The Boston Chronicles – Part I
By Wills Halo
Rating: None yet. Of course, there will eventually be violence and sex.
Spoilers: All episodes through the end of season 6. Possible hints of season 7 later in the story.
Feedback: Yes please!
Archiving: Ask first or I’ll sue you. Anyway, I’m not really that good!
Summary: A year after Tara’s death, Willow and Faith meet in a Boston bar.
Disclaimer: The usual: Josh is God. The characters are his not mine.
It looked like Mo’s Tavern from The Simpsons. There was even sawdust on the floor. It’s perfect, Willow thought.
There was a Homer like character propping up one end of the bar, a Barney clone next to him slobbering into his empty beer glass and an apron clad barman behind the counter ranting on about something or other.
She almost expected the barman to pick up the phone and shout out for Amanda Huggenkiss.
Willow smiled, her mind drifting. She remembered Giles telling her a story about his pre-Ripper days. It was hard to picture a twelve year old Giles making crank phone calls. Not to mention drinking stolen bottles of cheap lager. He swore Ethan had spiked the drink, but Willow wasn’t so sure. It was a far cry from summoning an all powerful demon to worship.
What was so funny about calling up a bar and asking for a Mr. B Hynd anyway? English people were strange.
The Moe look-alike drifted over.
“What’ll it be sweetie.”
“Cognac, double. Courvoisier if you have it.”
“Look sweetie, we don’t sell any of that French stuff here. Just good old American cognac.”
“It’s cognac. They’re all French. That’s why they’re called … Never mind. Whatever you have.”
A glass appeared in front of her, complete with a stars and stripes umbrella. Willow was seeing strangeness everywhere lately.
“Leave the bottle.”
Hennessy, good old American cognac. Willow smiled.
Alcohol was never her thing. It was not long ago that an extra strong Mocha was all it took to render her incapable of coherent speech. Babble took on a whole new meaning.
Someone once said that the quickest way to kick one addiction was to acquire another. All those evenings sitting by the fire with Giles and Claire had left Willow with more than a healthy appreciation for a good brandy. The bottle was almost full, but the world was not going to end tonight.
I am not who I used to be, Willow thought.
Not Xander’s best friend. Not Buffy’s hacker and slayerette. Not Tara’s lover. I’m me, just me. And that’s enough.
Willow raised her glass, silently toasting herself. One year, she thought. One year without Tara. She was going to make it.
The drone of the engine filled the night air as the bike roared down the empty streets. Stop signs and intersections did not exist. Long dark hair billowed behind the rider’s head, giving her the appearance of an avenging angel, her dark halo shimmering as she picked up speed. There was no pursuit. If anything, the rider seemed to be fleeing and chasing her own shadow at the same time.
Faith was miles from home. Sometimes she had to get away, to feel the wind in her hair, to answer only to herself. The dank rooms of the shelter seemed to reek of hopelessness and an imprisoned future. It reminded her too much of the years spent in a Los Angelus cell. Looking into the faces of the kids who came each night, begging a bed and a bite to eat, she saw herself. Only on these dark empty streets in the middle of the night was she truly free.
But freedom always comes with a price. For Faith, that price was memory: a little girl playing with her dolls in the stench of a cockroach infested Boston tenement, the beatings that healed just a little too quickly for anyone to notice, the comments as she walked down the school hallways: “Cheap slut … trash, I hear she’s doin her old man … already staked out her street corner”, followed by the whirlwind years, full of grand words like Chosen and Destiny, ending in death and horror, everything falling apart around her. Then came Sunnydale, where all the hopes and dreams led to betrayal and a fifteen inch blade, culminating in vengeance, murder and a strangled plea for help: “Please kill me … I’m evil!”. She almost welcomed the years locked in a steel cell with little for company but her own thoughts. And then the wheel came full circle and she was back where she started: the soulless streets of south Boston.
A kaleidoscope of images flash through her mind as she attempts to find an anchor. Finally, she is left with only a handful of faces from Sunnydale. I’m sorry, Faith thought. I tried, but I just wasn’t strong enough.
Faith’s eyes are drawn to the flashing neon. She brings the bike to a stop opposite a dilapidated building proudly identifying itself as Gerry’s Place. All the nearby buildings were boarded up, so chances were the place was a dive. Still, she wasn’t due back at the shelter for a couple of hours.
It was not much better inside. The regulars huddled at one corner of the bar staring at a black and white TV. A couple of jocks were busy arguing over who laid the hottest chick the night before. A few lonely souls sat quietly, alone with their dreams and half empty glasses. Faith turned her head away from them. Is that me tonight?
A shock of red hair pulled her eyes back to the bar. The memories threatened to engulf her once again. Breathe Faith. I have got to learn to relax.
Boston was a long way from Sunnydale and despite the mane of fiery red hair, this woman was noting like her Willow. The outfit screamed vampire but Faith wasn’t getting even a blip on her slayer radar. She was wearing tight black leather pants and the strangest red and black leather corset. Must be hard to breathe in there, Faith thought. The way she was nursing that bottle, she must have been here a while.
