Author's Notes: Written for the darkship prompt meme, the prompt: "you just burn."


Metaphor

"Hey Andrew."

The boy practically jumps out of his skin. "W-W-Warren?" he asks.

"For certain definitions of the word. How are you, buddy?" he grins. "Where's the estrogen brigade?"

"Buffy and everyone?" Andrew says. "They're, uh, grocery shopping. Heroic grocery shopping."

"Of course," says Warren.

"...Why are you here?"

Warren shrugs. "Well, we haven't spoken in awhile, what with the me being dead and this just being the incorporeal personification of all evil taking on my form to manipulate you. So I thought we should catch up."

That makes Andrew take a step back, for... some reason. Warren just sort of doesn't get him sometimes, okay? "You're not the real Warren."

Warren blinks at him. "Well... Yeah. I just said that."

Andrew looks annoyed. "Get out of here! This is the fortress of good and you can't just come in here–"

"How are you going to stop me?"

"I – I–"

"You physically can't do anything. You probably wouldn't if you could," he says, and Andrew stares at the floor. "Don't you miss me?"

"No," he says. "I have turned a new leaf. I have realized the path of evil and murder I followed you down was wrong, and I refuse to become like you – alone, in pain, soulless... and kind of veiny where you shouldn't be," Andrew shakes his head of the thought. "I am a powerful warrior for good now, and you are a part of my past I have left behind. You are a man – no, less than a man – ruined by his own selfish desires. You just burn down everything righteous in the world."

Warren can't help but crack a smile. "You know what, Andy?" he stands up out of the chair he's sitting on (well, not really; the whole incorporeal thing, you know?), stepping closer. Andrew unwittingly gulps. "You're right."

"I am?" He sounds pathetically hopeful. Warren remembers how he never really told Andrew he was right, ever, even when the guy was following him around like a lovesick puppy desperate for approval. It was annoying, really.

"Yeah, sure," Warren says. "I mean, let's look at the facts – I was a murderer, and a misogynist. Abandoning the idea of me, and any sort of loyalty to my memory? Probably the healthiest thing for you, like, in the long run," he starts to pace around, even though he doesn't technically walk – it's just a cool effect, like Jaws. "There's just one thing... a last niggling problem..."

"What's that?" Andrew's voice is hilariously high-pitched, even for him.

Warren smirks, stepping close into Andrew's personal space, making the boy hold his breath. "I don't believe you."

He steps away, laughing.

"Warren–"

"I mean, come on, let's face some truth here," he says. "You call me soulless? My friend, I may have been a sociopathic lunatic, but I was someone. I didn't just follow a guy around like a thirteen-year-old girl, swooning and sighing and 'Oh Warren, you're so smart and awesome and evil, and can't we run away to some stupid place together like idiots?""

Andrew looks stung. "I never said–"

"Yeah, yeah," Warren cuts him off. "But look at it this way – I didn't turn you evil. Not even when I talked you into jotting down Jonathan's name on the purchase-contract-thing for the proverbial farm," Andrew flinches at the reminder. "You weren't good to be turned evil. You weren't even evil to start with; you weren't anything! You were just desperately trailing after me, tongue drooping out like a dog and slobbering all over the floor, looking for me to fill you with something." He pauses. "You know, I didn't actually mean it like that. Not that you weren't dreaming of that too, of course."

Andrew can't hide the fact he's starting to tear up. "That's not true," he says. "Me and Warren had a close, platonic friendship, and just so you know, I would totally be punching you in the face right now if you had a corporeal body I could actually punch."

"No you wouldn't. I'd still be Warren, and you couldn't hurt him, right?" Warren laughs again, and Andrew just stares at him. "Come on, did you think we wouldn't notice? That me and Jonathan couldn't hear you in your sleep all those nights, and just ignored it because it'd be too awkward to actually deal with; 'Warren, please baby, I love you so much, harder,'? Honestly, it was a bit of a power trip for me – not that I'd want you back, though. I mean, who'd actually want their creepy-little queer stalker?"

Honestly, he can't remember how true all that is. Hey, he has the memories of every single dead person ever to deal with; the details of who exactly has a homocrush on this guy, and how they have it, are bound to slip."

"You're lying to me," Andrew says, sniffling very unsubtley. "None of that is..."

"Then why are you crying?" Warren asks. "Actually, how much time did you spend crying after me? Locked away in whatever corner of whatever one of our houses you could find, sobbing you're heart out because you could never have me... What about high school, hey? You see me then, and deal with Little Andrew's reaction like any high school homo would – shame, guilt, denial, blah blah blah," Andrew doesn't answer, instead just staring at the floor. "What about after Sabrina the Teenage Witch turned me into her hunting prey; what would you do, track down my skin and wear it as a cloak to 'remember' me? Hey, you're enough of a freak."

"I'm not a freak," says Andrew, voice choked and hoarse. "I'm not a freak, and you're not Warren. He would never be this cruel to me."

"Bullshit!" yells Warren. "We all know what I – he – thought of you. You were an idiot and a nuisance, and the only reason he didn't tear you apart like I'm doing now, or kick you out of the group, or kill you was the fact you were just useless enough to manipulate."

"You didn't know him!" yells Andrew.

"I am him!" Warren responds. "And you can kid yourself all you like, but everything I'm telling you right now is the foundation of who you are, laid out on a platter. And you're nothing. Who are you fooling, trying to be a 'good guy'? You can't be a decent good guy. You couldn't even be a decent bad guy. The only thing you were ever any good for was mooning after me and selling your soul to stay by my side. You'd rather kill your best friend then have to let me go – what hope is there for you? All you ever wanted was a murderous psycho who didn't even like you as a friend; you never cared about morality. If you were still on our side, I'd let you pretend me being like this was like me being alive again every once in awhile. And while I was Warren – there'd be no-one else Warren knew around. You'd be everything for me. Isn't that all you ever wanted?"

"No," says Andrew. "You're the bad guy. Warren was a bad guy. The good guys always win, and I am not on your side anymore."

Warren shrugs. "Fine," he says. "I didn't really want you back on our side anyway. I mean, who would want..." he smirks as he sharpens the attack, "a useless, pathetic, hormonal, helpless, stupid, incompetent, whiny, obsessive fag on their team? Certainly not Warren Mears."

Andrew gapes, looking like Warren just cut his stomach at. Hmm, he'll have to look into getting one of his followers to do that at some point. "Get out," he whimpers. "I'm not one of the big heroes, okay; if you want to do the whole villainous lecture thing give it to Buffy, but leave me alone. And leave Warren alone."

Warren nods. "Fine. I'm mostly doing this because I'm bored, anyway. Just, remember, buddy," he suddenly leans in close to Andrew's personal space; close enough to kiss him. "I might be the fire, but you're the ashes."

"Fire is an overused metaphor," Andrew responds weakly, but Warren just rolls his eyes and like that, he's gone.

You know, sometimes he forgets how fun it is to fuck with people's heads.