You Know And I Know...
Disclaimer: Cat's in the Cradle was written by Harry and Sandra Chapin.
Warning: This chapter contains dub-con.
Buffy swayed around her bedroom as she got ready for the day, singing softly while holding various articles of clothing up to her chest and checking the mirror. She couldn't help herself. Even after patrols she hadn't been able to fall asleep, warm showers to ease the ache in her muscles didn't help as much as they used to, and though the dawn brought with it an alarming drowsiness the only times she'd gotten any sleep was late afternoon when she curled up on the couch like a big cat and let the sun tingle against her skin. At the moment, though, lack of proper sleep was causing her to feel a tiny bit drunk. "My son turned ten just the other day,"
Buffy sung, throwing skirt to the discard pile. Once she thought about it, it really did show off a little too much thigh. She ended up picking out a white halter top and matching skirt. Over it all she tossed a tan bolero that left her wishing she had a hat to go with it. After adjusting the necklace Angel had given her, the silver pleasantly warm around her neck, and Buffy smiled into the mirror and stepped into the hall. "He said, 'Thanks for the ball Dad, come on let's play'."
The teenager stepped around a new painting, some country meadow affair with a family in a covered wagon, and stood at the end of the hall on the threshold of her mother's room. Unlike her daughter, Mrs. Summers enjoyed sleeping in. "Mom?" Buffy called softly, poking her head in, frowning at the darkness. Thick curtains blocked any and all sunlight, and only a single scented candle provided light. "Mom?"
The candle flickered as Buffy passed by, the plush carpet absorbing the sound of her feet, and Buffy leaned over the bed. Joyce didn't move. If the blonde girl couldn't hear the slow, almost too slow, heartbeat and see the nearly imperceptible rise and fall of her mother's chest she might have thought the woman dead. But she's not dead. Mom doesn't, and never has, died with the day. Nor do I. Nor does Xander, Willow, Giles or, Heaven forbid, Harmony.
Buffy shivered at the thought of a vampire Harmony, or even a hellmouth breed vampire Harmony, walking the earth. The other woman wasn't malicious, but an Immortal Harmony... Shuddering, Buffy leaned over to leave a quick peck on her sleeping mother's cheek and skipped from the room, closing the door on her way out."And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon."
Buffy did a little dance as she moved down the stairs, sliding the last few on the handrail, and flipped her hair as she dismounted. "Little boy blue and the man on the moon..."
She pulled open the fridge so she could poor some orange juice, and spotted a plastic wrapped plate with a note pinned to the top. Buffy reached for the plate and bumped the door shut with her hip. Joyce was always worried about her eating habits, and with good reason. Apparently she was getting too skinny for her mother's taste, slayer metabolism being what it is, and despite being conked out like a coma patient upstairs the Summers matriarch was determined her daughter eat a proper breakfast.
Eggs, hash browns, and some funny little sausage things that explained the mess she'd found after coming home the other day sat on the waiting dish. Buffy popped the plate into the microwave, set the timer for thirty seconds, and rummaged in the breadbox to make some toast. She moved over the windows and twisted the nobby thing to open the shades, watching as the still rising sun slowly made its way over the neighbor's roof.
Funny how for so long she hadn't appreciated something as simple as sunlight. It tingled, a feeling that was starting to become familiar, as it touched her skin, two forces inside her rearing up in mutual confusion, and Buffy felt a sudden fresh wave of exhaustion. Shaking her head, Buffy stepped back into the kitchen as the microwave beeped and retrieved her prepared breakfast, snatched up her toast, and cradled her orange juice to her chest. Oranges. Fruity defense against scurvy and heart disease.
She sipped at the drink, but it didn't taste the same. The zippy tang of citrus had been oddly muted. Buffy frowned and set it to the side, humming, before picking up her fork and spearing one of the sausage things. Had her mother ever made them before? She didn't think so. It was the memories older than she was that told her what the meaty things were, and though her californian teen sensibilities were a little leery about it the new food Warrick didn't see a problem with it.
