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Done for Round 11 of RemixRedux. Look under the cut.


Man in Motion
(the Free Falling Remix)
Copyright April 2014

Disclaimer: Characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, the WB, and UPN.

Acknowledgment: This story is a remix of “History Repeating” by [livejournal.com profile] deird1.



Violet Mary O’Connell was a good girl. She really was. Even with Slayer urges supercharging the standard teen-aged hormones, she had never gone too far with a boy, determined to save herself till marriage. She flossed every day. She wrote her mother at least twice a week. She had a soft spot for horses, and she never got over being sad that Elvis had died well before she was born, because she would have loved to see him perform live.

She was a good girl. So, if she found herself wanting badly to strangle Oliver Pike, and had to ruthlessly quash the urge several times a day, it was because he genuinely was just that annoying.

They had been working together for eleven weeks now. His choice, but she had accepted the offer readily enough: the reduced Council needed every willing volunteer it could get, especially those who had already shown themselves to be aware of the supernatural and capable of dealing with it. Pike was both … though, of course, his competence, while considerable, was severely limited. Vi couldn’t object too much to that part — her own competence consisted mainly of killing things most people wouldn’t believe existed, and she was really good at it but she knew it didn’t make for the most well-rounded skill-set — but what really rankled her was that he didn’t seem to realize quite where he stood in their arrangement. He was support, he was back-up, he was … he was the roadie, and she was the star performer. He would never in his life be able to do the things she did, and didn’t pretend otherwise, and yet he seemed to take it on himself to judge her performance.

Who did he think he was, anyway?

*               *               *

It didn’t help that the two of them had met during one of her less-than-most-impressive moments. Three routine vampires, skulking in the shadows of Ventura Boulevard in Reseda, just begging to be briskly staked and removed from the prison of their own clichés: should have been a cakewalk, and she was sailing straight through them — beautiful compound move that felled one with an outside crescent kick while the twist smashed her elbow into the face of the second and her free hand punched a stake through the chest of the third — but the first had trampolined up off the sidewalk and slapped away the stake, and she was still a lot stronger than them but two-to-one was no joke at all when you were weaponless. Then some maniac had come tearing in on his motorcycle, doing his best to run down her attackers, and they dodged him easily but that gave her the split-second she needed to break free of them, and the newcomer reinforced it by laying the bike down and jumping into the fight himself.

It was … strange. He didn’t actually do anything, didn’t land a punch, posed no threat to them whatsoever, but he was always moving and always swinging and something about his body language seemed to keep them at least half-focused on him, even when she was clearly the main thing they needed to worry about. She used their distraction to best effect, broke one’s neck with a handspring-to-leg-scissors, and when the other one tried to go for her, the mystery guy stabbed him in the arm with a pencil, and Vi was able to retrieve her fallen stake and dust him before he could return his attention to her. She repeated the process on the one still twitching on the ground, then looked to her ‘rescuer’, breathing hard. “Did you —?” She shook her head, unable to find the words. “Did you actually just —?”

He glanced down at the number two pencil he still held. “Oh,” he said. “Yeah. Sorry, I left my wooden claymore at home. Had to improvise.”

Her mother had always told her she looked witless when she let her mouth hang open, so Vi closed it. She frowned at him. “You’re joking about the wooden claymore. I hope.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I do that sometimes. Humor.”

He was no taller than she was, and no more sturdily built; looked several years older, maybe pushing thirty, but then Vi was considerably younger than she appeared so she knew not to trust that too much. His hair was cut short, not shaven but more like he periodically took a set of clippers and ran them over his head using the shortest guard, leaving maybe a quarter-inch of bristle; that, and a little chin-beard, seemed like a vague gesture in the direction of Goth, but he didn’t follow that out in his dress. Chinos, a light blue t-shirt under some kind of multi-flapped vest … there was no style there nor any attempt at one, like he simply couldn’t be bothered to care.

“Humor,” she said at last. “Okay. But even mentioning a wooden sword means that you … know.”

“Uh-huh,” he said. “I know about vampires. And I know about Slayers.” His expression showed nothing, and his voice was equally unrevealing. “And I want to help.”

