Eyes Like Needles

Swaying, she stepped pass the piles of rubbish in the streets. She hummed caressing her face. The air was full of smoke, the smell of brimstone, and the echoes of screams.

It was a fairyland.

Drusilla had felt hell open up like a ripe pomegranate -- sticky and sweet. Miss Edith could talk of nothing else.

She had left Vancouver on the first train. As she got closer and closer, it felt like thousands of spiders lay under her skin wiggling and crawling. It beckoned her. Come to me, Sweetheart, Hell's toothy maw cooed, let me show you wondrous things.

....

"I hate it when they're juicy." Faith jiggled her sword trying to get the goo off of it. She smiled at Connor.

"Yeah." Connor wiped sweat off his forehead , staring ahead like he was looking beyond the low stores that lined the deserted street. His jaw tighten and his lips drooped into a deeper sulk. "Gross."

Faith stopped herself from saying anything more. Connor could sulk through Mardi Gras and talking to him was about as useful as spitting in her hand and naming the glob, George. She had hoped he was done being butt hurt when he said he'd go patrolling. Patrolling meant that everything was five by five again. This was one of the reasons that she used 'em and then dropped 'em. Either men were sensitive or they were jerks. Faith frowned and rolled her eyes up. She'd forgotten to mention the guys who were both. Connor had to get over it; hand-holding, teddy bears on Valentine's day stuff wasn't her thing. She didn't want to be anyone's girlfriend, but that didn't mean she didn't like him.

She kicked a rusty soup can into one of the many broken down cars lining the street. Things had been going good last night. From the safehouse roof, they watched the fires rage in the city and it had almost been romantic and then he had to start a fight. He knew that she liked him. She stuck around for months which might be a new record. The worst of it was that his moping was rubbin--

The squeaky door of a donut shop swung in the breeze and startled her. She looked over at the place hoping for a monster to mash. All she saw through its broken windows were tables and chairs scattered in pieces. It was the best nesting spot on the whole street. Scratch that, Faith thought, as she passed a boarded up toy store with a half of its dangling sign missing. It was second best.

A scream echoed in the empty street.

"Block away," Connor said, looking around. "Over there." He nodded to the left before running into an alley between the donut shop and a wicked destroyed nail salon. They sped past a small, overgrown parking lot and a crumbling apartment complex. He paused in front of the back entrance of a brick building before stalking through its empty door frame.

Faith smelled the rotting food before she even stepped in. It was one of those Mom and Pop grocery stores and it looked like Mom and Pop were long gone. There was a vampire around; she could feel it. Something clicked overhead. She looked up and all thoughts of vampires vanished. A Volkswagen-sized monster spider skittered on the ceiling before dropping down next to an Asian kid on the linoleum. Faith ran towards it with her sword raised.

It hissed at her.

She heard Connor talking and was about to tell him to get the kid out, but the demon shrieked and hopped on top of a vending machine.

"No, don't hurt him! He's my guardian." The boy said, stumbling as he stood. Blood dripped from fang marks on his neck. "You oughta go get that lady!"

"Connor, what-" Faith said as she looked around and saw that he wasn't there. She crouched down next to the kid. "What lady?"

"She attacked me." He crossed his arms. "She told me that she'd take me to a toy store."

She jumped up and sprinted to the door before she looked up and down the alley. Nothing. Her hands gripped the metal door frame tight, worry settling deep and sharp in her gut, as she wondered what sort of vampire could take down Connor. She heard a rustling in the grass and spun to see a gray cat dart across the alley. She looked back at the boy and his demon guardian. "Sorry."

Faith rushed out of the grocery store, cursing this hellhole that messed with her slayer senses. Outside Los Angeles, she could spot a vampire a block away, but there was so much evil here that she couldn't feel one until it was a few feet from her. She thumped her hand against her head. The vampire had been trying to lure the kid away- Chester the Molester style. Faith looked down the alley to the street in the distance and smiled. She didn't need magical Slayer cramps to know where the bloodsucker was.

...

Drusilla kissed him on the cheek before bounding inside the boarded up store. She beckoned him with both hands as she walked backwards. "Let us have fun."

He could only stare at her, smiling.

"Too slow!" She pulled him inside and giggled. "I did this all for you."

Stuffed animals blanketed the floor like a lumpy multi-colored carpet. Balls lay deflated in puddles of plastic. Toy boxes made up a low wall and behind it, shelves were toppled over. Connor was tugged to the edge of a pile of teddy bears and pushed on it.

"Such a cold and lonely sojourn." Drusilla twisted her hands together before she whimpered. "Ashes fall into my eyes."

Connor pushed himself onto his elbows and tried not to sink into the fluff. "You're not alone now."

She knelt, her head bowed and her dark hair in her eyes. "Armor tarnishes. Sunshine dies. Daddies set you on fire." Drusilla crawled to him with eyes that peered into his mind. "Promise not to leave. I shan't ever leave you."

"Never." He cupped her cheek with hand. "I belong with you and you belong with me."

...

Faith rushed up to the toy store, heart racing, sweating, worrying. She couldn't stop visualizing finding Connor, cold and bleeding seconds to late. Opening the door quietly, she peaked in the dim room and heard soft feminine humming. The vampire leaned over Connor, his face hidden behind her long dark hair which reached the floor. He wasn't moving; Faith ran towards him until she saw his face. She stumbled on a teddy bear.

Connor was resting on the stick vampire's lap as she brushed her pale hands through his hair. No bloody neck wounds only a peaceful smile graced his face. His eyes were closed until he glanced over.

"What the fuck?"