Buffy bit experimentally down on the sausage, felt the juice hit her tongue, and began making noises that could only be labeled indecent. It tasted faintly of sweet potato, and something else that was rich, and wet, and glorious.
Buffy finished chewing, swallowed, and leaned back as the foodgasm ripped through her body. The sun crept along the floor and hit her feet, warming her toes and dragging her out of the awesome cooking induced haze. She felt good. She felt awake. She like she could take on the Master, again, and this time without a stake. Blinking, Buffy squeaked and hurriedly finished her breakfast, nearly choking on the second bite of heavenly sausage. She then ran out the door, hopping into her shoes, and put her supernatural speed to the test as she ran for the bus.
When she'd scrapped her plate in the trash can, she missed the plastic packets that used to hold blood, covered as they were with potato peelings, broken egg shells, and boxes of cake mix.
Upstairs, Joyce's lips twitched into a smile. The woman sighed, murmuring into her sheets, "That's my baby girl..."
Kendra woke around noon to the sound of knuckles rapping against the front door. She was a slayer, home-schooled, with patrols lasting from dusk till dawn: mornings were for sleeping in. Considering the local watcher's new status, their individual sleeping patterns and schedules meshed nicely. The girl rolled her shoulders, cracked her neck, and slid off Mr. Giles' couch and over to the door. A quick stop by the china cabinet that held more than china supplied her with a six inch steel dagger. Kendra stuck close to the wall and twitched aside the curtain, peeking out the apartment window. There were plenty of monsters that could walk in sunlight, after all. She used to have flash cards.
She removed the chain, slid back the dead-bolt, and with a deep breath primed her senses. "Afta'noon." Kendra greeted as she pulled open the door, dagger hidden behind her back, completely unaware of the impression her appearance made to the woman on the other side of the threshold.
Slim, spunky, with a light popping of power, the brunette woman's nostrils flared as her eyes widened. "Hello." She pressed her lips together, and Kendra felt her own face blank at the sudden rush of hostility coming off of the stranger. "Gotta say, I knew English wasn't as stuffy and British as he likes to pretend, but I never figured him for the hot-for-teacher type."
"And you would be?" The girl asked coolly, crossing her arms and causing her borrowed button-up to gather and reveal a modest brown bosom. The dagger caught the sunlight meaningfully and glinted threats.
The woman glared, equally cold, eyes darting from the athletic girl dressed only in an oversized men's dress shirt to the darkened interior of the little apartment. "Jenny Calender."
"I do not know you." A challenge. It wasn't unheard of for the Council to enter into contracts with some of the more neutral monster species, or cults, but no one had informed the young slayer to expect any visitors.
"I work with Rupert at the High School. He hasn't been in for a while and..." Jenny's fingers worked together, and Kendra took a single step back as a spark of worry was buried beneath layers of hurt and anger. "I thought we could go to lunch. If he needed to talk."
"Mr. Giles is still sleeping. He will likely not be up for another hour, yet."
Jenny laughed, shook herself, and smiled grimly. "Of course. Of course. How silly of me." She calmly tucked her hair back behind an ear even as her magic caused a little dust devil to kick up in a corner. "Well, you can tell him that if he wants to run around with, with teenagers
that's his business. He's an adult. He can make his own decisions... but if he doesn't want to be looking for a new job he better stop acting
like one. Snyder's already looking at applications for a new librarian."
Kendra intensified her glare. She wasn't sure what the witch -definitely a witch- wanted, but she didn't like people talking trash about her watchers, and maybe Mr. Giles wasn't her
watcher but until the 'Great Darkness' was dealt with and transport home arranged he was good as. The jamaican born girl shuffled forward, hands moving down to her sides, and leaned forward letting her inner killer peek out of her brown eyes. Slayers could be vicious -the First was testament to that- but they were also protective. Had to be, to curb that see-want-have killer instinct. Duty and honor had been fed to Kendra growing up, right along side her Wheaties. "I shall tell him. And, I tell you, now, that if I find you've done a ting to harm Mr. Giles I won't need an invitation ta rip you from your 'ome and scatter the pieces ta dah four corners. Yeah?"
