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by Eden Lee Raven


Notes: Second in the Crawling Darkness series.

It's past midnight in the city, and we're on the roof of a building, looking down at a darkened courtyard below. It's not really a courtyard. It's where four alleys meet, down in the docks. It's a good job we're both more than human, or neither of us would be able to see without a torch. Which would completely give us away, and end our spy careers pretty quickly.

I've don't know what city we're in, Giles sent us out a few days ago and I've already forgotten where. One places looks much like the next. It's the faces that change.

There's movement in the courtyard and my sight sharpens. It's our target. She's stashing a bag behind a dumpster, and while she's distracted I look to Kyra.

She gives me a very predatory smile as she slips her t-shirt and trainers off, dropping them off the roof to land silently on the alley floor below, followed closely by her sweatpants.

"See you down there Slayer." She grabs the side of the ledge and pulls herself over. I follow quickly behind.

I know by the time she hits the floor she'll be the black panther I first met.

When I wake up it takes me a few seconds to blink awake properly. I hit the floor pretty hard, head first, and knocked myself out. When I do I think I've landed in a world of acid trips. The sand I'm half led on, half sat on, is blue. The sky's a purple color. What the fuck?

When we landed and made our presence in the alley known, the rogue slayer wasn't prepared to listen.  And she was a hell of a lot more organised than most of the others we've chased. She took a runed rock outta her pocket, smashed it on the floor and jumped into the portal that appeared behind her. We had a second to make a decision. The moment that portal closed would've been the moment we lost her, unless we followed her.

Didn't expect to land in crayola world though.

Kyra comes into my line of sight. The only solid black shape I can see. She bounces on her front paws a few times, gives a pussy cat sound of impatience and nods her head in the direction slayer girl took.

Too bad we had to leave her clothes on the alley floor. She can't shift back too often. It'll leave her naked in a world where the wind's pretty cold.

Shame. Might need someone to talk to while we hunt this girl down.


"You're persistent, aren't you?" she's stood on the top of a hill, looking down at us. It's not a big hill, but the crick in my neck protests anyway. Sleeping in a cave'll do that to you.

"Yeah well. First it was to try an' make ya see what you can be." The new runed stone in her hand is a dark grey. The last one was almost white, with little flecks of gold in it.

"And now?" I shrug, running my fingers along Kyras black fur, never taking my eyes from her face.

"Missions change."


"You aren't the hunter anymore. You're the prey." Something flashes through her eyes at my words and I feel Kyra tense under my hand. She knows what's coming next. We both do.

"Gotta catch me first." I shake my head and watch as she smacks that stone on the floor, jumping into the portal that appears. I sigh as me and Kyra run up the hill and follow her through the portal. Getting ready to loose the modest meal I've only just had as we tumble out the other side.

Longest 4 days of my life.

"You can never understand what I've done." She's gasping harshly. Crouched low with her fists at the ready. I'd feel sorry for her, seem as thought I'm not even breathing hard, but I just can't seem to muster it. I haven't tagged Kyra in yet. She's just led on the floor behind me, watching to make sure I'm ok. She doesn't need to bother. This girl isn't anywhere near as good as me.

And she'll never get the chance too be either.

We're on a cliff fighting.  I guess she thinks it's to the death. And I guess it is. For her.

"You killed anyone yet?"


"Then shouldn't I be askin' that question?" a look of surprise crosses her face at my words. "You're not a killer. Never gonna get the chance to find out what that feels like. Would've liked it to be 'cause you wised up and changed teams." I shrug, looking at Kyra as she stands up, stretches and comes closer. "Sometimes though, ya get on the road you're on, ain't no way back."

She's been so focused on me she hasn't noticed Kyra slinking behind her and bracing herself. Neither of us wanna go home with blood splattered clothes. Might shock the people we're going back too.

I shift my weight slightly.

End game.

When I silently open the door to Buffy's room I'm slightly surprised she's not in the bed. She's stood by the window wearing her silk robe and just looking out at the darkness. My breathe catches in my throat at how beautiful she is. And then stops completely when my eyes flicker over the sleeping body in the bed, huddled under the covers.

What the fuck?

I don't slam the door shut, but it isn't as silent as I opened it. She turns her head sharply and it's only then that I see the tears running down her cheeks.

I say again; what the fuck?

My eyes follow her as she walks across the room, her eyes staring and pinning me to the spot. Like she hasn't seen me in years. She cups the side of my face and runs her fingers back through my hair. She's stunned at the sight of me and I feel myself frown.

"You're real." It's said in soft wonderment and I feel my frown deepen. What the hell's gone on in the three weeks we've been gone?

Before I have a chance to ask she reaches behind me and opens the door, pushing me out as she closes it behind her.

"What the fuck B?" I gesture to the room behind her, indicating the naked body in her bed. It takes her a few minutes to answer as her eyes are tracking every inch of my face.

"I had needs Faith."

"After three weeks?!"

"Three wee… Faith, I don't know where you've been, but you've been gone for three years." That stuns me into silence.

Three years?

"I know time moves different in different worlds Kyra, but three fuckin' years?" she's rolling a smoke between her fingers,  just staring at the smoke that curls up from it. Her meeting with Shelly went better than mine did with Buffy. There were hugs and exclamations of joy. Not new naked lovers.

