Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Like Thunderstorms
By Lostgirl
For LindaMarie

"Oh, then what I will not give you,
Come now, please do take an issue,
Time to freeze,
And then so violently take flight.
Oh, she's afraid."
-- "Caligari Wonders" by Stiffs, Inc.

Faith wakes to the smell of damp earth and her own blood, but it's become familiar. She's not sure how long she's been there, but the pain in her wrists and ankles is hardly noticeable anymore, unless she thinks about it. Her Slayer healing keeps the chafing from the shackles at a standstill, but then her Slayer healing has a lot of things to answer for.

She regenerates more quickly than a normal person would. The slices from Drusilla's knife heal in a day, the bones the vampire has broken all healed within a few days and the blood Drusilla drains from her cuts replenishes itself quickly enough for Drusilla to do it all again the next day, as long as she's careful about how much she takes.

Still, Faith's left in a near constant amnesic state. It's never enough to kill her, just enough to keep her weak, docile, easily controlled. Drusilla seems to like that.

"But look at how pretty you are, dear. All red and white and dark. I think you're almost ready for a ball. Should we have a party, do you think?" Drusilla's voice was soft and coaxing. Her hands were cold as they trailed over Faith's stomach, pressing on the edges of the newest cuts before flitting upwards to dab bloody fingerprints on Faith's breasts.

Faith opens her eyes slowly, gritting her teeth at the pain in her neck. At first she thinks it might be a bite this time, might be the end, but it's just a crick, just the muscles complaining about the angle at which she slept. As if she can do anything about it. Pulling her head up, she bites her lip to keep from making noise. It will only draw attention to her and Faith's learned that that's the worst thing she can do.

"Has my little princess woken up? I heard you screaming for mummy."

Faith's eyes flit around the room. It's a cavern, actually, the rough walls lined with candles and dolls, everywhere they can be jammed. Some of the dolls are looking at her, some are turned away, some have their eyes covered or poked out. She hates them. While she always found dolls slightly creepy, Faith thinks that if she ever gets out of here she might just buy a ton of them and have herself a bonfire.

She's hungry and exhausted, but more than anything else she's thirsty. Her mouth and throat are dry and painful, but she hasn't spoken in so long that it doesn't really matter anymore.

At first, Faith taunted Drusilla. She called her every name she could think of, told her all about how good Spike was in bed and how Angel had gone to his final grave feeling nothing but revulsion.

"Oh, yes. I can almost still smell my Spike on your skin. He was an impressive dog, wasn't he? Bad dog, bad, bad. Daddy had to punish him so much. I miss my boys, but now I have a new dolly to play with."

Faith pushes away the memories, or tries, but Drusilla's voice is never far from the surface of her mind anymore. Being left alone and awake is a rarity, though. Drusilla likes to keep her guarded until she comes herself. Faith takes the opportunity to struggle. Drusilla doesn't seem to have noticed the weight that Faith has lost, how loose the shackles are getting, but that won't go on forever. Faith moves quietly, but it nearly kills her. It's so hard to be quiet and still, so hard not to scream with frustration and pain and anger.

Sometimes, when she's too tired to move her wrists in a controlled way, when she knows that her struggles might alert someone to the fact that the shackles aren't as secure as they once were, she stops long enough to calm herself. She stops and the thoughts come flooding in.

Is this how Wesley felt? When she had him tied to a chair and she cut at him and burned him and taunted him with every word she could find. Did she make him feel this weak and helpless?

She's not sure she can live with herself if she did. So, she's stops wondering that. Getting out, staying alive, those are the only things that can matter now. Later, if she gets out of this hell, then she can apologize, try and find a way to explain how sorry she is and will always be. It won't matter. It wouldn't matter to her if Drusilla was sorry, could be sorry, but that's something to live for, getting out so that she can apologize to Wesley. It's important and it's one of the things that keeps her going.

God, how could he ever even look at her again?

"Poor little princess. Mummy knows you're lonely." Drusilla reached for her knife, kept on a little table not too far away, but always taken away when Drusilla leaves. She came forward, considering Faith's body. Faith's clothes are in rags, cut and torn, so Drusilla has plenty of choice on where to cut.