The witch blinked, cheeks taking on a pink hue, but as she opened her mouth to fire off a reply Kendra slammed the door shut and proceeded to turn every lock, slide every bolt, and hitch every chain on the door, scowl etched on her face as she spat. "Bitch."
The brief encounter left her too keyed up to get back to sleep, and with a longing look to the sheet covered couch Mr. Giles had made up for her, Kendra shuffled over to the kitchen. She clamped the dagger between her teeth as she rummaged through the fridge for breakfast fixings, and wondered if Mr. Giles had been able to get the blood stains out of her shirt. She hoped so. It was her favorite shirt.
Her only shirt.
"Stupid zombies." Kendra grumbled around the blade in her mouth.
Larry was lingering in the locker-room shower after practice when she found him. The sound of water hitting the tile covered up the swing of the door, and he was far too focused on his own issues to notice the soft steps approaching his position. Larry rested his forehead against the steel trunk of the communal shower, eyes closed, and he let his imagination fuel his kinks. Gone were the fantasizes of Micheal Coroner and the point guard. Minty scented soap ran over his too-warm body as he reached between his legs.
Eyes like deep, drown-worthy pools of chocolate haunted his dreams. Another, softer hand overlay his. Almost feminine fingers guided the rhythm of his strokes, and Larry tilted his face into the oncoming water as the pressure behind his balls built.
"Larry." A small, predatory voice whispered in his ear, and the quarterback's eyes popped open as he fell painfully forward onto the metal pillar barely managing to catch himself.
"S-shit!" Larry stuttered, spinning to face the intruder. His mouth opened and closed for a moment as he stared at the nude cheerleader, hurriedly covering his privates with his hands. He'd been with girls before, mostly experimental kissing and fondling, but he'd quickly discovered the soft curves and squishy bits just didn't do it for him. Not that anyone else knew: what self-respecting high-school socialite would admit to being turned down by the captain of the football team? "Harmony! This is the boys
The blonde's bottom lip jutted out as she pouted, running her fingers through her damp hair. "I know
, Larry. I'm not stupid." She stalked forward swaying her hips, and the spray of water hit her breasts, bouncing off of them and making it all but impossible to escape the small, door-less cubicle. Impossibly, despite being almost twice the girl's size, Larry felt cornered. Like a lame mouse before the cat. Her eyes roved over his body, tiny pink tongue flicking out to lick her lips, and he gulped. "See, you've got a problem."
"No, I don't." He stated, calmly, doing his best to think about dolphins and ignore the way she leaned forward as if scenting the air.
Harmony smiled, and breathed out the name. "Xander
Larry swallowed as his dick, only moments away from full cool down, promptly jumped back to attention.
Harmony hummed deep in her throat, almost a growl, and it resonated in Larry's head leaving him somewhat dizzy. Harmony cupped one breast, squeezing the nipple between her fingers, and sighed. "Tell me you don't dream about him. Say that you don't think about what he's doing, who
he's doing, and it doesn't make you want to drive stick. The thought of his lips wrapped around your dick, sucking you off, doesn't fill you with a need so strong it's going to rip you in two."
Half wonderment, half fearful, Larry swallowed past his suddenly dry mouth and forced out the question. "How did you know?"
He didn't see her move. One second she had been under the curtain of water, blonde locks dripping down her body like golden paint, and the next she was pressed against him with her heat rubbing tantalizingly against his own. Harmony giggled, and he felt something sharp prick at his neck. "Xander is very, very special. Right, Larry?"