You got wannabes sometimes, people whose first exposure to the supernatural triggered something, adrenaline overload turning fear into some kind of crazy fascination, an excitement at being part of something important, they could be heroes and battle the forces of evil … that kind was best discouraged quickly, or simply frozen out on the spot. The guy in front of her didn’t have the vibe, but Vi still wanted to be cautious, so she asked, “Why?”

He considered his answer, seeming to look inward. “Made a decision, years ago,” he answered finally. “Had a chance to be part the fight, and opted out instead. Felt like the right choice at the time, but I never got over feeling like I’d made a mistake there.” He shrugged. “Getting out didn’t take, so I guess that means I’m supposed to be in.”

It was not the most impassioned plea Vi had ever heard. She would learn that this was characteristic Pike. He said what he meant, but never seemed to feel that he needed to go beyond that: just say the plain words, and that should be enough. It would become one of the things that annoyed her — one of a very long list — but at the time there was an unassuming directness about it that did the trick. “Okay,” she said. “If you want in, we can give it a try. But first off, this isn’t nine-to-five and home on weekends. I live on the move, and I’m supposed to be in Albuquerque in two days, no idea where after that but it’ll be something. Is that the kind of routine you’re ready to follow?”

Part of it was a test of commitment; partly, she just wanted to see how he would react. He turned and went back to his motorcycle, wrestled it back upright. “Starting off now?” he asked.

It was like he was daring her. Well, Vi had once lasted a minute and twelve seconds in free-sparring against Faith, no way she’d ever back down to some emo poser. So she looked straight back at him and said, “Now is good.”

He straddled the bike, nodded back over his shoulder at the extra space behind him on the seat. “Let’s go, then.”

And that was when she got the first inkling of just what she’d let herself in for. Nothing impressed him, or if it did he never let it show. It set the tone for everything that would follow between them, except that it just Kept. Getting. Worse.

*               *               *

It wasn’t that he was a ‘bad boy’. He wasn’t anything like that, though Vi’s mother would have applied the label readily enough, just on the basis of his appearance and mannerisms. (Her father would have used a different epithet: “slacker”. That would have had more justification, but still not really accurate.) He didn’t go looking for fights — except with vampires, and always alongside her, and that was kind of their job here — didn’t ever drink more than two beers at a time, had nothing to do with any drugs that she ever saw, never tried to put the moves on her or on any other available female. He always treated her matter-of-factly, maybe taking a little too much for granted but not really attempting to use that for anything. He kept himself decently clean, didn’t eat anything particularly disgusting, didn’t pick his nose or his toes or scratch uncouthly or try to belch out the alphabet …

Honestly, there was so much he didn’t do wrong, that just made it all the worse that he could be so endlessly irritating with everything else.

*               *               *

Oh, Pike, how dost thou annoy me? Let me count the ways.

 
1. The motorcycle.

He worked on it in every moment he had to spare, tinkering and polishing and smoothing things out in a ceaseless obsessive-compulsive routine. It was as if he had to keep his hands occupied whenever he wasn’t actively doing something else, and the bike was his natural default. He didn’t baby it, didn’t try to turn it into a showpiece, didn’t treat it like some twisted substitute for a girlfriend: no, all his attentions were on making it function perfectly, accelerate with the most power in the least time, corner on a dime, stretch out to maximum fuel economy at steady cruising speed, fire up the instant the ignition was engaged. He was like some Slayers with their favorite swords, except a sword had no moving parts and there was only just so much you could do besides hone it, whereas Pike was always able to come up with something else to try and squeeze out some extra micron of performance. Vi couldn’t deny that the motorcycle served them well — more agile and versatile than an automobile, could zip nimbly through trees or parking meters or construction sites or (once) a municipal dump — or that Pike’s eternal maintenance enhanced that effectiveness. He even taught her how to operate it properly herself, work it through the maneuvers she was most likely to need if she ever had to do it without him; she didn’t have quite the same touch he did, was more inclined to try and dominate the machine whereas he seemed to basically merge with it when he rode, but he readily acknowledged that she picked it up faster than anyone else he had ever instructed. No, he kept everything within technically acceptable bounds … which meant she couldn’t even justly criticize him on any of it, which was even more galling.