Shaking off the lingering unease, Faith raised her eyes to the mirror behind the bar. Definitely not a vampire then, Willow was staring right back at her.
Faith wanted to run. She wanted to hide or pretend to be somebody else. Instead, she slowly sat on the stool next to Willow and waited. It was time to face the memories.
Willow was the first to speak.
“Kill anyone lately?”
“What are you drinking?”
“Good old American cognac. My new bad habit. Guaranteed not to destroy the world.”
Moe was drifting closer again.
“What’ll you have sweets?”
Willow looked at her.
“What? I don’t drink.”
Willow watched Faith as she raised the glass to her lips. The blue denim jacket suited her, and the wild hair was just wild. There was no makeup; she looked about eighteen years old. Her eyes carried a sadness. It was a sadness from staring in the mirror one time too many and not liking what you saw. Willow knew those eyes.
“Do you ever brush your hair?”
“Sometimes.” Faith raised her hand to her head, subconsciously trying to straighten it.
“It looks good on you.”
Did her hair really look good? She wasn’t sure.
“Why are you being nice to me?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“I tried to kill you”.
“I tried to kill Buffy.”
“Oh. Did she forgive you?”
“Yes. They’re good like that. They forgave you too.”
“When did they become ‘They’? They were always ‘They’ to me, never to you.”
“When I chose to take a human life.”
“Are you sorry?”
“For killing him? No.”
“Do you forgive me?”
“Yes.” There was no hesitation.
Faith turned her head away. Were her eyes watering? Willow couldn’t be sure. Faith was confused. Where was the anger she expected? Where was the condemnation? And why did Willow look like her vampire self?
“You look good in leather. Not going creature of the night on me are you?”
“I like leather. I’ve earned it. Willow the bad ass killer, that’s me.”
“You’re not evil.”
“You sure about that? The whole fuzzy look was … innocent. I’m not innocent anymore.”
“You’re not like me.”
“Look at us”, Willow laughed. “Are we as bad as each other?”
“I bet I’m badder that you are.”
They stopped and looked at each other, slowly smiling. Faith had not smiled in a long time. It felt good.
“I was going to Amery’s, a sanctuary bar. Dressed like this I’d fit right in. But I changed my mind and came here. I don’t dress fuzzy anymore though, that’s all in the past. Like a lot of things.”
“Why did you come here?”
“To sit and remember. To get drunk. Tara died a year ago today. Killed by a bumbling fool.” Willow raised her head and stared at her reflection in the mirror.
Faith did not know what to say. Should she say sorry?
“What happened to him? The guy who killed her.”
“I tore the skin from his body and burned him alive.” The room felt cold all of a sudden. Faith pulled her jacket tighter around her. Willow was different. The innocence was gone and with it the hesitation and fear. The woman sitting beside her had stared at her own reflection and seen hell staring back. Faith understood. The only thing she had left to fear was herself.
Willow rose from her stool and for a moment Faith panicked. She can’t leave now, I need her to stay, only relaxing when Willow stopped at the jukebox.
Soft notes drifted across the room, a haunting voice echoed the sadness at each solitary table. Tonight was a night for memories, a night to face them one last time and lay them to rest.
“Tara loved this song. Come dance with me.”
Faith allowed herself to be led onto the floor.
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold…
The song was familiar, yet somehow it sounded different tonight. Willow lay her head on Faith’s shoulder and pulled her close. Images of Tara flooded her mind: a shy beautiful blonde nervously stuttering in her Wicca group, her hands as they caressed Willow’s face after they made love, Tara’s reflection staring back at her from the bedside mirror as she brushed her hair. She felt the tears slowly burning their way down her cheeks. Tara was gone and it was time to move on. She felt Faith’s arms tighten their hold, pulling her closer, one hand stroking her hair as the tears silently flowed.
So Tara was dead, and Willow was a murderer. I’m not the only one facing memories tonight, Faith thought. She pulled Willow closer as she felt her shoulders shake. The last notes faded and Willow slowly pulled herself away. She wiped her eyes and looked at Faith.
“Sorry, I’m being silly.”
“No you’re not.”
Faith led Willow off the floor, one arm wrapped around her shoulders. The barstools were mumbling amongst themselves, casting sneering glances in their direction. “Dykes”, she heard.
Catching the bartender’s eye, Faith called out “Hey Mavis! Nice apron.” There were muffled sniggers around the room. Moe straightened up and looked about to say something. Faith was staring him straight in the eye, her face cold, the anger visible. When nothing happened she turned back to Willow.
“Come ride with me. The bike’s out front.”
“It doesn’t matter where. Have you ever felt the wind in your hair at seventy miles an hour?”
“Why? Do you wanna live for ever?” Was Faith taunting her? It almost sounded like a dare.
“Let’s go then.”
Hand in hand they walked out of the bar, never looking back. The door closed behind them, shutting away the memories and the pain. It was time to face tomorrow.
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