Smitty sighed as he wiped the sweat off of his brow with back of his muddied sleeve. He couldn't understand why the boss had to pair him up with this no-good dame who wouldn't do nothin' but sit there and watch him do all the hard work. He coulda just sent Smitty on this job alone and fucked the broad like he probably planned to anyway. And then the thought hit him: maybe the boss had sent her for
Smitty, as a reward. Yeah, now that he thought about it, that had
to be it. The boss had done the same for Jerry, with that Collins girl, after he'd collected on the Russians when they tried to default on their "loan."
Yeah, that had to be it. The boss was rewarding him for finding the guy who'd stolen twenty grand from Joey and Harvy after a collections run. It didn't matter one bit if it had, in fact, been Smitty and not Joe Cline who had knocked over those two wise guys. It wasn't like Joe was gonna talk, because Smitty had blown out the back of his head before the Boss could have even mentioned wanting to see him. Sure, Smitty'd caught a lot of flak over that one, but they must have come around to his way of thinking if they had sent him all the way out here with this gorgeous brunette dame, right?
Smitty smirked at his luck as he slowly turned back to his work, careful to avoid looking at the fallout of his lies and stealing, three packages wrapped up carefully in plastic sheets lining the sides of the ever-deepening mass grave. Just a few more shovelfuls and he'd be done, he thought, looking up as the girl walked over from the car demurely, handing him a cold beer with a small smile that promised more than he could possibly imagine. Grinning confidently to himself so that she could see that he could take anything she could possibly throw at him, he tipped his beer up and took a long pull, savoring each drop as it soothed his parched throat.
Faith continued smiling as she deftly pulled out her Derringer and pulled back the slide with a soft snick
, and placed a well-aimed shot through the bottom of the glass and out the back of his head, the beer in the bottle only slightly changing the trajectory of the slug, causing it to burst the neck of the bottle and send it like shrapnel into his brainpan. She kicked the rest of the bodies into the grave and got to work shoveling the dirt back into the hole, knowing that would take less than fifteen minutes if she actually exerted herself. Gotta love Slayer strength and all that.
The drive back to the motel passed without her noticing, the sign popping up in the distance a slight surprise, as she'd driven for almost two hours and had been deep in thought the entire time. She adjusted her side view mirror as she stepped out into the cool night's air, automatically checking her makeup and hair as she did so.
In the bar, she sat in the corner booth, where she could see the room and the few patrons who frequented this bar (she was sure it was because they had few other places to go). She was just looking at the menu, debating with herself to see if she was hungry enough to try one of the questionable dishes available, and if Slayer healing would be enough to counteract all of the bacteria that was liable to be swarming in whatever she ordered, when her phone rang. Her other
Bringing it rather shakily to her ear, she spoke in what she hoped was a cold, confident tone: "This had better be good, B."
"Faith?" came the timorous voice on the other end, her inflection somehow aggressive. "Ummm, can you talk?"
Faith sighed as she thought an answer that didn't sound too disparate. Well, she tried, anyway. "I wouldn't have answered if I couldn't," she responded diffidently. "What do you want? I told you already: even if it means the end of the world, you can shove it up your ass."
The other girl's voice came on a little stronger, obviously remembering the argument that had caused their split. "Look, I didn't call you to argue with you. I called to see if it was true."
Silence hung in the air as a whole list of things ran through Faith's mind of what Buffy could possibly be talking about, and the only thing that stood out that Little Miss Straight and Narrow would care about was. . . her job. "See if what is true, B?" she asked, just in case that wasn't it.
"Did you kill someone on the roof of a Cineplex in New York last Tuesday?"
"That was Buffy," Willow announced as she came back into the room, sitting the phone back in its charger. Dawn looked up from her work at the desk as Willow came over to check her proofs. Willow was teaching her how to integrate physics with magic, while searching for the base commonality of both at the same time.
"So did they find that guy?"
"Looks like it, yeah. Came back to life just like in Buffy's dream."
"Cool," Dawn smiled, looking back at her work. "Any idea what he is?"