"Faith!" Connor jerked away from the undead bitch and stood up. He looked confused and guilty and his eyes darted from Faith to the vamp skank. "I don't know."

"Yesterday, you want me to wear your class ring and go to the sock hop. Now, you're what? Did you get kidnapped or just hooking up? "

"Drusilla told me to come with her," Connor paused, furrowing his brow and frowning, before he continued, "...and it seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Drusilla?" Faith sneered. She had heard of this wacked out chick. Something Buffy told her about Angel and that one vampire who got away. "What are you? Three? Did she offer you candy?"

"Don't be cross, dear." Drusilla murmured, standing liquidly. She caressed her belly and smiled. "He's been calling out for a home and a love of his own. I hear it when he dreams."

Faith raised her eyebrow, confused. "You've been screwing?"

"He wants a family." Drusilla cooed.

"Stay with Mama then." Faith shook her head and bared her teeth in a smile. "Oh, wait, you're dust, vampire."

"The accuser never mentioned a slayer. They vex me terribly." The vampire pouted. "Neither the pixies above or the beasties below shall get an offering from me today."

Faith looked into her eyes and the whole world faded compared to the Drusilla's beauty. She could hear the ocean roaring, waves breaking, boats coming into the harbor. Her head throbbed as she tried to remember why she rushed in here. Pain shot through her and the sound of the ocean was louder. Drusilla had such pretty brown eyes.

"Oh," Drusilla said throaty and low, "I wanna keep her."

Sparkles glittered in the corners of her eyes and her muscles felt loose like she gulped down a painkiller. Faith smiled at the gorgeous brunette and dropped her sword. The ocean drowned out her worries.

"Faith?" Connor walked over to her and waving his hand in front of her face. He looked between her and her girl.

"Yeah." She dodged his hand and slinked close enough to Drusilla to smell her lavender perfume.

"We need to go now." Connor said.

"I just started to have some fun." She smirked through her headache.

"Connor, you shouldn't be rude to guests." Drusilla stroked Faith's cheek. The touch made the slayer shiver.

"Stop looking her in the eyes."

"How?" Faith asked, her heartbeat was in her ears like she had just jumped off the highest rock in the old quarry back home. Connor tried to wrap an arm around her, but she didn't even look at him as she elbowed him in the face. He fell back. She was moving on; he lost his chance.

"Oh, such a naughty girl. Connor, what shall you do?" Drusilla ran her cold fingers softly down Faith's cheek to her neck and dug her fingernails in. She giggled forcing a smile from Faith. "My love is eternal and Hades deep. Thicker than water."

"Don't. Let her go." He stood behind her girl with Faith's own sword at her back. .

"I see how this unfolds." Drusilla, sadness in her eyes, snaked her hand up to the slayer's lips and nodded. "Sleep, pigeon."

...

Consciousness drifted to her slowly and pulled her away from the meadow and the three sisters she dreamed of. It felt like she was stretched out on the ground. She took a deep breath of salty sea air and knew where she was before she opened her eyes. The safehouse roof. Connor looked toward the Pacific from his perch on the low wall. She held her hand to her head and glared at him. "I should fucking take a swing at you." She shook her head. "Did you stake her?"

Connor looked down. "No. I grabbed you and ran."

"I felt her slither into my head." Faith said standing up and coughing. She had a wicked headache and a passionate need to stake that vampire.

"Its her eyes, I think." Connor looked up with a sigh, took a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his jacket pocket and walked to her while pulling a cig from the pack. He handed it and the lighter to her.

She accepted the peace offering for what it was and took a few drags before asking, "Is that how she snatched you?"

"Yeah, vampire thrall is not something that happens to me a lot." He smiled at her but it faltered and faded.

"Didn't want to kill your girlfriend?" Faith blew out the smoke as she stood up looking at the moon and sun hanging in the ugly hellfire smog sky. The second the words flew out of her mouth, she wanted to take them back. She knew that he hadn't banged the undead or nothing. The image of when she first saw him, chilling in the vampire's lap, kept popping up in her head. Every time she glanced at Connor, she saw his face after Drusilla lifted her head up, her long dark hair no longer hiding him, and smiled, maniacal and blissed out.

"What? No." He shook his head. "Thrall."

"Wasn't it a kick." She smirked and took another drag.

"That was the first time I've met or been kidnapped by that particular vampire. Why are you angry at me?" Connor asked. "She played around in my brain too."

"Because your eyes were closed when I walked in!" Faith tapped her chest before shaking her head. "I couldn't look away from her when she got her sights on me. I don't even think I fucking blinked."

"That isn't fair. You felt what I felt and you didn't hear the hypno-humming."

"I know. I just..." Faith tilted her head back, sighing, because she knew she wrong and right in the worst way. Some of what Drusilla said about Connor was true and Faith couldn't give him all that. "I get that you want a full-on, matching sweaters kind of a relationship, but I don't go for labels."

"Fine. Then no labels or matching sweaters. I just want to know where I stand with you."

"I like you a lot." Faith clasped her hands in front of her and backed away. "More than I've liked a guy in a long time." She turned around, walking to the side of the roof and took one last puff of her cigarette before flicking it, end glowing red, over the side.

"Same here."

Faith jumped off the one story safehouse and hit the ground walking. Her back tensed up tighter than a guitar string and she cracked her neck with a jerk. The ocean breeze made her eyes water and blew her hair back. Waves, gleaming like bleached bones, rolled in from the distance and slammed into the shore. Seaweed decayed in clumps on the beach. Every carefully casual step she took on the wooden pier was a struggle to not speed off. Once her feet stepped on concrete, she ran faster and faster until she couldn't smell the ocean anymore.