Xander. He grunted out his assent even as his grip shifted to better accommodate their new positions. He didn't dislike girls, exactly, but this was the first time he'd felt the the need to actively rut against them. Harmony licked around his neck, cradleing the back of his head with her hand, and her whispers seemed to fill the room blocking out the sound of the shower and the hum of the lights.
"And Xander has very, very special needs.
But you already know that, Larry, I could smell it on you." The words were muffled from where her mouth had closed over his neck, the same spot Xander's had focused on so intently, and Larry felt as though he was trapped in some sort of drug induced dream. Harmony bit down, and Larry let out a strangled gasp as the pain was quickly covered by something else. "I don't like
to share, Larry. But I'm not stupid. Don't laugh! I'm not
, and I can
be practical. That's where you come in."
Harmony leaned back, licking stray drops of red from her lips, and walked her fingers up Larry's pectorals. "We're going to be each other's beards. You tell everyone you're fucking me. I'll tell everyone I'm fucking you. Then we can both
fuck Xander without either of us endangering our social standing. It's perfect!"
The image exploded in his mind, and he didn't even care about how cold the water had gotten. It could work. Possibly. He could see all three of them together, could see himself wrapping his hands in Harmony's hair and holding her down as she took him all the way to the root, even as Xander pounded into him. "Harmony I'm-" His voice cut off as he came, spraying long, ropy white gobs across her stomach. The blonde giggled, touching one manicured finger to the cream and popping it into her mouth even as she stepped back under the steaming water. "What you're saying is, is..."
"Genius?" Harmony offered, and the look on her face was so Harmony. Nothing but simple pleasure and happiness: the same smile that came from successfully pulling off a pyramid during half-time break. She winked at him, twirling child-like as she did so. "Don't worry, Larry. The Master takes care of his minions. You think you're the only football player to score with a cheerleader after practice?"
Larry blinked as he rubbed at his sore neck, calloused fingers detecting a duo of small holes that were rapidly scabbing over. He watched as the girl wandered over to towel off. She sashayed around as if it was her god-given right to be there, and took her time pulling her clothes back on, showed off bits of leg and carefully toned abs. Larry turned off the water and wandered over to his own locker, shaking his head and trying to figure out what had just happened.
Willow was quite happy licking her chocolate ice-cream, sitting on a swing, enjoying the starlight, and minding her own business. At no point in her day did she think, "I know! I'll go out and pick a fight with something!" No, she'd gotten up, grouchily, gone to school, informed Ms. Calendar she wouldn't be able to make the extra Saturday morning tutorials -And when only two people were scheduled to come did the woman really need an assistant?- and caught up on homework. She hadn't even growled when one of the football players accidentally -And it really was an accident, that time.- turned a corner and ran into her.
It just so happened that life was conspiring against her. Willow stared sadly at her ruined chocolate where it was melting into the still warm pebbles of the playground. She could hear undead snickers, see the dirt encrusted dress shoes they'd been buried in, and it irked some old and pissy thing within her. They hadn't had ice-cream, or chocolate for that matter, when she'd -he'd- been her age. Hadn't been able to taste it once they did, too. "You ruined my chocolate." She held back a sniffle.
"Awww. Is widdle Rosenberg going to cry?" The vampire mocked, and Willow snapped her head up, expression blank. "Going to run to your little boyfriends, but wait, I heard you're missing one. Couldn't keep a leash on that little fag, could you?"
"Mitchell. I thought you moved to LA." Willow relaxed the crushing grip she had on her waffle cone and moved her hand to her neck as though nervously checking her hair. Once upon a time, he'd stuck gum in it, the little creep. I'd taken a year to grow it back out.
"Oh, I did. Funny thing, though, after I had my little accident -muggers are absolutely vicious in the city- all my new friends thought little ol' Sunnydale was the place to be. Like the demon equivalent of Rome or something." Mitchell shrugged. "Figured I'd check to see if there was anything particularly special that I missed when I was alive. Turns out? Not much. But you... sitting here in your little skirt, and sparkly top... and you smell so good... like a well aged wine..."