"Not a clue," Willow replied, absently leaning over Dawn's shoulder. "That's not right, Dawnie. The hereditary transitive of this continuum set are order isomorphic in relation to the transitive field's number tree emanating from the dimensional flux. We are trying to determine Aleph-null, here, not trying to determine the exact boundaries of the p-brane."
Dawn, feeling the older witch's warmth against her back, sighed contentedly. This is how it should be,
she thought to herself. Science and math at home, not classes and boy-drama at college.
"But Wills, when you're looking at the ordinal sets for degree variances in black-hole entropy, d-branes have everything to do with them, as open-ended t-dual theory correlates with the number tree in the continuum you set up."
Willow moved to the other end of the table, pulling over the proof as she plopped down into the already creaking chair she'd been abusing for months now. "But," she began, her eyes popping wide, "if this figures like I think it does, then there's not
a base commonality, but an exact translation of energy from across the Veil."
At Dawn's confused look, Willow happily explained. "The continuum I gave you to work with? I had every belief that it was the Realm of the Fae, where all of Magick-kinde fled to during the reign of Uther Pendragon, not long after the fall of the Higher Daemons, like Illyria. My theory was that magick is not in the world, but trickled here from beyond the Veil they set between us and them. This proof," she gestured excitedly, picking up the notebook and tossing it to her, "proves
that I was right!"
Just then, Willow's phone vibrated, and she picked it up, her eyes widening as she read the text. Dumbstruck, she slowly laid the cellphone down and visibly clapped her mouth shut. After a few moments of composing herself, she typed out a brief reply and set it down again, never once losing her dazed expression.
Dawn, unable to hold back her curiosity any longer, almost screamed, "Well?"
Still wearing that deer-in-the-headlights look, Willow looked at the girl across the table as if she'd forgotten she was there. "That-that was Buffy."
After waiting for an eternity for her to continue, Dawn finally pressed, "And?" her voice showing traces of the irritation that was starting to surface in her mind.
Apparently this was sufficient for Willow to snap out of whatever funk had taken hold of her and she put on a sheepish grin. "Well, apparently they found more than that guy. . ."
Now Dawn was intrigued. “So what else did they find?” she demanded, grinning conspiratorially at Willow, knowing for sure now that whatever piece of news she had, it was juicy.
“Well,” she began, getting up from where she was at and saddling down beside Dawn backwards in the other chair so that they could share conspiratorial whispers. “It looks like they not only found the guy in the morgue—who, by the way, turned out to be an immortal—but they also found out what happens when two reasonably attractive single people decide to be cheap and share a hotel room rather than get two separate rooms.”
Dawn’s mouth dropped almost immediately as she grasped the hint that Willow had been all but throwing her way. Immediately after that, she could feel her heart drop, as if crushed by an anvil and falling under its weight into her stomach. She’d been toying with the idea of making a play for Xander for the past few months, ever since her 18th birthday all but declared her legal and looking. She’d even gone so far as to wear some decidedly slutty outfits since then, and she was reasonably sure at least one of them had him thinking that she wasn’t just his best friend’s kid sister any more. So what had happened? Her sister had yet again taken that which was hers for herself! She couldn’t stand the thought of her sister having something that anything to do with being a grownup and had slept with the guy she wanted. It was so unfair!
Willow, after seeing the transition from gleeful gossip to anger and possible tears, dropped her own smile and took Dawn’s hand, worried. “Dawnie, sweetie, you didn’t like Xander did you?” She knew the answer before she’d even finished the question.
Dawn, trying to get a grip on herself, nodded carefully, as though afraid that any sudden movements on her part would end badly. “I. . . don’t know what to do, Will,” she began, looking up into the eyes of someone who had become even closer to her than her own sister over the years. “I try and I try, but he doesn’t see me that way. He just sees me, as. . . as. . .” she trailed off, afraid that if she said it, she would sound foolish.
“—A child?” Willow finished for her. Dawn looked up sharply, anger dancing around the edges of her bright blue eyes. “Don’t think that I see you that way, Dawnie,” Willow hastily added, aware of the younger girl’s sensitivity toward this issue. “It’s just that. . . I used to have the same problem.”