"Do you miss your little friends?" Drusilla slashed at her ribs and Faith flinched, but refused to cry out. Drusilla would 'comfort' her then and Faith couldn't take the thought of those hands rubbing at her arms and back in a parody of comfort that never failed to make her want to throw up. "I always miss my boys. They used to be so full of death."

Faith pushes it all away, focusing on the room instead of her own thoughts. She twists her wrists, back and forth, back and forth, hoping to draw blood, hoping to make the shackles slippery enough to get her hands through. It gives her mind nothing to do but panic, however, and so she forces herself to study the dolls once again.

There. That one. It's one of the kind that closes its eyes when it's tilted backward, but its eyes are gone and all that's left are half-lidded empty sockets. Its dress is stained here and there, but Faith doesn't know with what. It doesn't look like blood, which would have been her first guess. The one beside it is holding its head in its lap, its eyes are taped over with black electrical tape 'x's.

Pain shoots down from her right wrist and Faith hisses in surprise, her head jerking up to see a splash of red. Her blood. For a moment she's terrified one of Drusilla's people will smell it and come to see what's happening, but then she calms herself. The whole cavern reeks of her blood and the others seem to be afraid to come too near her.

Oh, they enjoy watching sometimes, when Drusilla's having her fun, but they never come alone. They're too afraid of what Drusilla would do to them if she thought they were playing with her dollies. Faith, apparently, counts as one.

"I haven't had a new dolly in ages, you know. There are too many Slayers now. But we're going to make things better, you and me." Drusilla leaned in and licked at the line of blood trickling down Faith's collarbone. The last time she'd gotten that close, Faith had head-butted her. Drusilla had stumbled back and growled, narrowing her yellow eyes. Faith had spent the next day with a knife stuck into her calf. The muscle would likely never heal quite right. Faith had screamed then, but even that hadn't made Drusilla come back.

Faith keeps working her wrists, but tries to stay calm. She isn't sure where Drusilla is and if her heart picks up and the vampire can smell fresh blood over all the old . . . Faith can't bare the thought of getting this close only to have Drusilla find her. Unfortunately, the fear makes her less than calm. Her heart beats fast, but Faith can't make herself stop, can't stop trying. She bites down hard on her lip when the shackle slides up her hand, lubricated enough to make it to the base of her thumb. Faith tries to make her hand as small as possible, tries to pull her thumb in tight. The shackle is holding, though and she knows what she's going to have to do.

"Do you know what the stars told me today? They said your blood is the most popular, out of the bleeding Slayers. Aren't you proud, my dolly? You're everyone's favorite taste and you make us ever so much stronger."

Faith concentrates. All those training sessions with Buffy and Giles, all the time with both of them telling her to focus, Faith has come to appreciate that. She closes her eyes, ignoring the pains in her body and focusing all her will on her hand, on her arm and shoulder. She forces herself to calm down, to think only of the strength she needs and then . . . she pulls.

The pain is intense, welling up and shutting out all the old aches as her thumb dislocates and her hand slides from the shackles. Faith bites a hole in her cheek to keep from screaming, the taste of her own blood familiar and strangely calming. It's not the first time she's had to bite her lips, cheeks, tongue, anything to keep from calling out for the mercy Drusilla doesn't have.

For a moment she's still, staring at her bloody hand as if she has no idea what to do next. She flexes her fingers, almost welcomes the pain in her thumb as it refuses to move right. This pain is hers, all hers. Her arm begins to tingle, awakening as circulation returns. Her palm is marked with old wounds in the shape of crescents, matching her fingernails. Her mouth isn't the only part of her she's scarred to keep from screaming.

Finally, Faith remembers where she still is. Her heart jumps and she tears her eyes away from the encrusted blood on her palm, reaching up to steady the second cuff as she begins to twist her left wrist again. Just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, just a little more, the words repeat over and over in her head.

Her nerves are on fire. For the first time in so long that she's lost track of the days, Faith feels awake, alive. Her heart is pounding too fast and the fear that it will attract attention does nothing to quiet it. The fear makes her queasy, makes her entire body tight. She feels hollowed out by it, feels strangely light and weightless, painfully so. She listens hard, her enhanced hearing strained to its limits and her breathing coming too fast.

