven years of your time since whatever we had? I know there was always this opposites thing between us, but just because I'm a demon now doesn't mean I'd expect you to hold on to my horns," a quick nod towards Buffy's nethers, "and let me bob for apples."
Buffy clenched her fists in frustration. "Urgh! You always do that. Try to embarrass people so they won't hear what you actually said. You. Are. Not. A. Demon."
"Um..." Faith spread her wings in a demonstrative manner. "Hate to disagree, but last time I checked, these weren't standard issue." She gave Buffy a quick pat on the ass with her tail. "Sorry. It does that. It's evil, you know."
Buffy glared at her, took a few steps back and slipped her hand into her pocket. "You're not a demon, Faith. Ask me how I know."
"OK, I'll play," Faith said. "How do you know?"
"I know," Buffy's eyes narrowed, "because if you weren't a Slayer, he wouldn't be trying to eat you." And with that she drew a long, thin-bladed dagger from her pocket and hurled it right past Faith's ear, through the small gap between her wings, and right up the snout of the Slayervore that was about to pounce on Faith. The demon paused in confusion, reached up to pull the blade out of his nose, looked at it, and then toppled over dead.
"Huh." Faith poked it with her foot. "They go down that easily now?"
Buffy walked around her to retrieve the dagger. "Let's just say I've killed more than a few in the last four months. I know their weak spots pretty well by now." She wiped the blade on the demon's fur and went back into inspirational mode. "When I came back from heaven, I was still me. Same thing when Angel came back from his hell. So you have a couple of bonus features, but you're still the same - " She turned around to find that she was talking to herself. The only signs of Faith were a small dustcloud settling on the ground and the faint sound of wings from somewhere up in the dark sky. "Yup," Buffy grumbled as she put the knife back in her pocket. "Exactly the same."
* * *
A loud crash woke Buffy up at 4AM. Her hotel room was on the 25th floor, so it's not surprising that they hadn't spent a lot on burglar-proofing the windows. Or that they hadn't taken into account that someone climbing in through the window, especially someone with large wings, would inevitably knock over the potted plants in the window.
Buffy sat up in bed. "Faith?"
"I guess." Faith sat down on the foot of Buffy's bed, a large shadow in the dark room. "Sorry about taking off earlier. I needed to put on some pants." She looked at the wall and seemed to search for words for a few moments, then pointed her thumb at her wings. "You know why I took this job? I figured if I had to go to Hell, I should at least look up some people I know. I mean, even if vamps don't go there, we've still seen off our share of people as bad as me, right?"
Buffy realised she was supposed to answer. "Right."
"So I spent however long flying around Hell looking for familiar faces. You know how many I found? Zip. Not even my mom. There's tons of people there, but ... Everyone's innocent in jail, but I guess everyone in hell is sure they belong there. People who think they don't go somewhere else." She let out a deep breath. "I don't know what that means."
"Faith - "
"Four months hunting Slayervores, huh?"
Buffy paused, and then nodded. "Yup. Four months and five days."
Faith counted on her fingers. "Sounds about right. If I didn't know any better, I might think you took me dying personally."
Buffy sat up and edged a bit closer. "Well, you were always a little slow."
"Guess I'm still me." Faith looked up as Buffy took her hand. "You sure about this? Don't you at least need a halo or a harp or something to balance these out?" She waggled her horns in a rather suggestive manner.
"Nah," Buffy smiled. "I think I'm done with metaphors for a while. Besides, worst case scenario - " She jumped as something snuck up under the covers. "Hey! Tail!"
Faith grinned. "What can I say. It does that."
Originally posted at http://beer-good-foamy.dreamwidth.org/205142.html. Feel free to comment at either site.
Current Music: Patti Smith Group - 25th Floor
I love that you've managed to make a demonic plague against the Slayers and dead/resurrected/devil!Faith into cuteness. Seriously. And evil wings, too. Very pleasing. But I prefer the tail. Heh.
Devil!Faith could have been played pretty dark, but I like the idea of Buffy being more or less unfazed by it. Faith is hardly the first person in Buffy's life to die and come back...
Detroit is Hell's hell? Makes sense, I suppose...
Heh. I figured I had to have her come back somewhere, the exact location or reason wasn't a very big deal as long as there were tall buildings. The reason I went with Detroit is because of an old running joke in South Park, about how every time Satan kills Saddam Hussein in hell, he just comes right back to hell. "Yeah, well, where was I gonna go, Detroit?"