Willow sat alone on the storefront stoop watching quietly while Kennedy took down the last two vamps in a blaze of dust and flashing sword. A year after the hellmouth collapsed, her brunette lover was a slayer to rival Buffy, thanks to that annoying watcher of hers. Giles had found a watcher that had escaped under the First’s radar, a fellow named Adam Pierson. His specialty was swords, so instead of stakes, Kennedy now went patrolling with this monster sword strapped to her back. Giles had turned them over to Adam with a smile and an “I know you’ll take care of my girls.”
Willow had been incensed. Giles was hers, and she was his, every bit as much as Buffy. She and Kennedy didn’t need another watcher. So she had started the process with a big hulking chip on her shoulder. Adam had noticed her resentment and just smiled and said, “Maybe we make a deal.” He put his hand out in a friendly manner. “Kennedy needs more training, I can help. Maybe together we can get somewhere.” So Adam had trained Willow alongside Kennedy, and Willow was now nearly as accomplished as Kennedy with a sword. Of course, she didn’t carry one strapped to her back. If she needed a sword, she could conjure one faster than she could pull one from a sheath. But still, she felt useless. Kennedy didn’t need her help. Adam had trained her well, better even than Merrick and Giles had trained Buffy. Kennedy could behead a vampire before it knew it was in danger. Truth be told, Willow could do the same.
They had spent nearly a year in Seacouver, Willow, Xander, Buffy and Kennedy, and nearly two-dozen other slayers. Willow had found the two of them a small apartment near Joe and Giles, because the two watchers had moved in together. Buffy and Dawn lived with them, and swore up and down there was no hanky-panky. But Buffy spent so much time at Duncan’s and Dawn so much time at Richie’s, Willow doubted they knew for sure. But three months before Buffy and Duncan had headed to Europe on a whirlwind tour with Andrew and left the others behind. Willow had found work in a subsidiary of Microsoft that was set up in Seacouver, and worked long hours there. When Adam had shown up and Giles announced he was their watcher and Adam moved in without even a how-de-doody, Willow had decided that she hated him. Learning what he had to teach her was one thing, but liking him was something else altogether. Duncan and Richie’s gentle teasing was sort of sweet, but Adam’s knowing smirks every morning after she and Kennedy made love drove her nuts. Willow finally cracked. “What, you want a freakin’ invitation? God! We’re lesbians, not interested in your cock!”
Adam smiled sweetly. “So she says. I think the little witch protests too much.”
“I got a job that pays all our bills! You stay out drinking late at the bar. See more of your friends than you do us! Why would you think we’re interested? What do you have, an infinite tab?”
“I don’t see Kennedy helping with the expenses.”
“You arrogant prick! She’s my girl; she needs to learn to fight to stay alive. You are a fucking waste of space! Every time I have managed to save just a little bit of money Joe comes over here and wants to settle that bottomless tab of yours.”
Adam looked taken aback. “I didn’t know you were paying off my tab, I’ll take care of it.”
“I hate you! Every time you walk into the apartment, my head starts buzzing, and you set my teeth on edge! You say that you are thirty-six but we both know your aura says that you are older than dirt! I know you’re not a vampire, but whatever the hell you are, you’re lying to both of us and I hate it!” Willow had been so angry; she could feel her eyes bleeding to black. “Damn you!” Willow had hightailed it out of the apartment to the dojo, turning her back on the aggravating man. She had spent the rest of the afternoon pounding on Richie and the other slayers until sweat poured down her back and she could barely breathe from her exhaustion. Giles had finally ordered her home.
Adam’s response to the argument was to ignore her unless they were training and begin drinking more. He could drink like a fish. It was worse than Spike when he lived with Giles. For the last four weeks, there had been no less than six bottles of whiskey in their cupboard, and usually one was open somewhere in the apartment. Adam had no problem helping himself to the cash jar in the kitchen, and didn’t care that that was supposed to be the money for Willow and Kennedy to buy new mattresses to replace the stinky one they had wrangled from Goodwill. He didn’t seem to get drunk, but his barbs cut closer, and even Kennedy was chafing under his constant scrutiny and the black moods that would overtake him on occasion. Just this morning, after Adam had left with what to Willow seemed like a black swirling cloud over his head, Kennedy had turned to her and said, “Anyplace is better than here.”