Have to be careful, she tells herself, over and over, but it's only serving to exacerbate her fear, only feeding it and making her move too rashly.

The chains clink. Faith freezes. The sound is loud in the room, ringing in her ears like an alarm bell. She stops moving, stops breathing, stops everything but the listening. Is that footsteps? Are they coming toward her? Faith feels her eyes burn with frustrated tears and blinks them back desperately. She turns her eyes back to the shackles, twisting her wrists over and over. Her entire body is so taut that she's shaking and the chains jingle, though more softly now. She doesn't care, can't care. If someone is coming the best she can hope for was to face them. Whether she dusts them or they kill her, it will be over. If she's going to die, it isn't going to be chained up and helpless.

Another sound outside the cavern, but it's hard to tell exactly what it is. Faith doesn't even pause, instead hissing softly as the blood begins to flow. She keeps working her wrist, needing more of it, but it's not easy considering how bad her circulation is. She's been in this exact position for . . . a while.

"I won't let you off the chain if you're going to be a bad doggie," Drusilla stood over her. Faith was on her hands and knees on the cavern floor, where Drusilla had thrown her. The bitch had been feeding on her blood and Faith was as weakened by the loss of it as Drusilla was empowered by it. "You must learn to play nicely or I'll have to leave you in your leash." Drusilla was using that coaxing, 'don't-make-me hurt-you-again' tone and Faith swallowed hard, trying to climb to her feet.

"No, no. You must heel. Stay, until mummy tells you otherwise." A hand on the back of Faith's neck pushed her back to her hands and knees, Drusilla's fingernails biting into her skin.

Finally the blood begins to flow more freely and Faith braces herself. It takes three jerks before her thumb will dislocate. The pain shoots up her arm and a small sound slips from between her lips, but her hands are free. Unable to believe it for what seems like eons, Faith stares at them, bloody, bruised and painful, but free.

Shaking herself free of her thoughts, she scans the room again, although this time with a different purpose. Her ankles are bound together with thick nylon rope attached to a hasty, but tightly secured, piton in the rock of the wall. She can't break the rope and she can't pull the piton out, she'd been trying and has only barely managed to loosen it.

Drusilla stood before her, smiling with enough teeth to make a shark worry. "I brought visitors for you. You're such a celebrity, little princess. All reclusive and mysterious. Mummy liked to play that game, you know, but Daddy always got growly and broke her toys. Bad Daddy." Drusilla twirled around the room, the flickering candlelight throwing her shadow all over the walls.

She danced between the other vampires, three men who stared a Faith as if she had a flashing neon sign over her head that read 'Eat at Faith's'. Their nostrils kept flaring. One took a step closer and Faith could only stare at it, forcibly reminded of those old cartoons where Bugs Bunny or someone is pulled along by a particularly good smell. Shuddering, Faith had waited, body tense. Drusilla was spinning around, singing about the stars, unaware of the vampire taking another step toward Faith.

Faith had braced herself and when another step came she gripped her own chains to support her weight as she reached out with her legs, circling them around the vampire's neck and squeezing until it snapped.

"No!" Drusilla screamed, picking up a nearby doll and hurling it the wall next to Faith's head. The thing's china face broke, the crack just as loud as the vampire's neck had been. The room went still and Faith met Drusilla stare head on. "You're a bad dolly," Drusilla declared, calm and petulant.

She'd had then bind Faith's legs as well.

Faith grips one of the shackles and uses it to keep herself from falling as she leans toward the nearest candle. She has to stretch her aching body, pulling open cuts that had barely begun to heal. Hissing at the pain, she stretches as far as she can. Her fingers just brush the edge of the candle and she swings badly, wrenching her shoulder. Small, whimpering sounds trickle from her throat, completely beyond her control as she tries again and again.

With each try she brushes the thing closer with her fingertips until, finally, she manages to pull it into her grip. Hot wax spills on cut skin, making her gasp and nearly drop the pillar. In reaction she grips it tighter, sending electric jolts of pain from her thumb and up her arm. Faith welcomes the pain. Her pain. It sends adrenaline flooding into her system and she uses it, uses the fear and the tiny spark of hope that aches in her belly. She's weakened, hurting, but she was going to get out of this grave even if it's only to go to another.

