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14 April 2007 @ 04:00 pm
Apocalypses and Other Fairytales (Keys remix) [Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel; Fred/Willow; R]  
Title: Apocalypses and Other Fairytales (Keys remix)
Author: yhlee
Summary: Heroes aren't the ones who survive.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
Pairing: Fred/Willow
Rating: R
Warnings: AU post-"Chosen," pre-"Not Fade Away." Character death.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: Through "Chosen" (Buffy) and "Home" (Angel).
Original Story: Apocalypses and Other Disasters by Netgirl

Notes: Thanks to my betas, alixtii, oyceter, and untrue_accounts.

***


Once upon a time, there lived a girl in a cave. The girl was clever and the girl was quick, and no matter what monsters came after her, the girl always got away. But the joke was on the girl, for the cave became her cage. She wrote on its walls everything she knew about the equations that bind the universe, but no matter how hard she looked, the equations never included her own name, nor a key to let her out.

*


"It's not working," Fred said flatly, setting the shattered lens down on a fire-scarred table. The lens was a relic of their twenty-third attempt to open a portal from their shattered world to a more hospitable dimension. They had had to leave the really delicate equipment in Wolfram & Hart's ruins, but she had thought--hoped--that they would be able to jury-rig something workable. Apparently not.

She stared out toward Angelus's old cage, where a generator sputtered. Had she really survived that last apocalypse only to die in this one? Her hand was bleeding. She wiped some of the blood off on her already filthy skirt.

"Maybe just one more time," Willow said. But her voice was dull, and she shut down the relays anyway. "Your hand--" She lifted Fred's hand and piocked a fragment of glass out of the cut, then dropped it to the floor.

Fred reached for a joint. She breathed in, holding the smoke in her lungs. It wasn't enough; it never was. She swung the other woman closer, ravenous for warmth, for the taste of skin.

"Not here," Willow said in half a whisper; not here, with their latest defeat smoldering around them. Fred understood.

They straggled upstairs to the Hyperion's lobby, swaying side by side. Willow coughed at the dust. Fred exhaled smoke. In her head she wrote out the chemical reactions taking place in her brain. She was hazing her ability to think. At first Willow hadn't approved. Now, at the end of days, it didn't matter. If she couldn't sleep safely for a hundred years, she would take her few hours of dreaminess instead.

*


There were heroes in the girl's universe. She knew this because one came to rescue her, a man tall and dark. Even when she learned what the man's true face looked like, the girl wasn't afraid. The man's heart might not beat, but it was a hero's heart. And when the girl learned that sunlight was no friend to the man, she thought he might understand what living in a cave was like, that he might understand her.

*


Wind snaked through the absent doors and fractured windows. What little light penetrated the curtains of dust was rust-hued. In an odd way, Fred liked it. It reminded her of firelight and the steady rock of the cave all around her. When she was stoned, she could pretend that she was in Pylea again, giddy with the presence of her new hero.

"Angel's gone," Fred said, just to hear the words again. She heard herself laughing. It came out high, almost a giggle. "The champion's gone and only the geeks are left." She rolled the joint around in her fingers, crushing it a little.

Willow was shivering as she paced back and forth. "Gone," she echoed, voice shaking. Of course. Fred had only lost one hero in the final battle, Angel. (The others, oh, the others were graves in her heart. But she had known they were doomed, the way Cordelia had been doomed long before this.) Willow had lost a legion's worth. Willow had known Angel, too, had known all the slayers who marched into the jaws of fire. Fred had not been there to see it; had, at the time, been safe within her lab's white walls. Fred had tried to disentangle the equations of hell and dynamics of entropy, all the while chewing on pens and drinking coffee.

Fred had been safe in her new cave while the others went out to die.

*


Later, the girl learned about other heroes, like the golden woman who was the man's true love, and the hundred hundred girls with their names written into destiny, kindled by a witch to fight something older than death or time or sleep. Later, she learned about the seer who fought at the man's side.

Later, she learned that all the world's heroes could not stop the world's clock from tolling its doomsday hour.

*


"Xander would have said--" Then Willow's face crumpled. "Champions and geeks. Goddess help us." She looked out the cracked windows to the garden and its dead jasmine, struggling to compose herself.

Through the smoke, Fred tried to think: Was Xander a champion? A geek? She had never met the man and could only glimpse him dimly through Willow's remembrances. She comforted Willow the only way she knew how: she kissed her. She wasn't gentle about it. There was no time for niceties anymore.

Willow kissed back, bruisingly, without hesitation. Fred imagined that she could taste the witch-words inside the other woman, a little sweet and a little smoky, bitter the way all forbidden knowledge was. Kissing Willow was like getting drunk on secrets. Science wasn't about secrets, science was about the universe opening its pages to you. But magic, magic was different. Magic was a fairytale. And Willow was magic.

Did Willow ever regret waking all those slayers just so they could die with Angel and Buffy? Fred knew better than to ask.

Willow was pushing her down to the nearest couch, whispering words that weren't words in her ear. Dust and grit got caught up in the net of her hair. Fred fought back the urge to laugh, and lost. "What's funny?" Willow said. Her teeth grazed Fred's ear.

"Just ticklish," Fred managed to gasp, which was a lie. Those grinding years in Pylea and she had never expected to be the one still alive at the end of days.

"I see," Willow said, although her voice said she really didn't. Her fingers found Fred's hem, found bra and skin and scars, found the traceries of old torments.

*


The girl should have learned that fairytales were not always lies; and that apocalypses were fairytales, in their way.

*


"Maybe," Fred gasped between kisses and stolen breaths, "it's not about champions and heroes."

"We know that," Willow said, licking a slow curving line down Fred's ribcage. "Chosen One this and destiny that and all they got was an early grave." She made a little choking sound. "Maybe that's all we'll get, too."

Fred dropped the joint, which was all but burnt out. "We're still here," she said. "That's the joke, don't you see? We're still here. It's our turn now." The smoke still swirled in her brain, but she saw it now, saw it so clearly: the lenses and lasers in the basement were still there, waiting. They'd try again after this evening's lovemaking, writing themselves a better end to the story, a way out of the cage.

***
 
 
 
Netgirlnetgirl_y2k on April 22nd, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
If I'd had to take a guess at which one of my fics would be remixed I would never have guessed this one as it was written years and years ago and only re-posted in order to get my tally of Angel fics up to five, but I thought that you did a smashing job with this remix. I loved the cuts between Fred in Pylea and the aplocalypse.

Fred had tried to disentangle the equations of hell and dynamics of entropy, all the while chewing on pens and drinking coffee.

Such a fantastic line. Thnk you so much.

Zulu: buffy - hallelujahzulu on April 23rd, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Mmm, I like the "witch words", and kissing magic. The geeks shall inherit the earth! Very nice apocalypse.
soundingsea: btvs/ats - illyria - nothingsoundingsea on April 23rd, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
This is evocative and heartbreaking. I love this bit:

Fred imagined that she could taste the witch-words inside the other woman, a little sweet and a little smoky, bitter the way all forbidden knowledge was. Kissing Willow was like getting drunk on secrets.

Magical indeed.