Willow had drawn the younger woman into her arms and kissed her soundly, “I got a plan to get us out of here. Just hold on a few more days, baby.”
A little over a week ago, things had come to a head. Willow had been practicing with Richie at the dojo, keeping up a constant stream of babble while fending off his attacks with a wooden practice sword. “The old man’s got a problem.”
Richie had nearly jumped out of his skin, giving Willow an opening, allowing her to disarm him, hitting him with the flat of her blade under the hamstrings and bringing him to his knees. She mimed taking his head off and kept her practice sword under his chin while Richie squeaked. “Who, Adam?”
“Of course, Adam.” Willow pressed harder on his windpipe with her sword. “Somebody’s got to take care of him.”
Richie shook his head rapidly. “Oh, I don’t tell Adam what to do.”
“Fine. Who does?”
“Nobody.” Despite his awkward position, Richie tried to smile. “Things will get better.”
Willow felt the irritating buzzing that always heralded Adam’s presence. She whispered a small spell to keep the blade at Richie’s throat and whirled around to see Adam standing at the door. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Came to check on the little pussy cat. Not bad.” He indicated Richie with the wooden sword under his throat.
“You just want me to kill you, don’t you?” Willow rounded on Adam, her ire rising. I took on the First and a hell goddess, I can take you.”
“Oh, really?” Adam chuckled. “I doubt that, witch.”
Willow looked over at Richie. “Yield?” Richie coughed and squawked a yes. Willow whispered the counter spell and the sword clattered to the ground. She whirled to face Adam, her conjured sword in her hand. “Fine. I challenge you. What do you tell all the slayers? I’m gonna take that annoying head off your shoulders. Do the world a favor.” Willow swore she heard the sound of a thunderclap in the distance. Richie took off out of the dojo at a dead run.
Adam’s broadsword appeared from nowhere, and he held it in front of the two of them. His voice held an edge of warning. “Don’t do this, Willow.”
“You leave tonight or live and die this way I want you out. Out of our apartment, out of our lives.“ They circled, neither making a first move. She had fought Adam so many times the last few months that she could read his expressions as they flickered across his face. What he didn’t know was that his aura usually broadcasted his next move well in advance.
“You don’t want this.”
“Too late, I’m taking you out, old man.” Willow struck first, an attempt to throw him off balance, and soon they were locked into the fight, Adam alternately attacking and defending, but unwilling to strike a fatal blow. Willow sniggered at him. “You don’t want to kill me, old man. I don’t have any such compunction. I know you’re not human.” Willow struck out, slicing him deep under the ribs, drawing first blood. “Ha. I got you.” It was nearly an hour into the battle.
“If you think that a little cut like that will slow me down, you are a bigger fool than I thought.” Adam rolled into her, trying to blood his sword as well, but each time he attempted to close in, Willow anticipated and darted away just under the blade.
Willow felt, rather than heard the arrival of the Watchers with Richie. “Stop this, both of you! This is madness!” Giles’ voice cut across the dojo, panic evident.
Kennedy gasped. “They are going to kill each other.” She went to the wall to grab a sword, only to be stopped by Richie wrapping his arms around her and holding her tight against her. “Let me at him! He’s not touching my girl!”