"Sometimes that's just the way it goes."

"My girls heart was broken. She thought I was dead." Kyra lifts a shoulder in a half shrug. Guess she's not having such a hard time with how long we've been gone. It's still dark outside, sun's not even close to coming up. Buffy went to find Willow. She needed to vent. Have someone listen who isn't so full of questions.

A cold bottle of beer slips into my hand as Xander takes a seat next to me. He doesn't say anything. He's seen Buffy's tears while I've been gone. Wiped away his fair share.

I wish I had a time machine. I wouldn't have left if I knew where I was going.

I haven't seen Buffy in two days. It's like she doesn't wanna see me, doesn't wanna remember. I'm sitting in a tree in the woods, enjoying my last smoke and trying really hard not to cry. I don't know if I could've handled thinking Buffy was dead. It would have torn me to shreds.

The branch I'm sat on shakes slightly as a hand curls around it and a body swings up to sit next to me. I give Shelly an impressed look. She must've been practising since we've been gone. But then, I guess three years is a long time to hone your body. To make it do exactly what you need it too.

"She isn't avoiding you to punish you." I don't say anything, just flick the butt away and wait her out. "She's done enough punishing since you've been gone."

"Bet the vamps didn't enjoy that." A soft, wistful smile crosses her face.

"Not them. Her." I look at her sharply and raise my eyebrow. Yeah, 'cause getting laid's always such a chore. "She cried every time and they were never here more than once."

"Still don't get how that's a punishment."

"Because they were never you." Oh. Knowledge hits me like a Mac truck and for a moment I can't find my breath. I know why she's avoiding me. I know why I haven't seen her since the first night I got back.

Because she's terrified I'll leave again.

The room's dark by the time I get there. She hasn't turned on any lights as darkness fell. I don't bother either as I shut the door behind me. Her head moves as if she's going to turn to look who it is. She doesn't finish the action. She doesn't need too. She can feel my presence rolling over her.

"You've been avoidin' me." My voice curls around the room like dark, black smoke. And even if she doesn't want to, her shoulder muscles relax at the deep timber of my voice. But it's like she doesn't hear the words I'm speaking.

"I haven't even really slept since you went." She crosses her arms over her chest. "Sleep was never the same without you." A smile crosses her face as she chuckles and remembers. "You used to be so kicky unless I was touching you."

"The feel of you there calmed me." She nods, a small smile still curling at the corners of her mouth.

"I didn't know you calmed me enough to sleep, until you were gone." I walk softly across the room and stand behind her. I wait just a few seconds before wrapping her in my arms. Tight. I feel her body jolt against me as a sob's ripped from her throat. For me it's only been three weeks. For her it's been a lifetime.

I gently kiss her shoulder as her one sob devolves into many. As the tears take her over.

"I swear," my whisper goes directly into her ear and calms her tears some. "I will *never* go anywhere else, unless you're with me."

I've never meant anything else so much in my entire life.

When she turns in my arms my breath gets taken away from me at the sight of her. Again. She's got tears streaming down her face, and even though I hate to see her cry, she's never looked more beautiful than she does right now. I wipe her cheeks with my thumbs before I slowly lean in. For the first kiss she's ever had from me in three years. Her breath catches in her throat when our lips touch. Her hands convulse against my back, like I just gave her an electric shock.

I don't even bother taking her to the bed, just gently push her against the wall.

My hand gently pops open the buttons on her jeans and with every one her breath catches in her throat. I sink my fingers into her, through the masses of wetness already there. She lets loose a moan that vibrates my skull. I don't bother playing around. I don't even bother waiting for her inner walls to get used to me being there. I know if it was her that disappeared for three years I wouldn't want gentle. I'd want her to take me. What ever way she wanted me. So long as she took me.

Her breath's catching in the back of her throat, she can't go the extra step into blissful oblivion. I know what she needs from me. Something I've never given her. But I know she needs to hear it, and I know I'm more than ready to give it to her. A truth so basic, and so real, I don't know why I've never given it to her before.

"I'm in love with you." And there it is. The crest of the wave she's been riding. Her groan, mixed with a low moan, rolls down my spine and I get lost in the feel of her walls pulsing around my fingers.

So lost in fact, that I almost don't catch her as she slips into unconsciousness.

It's only then that I take her to the bed. And when she wakes up, it's a long, long time before we curl around each other and slip into sleep.

Kyra's fur brushes against my side and makes me look down at her. The sun's so hot I don't know how this new rogue slayer can stand wearing all that leather. I guess the one we chased for three years had a few slay-pals. 'Cause both rogues we've chased since then have been dimension jumpers.

"Plan?" B's voice curls through my mind, drawing my sight to her face. When I said I'd never go anywhere else without her, I meant it. She's been with us every time we've chased a rogue down since. Once she saw the joy of me getting through to the girl. One time she saw the killer that's still in me come out.

"Walk right up to her. Kyra first." I nod towards the girl, who must be able to feel us near, but hasn't jumped yet. She wants something from me. Better go find out what.

"I'll love you B." I wait for her to finish the sentence before starting to move.

"Till tomorrow comes."

Because tomorrow never comes.

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