Her shoulder throbs as she pulled herself up. Faith leans back against the wall for a moment, squeezing her eyes shut and swallowing hard against the scream building deep inside. She will not break down. Not now. Screw the pain, she's going to get out of this place. Sucking in a deep breath and searching desperately for the calm place inside, Faith opens her eyes and looks to the candle in her hand.

Nylon melts, smolders, doesn't burn. The smell is going to be horrible and it might catch someone's attention, but that can't matter anymore. The thing that's stalling her, keeping her in place, is that she was going to have to burn herself. The rope is too close to her skin, too tight. Holding a flame to the thick nylon long enough to melt enough to snap . . . this is going to hurt. A lot.

Faith has never understood what someone meant when they said it was hard to hurt themselves. Not in a situation like this. She'd always thought it was stupid, to worry about pain when death was right there to worry about. She's cut herself for spells, she's jumped from heights, she's stuck her hand into a vampire's mouth to keep it from getting to her throat.

There is something different to knowing she's going to hold a flame to her own skin. Of course, there also isn't any time to waste thinking about it. Swallowing hard, Faith bends at the waist. Her jaw hurts with how tightly she clenches, as if she's bracing herself, as if one could brace for something like this.

The flame licks at her skin, eating at it. The pain is intense. She trembles with it, tears springing to her eyes as the nylon begins to melt in on itself. She's forced herself to watch, to see the skin redden and feel the heat build and build. It's too much, too hard.

Faith drops the candle, swallowing back a scream, her foot kicks out of its own volition, trying to get away from the pain. The nylon snaps and Faith crumples to the ground. Pressing herself against the rock wall, she pants, unwilling to close her eyes against the pain and not be able to see. Her eyes water, leaving her blinking away moisture that catches the candlelight and blurs everything. She catches herself before she can wipe at her eyes. The last thing she needs is blood in them as well.

Despite the jangling of her nerves and the voice in her head telling her to move, run, do something, Faith forces herself to wait out the worst of the pain. Her skin is already beginning to blister, but eventually it fades enough that she can stand to move it.

Picking up the candle, Faith awkwardly climbs to her feet. It isn't as if the light is going to make a difference, vampires see better in the dark anyway. But it will definitely help her burn the bastards, too bad she doesn't have and lighter fluid to help things out. Gripping the candle hard to incite more pain, Faith turns to the entrance, nearly trembling. She doesn't know why she's shaking anymore and doesn't bother to try to figure it out. Instead she listens, stretching her senses to their adrenaline heightened limits.

There. That sound again. Like a footstep, like someone moving close by, but not moving closer. A guard? One of the others trying to get close enough to breath in the smell of her old blood? Her anger at that thought carries her forward, pushing and urging her along. She wants to kill the bastard, wants to turn it to dust and scatter it in the wind, watch it fly away.

But there is no wind down here. At times it feels as if there is barely any air at all. Beyond that, a fight would attract attention.

Faith stops at the entrance to the cave, shaking hard now. There had been a time when she wouldn't have cared about the attention. When she'd have run out there full force and taken on anything that came at her. Not long ago--or maybe forever ago, how long had she been down here?--she'd have reveled in the violence, the pain, the fight.

But now adrenaline is the only thing keeping her alive and there is so much pain, just waiting for her to let it fill her, take her. She's torn, part of her wanting that last blazing surge of feeling and another that just wanting to go home. She has a home now, she has friends and students and a Watcher. She has something she'd never really thought she'd get and now . . . Faith swallows hard, sucking a deep breath and ignoring the jolt of a probably broken rib.

Drusilla's foot looked delicate. Judging by looks alone, nobody would expect Drusilla to be able to tear you apart. Faith had been on her hands and knees so long that her arms were beginning to ache with the strain of holding herself up. To pass the time, and not have to listen to Drusilla's sing-song voice, Faith stared at anything she could find.

Convinced she knew the stone of the floor by heart, she'd started to stare at Drusilla's feet as they moved, as Drusilla danced around the room, talking to her dollies and scolding one for ripping the head off of another. They were more than delicate, really. They were dainty, small and kinda graceful, if you liked feet. Faith had once known a guy who'd had a foot fetish. He'd have come in his pants at the sight of Drusilla's feet.

