Exaggeration and Blank Verse

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

Faith ran her fingers through her hair and rolled her eyes. "DMX." She took a sip of her beer and arched an eyebrow at him. "C'mon, Charles, give me a challenge."

"All right, all right," he laughed, digging into the nachos. The cheese was already soaking through the flimsy cardboard and leaving grease stains on the hood of the car they sat on. "He had the windows rolled down, that wasn't fair."

"Luck of the draw." She popped the top off another bottle- and that was a sweet trick, using her belt buckle, where'd she learned that anyway?- and handed it to him. "Drink up, G, not like you're driving anywhere tonight."

"Ain't that the truth." He glanced over his shoulder into his beat-up little car. He'd had a truck, once upon a time and far away. Thought about it every time he turned the key in this piece of shit. "Can't believe they took the tires."

"I can't believe you parked it here and thought there'd be anything left." She helped herself to his nachos, smearing cheese across her upper lip. "Thought you were the street-smart one, G."

"Wasn't planning to stop," he pointed out, reaching over and wiping her face clean with his thumb.

"Didn't have to stop," she countered, reaching into the paper sack balanced on the bumper between their feet.

He laughed and sipped his beer. "Three-point shot for the Slayer."
*****
He'd pulled over and took off at a run, thinking he was saving a damsel in distress. Instead he'd staked one vamp and found himself looking through the dust at a very confused Slayer who'd finished off the rest of the nest single-handed.

She'd blinked, stake arm still cocked and ready. "Gunn, right? Angel's guy."

"My own guy," he'd corrected automatically, slipping his own stake back into his jacket. "How you doin', Faith?"

By the time they had walked back to his sad little car, all four tires and the stereo were gone, plus the windshield wipers. "Why didn't they just take the whole thing?" Faith had laughed, picking a few flakes of paint away from the spreading rust.

"The tires were worth more," Gunn sighed. He checked the back seat. "At least they didn't take my stuff."

"All three bags of it," she'd said. "Lucky you. Come on, I'm starvin'."

They'd walked fifty yards to the gas station on the corner. The guy behind the counter wore an eye patch and had a semiautomatic balanced across his lap while he rang up their six-pack and greasy sacks of godawful Mexican food. He wasn't sure about buying Mexican two thousand miles from the nearest border of a Spanish-speaking country, but it was cheap and they were hungry.
*****
"Your turn, Charles," she said as the nearby light turned red and a car rolled down to a stop. The windows were closed up tight and tinted pitch-black, but the subwoofers sent the bass line booming out over the street. He sipped his beer and squinted.

"N.E.R.D. The new one."

"They've got some good shit," she said thoughtfully, biting into her taco. He'd looked doubtfully at them in the gas station- "You sure you know where that meat came from, girl?"- but they were five for a dollar, so she stocked up. Angel had said once that a Slayer would eat the family cat dipped in motor oil after a good fight. "Don't you think?" she asked, looking sideways at him. He realized he was scowling at the idling car and looked down at his nachos again.

"I guess. The beats are pretty tight, I've just got a problem with the band." Almost out of nachos already. Damn, he should've had tacos too...wait a minute, she'd eaten half of the nachos...

"Not a fan of Pharrell?" she asked teasingly, tossing her empty bottle into the air, watching it spiral lazily back down, and shooting out one leg to kick it into a telephone pole. It shattered and she laughed.

"Nah, he's all right." He leaned back against the windshield and squinted up at where the sky would be if they weren';t sitting under a streetlight. "Name bugs me."

"The name?" She glanced at him, puzzled, and opened another beer. What he wouldn't give for the Slayer's metabolism. And her aim, that was a sweet shot with the bottle...

"Stands for No one Ever Really Dies," he told her, finishing his own drink and setting the bottle next to him on the hood. "And I happen to know from experience that that ain't true."

She nodded, and for a minute they were still, each running through their private lists of names. Then she smiled, an odd little twisted one, and handed him a taco.

"Except for Buffy," she said. "She never really dies, for real."

He laughed. "I'm gonna have to meet this Buffy someday. Between Angel, Wes, and Cordy, I've heard so many versions of her I don't know what's what. Girl'd have to have three heads to be all they said she was."

"Oh, she's something, all right," Faith said, leaning back against the glass next to him and taking a drink. She pinched the cap between her fingers, sighted along her arm, and flicked it. It arced across the parking lot and nestled in the space between two of the bars on the station's window. "She's something else."

"Not a fan?" he asked without any real interest, picking some more paint off the car.

Faith was quiet for a moment. "You know how you said you're your own guy now, not Angel's?" He nodded. "Well, I'm not one of Buffy's Slayers anymore either."

He nodded. "The Lady Faith has spoken."

She laughed. "Been called a lot in my life, but never a lady." She looked over at the light, where another car was idling. "Umm...not getting it, G."

He stared at her. "That's the Temptations."

