Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, that would be Joss Whedon and Joyce Carol Oates.
Author notes: This is based on a fifty sentence prompt I’ve seen other writers use before. Takes place in the beginning timeline of my story Watch Your Back, at the time when fourteen-year-old Faith stilled lived on the street with Legs Sadovsky, her older friend.
Sometimes Faith twitched in her sleep just before dusk, wherever they had settled together for the night, and then her legs spasmed, jerking against Legs’s until she too awakened, wrapping her arms sleepily around Faith in a wordless comfort that could always distract her from even the darkest remant of dreams.
Faith and Legs have talked with candid swagger about their number of sexual partners, almost competing in their level of experience, but when Faith thinks even briefly about so much as kissing Legs’s overly full lips, she grows so nervous and uncharacteristically shy, feels so vulnerable and young in comparison, that she can’t even meet her eyes.
Legs’s hands were chapped, red, and rough from constant exposure to the New York winter weather, and sometimes when Faith entwined her fingers with hers, she wondered how long it would be before her own hands had lost the last of their softness too.
Faith never asked Legs where she came from or what her story was; she would prefer to think that Legs had simply always been, than to make her a person with a past, a person who had probably experienced pain as great as or greater than Faith herself.
Eating the way she and Legs did, mostly junk food and whatever was quick and easy to steal, Faith sometimes longed for something hot, something cooked…sometimes she craved so strongly to eat something as simple as meatloaf and mashed potatoes that her stomach felt unbearably empty and pained.
Before Legs, Faith had hated rainy days, for it made it more difficult than usual to find shelter and stay warm for a person living on the streets; now she danced with Legs hand and hand, oblivious to the mud and cold as they laughed breathlessly, knowing that when they were ready, they could always warm each other up.
“Your eyes are like chocolate,” Legs had told Faith once, and then she had grinned, adding as she playfull nipped Faith’s neck, “God, I’m so fucking hungry right now!”
Every day they were hungry and cold, stealing and screwing to survive, sick more often than not, and fighting to keep others at bay, but none of it mattered, none of it could touch her, because with Legs at her side, Faith was happy all the same.
Once Faith hesitated before a payphone, wondering just for a moment what might happen if she ever gave her father a call, but then Legs was linking arms with her, pulling her away, and Faith reminded herself how much she hated him, that he was the reason she could never go back.
Legs had three piercings in each ear, dull studs and a single safety pin lining the lobes; she had offered to pierce Faith’s, but Faith wasn’t sure she trusted her with a safety pin alone, and not so much as soap or ice as well to help get the job done.
Faith never asked Legs her real name; somehow, it never occurred to her as something that was important to know or ask, because to her, Legs was just Legs.
Although Legs never wore clothes even remotely sexy or feminine in style, never wore clothes that weren’t stained and torn, baggy and less than attractive, her very manner of movement was so oddly confident and sensual even without any girlishness to it that Faith was often unable to look away.
Legs said that death was the worst thing, that she would do anything to bargain it away if she ever got the chance, but Faith would gladly take physical death over some of the things in her life that had steadily worked to deaden her soul.
Faith could never say it, would never dare to speak it out loud, but sometimes when Legs slipped off with a customer for the night, whether or not Faith watched the deed, she burned inside with a fierce jealousy that physically hurt to feel.
Every time Legs took Faith’s hand or slipped her arm through hers, absently stroking a hand up Faith’s shoulder or even elbowed her playfully in the side, Faith felt herself smile until her dimples emerged, enjoying even the briefest of moments where Legs was somehow connected physically.
Faith never wanted Legs to see her as weak or incapable in any way, never wanted her to think that she couldn’t take care of herself without Legs’s help, or that she was ever truly hurt or in pain; what she didn’t realize is that Legs felt the same way about her.
Once when Faith awakened in the middle of the night, she realized Legs had pulled apart from her and was sitting up, arms wrapped around her legs, gazing in the distance, but when Faith sat up, asking groggily what was wrong, the odd glint in Legs’s eyes that looked suspiciously like tears had disappeared, and she had smiled and shook her head, telling Faith to go back to sleep.
As Faith chased Legs through the park’s grounds, hand outstretched to tag her, they both laughed in pure enjoyment of their childish game as Legs managed always to just elude her, her long legs lending her a speed Faith could not quite measure up to.
The March wind could be biting and cruel, and Faith and Legs huddled together under the alley’s fire escape, jackets zipped together, arms tight around each other for extra warmth.
People always said that the truth would set you free, and Faith didn’t lie, but by not telling Legs everything, she still felt a freedom in her company she had never thought possible.
“You ever wonder why we’re here, why we’re alive?” Faith asked Legs once, and Legs had scoffed, shaking her head as she said, “What does it matter, as long as we hang on until the whole ride is through?”