Faith had lost track of them, though. She'd been so lost in stupid thoughts that she hadn't been watching, hadn't seen when Drusilla moved to stand beside her again.

"I don't think you're listening to me, doggie," Drusilla piped and one of those dainty little feet smashed into Faith's ribs, sending her sprawling to her side on the hard stone.

Blinking away the images, Faith leans forward, just enough to get a quick look out into the cave before pulling back. Two vampires, one sort of close and the other by the entrance. Just two.

Once, Faith knew, she could have taken them both and laughed about it. Now, as she closes her eyes to think and finds the darkness behind to be too frightening, she's not even sure she can take one and still make it out.

Blaze it is, she tells herself, eyes flicking open because she can't keep them closed any longer. She tries to center herself, tries to find that place inside where it's calm and quiet and she can see every single move her opponent makes as if it's run in slow motion. It's not there anymore, though, it's where the pain has retreated to and it if she goes there she's going to be overwhelmed.

Letting out a breath that sticks in her throat--it's not a sob. She does not cry--Faith searches around for a better weapon. The candle's not going to help, vampires don't catch that fast, not without help, and she's going to need something else. Preferably something wooden.

Faith's eyes skip to the dolls. She stares at them for a long moment, wondering. What are dolls like that made out of? The faces are porcelain or something like that, but what about the bodies? Plastic? Some of them look too old for that. Stuffed? She doesn't know, but she's already moving to find out. Glancing back every few seconds, her heart pounding and her mind screaming that someone is going to come at any moment, Faith grabs the first doll she can get her hand on.

Gripping it sends a jolt of pain up her arm and she almost drops the damn thing. Fumbling with it, she keeps it from hitting the ground. It doesn't feel like wood, too light, too cold. She tosses the doll aside, though carefully because she doesn't want to get their attention before she's even got a weapon.

The next one is plastic and goes the way of the first. Then Faith's hand closes around the leg of the decapitated doll and she stops, tightening her grip until pain shoots through her. Wood. It's wood.

Faith clamps down on the surge of excitement, of hope. It's dangerous. This is it, her final fight. She's going to die trying to get out of here. As long as she keeps thinking that, as long as she keeps that in mind, she keeps the fear burning in her gut, keeps the adrenaline pumping into her veins, keeps herself standing.

The end of the leg isn't sharp at all. It's a fitted joint, all rounded and useless, but it won't be when the time comes. She does feel some satisfaction at ripping the doll's leg off, though. Mostly because she's pretty sure that, when Drusilla finds out, it's going to piss her off a lot more than the loss of her vampires. In fact . . . Faith actually feels a smile on her face for the first time in far too long. After ripping off the dolls other leg and tucking it into what's left of her jeans, Faith holds the candle to the edge of one of the doll's dresses. It takes a little while, but Faith can't wait. She puts the candle next to the doll, on its side to keep the heat on the dress, and then grabs another candle and puts it among the rest of dolls.

They're starting to really burn now, smoke beginning to fill the air. Plastic smokes a lot and Faith has to pull herself away to go hide by the entrance, a wood doll's leg clenching her fist. She bangs it against stone until a piece comes flying off and she's got a bit of a point to work with. The noise doesn't matter now, not with the fire blazing. She crouches, waiting . . . waiting.

The smoke is filling the cave and Faith almost hopes the vampires will run for it instead of coming in to see what's happening. She thinks it all comes down to what they fear more, Drusilla or death.

Faith already knows her own answer to that question. Death, at least her death here and now, wouldn't be anywhere near as sadistic as what Drusilla would do to her for this.

Faith tried to stand, but fell back against the wall. She flailed to keep herself from falling and her hand came down on one of the endless dolls. She grabbed it and didn't even bother to aim before throwing it at Drusilla. It hit her in the shoulder, but she barely even flinched. The doll fell to the floor, its head breaking off and rolling between Drusilla's feet.

