Notes and disclaimers: not mine. All characters owned by large corporate entities, not me. No profit garnered here ever. Thanks to Mosca, Anna and Tigs for beta magic. Title from Kristin Hersh.



CARRY AN ISLAND AROUND ON OUR BACKS



"Someday, you're gonna let me drive," Faith said. She didn't even have her seatbelt on, but Robin was already tired of that argument. He was tired of every argument where he was supposed to play the sober adult to rebellious talk-back-to-everyone Faith. Faith wasn't tired of those arguments. She had twisted all the way around in her seat to fiddle with something in her bag of weapons in the back seat. She was arching her back on purpose, that he was sure of.

"You can buy your own car," Robin said.

"I'd just bust it up," Faith said, sitting back and looking out the window. "It was up there. I remember that bar with the crazy bottles in the window."

"I've been in that bar. It's overpriced."

"You can tell, all that froufrou shit in the windows and the complete lack of a big guy standing with way too many tattoos who's done some time, standing outside to make sure no one brings a knife or anything," Faith said. "I hate this city, sometimes. Too many bars like that. Too many places like that."

"You prefer places where everyone needs to be searched for weapons," Robin said. He parked the car and got out without waiting for her answer.

"What I hate," Faith said, standing on the sidewalk waiting for him. "What I hate is the pretension of it. Like, you go to a bar to get drunk. To be out of your head a little. So why dress it up with velvet or beds or other crap? Why not just have tables and an actual bar and booze. Be what you fucking are, I say."

Robin smiled. "I really thought you were going to have a completely stupid argument. And I was wrong."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's all I needed to hear. Come on." She walked up to the alley where they'd seen the fight.

When he caught up to her, she grabbed his arm and pulled him along behind her. She said, "Do you see it?"

He looked closer. "I see a dark alley. With no one in it but us."

"Look again," she said, squeezing his arm.

This time, he saw it and wondered why it hadn't been apparent earlier. "Two girls fighting, down at the other end."

"I think it's a mirage. Some kind of demon thing." She let go of his arm and walked forward.

"So, of course, let's walk right into it." He trailed behind her, getting his short knife out.

Faith was right, the fight was wrong. It wasn't a fight, more like a vision of some cheap soft core porn. The girls were pulling each other's hair, screeching and slapping, but they weren't doing anything to inflict real damage. Except to their very tight clothes. When they'd seen it earlier in the evening, Robin hadn't looked very long. Faith had said they weren't demons and they both moved on. Robin wondered how many people got lured in and what happened to them.

"Faith, can you see through that?"

"No," she said. She'd slowed down as they got closer. "I see the Skinemax thing, that's all."

"Have you run into any demons who do this?"

"No," Faith said. She sounded pissed. "But here's what I'm wondering. What kind of retard demon keeps this up and can't hear us?"

"A deaf demon," Robin said. "I'm sure there are some."

Robin was looking up as he said it, so he heard and didn't see the demon come from behind them, knocking Faith down. Faith made a grunting sound and Robin was sure he heard a crack but by the time he took one step, Faith had pushed the demon off her towards the wall and was standing up.

"Deaf bastard," Faith said. "Do you think it's deaf?"

The demon was skittering up the wall. "I have no idea," Robin said.

The demon jumped down from halfway to the second floor, clearly thinking it would land on Robin. Faith pushed Robin out of the way and shoved her knife upwards into the demon's midsection. The demon made a screeching sound and jumped off her knife towards Robin. He already had his very long and sharp knife out so it was easy to drive into what looked like the demon's head. It seemed to work.

"We killed it dead," Faith said.

"How many people do you think that thing ate with that girl fight illusion?"

"Lots of dumb men," Faith said. "Maybe some dumb lesbians."

"We should look it up," Robin said. He watched Faith pick at the demon spatter on her arm and her shirt. She took off her shirt and rubbed it all off her arm and where it had soaked through the shirt. Then she threw her shirt towards the dumpster against the wall.

"Littering is wrong," Robin said.

"I've still got my bra on," Faith said, smiling. "Not like you haven't seen it before."

She stretched her arms up, for affect, Robin assumed. He said, "You can have this shirt," and unbuttoned the blue Oxford he had on.

Faith took it from him and said, "Totally not working, huh?"

He picked up both their weapons and put them in Faith's beloved bag. He said, "Oh, it's working. But all I can smell is putrefying demon corpse."

"Wait'll I get you home?" She buttoned the shirt over her breasts last, again, he assumed for effect. He lit the demon's body on fire and watched grey green smoke billow upwards.

"Maybe if I'm still in the mood," Robin said.

"You're such a jerk," Faith said. "Always a fight with you."

"With me? I'm not the one who's always fighting," Robin said. They had been walking out of the alley, but Robin stopped in his tracks. "You pick fights, constantly."

"And you're all super calm and won't be provoked. It's pretty annoying. Just makes me want to mess up your hair. But you don't have any." Faith laughed and kept walking. Robin followed.

"I could," Robin said. It was important to note. "I prefer this look."

"It does look good on you," Faith said. She was still smiling. "I'm just messing with you."

Robin smiled. "Maybe I'm just letting you. Provoke me, I mean."

"It works better than us trying to date. I think it works better, us just fucking around when the mood strikes," she said. This time she put on her seat belt. She made sure it cut between her breasts, of course.

Of course. "You're really putting me in the mood," he said.

"I'm not even trying yet," she said, laughing. "See, bright side? I don't have a headache. From all that thinking too much." She snorted. "I was right. By the way."

"I didn't disagree," Robin said.

"You said I was thinking too much."

"But then I said let's go here," Robin said.

"Okay," Faith said. She looked at him with a real smile for once. No effect, no posture, no trying to get him in bed. He appreciated when she was trying to get him in bed, but he preferred the way she looked at moments like this. "You did trust me," she said.

"And I let you do all the work," he said, smiling back at her. They'd reached the house.

THE END

THE END


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