Title: Instinctual

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Category: B:tVS/Pitch Black

Summary: The Slayer awakens. 600 words.

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Spoilers: Post-"Chosen" and "Pitch Black"; pre-"Chronicles of Riddick"

Feedback: It's the coin of the realm.

Notes: Companion piece to the Riddick-POV ficlet, "Beautiful".

The warmth that floods the Slayer's veins feels foreign to her, almost unnatural. She's been so cold for so long that she's nearly convinced herself she's one of the monsters, an undead thing feeding on the pain and terror always playing behind her eyelids.

The visions have been her one constant in this dark existence. Girls fighting, girls dying; strange wonders and stranger skylines over one killing ground after another. She cannot remember when she last dreamed of familiar faces, and in recent days (months? years?) even the nature of the enemy has changed.

Death is my gift...

She has no idea what they are called, these beings who look human on the outside but are so numbed within. They are not vampires, despite appearances (a stab through the neck, the drain of color from skin) for their souls are still their own. They are something far worse, something humanity has done to itself.

They are winning-- or will be-- and they will find her; she knows this as surely as she knows she is the Slayer, despite all else she has lost in her long sleep. But that day is not today. She does not know the man (heavy tread, earthy scent) who has come to wake her-- he triggers no images from the depths of her slumbering memories-- but her senses tell her he is not one of Them. Under the surface of his skin a vital, vibrant something sleeps, something kindred that pulls at her instincts and tells her that he knows she's already awake.

She blinks open her eyes and assesses him as he is assessing her. Silvery orbs shine in the dim light, set in a strong face that gives nothing away; he stands casually, leaning toward her with a hand propped against her (opened!) glass prison, but the tension in his muscles is unmistakable.

"Hello, beautiful," he greets her, in a roughened rumble of a voice that reaches right down to her bones. "You've been sleeping a long time." His mouth twists up at the corner, the smirk of a well-fed predator toying with new prey-- a challenge she is unable to resist.

The Slayer explodes into motion, bursting forth from the cryotube (coffin) that has held her for so long, tackling his tall, muscular frame with enough force to knock him to the ground. He is out from under her as quick as a cat, skittering back into a ready stance; a shiv appears in one hand as if by magic. The smirk smoothens and sharpens into a genuine smile, both joyous and feral.

This, she recognizes: that smile, these movements, this dance. Memories surface: long dark hair, lush lips, strength as wicked as her own; blond hair, scarred eyebrow, the scents of smoke and blood. She lets herself go, flowing with instincts as familiar as breathing.

"Handle with caution," he murmurs minutes later, chuckling, as the fight slows to a halt. A bruise darkens one cheekbone and a deep cut mars one arm; he gives her a nod of respect as he lowers the shiv and backs away. "Got a ship of my own here; little thing like you won't take much space. Unless you'd rather stay and wait out your ride."

She is not unscathed, either; it's been years (centuries) since she's had a challenge like this. She cannot yet remember how to make her voice work to answer, but her actions speak for themselves: when he moves to leave the shipwreck that has been her world for so long, she is two steps behind him.

She does not look back.