Drusilla watched it, her head actually moving as she followed the path of the rolling head. Faith took the opportunity to push herself to her feet. Faith would have liked to believe that she was panting because she didn't want to hurt her ribs and fast, shallow breaths hurt less. The truth, however, was that all her muscles felt like loose springs and it was the exertion of just supporting herself that was taking her breath away.

She flung herself toward the table where Drusilla kept her little knife. But, as she moved, Drusilla's head came up, her face gone bumpy, her eyes yellow and very, very mad.

Her hand shot out as Faith tried to move past her, long fingers wrapping unerringly around Faith's throat. Drusilla's fingernails bit into her skin and Drusilla made a soft keening sound as she examined Faith's face.

"Miss Edith's head popped off," there was a weird kind of wonder to the words, almost childlike. It sent a shiver all the way down Faith's spine. Then she was flying through the air, hitting the wall and all she could do was struggle to pull breath into her lungs.

She hears one of the vampires call out. Something about smoke and the Slayer. Faith's lips stretch back from her teeth in a smile that is far closer to a snarl. There are footsteps, but only one set. Did the other one run? Faith hopes he'd gone until it occurs to her that he might have gone to get Drusilla.

Panic crashes down on her, trying to steal away what patience she's managed to scrape together. The first vampire comes into the cavern then and Faith pounces.

It hurts, feels like fire trickling along the inside of her skin, along every nerve and every muscle, burning her from the inside out. Everything about her body hurts. Her hand is tight around the makeshift stake, sending jolting arcs of pain up her arm. Faith screams, slamming into the vampire and stabbing wildly with her bit of wood, growling and snarling with each stab, each burst of pain.

The vampire's on its stomach, one arm trapped under it. She can feel it trying to push itself up, to roll over so it can get its hands on her. Again and again she pushes the stake in, frustration and rage growing with each missed shot. They begin to roll and Faith knows that if it gets its hands free she's dead. Finally dead.

A broken bit of wood doesn't go easily into a body, doesn't tear flesh and slide home the way a properly sharpened stake does. However, with all Faith's rage and adrenaline heightened strength behind it, the dolls leg finally hits its mark. There's a puff of dust in her face and Faith is left lying on the stone, panting, coughing dust from her lungs.

The fire has made the stone warm under her. The smoke is thick enough that standing up would be a mistake anyway. She stays there for just a moment, she can't allow herself any longer--Fuck, what if Drusilla is already coming?--and she watches the fire eat away at the dolls.

Finally, she drags herself up, whimpering at the pain. She turns, gulping in a breath. The way to the exit is clear. The other vampire's gone, but it could be bringing reinforcements.

Faith crawls, every inch a new pain, a new torture. The smoke is dark, weighing heavy above her and getting closer with every moment. It's an eternity. Even prison didn't seem to last so long. She wants to go faster, wants to get to her feet and run, to hell with the smoke, but she's not sure her legs with fully support her, not sure she wouldn't stumble and just wind up crawling again.

She sucks in smoke and coughs, jolting her ribs and chest. Her eyes water and she can barely see the floor before her, but it doesn't matter. All that exists is that next little bit of ground.

And then there's air. Real air. Fresh air. Faith's not sure when that happened. Her mind was focused on the stone and the gravel she was crawling through. One foot at a time, one little bit more. But suddenly she's outside and there is air. She gulps it down, drinking it in like a thirsty woman just out of the desert. Collapsing for a moment against the opening of the cave, she pulls out the second makeshift stake, having lost the other somewhere between there and here.

She can feel the strength draining from her limbs and she has to hit the thing against rocks twice as much only to have it brake badly. It has a point and that will have to be good enough. She doesn't have the energy to complain. It's still dark, there are still vampires and she doesn't know where she is.

And she's tired. Faith fights the urge to close her eyes, to just let go for a while, or maybe forever. It's there, but she plans to fight it just as hard as she would a vampire. If she has to crawl miles, if she has to fight her way through a gauntlet of vampires, she's not giving up.

She sets that thought firmly in mind and uses the stone to help herself to her feet. Her legs are shaky, her muscles scream with pain, but it's all right. It'll keep her awake. Letting the rock support her for a few moments longer, Faith looks around tries to see if there's anything familiar, but it's hopeless. It's too dark, the sky's overcast, the moon's not full.