Dawn’s eyes widened in shock as understanding came over her. “You mean. . . You? You liked Xander?”
Willow nodded ruefully, remembering back to the days when she’d been so socially paralyzed that even her best friend had been out of her league. “He saw me as a girl, a friend, but not girlfriend material. I looked too sweet and innocent for him to take seriously. . .” she trailed off with a grin. “That is, until one crazy Halloween when I dressed up in my ghost outfit.” Dawn, with confusion written all over her face, looked back at Willow expectantly, waiting for her to continue. “Well, you see, under that ghost costume, I wore this slutty outfit, and when Ethan Rayne called upon Janus, my body died, but I remained a ghost, so that my slutty outfit remained. Xander saw me in it, and eventually we kissed.”
Dawn certainly remembered that Halloween (as much as manufactured memories allowed, anyway), but this was the first time she’d heard about this! “So Xander seeing you all slutty made him think of you as a woman to be. . . well, kissed?” Willow frowned but nodded. “But, I’ve already tried that!” she whined.
Willow hated to see the girl who she considered to be family hurt like she was, so she started to formulate an idea. “Hey, Dawnie? Wanna get outta here?”
As they drove up to the club, Dawn couldn’t help but to feel nervous. Not only were she and Willow taking a chance at spurring Buffy’s wrath at Dawn’s underage clubbing, but this was the first time she’d been someplace like this, and she was feeling a little sick to her stomach from the anticipation of doing something wrong or childish. She worried desperately that she would do or say something that would give her away for the thing that she really was (a child, not the Key (she’d long since gotten over that)). Willow sat in the driver’s seat all calm and smooth, the epitome of confidence in the face of a night of uncertainty and possible humiliation.
Willow, for her part, was worried. Buffy would kill her if she let anything happen to her little sister. Plus, she was determined to show Dawnie a good time, to try and get her mind off of the fact that Buffy once again had a relationship and she did not. Buffy would never forgive her if the result of their night of clubbing was a drunken one night stand, and Willow was reasonably sure that she was not okay with that eventuality herself. However, she wanted Dawn to feel incredibly sexy and to have her confidence bolstered. So Willow’s compromise to herself was that she would take Dawn somewhere she was reasonably safe from leaving the club with some random guy but still be hit on with a fair degree of frequency: a gay club.
Dawn at first hadn’t been too sure of the idea of going out, but after a little pushing, she had allowed herself to be persuaded to accompany Willow out because “she was getting pretty damn stir-crazy” ever since Kennedy had left her when she lost her slaying abilities. Willow had conjured them both several dozen outfits, and had made Dawn try on every single one in every conceivable combination before she was satisfied that they were both sexy enough. Dawn, for her part, wasn’t too crazy about exposing as much skin as most of the outfits were designed for, but finally she agreed with a combination of clothes that she was reasonably sure wouldn’t get her arrested if she were seen in public with them on.
Willow was wearing a red cap sleeve lace corset top and a scandalously short blue-jean miniskirt with loose black leather chaps that came up to the hem of her skirt. Her black leather boots were studded around the sole and looked as though they were studded on the sides as well, though one couldn’t be sure, as her chaps were covering the upper portion of her boots. Dawn, to her own surprise, had been convinced to wear a black leather top with a square sheer panel that showed almost everything she had, along with a pair of black leather drop-side pants, which revealed several inches of skin on one hip and a black g-string with a silver butterfly in the back showing for the whole world to see. She wasn’t sure how she’d been roped into wearing something a slutty as this, but she was sure of one thing: no one was going to mistake her for a little girl in this getup. Looking at herself in the mirror, she noted that she looked like a sluttier version of Selene from Underworld, and she was pretty damn sure that she liked it. A lot. Not to mention that her boots were an almost exact match for those that Selene had worn in the movie. She’d wanted a pair of boots like these ever since Buffy and taken her to go see it last year, and here Willow could conjure one up with apparently little effort. Why hadn’t she thought of that before?