She blinked without comprehension. "Huh?"

He sat up, now full-out gawking at her and not caring who saw. "You're in Detroit- in Motown- and you don't know the Temptations? Kings of the Motown Sound?"

She rolled her eyes. "I came here to kill vampires and see a basketball game, G, not take in the historical sights and sounds."

That threw him for a minute. "Basketball?"

"Pistons-Celtics. Good game." She grinned at him and sipped her beer again. "My boys in green won."

He shook his head. "Drinks cheap beer, kills vamps without breaking a sweat, and a basketball fan. Where have you been all my life?"

"Boston. Sunnydale. Jail." She grinned at him. "So, old man, you were gonna lecture on the Motown Sound?"

He shook his head and settled back down next to her. "Nah, you ain't worth it if you're gonna mock."

"Didn't figure you to like the old-school stuff anyway," she said, digging the last bit of cheese out of the nacho container with her finger. "Thought you were a man of the times."

He smiled as the car pulled away, last traces of that old familiar music fading in the night. "Ah, when I was little I remember my dad putting on Temptations records and teaching me the dance moves. He could do the spins and glides and my momma would laugh so hard when I tried to copy him...Alonna too..." He trailed off, staring up past the streetlight. He wished he could see the stars. "That's pretty much all I remember about my parents. Music and laughing."

He could tell without looking that she had that strange little smile on again. "Not so bad, as memories go."

"Ain't that the truth." He had other memories- a cloud of dust with his sister's face, another pretty brunette eating Mexican food in a parking lot- that proved it.

She crumpled up the last taco wrapper and tucked it into the bag, hunching forward over her knees for a minute. She didn't look at him. "You know what I haven't asked yet."

"I know," he said levelly, staring at the way her shirt stretched over her shoulder blades.

"I don't have to know what went down between you and Angel, but if anything's happened to him..." She looked back over her shoulder at him, and he nodded slowly.

"I get it," he said quietly.

"Good."She sat up a little and rested her elbows on her knees. "Damn, this town shuts down at night."

"Around here, anyway. Might be something down by the river, bring the Canadians in...think they've got casinos..." He hesitated. "When I left LA...he was fine. Lonely, but...he was doin' okay."

She stared down at the cracked pavement. "Lonely he can handle."

"Man's got a world championship in lonely," he agreed, reaching for another bottle- the last one? The hell? That little girl drank four?

She laughed softly. "Hey, you never said what brought you up here to the frozen north. I'm here for basketball and slayage, but why'd you drive this piece of crap from LA?"

He shrugged and flicked his own beer cap across the lot. Didn't go half as far or land half as pretty. "Just seeing the country...or the cities, I guess. Not a fan of cows."

"Just you, your POS car, three bags of clothes, and..." she squinted through the windshield, "a few John Grisham novels."

"Yeah," he said, a faint smile tugging at his lips. "They ain't half bad."

"And a huge fucking axe," she said. "Now *that* impresses me."

"In addition to sight-seeing," he said in as deliberately pompous a voice as he could manage, "I'm putting in time as a..." and he smiled, wide but sad, as he thought of another friend far away and all alone, "...guess you could call it a rogue demon hunter."

She suddenly sat bolt upright, squinting into the shadows next to the station. "And what do you know, here we have ourselves some rogue demons." The vampires- a pair, game faces on, outfits keeping the mid-80s alive- snarled and charged.

Faith had an empty bottle in her hand and was launching herself off the bumper before Gunn could blink. He shook his stake down into his palm and ducked a punch, rolling off the hood and bouncing back up behind the vamp. Dusted.

The other vampire was shaking shards of glass out of his hair and gawking at Faith, but only for a minute. Then he was gone too.

She stood with her hands on her hips, glowing under the streetlight. "Damn, that wasn't even worth my time, boys!" She shook her head and sauntered over to stand next to him. "Doesn't Detroit Rock City have anything better to offer?"

"We could go check out those casinos," he said, tucking the stake away again. "See if any of them have a dance floor."

"Fighting makes you want to get your party on, Charles?" She was grinning, her tongue darting out to flick lightly over her teeth.

"Makes me want to see if you dance half as pretty as you fight, Slayer," he said, finding himself grinning back.

"Funny, I was thinking the same thing," she said, pulling the car door open and grabbing one of his makeshift suitcases and his axe. "Come on, G., I've got a hotel room. We'll drop your stuff off and get ourselves ready to hit the town."

He nodded and took the other bags. Charles Gunn knew an invitation when he saw it, and he'd heard about Slayer appetites for more than tacos, and from the way she was looking at him from under those dark lashes there was a damn good chance they wouldn't leave that hotel room at all tonight. Or tomorrow.

Let the record show that counsel had no objections.

Another car was at the light. She looked over at it. "I know this one. Outkast," she said. "'I Like The Way You Move.'"

"They're playing our song," he said. "Light's green, Slayer, let's go."

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