He leered, and Willow kicked him in the face. "That was for my fifth birthday party!" While he clutched his broken nose Willow stood, sword in hand, and bitch slapped the undead bully, following up with a slash to his midsection. He managed to dodge backward, and snarled while his forehead bulged and transformed him into something that offended Willow on a deep, instinctual level. She rolled as he pounced. He was all speed and instinct but no skill with no practice fighting something equal to if not stronger than himself, and Willow came up behind him, swinging, slicing cleanly through his legs. "That was for what you said about Jesse."
"You... you bitch! Just you wait!" Mitchell raged, and fell forward, clawing ineffectually at the ground as he tried to drag himself over to the armed red-head. "I'm going to bite your fucking throat out!"
"Tall order, considering how you've just lost about two feet, pun intended." Willow stepped to the side, eying the two bleeding stumps and the strangely non-dusted bits that had been attached to them. Why were they still intact? Would they remain if the sun rose, or would setting alight the separated pieces work back on some metaphysical link in result in the whole vampire burning? Willow could remember burning, and it hadn't been fun.
"Harmony!" Mitchell gasped out, squirming, reaching out imploringly to the blonde. "Harm! Be a doll and bring my legs over here, will you? A little fresh blood and I'll be right as rain..."
Harmony sneered and stepped purposefully, in her high heeled stilettos, onto the legless vampire's back as she crossed the park over to Willow, two fresh ice creams in hand. "Yeah, don't pretend you didn't used to call me the 'bottle-blonde ditz-bo' to Cordy's face. Jerk-Ass." Flipping her hair, she held out the spare ice cream and Willow took it with grateful smile. Harmony, dressed in a variation of her usual Bronze wear, cuddled up to the other girl and joined in the silent mocking of the maimed.
"Hey, you idiots, don't you know what-"
Harmony neatly cut through his neck with her own sword, a Spanish style rapier she'd begged and pleaded and may have used a tiny bit of vamp power to convince her daddy to buy for her, that hung stylishly at her waist. The two girls watched with interest at the noticeable time delay between the dusting of the body and the dusting of the separated limbs. The feet gave a twitch every few seconds, but the fact that they still were there to give a twitch filled Willow's mind with questions. There was, however, one question that she hated and yet had to ask. "Harmony. We talked about this. Please remove your hand from my ass." Willow calmly licked at the the vanilla and chocolate swirl of her cone, even as small girlish fingers firmed their grip .
"Nuh-uh. Xander's orders. He's been kinda paranoid lately..."
Willow sighed. "Back. He asked you to watch my back, not my butt."
"Oh well. Back, back-side," Harmony grinned, fangs shining innocent and white in the streetlamp as she slowly and sensuously licked at her own ice-cream cone. "Honest mistake."
Drusilla crept down the hall, hands clutched to her bosom as she snuck along from shadow to shadow. Her Spike was gone. Consumed. He had ignored her warnings. His passion had run away with him and burned him up, like a moth in the flame. Nothing left but a pile of ash to mark his passing. She was alone, and if there was one trait that had survived her turning and the insanity it was her deep, dark fear of being alone. Mother, Father, and Sisters had all passed, taken by her Dark Daddy, who also took away Grandmummy, and now her precious poet, her Spike, was gone.
Drusilla sniffled and pressed herself into the wall as a night nurse bustled by, eyes focused on the file she was reading. The vampire was grateful for the lack of personnel in her current section of the hospital. Most of the healers were congregated in the more brightly lit ER, unconcerned with the long-term care ward. Drusilla waited for the click of sensible shoes to fade away before moving on, swaying as she wrapped her arms around her body in a poor attempt of self-comfort.
Oh, how she ached from the lingering pains of the cross-wrapped coffin in Prague, and without her Spike to sooth it away. They had come here, to the Hellmouth, hoping to find aid in healing her, but all they found was Daddy, and he would kill her, too, she knew. He would think it a mercy, with her in her current condition- but she didn't want to return to dust. Not yet.