 
2. The whole laid-back attitude.

Vi was tough, and knew it, that came with being a Slayer. She also knew that she was mentally tougher than most, even most other Slayers. She’d trekked the Matto Grosso and the Kalahari Basin with no more than she could carry in a backpack, and not only accepted the hardships and discomfort but relished them, because she thrived under adversity. Heck, she’d even tracked a newbie Slayer — and the vamp-pack the newbie was taking on in a spectacular running fight — through one of the war-zone areas of Detroit, and been perfectly at ease aside from the hair-trigger alertness that came with knowing she was in hostile territory. Gang-bangers were nothing after Somalia (and the Somalis had been faster at recognizing that they didn’t want to mess with a skinny redhead who could overturn a jeep), it had simply been one more day ‘at the office’, so to speak. That was how she was with everything, she was just that adaptable, and knew her capability was unusual. Pike, though … Pike didn’t even seem to register that their current lifestyle was in any way extreme. Camping out beneath an overpass or in a storm drain, holed up in a burnt-out crackhouse, sleeping on the roof of a mini-mart so they could take turns watching a possible nest location, even flipping a coin to see who got the single bed in one cheap motel room or another … He took whatever came their way as if it was perfectly normal, not just easily bearable but utterly unremarkable. And it wasn’t an act; lots of Slayers (and even more would-be villains) were big on putting up a front, and Vi had become adept at recognizing and penetrating the façade. Pike genuinely didn’t care, except to the extent that it might affect whatever they were working on at the moment. It was weird, and it was abnormal, and it was really really REALLY annoying.

 
3. The vest.

It was as much a fixture of him as the motorcycle. More, actually, because the bike wasn’t always with him. Vi had never bothered to count just how many zippers, flaps, buckles, or Velcro tabs the thing contained (and, as she began to recognize just how badly its existence was getting to her, savagely refused to allow the temptation), but he never seemed to run out of places to put things. Or things to extract from those places.

It was maddening. It was endless. It was as if, whatever the situation, he would always have something on him that would serve: not the exact item, usually, but something, and even more infuriatingly it always worked. Jerry-rigged, makeshift, lopsided, but it worked. At one time or another he had reached into some recess or other and pulled out:

  • a mini-torch, like the kind sold at truck stops
  • a packet of screw-in eyehooks
  • a rubber-banded roll of Ziploc baggies
  • a tiny can of WD40
  • a folded foil-lined space blanket
  • a little credit-card-sized item that held, in various slots, a compass, a toothpick, a set of tweezers, a can/bottle opener with a screwdriver tab, and (ingeniously sheathed in the body) a small push-dagger with a serrated blade
  • a coiled ring saw (he garroted a minor demon with that, one of his few direct kills)
  • a compact circuit-tester
  • a firestarting kit with a striker and magnesium shavings
  • salt and pepper shakers (SERIOUSLY?!!)
  • a spray-can of luminous paint
  • a tape measure
  • a jeweler’s screwdriver set
  • a portable door-hanging motion alarm
  • a tube of Krazy Glue (stopped the bleeding from a slash on the back of her shoulder that would have healed but they couldn’t spare the time for stitches, and then itched like a b---h for days)
  • a plastic-coated Tarot deck
  • a pair of tin snips
  • a roll of fishing line, high enough test-strength that Vi was able to use a doubled length for an emergency rappel

And on, and on, and on.

He couldn’t possibly be carrying all that junk at once, or he’d clank when he walked. Which meant he had to be switching the inventory around, mixing this with that in some kind of lunatic system she wouldn’t even try to make sense of. And the individual items in the bizarre assemblage kept being pertinent to the situations in which they were hauled out, so she couldn’t even legitimately complain.

Really, he had to be doing this on purpose.

