AN: Watch the time, it jumps back and forth.
* * *
"Please, don't take this job." Dawn's voice was quiet, as she stood in an oversize t-shirt watching Mathilda get ready to Clean.
"Come on, babe; you know I've gotta. Who do you think pays the bills around here?" Mathilda continued to check her gear. Her .45 in a shoulder holster; spare magazines hanging the other side. Little five-shot .357 in the hip pocket of her pants. Boot knife clipped inside her left boot and a stake from Dawn tucked into the right. In her coat there is a little flashlight in one pocket and a set of lockpicks in the other.
The Slayer was indignant. "I could do stuff!"
The Cleaner looked annoyed. "And what would I do for work?"
"I don't know. Something else. Anything else!" Dawn was frantic.
"You know Dawn, I tried 'anything else' and you know what happened? It bit me in the ass. I had moved on past this type of life, then it came back and sank its teeth into me and dragged me back in."
"Look, Matty, I've seen what this can do to people. One of my sister's friends was in jail for years. And she just killed two guys! One by accident!"
Mathilda's face was set. "This is the life I've got. It's something I'm good at. Besides, if I don't kill these guys someone else will. May as well be me that gets paid." Mathilda checked her weapons again.
"If you loved me you'd quit." Dawn's voice was quiet.
"Oh, babe, you know I love you." Mathilda took a step towards Dawn. Dawn crossed the gap between them, wrapping Matty in a fierce embrace. Mathilda opened her mouth to speak again. Dawn's lips and warm, wet tongue effectively silenced her.
"Mmmm." It was unclear which of the two had moaned.
Mathilda's half hour of preparation was undone in a few minutes by the combined efforts of two pairs of hands. Dawn, still dressed in only a t-shirt, pushed her naked lover back onto their bed. They scooted up until Dawn lay on the bed between Mathilda's toned thighs.
Mathilda pushed her hips up to meet Dawn's mouth. Mathilda's firm breasts bounced as she rocked and moaned. She looked down past her erect nipples to see the Slayer's face. The highlights in Dawn's hair shone as she licked between the thighs of her lover.
"Ohhh!" Matty’s moan caused Dawn to look up.
"Come on Matty, we’ll do this together." Dawn pushed herself up and swung a leg over Matty's naked torso so they faced each other in a 69 of silky hair, smooth skin, and wet need.
Mathilda alternated between pleasuring her lover and complimenting her. "Mmmm. Oh. Oh, Dawn." Mathilda felt her muscles clench as her orgasm approached. "Uhhh. Oh God, Dawnie. Oh. Oh yeah.” Mathilda's voice grew frantic. "Oh fuck, oh fuck! Dawnie! OH! OH! UHHH!"
Dawn's own orgasm was quickly approaching. The Slayer squealed as she rubbed against Mathilda's face. "Matty, Matty. Fuck me! MATTEEEE!" Dawn came in a rush, and Mathilda kept sucking until the other's spasms had completely passed.
"Wow." Mathilda's head finally flopped back onto the silk sheets. The Slayer flopped over onto her side with just enough care not to put a knee into her lover's face.
The Cleaner was troubled. It wasn't even that it was passionate, it was that it had seemed almost...desperate. Mathilda rolled over to face Dawn. Afternoon sunlight through the curtains gave the Slayer a golden glow. "Dawnie, what was that?"
"I love you Matty." Dawn's reply was choked.
"Dawn, are you leaving me?"
"I love you so much, baby. But if you leave here to go kill someone, I won’t be here when you get back."
"I don't believe this crap! You fuck me when you're planning on leaving me? That's a shitty thing to do."
Dawn wrapped her arms around herself and started to weep.
Mathilda stood up, started to dress again. "I've gotta go Clean. If you really love me, you'll be here when I get back."
* * *
It is a different apartment. Mathilda sits in an armchair, fully dressed, sleeping. One hand is on the table next to her, resting on the butt of her .45. Under her sunglasses, her eyes twitch as she sleeps.
The bedroom walls are barren. A mattress without sheets sits in the middle of the floor, lacking even a box spring. The walls are bare. Two suitcases, a larger one of weapons and a smaller one of clothes, sit in the otherwise empty closet.
In the kitchen, the off-white fridge rattles when the fan kicks on. There are only two cartons of milk in it.
* * *
"Thanks for calling me." Mathilda's eyes were hidden behind her dark sunglasses, even this early in the day.
Dawn kicked at the floor in nervousness. "I just wanted you to know. That I was leaving. I hoped you'd come to see me off."
"Where will you go?" Mathilda's voice is rough with emotion.
"L.A. first, to see the Fang Gang. Then any place with a Hellmouth, maybe."
"But...what will I do?" Mathilda sounded lost for the first time since Dawn had known her.
Dawn looked up, tried to see through dark glasses to the other's eyes. "Kill people for money, same as always, I guess."
Mathilda turned quickly so Dawn wouldn't see the tears that started to spill. Mathilda took a breath, exhaled, and started walking. Away.
"Matty. Matty, I love you!" Dawn's voice edged towards hysterical. "Matty!" She stared at the retreating form of her lover, and a sob escaped her throat. "I guess it wasn't enough." Dawn wiped her face with her sleeve, temporarily drying her eyes, then got on the bus.
Mathilda's vision was so narrow she didn't see any of the people around her as she made her way back to the apartment. She opened the door and looked around. And it hit home: it's her apartment now. Not theirs. She closed the door gently, and walked into the kitchen. Opened the fridge to get a glass of milk, and paused.
The fridge is half full of food. Orange juice, carrots, a jar of peanut butter and jelly pre-swirled. Yogurt with fruit in the bottom. "Fuck!" A swipe of her arm, and much of it's on the linoleum tiles. Mathilda turned. The kitchen table had daisies in a vase that Dawn bought. The crash of the glass breaking was followed by the sound of the upended table hitting the floor.
There is pounding on the wall. "Shut the fuck up over there you fucking dykes!" Mathilda draws and fires all eight rounds from the .45 through the wall. Evenly spaced--almost a foot apart--at chest height. An audible thump can be heard from the apartment next door.
Before the brass even stops bouncing on the floor, Mathilda replaces the spent magazine with a fresh one, drops the slide, thumbs the safety, and reholsters the pistol. She picks up the empty magazine and pauses for a moment. The smell of burnt powder makes her eyes water in the silence of the apartment. Mathilda turns and walks to the bedroom to get her gear. It's time to move again.
* * *
The bus rumbled down the freeway towards California by way of the whole country. In one of the window seats a pretty young woman with brown hair and eyes red from crying stared at the passing scenery. At a tap on her shoulder she turned with a start. "What!"
The woman in the seat next to Dawn looked like someone's grandmother from a TV commercial. "Relax, dearie. I said, what are you running from?"
"Umm." Dawn looked down at the floor.
"You look like you've had your heart broken."
"I have." Tears streamed down Dawn's face again.
"Don't fret, you'll find someone else, someone better for you."
Dawn smiled a little through the tears. "But what if I don't want someone else?" The bus continued to roll down the highway past peeling red barns in green alfalfa fields that rippled in the breeze.