Abomination she may be, but she still wanted to exist, and didn't all things have a right to exist, each in their own way? The house martin or the swallow may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land? "Then the Lord, your God, formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." She whispered the words with chapped, chewed, bleeding lips. She remembered sitting at her father's knee as a child, staring up into his face as he read from the family bible, a thing she could no longer touch without feeling pain in her breast and smoke on her fingertips. "Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust."
She turned a corner, following a thread of energy that tried to dance out of her sight, but she gripped it tight and reeled it in. "Excuse me, Miss?"
Drusilla changed her attention to the man guarding the door, a watchman, in a dark gray uniform. She stared at him, and wrung her hands. "Oh, no. No. No. No. I must get in. I must. Daddy won't help me, he won't, he only wants to play with his little sunshine soldier."
The man frowned, reaching for a bulky radio on his hip. "Are you lost, ma'am? Do you need me to call a nurse?"
"They can't help me, either." Drusilla stepped in closer, drawing the ragged remains of her power around her like a shield. She was so weak... so hungry... and her Spike was gone. Their minions dead or deserted. She felt her eyes well up with tears. "I'm all alone. No white knight to save his dark princess. None."
"Listen, why don't you sit down and I'll-" She caught his gaze with her own, pooling her strength for one last push and breaking through the natural barriers of the mind. The watchman froze, expression blank, and Drusilla stepped up, wrapping her bruised arms around his neck as she whispered into his ear.
"You'll help princess, won't you? Open the door. Open the door for princess."
The man walked back to the door of the room, the soft sounds of machine beeping came through it, and Drusilla clung to his arm as vertigo hit her. Just that tiny bit of mind-magic had wiped her out, but she would never have been able to get in otherwise. And she needed to get in. Daddy would kill her... but maybe great-great-grandmummy would help?
The night man stood just to the side of the door, and Drusilla stepped carefully over to the bed. There were no windows in the room, as deep in the basement as it was, but the girl on the bed looked oddly alive for all her apparent illness. Warm, almost golden skin glowed in the faint lighting from the hallway and dark, thick locks spilled over the pillow in a wave of chocolate. "Oh, grandmother..." Drusilla sighed and rested for a moment on the bed, trailing her thin fingers through the soft hair.
She licked her lips, watching as the other girl's chest rose and fell in a steady pattern. Her stomach grumbled, and with a shudder a formerly demure and delicate face transformed. Yellow eyes lit with an inner glow and Drusilla leaned over the prone body, fangs focused on the blood flowing sluggishly through Cordelia's neck.
Brown eyes snapped open as sharp teeth pierced the skin. Drusilla moaned in ecstasy as blood sweeter than any tea or candy flooded her mouth, and a hand reached up to grip her throat.
" A voice rumbled out in a dialect long forgotten by any still living, or unliving, and with a squeak Drusilla's gaze turned on the open eyes of the Chase heir. "You dare drink...
With a crash Drusilla hit the back wall, a cabinet falling broken beside her. Terrified brown eyes stared up the woman struggling to sit up. The watchman snapped out of his haze and drew his gun, yelling, but neither woman paid him any attention. Cordelia snarled, throwing the blankets off, and stalked forward, eyes blazing a cold, cat-like, slat grey of a winter sky.
"Forgive us!" Drusilla begged, hands out in supplication. "Forgive us, we didn't... we were..."
"Forgiveness?" The woman halted and held a hand to her head. Cordelia fell to one knee, and was forced to grab the metal railing of the bed for support. "...ugh. I need... energy..." She glared up at Drusilla, before dragging her attention to the guard screaming furiously into his radio.
Cordelia licked her lips.
"Salty goodness." Drusilla whispered as she inched for the door, knowing that even as the wounds on her arms faded new ones were blossoming on her neck.
Cordelia let out a deep, rumbling purr, and crawled over to the frozen guard.