 
4. The way he fought.

At first she tried to compare him to Xander, an unpowered male who fought alongside Slayers and somehow held his own. That didn’t really fit, though. Xander presented himself as the hapless everyman, dropped protesting onto a nightmare battlefield and just trying to stay alive, but in truth he leaped into the fight at every opportunity, and inexplicably punched well above his weight on a regular basis. Pike charged into the fray just as readily, but seldom tried to genuinely fight; he was what Xander claimed to be, distraction par excellence, and — though it took time to recognize the fact, since he produced no immediately visible results — he was actually extremely good at it. He would slide through a pack of vampires as smoothly as a mongoose, weaving and ducking and launching strikes that never connected, but the vamps always tried to block or evade instead of just taking the hit and killing him, and Vi was able to scythe straight through them while they found themselves unable to ignore him.

Another thing: he never landed a blow, but she couldn’t see that he ever got hit, either. His body language seemed to compel the vampires to attack him, but he was always just slightly somewhere else when each attack arrived. Vi could wade through half a dozen of them, hitting them harder than they could ever hope to hit her, but they did hit her occasionally. Pike would emerge from the same scuffle unhurt, untouched, undisturbed, as if he’d been engaged in brisk tennis instead of death-combat with creatures from H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Over time, seeing the man in motion, Vi came to realize that he was as perfectly equipped for the role he had chosen, as she was for the one that had chosen her. In fact — and it was an uneasy thought and so she avoided it, but it just kept coming back — he might just possibly be better at his, even if hers was more important.

It bothered her, and annoyed her. Then one day she accidentally saw him without his shirt, at a time he had thought she was elsewhere and wouldn’t be back for half an hour. Saw the bruises mottling his torso, old and fresh, stark and diffuse: several of them attesting to impact severe enough to make any man move cautiously for a few days and seek lighter duty, but Pike had never let on.

He was just utterly insufferable.

 
5. The way he looked at her.

It was always … assessing. Like he knew what a Slayer was supposed to be, and was studying her to see how well she compared to that standard. He didn’t look down his nose at her, didn’t behave as if she were failing in some way to meet his expectations, but he never seemed to be impressed, either. Mainly, it was always there: ongoing, unceasing, ever watching (it seemed) for the moment she failed to measure up.

The whole thing was enough to drive her crazy. She was good at this, she knew she was, Buffy had praised her more than once, Faith had promised a return match anytime she wanted (and Vi was almost ready to go back and take another shot at that), Giles had been about to put her in charge of Cleveland House before deciding she was more valuable as a roving trouble-shooter. The people who mattered had total confidence in her, while this, this nobody, acted like her worthiness had yet to be settled one way or another.

He never asked anything about what it was like to be a Slayer, either, which was something normals always did. That, and what he’d said about making a choice years ago, had Vi suspecting he’d once known another Slayer. Given his age … hmm, the one before Buffy had been India Cohen, right? Vi didn’t know much about her, had never heard of her ever partnering with a non-Watcher, and couldn’t even have begun to guess how she herself might compare to this long-dead paragon.

And she wasn’t about to ask, either.

 
6. The way he WOULDN’T look at her.

In a way that she couldn’t make sense of, this bothered her worst of all. Which was triply weird because it took a long time for her to notice. Any girl got more than she wanted of being ogled, so it didn’t exactly stand out when it wasn’t happening. And Pike watched her all the time, wasn’t going out of his way to ignore her (far from it!), so the difference took time to make itself known. Once it did … well.

He looked at her, but he wasn’t seeing her, not really. He was looking at the Slayer — watched her like a hawk, he did! — but if he ever recognized that there was a human girl inside the fighting machine, he never showed any sign of it. Not that he treated her like a thing, or took her capabilities for granted, or behaved toward her with any discourtesy beyond his everyday laid-back casualness … Darn it, this was like everything else about Pike, you spent so much time ticking off what he wasn’t doing wrong, you had trouble putting your finger on just how he was offending.

No, he didn’t look down on her. He just never saw her at all. The Slayer, but never Vi.