On top of all that, Willow had run her hands through her hair and she’d felt her scalp go all tingly, and then she’d pushed her in front of the mirror so that she could see the dark purple highlights she’d put there, causing Dawn to gasp in pleasure. She loved her hair like this, all wavy and demure. She’d immediately ran to her room and grabbed a feather-on-thong extension, which she had Willow change the color of to match her new highlights, and then tied it into her hair. Willow had kept her hair pretty much the same, though she cast a shimmer on it so that it reflected light in colorful ways.
For a second there, Dawn was worried about Willow’s frivolous use of magicks, but quickly dismissed it as she wasn’t getting out of hand with it. After all, there couldn’t be anything wrong with conjuring up a pair of badass boots like these, now could there?
Dawn was jolted out of her thoughts when Willow pulled into a parking space a couple of blocks from the club. Getting out, the two huddled together against the cold and walked the few blocks to stand in the relatively short line outside the club. Dawn couldn’t for the life of her understand why Willow didn’t cast a warming charm or something over the two of them, but she wasn’t about to ask, thinking back on her short-lived worry about Willow’s revisiting her magick addiction.
When they finally made it inside after about twenty-five minutes of stamping and rubbing each other's numb limbs in the freezing cold, they hustled into the warm and loud interior of the club. Making her way through the crowd, Willow led Dawn to the bar and ordered an appletini for the two of them. Willow caught Dawn’s surprised look and laughed, moving her mouth close to her ear so that she could hear her without Willow having to shout over the music.
“We’re at a club, Dawnie. You gotta have at least one drink, or you’ll look suspicious.” Seeing the relaxed look on her face, she quickly added, “But don’t think you’re getting drunk. One’s all you get, missy. Okay?”
Dawn nodded and grinned, carefully picking up the martini glass the bartender had just placed before her by the stem, making sure she didn’t spill it as she brought it to her mouth to give it a cautious sip. Surprisingly, it was better than she’d expected it to be, as it was very smooth going down, as opposed to the swill she’d snuck from Spike’s flagon that one time. She wasn’t too much of a fan of the sour apple aspect of the drink, but overall it was potable. She gave Willow a slight grin as she went ahead and took another sip.
They hadn’t been standing there for more than two minutes before a very pretty redhead walked over and smiled at her, decidedly ignoring Willow as she asked Dawn if she could buy her a real drink. Dawn was about to answer when Willow stepped between them and hissed like a cat. The woman backed off, but not before calling her a bitch. Turning back to her, Dawn could see the big, satisfied grin on Willow’s face as she leaned in again to talk into her ear. “You’ve got to watch out for cougars, Dawnie, unless you want to end up as sushi tonight.” Dawn could practically hear the hum in her friend’s voice against her ear, and couldn’t help but to be intrigued by the notion that she’d almost been picked up—and by a woman, no less!
The imagery Willow had used caused her to blush deeply, which embarrassed the hell out of her because she was sure that her friend could see it as close to her neck as she was, even though the lighting was low and ranged across the spectrum of colors. Looking over at her, she could see that the shimmer in her hair caused a sort of halo effect around the older girl, as though part of her aura was visible to the naked eye, and was announcing that she was hunting.
The thought amused Dawn: the thought that Willow, the woman who was like a big sister to her, was actually on the prowl for sex tonight, and was doing so in front of Dawn. Up until this moment, Dawn had been shielded from this aspect of Willow’s sexuality, though she had experienced secondhand the relationship side with both Tara and Kennedy. But here, in the real world, she could see the hunger in her eyes as Willow scanned the room with the intelligence of a tactician and the intent of a lioness towards her prey.
It thrilled her to get to see this part of her, and Dawn felt as if she were catching a glimpse of the verboten, the taboo placed upon her by her overprotective sister to shut her out of all things adult. This thought had Dawn’s mind racing, and she felt that if she didn’t share at least some part of what she was thinking and feeling, she was going to explode.
“Will!” The redhead turned her attention back to Dawn as she leaned her head in, this time proffering her ear to her instead of moving her mouth toward the other girl’s. “I just wanted to thank you for bringing me here!” she gushed, trying to find the right words without sounding like a complete idiot.