What she can see are city lights. They're not close. While she wishes she could just step onto the road and hail a cab to take her to the hospital, she can see it's not going to be that easy. There's not even a road that she can see. At least the night is warm. She doesn't think she could bear the cold just then.

Forcing herself to push away from the rock, Faith starts walking toward the lights. Everything else is dark and, even if they aren't close, they're there. She stumbles, over and over again, despite the even ground beneath her feet. She fixes her eyes on the lights, tries to shut out everything else. All that matters is making the lights a little closer, just a little easier to see.

"Leaving us already, Princess?" Drusilla's voice makes her body freeze. All her muscles lock up tight and she just stops, even when her brain is telling her to run, sprint, stumble crawl, as long as it takes her away. Of course, there is another part of her, her gut, the core of what makes her a Slayer, that insists she turn around, that she take the little doll leg, wave it in Drusilla's face and then push it into her chest until it comes out the other side, if Drusilla hasn't already turned to dust before then.

Faith knows she couldn't outrun Drusilla, not when she can barely walk. That leaves only one option. The sight of the vampire sends a shiver through Faith's body. Drusilla stands not five feet behind her, bright red lips upturned in a vaguely wistful smile.

"I burnt your dolls," Faith croaks out, her voice hoarse and harsh from disuse. The sound of it surprises her, but what surprises her more is how hard it is to get the words out. Her mind keeps throwing up images of the other times she's taunted Drusilla and what happened as a result. The words almost stick in her throat, as if afraid of the sound they will make in the still, warm air.

"I still have one dolly left," she says, tilting her head as if she's listening. "And the others scream so prettily. Will you scream for mummy?"

Faith forces herself to be still, not to fidget, not to draw attention the stake. Drusilla is stronger, is faster, is healthier. Her only chance is to surprise her.

"You never made me scream," Faith taunts, though her voice makes that sound weaker than she'd wanted. It doesn't mater. In fact, it's probably for the best. Just me, half-dead, weak Faith, she tries to say with the lines of her body. Unfortunately, it's not as much of a lie as she'd like it to be.

Drusilla stalks a little closer, her head tilting to the other side as her eyes run over Faith's body, reading her. Whether she sees what Faith wants her to or not, her smile never falters.

"Only naughty doggies run away," Drusilla says, making Faith's insides constrict, her mind flooding with images, most of them a small, bright knife, flashing in the candlelight as it rises and fell against her flesh.  Drusilla is still coming toward her. Faith hides her flinch as her grip on the stake tightens. She's got one chance at this and she knows it. One chance and Drusilla is staring at her, those eyes making her tremble.

Not close enough. Not close enough. Just a little more. Faith's limbs feel heavy and thick, too clumsy, too slow. She feels frozen and it's not just her muscles. She's suddenly cold, even in the warm night. God, her eyes. Stop looking at her eyes. She can't look away, though. Her mind is screaming at her to stop, to look away, but Faith can't make herself and she seems to be falling. Drusilla is getting closer, just steps away and Faith can't make herself do anything about it.

I'm going to die, she thinks, but everything inside her is still fighting against it. She just can't make her body listen. Drusilla is close enough that Faith can feel her, not that they're touching, just that her presence is like a jangling buzz in Faith's gut, a siren screaming that Drusilla's going to hurt her. Faith gasps, but her throat is too tight to speak, the words too big to squeeze through. It's even hard to breath and Faith feels suffocated, like she's back in that cave, like she's back in the fire.

"I like naughty girls," Drusilla smiles wider, flashing her teeth. "They taste like thunderstorms." And then she's lunging in and Faith feels the sharp pain in her neck, the piercing of fangs as they pop through her skin.

The pain frees her. Faith's arm moves almost of its own will, a purely gut reaction, the body's need to survive. Faith's body is better conditioned than most. The stake meets Drusilla's body, push up under her ribs, pierces her heart. Drusilla rears back, teeth tearing through the flesh of Faith's neck as she shudders. Drusilla and Faith are face to face, staring at one another, both surprised.


And then there is only Faith and dust swirling to the ground, revealing the slightest bit of breeze in the air. Faith watches it until it settles and then turns woodenly back toward the city lights, putting one foot in front of the other.