Once she realized what was going on, she began deliberately trying to provoke him. Going out of her way to do stereotypically girly stuff (she wasn’t being dishonest, she really did love puppies and really did think cat videos were the cutest things ever), just to get a reaction. Switching to sports bras and bike shorts to elicit some not-so-professional notice of her physique. Fighting in platform shoes (with a Slayer’s speed and nimbleness, they weren’t impractical at all, as Buffy Summers had comprehensively proven), spending some of her traveling-cash on a crisp tapered cut for her hair, experimenting with which make-up styles could hold their own under the kind of strenuous activity that comprised her lifestyle —

She pulled out all the stops, increasingly determined to make him admit, or at least SEE, that there was something in front of him besides the warrior. He never did. He was oblivious, impervious. It was as if they were walking side-by-side in completely different universes, inches from one another but separated by a barrier of infinite thinness and infinite distance. It was the worst thing about him, this total selective blindness. It reminded her of …

… of …

Oh, sweet Jesus.

It reminded her of Buffy, blithely insisting that Xander was her best-guy-friend when he’d been in love with her from the moment of their meeting. Or Xander himself, who kept Dawn frozen in the kid-sister role even though she turned to goo whenever he so much as smiled at her. Vi got blazing mad every time she thought about it, and Pike doing it made her even more angry.

Which could only mean …

But it couldn’t be!

But it was.

How? How had this happened? When had it happened? What kind of madness had taken hold of her to make her see Pike’s imperturbability as determination, his compulsiveness as dedication, his ridiculous McGyvering as ingenuity, his terseness as stoic courage? When had she become so desperate that he would actually notice her? Why did she care at all?

It was insanity, and knowing it didn’t change it. She had become the most pathetic of pathetic clichés, and couldn’t make herself want to turn away even while she scorned herself for her own weakness and stupidity.

She had fallen in love — no, plummeted, a terminal-velocity free-fall plunge — with a man who wasn’t capable of returning that feeling. And she didn’t know how to pull out, even as the unforgiving ground rushed up at her.

*               *               *

She should have passed Pike upstairs to the larger Watcher organization long ago, she could readily see that now. He had more than demonstrated that he was capable of serving as Slayer support, and so should be getting more advanced training than she could provide in the field. She’d kept him with her out of selfishness, and now that she knew, it was pointless selfishness. She should send him on, let him receive the proper preparation for the next phase of his chosen career while she got on with hers.

She should.

She would.

Soon.

Then came the time the vampire crew they were tracking turned out to be hired muscle for a human magician. That happened occasionally (though it was dumb, the vamps were too given to counterproductive violence and MUCH too prone to turning on their employers), but this was the first such she’d encountered along with Pike. And this particular wizard had been working on a serum to make himself invincible in battle, only the serum was flawed, it burned through a human being too quickly, so he had to keep testing it, which meant he had to have a continuing supply of test subjects …

Bottom line, he ended up injecting Pike with it, to serve as a distraction while he tried for a hasty escape. And Pike, driven out of his head by the fire scorching through his veins, went at Vi like a berserker, which was exactly what Generic Bad Guy had been counting on —

— and Vi just exploded.

It wasn’t total loss of control, they’d learned enough for her to realize that Pike’s only chance was if she pushed him hard, made him expend his energy faster than the serum could pull it out of him. If she’d had time to think, though, she would have known it was a convenient excuse, all the more handy for being true. A part of her had been yearning to kick his rear for a long time, and now duty required it.

So she unloaded on him, big-time. He needed it, and she really needed this, and the crazy strength being torn out of him meant that she couldn’t afford to go easy on him even if she’d wanted to. She pounded him like a jackhammer, she flung him through walls, she hit him with a generator, fury roaring out of her to match and overwhelm his own. She beat him down again and again until at last he could no longer rise, greenish sweat seeping from his pores as the last of the serum broke down and was flushed away. She carried him out, looking around savage-eyed for any remaining vampires, and stepped over the corpse of the magician who’d kinda-sorta-accidentally got in the way when she tore the generator from its mounting (oopsie, my bad).

She got Pike back to the motel room they’d been using for a temporary headquarters, and waited for him to wake.

Prayed that he would.

It was a long night, and nearly into the following afternoon, because he was sunk into the absolute insensibility of one whose system had been taxed far beyond total exhaustion. The only reassurance came from his breathing, steady and even and regular, and his pulse was similarly undramatic. If he dreamed, he was too far down for it to show; perhaps he was too deep even for dreams to form.