Willow just smiled at her and listened as Dawn continued. “I mean, this place is great! If it wasn't for you, I'd be at home alone with my vib--" she cut off there, realizing too late what it was she'd just admitted to, and to Wills, no less! What was in these drinks, anyway?
Willow--who had, at that very moment, decided to take a sip of her own drink--choked on her appletini as it went down the wrong way in her surprise. Dawnie had a vibrator? Perversely, she wondered for a moment what color it was, before she mentally slapped herself. Bad Willow! Bad, bad, bad!
Dawn saw Willow's thoughtful grin and felt like she could die right there. She was about to reply when movement of to her right caught her eye, and she turned just in time to see a tall, curvaceous blonde making her way to the duo, heedlessly walking through dancing pairs as though they didn't exist. As she walked up, she gave Dawn a quick grin and then stepped over to Willow to bring her into a deep, knee-jello-ing kiss, using one hand to cup her ass while the other jerked up Willow's miniskirt and sensually rubbed her crotch through her panties.
Dawn, dumbstruck, watched as they continued pawing each other. She wasn't quite sure, but she thought she saw a finger disappear, though the way that Willow moaned and ground against her hand told Dawn that she was probably right. After what seemed like half an hour, Willow and the blonde split apart. From the look on Willow's face, Dawn could tell that she really hadn't noticed the spectators that had started to gather.
Catching her breath, Willow tried to ignore all of the leering men and women (even the gay guys had gotten hot watching those two go at it) and said in a barely audible voice, "So, you saw my status update?"
Grinning as she wiped the corner of her mouth with the knuckle of her thumb, the blonde woman (for there was no way
that she could be called a mere girl
, Dawn realized) ignored her question and turned to Dawn, giving her a wide, dazzling smile. "So, who's your friend?" She asked, still talking to Willow.
Willow stepped over to Dawn's side, edging in front of her a bit protectively. "This is Dawn, my best friend's little sister."
The blonde stepped in close, circumventing Willow to place a hand on Dawn's hip, trailing her fingers over her bare hip and hooking a finger in her g-string, resting it on the hipbone that ever so slightly protruded from Dawn's thin frame. "I'm Meagan," she hummed in Dawn's ear. "It's very
nice to meet you, little sis." All Dawn could do was blush and swallow hard against the really
good sensations coming from Meagan's roving hand. Meagan smiled knowingly back at her and turned back to Willow, who was frowning, if only slightly. "So, you wanna have some fun tonight?"
"I can't leave Dawnie high and dry, Meg. Tonight's supposed to be about her," Willow replied plaintively, the reluctance visible on her face.
"That's even better. You know how much I love being watched. Maybe we can even get little sis low and wet. . ." Meagan trailed off, grinning at the reaction she was getting from both girls.
"I-I never. . ." Dawn began, not really able to form a complete sentence with her mind jumbled up like it was.
"I-she-she never," Willow said at the same time, obviously having the same problem. Finally, it looked like she got enough control over herself to blurt out, "But she's Dawnie!"
Right, like that made sense to a complete stranger. It appeared that Meagan, however, having known Willow long enough to get her thought/speech patterns, frowned. "Okay then, I guess I'll see you around. . ."
Dawn watched as Willow's eyes tracked Meagan's retreat back into the main crowd on the floor, crestfallen. She didn't want to be the cause of the further spiraling into depression that Willow seemed to be going through lately. Willow cared enough about Dawn to try and cheer her up--wasn't it Dawn's prerogative to do the same? And goddesses know how happy Willow is after she gets laid.
Gathering up her nerves, Dawn stepped over and leaned over to her ear so that she could be heard. "Will, go ahead! We both know you want to!"
Willow put on her Resolve Face and crossed her arms. "I'm not
Stricken, Dawn knew that Willow would not back down on this one. Lightening quick, she shifted her world-view slightly and made a big, big, HUGE snap-decision. "Okay, then. Fine. I'll go with you."
Willow's jaw dropped in astonishment for about two milliseconds before it was moving again, words and objections spewing forth like water from a hydrant. Dawn held up her hand and immediately Willow stopped talking, her eyes still wide with disbelief. "Now, are you going to get her, or am I?"