Willow did feel a bit mad, the battle frenzy was on her, and all she could focus on was the minute changes in Adam’s aura that signaled his next move. She knew her eyes were completely black, and when her hair flew into her face, it was streaked – red, white, and black. “Don’t worry, Kennedy, I’m killing the sorry bastard.” A moment later, her chance came; Adam’s aura broadcasted his next move, which would leave him out of balance. Willow brought her sword hard across the base of Adam’s, sending Adam’s sword skittering wildly toward Kennedy and Richie. Kennedy threw Richie off and caught the flying sword in her hands. Just as she had done with Richie nearly an hour and an half before, Willow sliced Adam across the hamstrings, but this time, her sword was real, and she felt the sickening snap of sinew as her sword sliced his right leg all the way to the bone. His blood flew towards her face, and Adam went down in a heap. Willow stepped to the fallen man, putting her boot heel in his groin, earning a satisfying groan, training her sword at his throat. “You die.” She looked to Giles and commented snidely. “How do I kill him? Beheading? He seems so fond of it.”
Giles looked decidedly uncomfortable. “Yes, but that’s not the point, Willow.”
“I want him out of my life. If I have to kill him to do it, I will.”
Giles cleared his throat. “I think you’ve made that point quite clear.”
Adam looked at her coldly. “You won’t get a second chance, witch.”
“Fine. You’re dead.” Willow brought the sword up, and swung it in a low arc aiming for his throat.
“Stop!” Giles shouted. “Willow, just stop.”
Willow barely checked her swing, as it was Adam’s throat was sliced, nearly an inch deep. Blood poured from his throat, covering her already bloodied form, but his head was still attached. “Giles, why? Why did he do this to us?” Willow sank to her knees on top of the dying man, allowing Richie and Kennedy to pull her away. With her magically heightened senses Willow heard Adam’s heartbeat slow and finally cease. When Willow realized Adam was well and truly dead, she was inconsolable, unable to hear Richie’s reassurances that Adam would recover.
Adam had recovered from his injuries, and for some reason he was viewed as the wronged party. No one asked why Willow was so enraged at him, and Kennedy simply stalked around her watcher with a sullen look on her face. Giles’ response was to chide Kennedy for having a poor attitude; Kennedy’s response was a stream of language that Giles had never heard pass her lips before. Adam’s drinking continued unabated, and he continued to toss his barbs at the two women while living under their roof.
Two days later, Oz had appeared unannounced in Seacouver, a smile on his face and with hugs for both Kennedy and Willow. The Dingoes had a recording contract, and his advance had covered the cost for a new car.
“You got a fast car there, Oz.” Kennedy walked around the car, appraising the blue Mustang and giving a low whistle. “I like it.”
“Mi auto es tu auto.” Oz winked at the girls.
“Willow, we gotta make a decision. Are we outta here?”
Willow nodded. “We leave tonight. Go pack your bags.” The two girls had ridden with Oz to the apartment, clearing out the hope jar of all its change and grabbing a change of clothes each.
Oz looked over the apartment, surprised. “That’s it? Nothing else?”
Willow sighed. “Well, we’re starting from zero got nothing to lose.” They had driven out of Seacouver into the night and the next day, taking turns at the wheel until they reached Chicago, spending several days seeing the sights and visiting the museums. Hoping to cover their tracks, Kennedy and Willow only used Oz’s cards, and paid him cash from their hope stash. They turned south and headed for St. Louis, where the Dingoes had their next gig.
That is how Willow found herself sitting on this stoop watching the city lights lay out before her over the river in St. Louis when Oz pulled up to the curb. Oz helped the two girls squeeze into the Mustang. “I’m pooped. How far to the hotel?”
“Well, we won't have to drive too far, just 'cross the border and into the city. I got directions from Derek.” Willow nodded sleepily and leaned against Kennedy, who sagged against Oz. Oz started off, and once they were on the highway, he put his arm over the seat around both girls. “We’ve got a gig at some place called Danse Macabre. The fellow who owns it is paying big bucks a three weeks, two sets a night. He’s putting us up in the nicest hotel in the city.”
“Cool, maybe we can buy a house and live in the suburbs.” Willow snuggled tighter against Oz and Kennedy, the cool breeze off the river causing her to shiver slightly.
Fast Car -- Tracy Chapman
You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove
You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living
You see my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did
You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way
I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs
You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving
You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way
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