It happened with no warning. One moment he was lying as he had been for hours, the next he jerked awake, clutching at the sheets, looking to her with wild eyes. The frantic expression cleared as his gaze focused on her, and he fell back on the bed like a puppet with cut strings. “Oh, God,” he mumbled. “Oh, thank God. Thank you, thank you, thank you —”

“Are you all right?” Vi asked sharply. She’d been sunk so deep herself — in anguish at his condition, in terror that he might never come back — that only in this moment did she realize that she could have called Cleveland for emergency evac. Her chagrin hardened her tone in a way that didn’t remotely reflect her actual feelings. “I whaled on you pretty hard. Had to, but still …”

“I know.” His voice was still faintly slurred, but he had a bit of control back now. “I was … oh, God, I could have killed you. I was trying to kill you, I was crazy, I just wanted to smash whatever I could reach, and you were right there —”

He was looking at her as he said the last, and Vi saw it happen: saw him change, saw him go away, sealed back behind the same blank wall, and all at once she was on her feet shouting at him. “What is with you? WHAT IS WITH YOU?!! You just spoke to me like a human being for the first time ever, and then two seconds later you’re just gone again?” She clenched her fists, closed her eyes, and screamed, “YOU — ARE — DRIVING — ME — INSANE!”

The distance had vanished from his expression; he was staring, his mouth slightly open. “What … I don’t know what you mean,” he said at last.

“You won’t see me,” she told him, seething. “I thought it wasn’t there, I thought that was just the way you were, but thirty seconds ago I watched you switch it off. You were seeing me, seeing me, and then you backed off and shut down and I want to know why.”

“You’re … it’s …” He shook his head, dazedly, seemingly overwhelmed by this sudden passion directed at him when he was barely capable of forming words. “We’re … supposed to be partners, I’m … I have to keep things professional —”

She put her fists on her hips. “Oliver Pike, that is just a load of malarkey. You weren’t trying to be professional a minute ago: you realized all of a sudden where you were, and you panicked and threw up your shields, and it’s the same shield that’s been there all along and I don’t understand.” She sat on the edge of the bed, turned toward him but not trying to move closer. “Tell me why,” she said quietly. “I deserve that much. You know I do.”

He lay back, closed his eyes. Remote again, but not in the same way, more as if he had drawn a cool blanket around himself than like the shield she had just described. His face was drawn, and he looked older, and she didn’t in the least believe it was because of his current physical condition. At last, very faintly, he said, “You’re just … you’re just so much like her. It hurts every time I look at you: seeing all that life, and knowing you have it because she died, her and God knows how many others between her and you …” He sighed, and his voice was almost a whisper. “I can handle it if I focus on the job, on the cause. But it just … keeps getting harder.”

It was dumb for her to feel guilty about something that had happened years before she’d ever heard of the Slayer, but she felt it anyhow, and it made her next words a bit quavery. “Look, Pike, I know I can never compare to India …”

Pike’s eyes opened. “Huh?” he said, frowning. “No, she wasn’t Indian, Buffy was a California blonde —”

“Buffy?” Vi screeched, making Pike lurch back against the bed’s headboard in instinctive retreat. “Oh my God, you’re saying you know Buffy?”

He was staring again, but this expression held a panoply of different emotions. Astonishment. Shock. Incredulity. And then he croaked one word, just one word, and she heard something more, something completely unexpected. Hope.

One word, barely more than a breath: “ ‘Know’?”

And it hit her like a hammer: he didn’t know about the great Slayer awakening. He knew about Slayers, he’d said, but that was from before her own time, so his understanding was out of how things used to be, and she’d been so accustomed for so long to the way it was now, it hadn’t even occurred to her to mention, or to ask, or to wonder.

Of course, it was obvious that he was still hopelessly fixated on Buffy … which, say goodbye to your schoolgirl dreams, Vi, but this was actually familiar territory and even though it hurt, she could handle it. “Yes, Pike, Buffy is alive. She opened out the Slayer line, there are hundreds of us now instead of one girl trying to do it all alone, and Buffy is the one running the whole show.” She made her voice gentle. “You can see her. You should see her. I’ll set it up.”