It bothered Faith sometimes to wonder why Legs didn’t seem to care who or what Faith did with anybody or anything; sometimes she wondered if it would bother Legs at all if Faith left, or if she would shrug, chalking up their time together to be fun while it lasted.
Legs’s hands were large for a girl’s, as long and bony as she herself, and when Faith stretched her hand against it to compare, she secretly enjoyed feeling small in comparison.
Legs casually took every soda flavor available at the busy McDonald’s and mixed them in one cup, swirling them around, and offered it to Faith with a grin, calling it a suicide; when Faith took a sip and almost gagged, she understood the reason for the choice of name.
Faith could never bring herself to tell Legs that she loved her, but every time Legs gave her that careless smile, telling Faith that she was her heart, Faith felt her heart swell with such intense feeling it was hard to look at her.
IF Faith could freeze her life at one moment in time, it would be right here, right now with Legs, never having to let go or look away.
“It’s not blood that counts, blood is just an accident, blood is bullshit,” Legs told Faith casually even as her arm tightened around her shoulders, even as her blue eyes went dark, “it’s what’s in the heart that counts, Faith, and you’re my heart, so you’re more me than my own blood is, you know?”
Faith got to where she hardly noticed Legs’s red, often runny nose and harsh, painful-sounding coughing, how in the coldest of nights she still sometimes felt hot; Faith had the same symptoms and for her, sickness had become her usual and expected state.
Legs’s voice was not what one could call skilled or talented, but it was pleasant, deep, and the few times Faith heard her sing, she had stood very still, finding it to be beautiful.
When they lay together head to head, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, and looked at the stars overhead, Faith remembered how when she was younger, she had looked for falling stars to wish on, and though she doesn’t really believe, she looks now anyway, still hoping.
They never slept the same place from night to night, never knew where it was they would end up, but it didn’t matter; for Faith, Legs was all she needed to feel at home.
Faith had never before considered herself to be anything but straight, but she would have gladly done anything she’d done with a guy with Legs, and more- if only she could bring herself to follow through.
Faith thought she saw him sometimes on the street and felt her heartbeat quicken, and she squeezed Legs’s hand as she hurriedly turned away, but in the end it was never her father, never anyone she knew at all.
Sometimes when it was raining hard, lightning flashing across the sky, Legs would climb as tree, as though to challenge the weather to strike her down, and Faith always held her breath, not feeling okay again until she came down.
Legs was the third person Faith had ever loved, and so far, unlike her parents, Legs had never done anything to hurt her.
“We can eat them uncooked,” Legs said as she shoved a package of hot dogs into Faith’s pocket, “can’t be any more dangerous than the cooked ones they sell on the street.”
Sometimes when she and Legs went to the library, Faith glanced over at the computers and wondered what the hell made people so interested in reading a screen.
It was years later that Faith learned that Legs had lied to her when she first met her about being seventeen, that in fact she had been fifteen, and that her sixteenth birthday had come and gone while she was with Faith without her saying a word, without Faith being able to get her even a lame gift to show she cared.
Legs fingered Faith’s dimples when she smiled, calling her cute, which only made Faith smile more even as she tried to glare.
Faith cannot remember a time when she was ever innocent, but sometimes when she listened to Legs’s tales, she felt young and naïve in comparison.
At the end of each day as she settled to sleep beneath Legs’s arm, Faith felt a sense of satisfaction, a sense of wholeness she never had before, no matter what hardships the day had brought.
As they looked up at the clouds, describing the shapes they saw, Legs slid her eyes slyly to Faith and said she saw “one huge dick,” and both girls collapsed in laughter.
On days when the sky was cloudless and clear, with no chance of rain, Legs took Faith through Central Park, pulling her up onto statues as if they were posing tourists, and laughed at those who shot them annoyed glances as they passed.
Faith was raised loosely Catholic and had always privately thought that Heaven sounded very boring; here with Legs forever would be her idea of an ideal afterlife.
When she was very young, Faith had feared she would go to hell for being so bad; she doesn’t think or care about what might happen in the next world anymore, now that she has here and now with Legs.
When the winter is over, Legs vowed, and the sun had shown up once again, she and Faith would sunbathe naked on the roof tops until all their pale winter skin was as tan as Vanessa Williams’s, and it wasn’t the prospect of a tan that Faith looked forward to so eagerly.
On the first night of the full moon, Legs threw back her head and howled, before chasing Faith with fingers curled into mock claws, and Faith ran, laughing, but just for a moment her heart had leapt in alarm.
In the YMCA’s pool Faith cannonballed right beside Legs, splashing her heavily, but Legs grabbed her leg, pulling her under with a retaliating smirk.
Faith always held very still when Legs combed her fingers gently through her hair, afraid that if she made a sudden move, Legs would pull her hand away.
They were never quite satisfied, never quite able to eat their fill, but when Faith lay down with Legs at night she felt full all the same, because it was the hunger of her soul, not her stomach, that most urgently needed to be met