His eyes were fixed on her, he’d heard the words but he seemed to need time to absorb them, to convince himself that, yes, that was what she had said. At last he smiled: slow, and weak, but a real smile that gave his face an entirely different shape. “See her?” he murmured. “Nah, no need for that. Jus’ good t’know she’s alive.” He was fading while she watched, weariness creeping over him like a swift tide. “Sounds like … I’ve still got a lot to learn. You’ll help me with that, right?”

Vi felt her heart swell. His eyelids were drooping, he’d be asleep in seconds, but he was … looking at her. Savoring a sight he hadn’t thought he could ever permit himself, and she had never imagined that anything could feel so wonderful.

He hadn’t simply thought Buffy was dead: he’d thought Vi was just one more girl who’d inevitably die in her own turn, too soon and too young, so that he couldn’t allow himself to care, or even find out if he might be able to. Now …

“I will,” she said, just before his head fell back and he began to snore softly.

She pulled the bedcovers up around him, and began to look around at the minimal unpacking they’d done before starting their raid on Wizard Dumb-Butt. Everything was different now, different in ways she not only hadn’t foreseen but still couldn’t really take in, but it was clear she would have to scramble to catch up. There were a LOT of things she needed to take care of — starting with letting the new Council know that she had a very promising recruit — and she was abruptly full of plans she’d never considered before. And one of the items on the list was a fast trip to Victoria’s Secret, or some comparable establishment, to acquire a selection of undies that abandoned practical and aimed for something else.

Vi was still a good girl, and meant to stay that way. If things changed, though — if hormones and Slayer impulses and total insanity should wind up taking her down a road she still had no intention of traveling — if she found any of that happening, well, she was determined that she would be better than good.

She was going to be sensational.


end
 


And there you are. Don’t hesitate to offer commentary.

Special acknowledgment: Vi’s full name comes from Diane Castle’s delightful BtVS/SG-1 crossover, “Xander and Yet ANOTHER Demon”, in which Vi played a minor role. Seriously, go read it; it’s both hilarious and startlingly on-point in its analysis.

[ Comments on the original posting can be seen here. ]

Date: 2014-05-18 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] velvetwhip.livejournal.com
This is really crackerjack stuff - solid storytelling and an excellent peek into Vi's inner life. I like the way you showed Vi's feelings changing and her horrified realization that annoyance was actually something else. Bravo!


Gabrielle

Date: 2014-05-19 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
Thank you. As is generally the case, I enjoyed telling the story, and [livejournal.com profile] deird1’s original left plenty of room for me to exercise my imagination. I was afraid the underlying structure might prove a bit pedestrian … but, like basically everything I do, the story that was going to be told worked its way out regardless of whatever reservations I might have. I’m happy you feel that it worked.

Date: 2014-05-21 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] texanfan.livejournal.com
Lovely revelations on Vi as she evaluates Pike. I particularly like how, since Pike knows about the existence of slayers, she automatically assumes he's privy to a whole history that he's missing and doesn't know he's missing. I find myself comparing him to what many watchers in a pre-Buffy world had to endure. A desperate but ultimately doomed attempt to keep their slayer alive as long as possible. The constant guarding against inevitable pain was really quite poignant. And the fact that he didn't need to see Buffy. Knowing that surviving as long as she had was enough. Although it will be an interesting discussion when he finds out how many times she's died. :)

Date: 2014-05-22 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
I think it might have been advisable for me to have already made some comment to the effect that they worked together without actually discussing the overall worldwide Slayer situation; that they could have done so is plausible, but isn’t necessarily the kind of thing one would assume going in. As for Pike’s not needing to seek Buffy out again … yes, that makes sense to me. He hadn’t forgotten her, had in fact rejoined the fight in recognition of her, but she was nevertheless someone he had known more than seven years before, while Vi was the one he’d fought alongside for months now.

Fun, fun, fun. Happy you liked it.

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