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Magic Mirror

by Te

     Subject: BtVS: Magic Mirror
     Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 1:29 AM

     Magic Mirror
     by Te
     November 2002
     Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd check myself in
     someplace soothing.
     Spoilers: General S6 and S7 stuff, up through Conversations
     With Dead People.
     Summary: Andrew knows how it goes.
     Ratings Note: R.
     Author's Note: So much for the theory that if a show is dark
     and sick enough I won't feel the need to write fic.
     Acknowledgments: To Debchan and Jenn for audiencing, and to
     my Spike just because.
     Feedback lets me sleep at night.

It starts with the whispers in the night.

In Mexico, the darkness never felt entirely dark enough to Andrew -- and never mind what years on the Hellmouth could do to your appreciation of light. There was something about all that crushing heat, the humidity, that made every breath feel like an old man's dying efforts.

It made the nights deceptive, and short.

And the whispers made it shorter, no matter how he tried to bury his head under the thin pillows, or tune into Jonathon's wet, unhealthy-sounding snores.

The whispers were in no language Andrew knew.

It starts with the refrigerator door, actually, and the little game he played as a child.

Move the glowing letters from his brother's coaches just a bit to the right so his straight A report cards could show, only to come down the next morning and find them right back where they'd been before.

Or, really, there were always more.

The game wasn't about being noticed.

The game was about pretending there wasn't a game.

"You're dead," Jonathon said, and Andrew could tell by the tone of his voice that he was still sleeping.

He could turn, be sure, but then he wouldn't see...

Andrew breathed through his mouth, trying to make as little noise as possible. Trying to stir the air as little as possible, because...


"Oh God, no..."

"He always was the weakest link, wasn't he, buddy?"

And if Andrew squinted, he wouldn't be able to see the door through Warren at all.

Or maybe it was about hooding. He's always liked that word. It brought to mind all those really cool chicks in the books. The ones who were too weak and small to wield a sword, and weren't witches (we don't we don't oh Warren no) but still were a part of the team.

They had falcons, or hawks, or some other kind of big, trained birds. Hooded because they would attack anything moving once they could see.

Hooded because they were so angry at the illusion of being tamed.

Andrew knew all along where he really belonged, and he practiced his hooded, untamed looks to navigate his way through school. (blinders can be so kind)

It was just a matter of finding the way in.

"God, last night was horrible," Jonathon said around a mouthful of something Andrew couldn't even pronounce.

"Guilt is a useless emotion, my son." Andrew was proud of how smooth that came out, but Jonathon just snorted at him.

"Yeah, like you're getting any more sleep than I am. You've got more luggage under your eyes than... than Cordelia would take to Paris."

His heart seized in his chest, hard and painful like a fist. He heard his fork clatter to the floor of the little cantina from way too far away for anything like reality and all he could think was: he won't take this from me. Not like this. Not again.

But all Jonathon said was, "hey, it's okay, we're in this together right? Two desperate hombres on the lam. We'll figure it out."

And Andrew nodded numbly, and prayed for nightfall.

When Warren would tell him what to do.

Possibly, it had something to do with self-knowledge. Andrew believes he knows himself very well.

He's believed this for quite some time.

It's a necessary function of living mostly inside your head, whether inside the home or out. There's no one in there but you, unless you manage to get yourself possessed by something sentient.

Andrew has managed to avoid that, and has rambled the twists and turns of his own mind searching and searching for anything to...


There once was a little voice that screamed 'look at me' so loud that Andrew would hunch in on himself for fear that someone would actually hear it, and he'd be forced to perform.

There once was a chance, maybe a few, for him to perform, and he did as well as he could, but no one saw him anyway.

Or, well, they did, but... he could look in their utterly unhooded eyes and see what they saw, and it wasn't anything at all like what he knew to be true.

Andrew would say self-knowledge has a lot to do with it.

"This is what we've wanted all along," Warren said, and he was so solid Andrew couldn't see through him at all.

More real than the boy on the other side of the room, tossing and moaning and whining in his sleep. So much more real. "And we..." It was still hard to say, though. What he really wanted.

But Warren, God, Warren was even smarter now that he was dead. Smarter and more powerful and (better), because Andrew didn't have to say it. Warren just reached out and.

It wasn't a caress. Nothing like one.

It was cold, strong fingers in the sweat-damp curls at the nape of his neck and a grip Andrew knew was at once insubstantial as smoke and unbreakable as iron.

It was the utter absence of breath on his cheek as Warren leaned in close and said, "and we can be together."

"Do you really think they'll let us be in their gang?"

And it froze Andrew for a moment, actually knocked him right out of the loop of his thoughts -- they couldn't be shameful once they were shared, could they?

But that was the problem, because there was Jonathon solid and undeniable against the backdrop of the frighteningly clean new high school. Frighteningly pure new school, and he was asking about belonging.

And Andrew, oh Andrew knew that question, and every (nasty) little thing that lay beneath it. He looked into Jonathon and saw...

It wasn't himself. It wasn't.

But it wasn't so bad, either. It was just... a guy. With a big brain and a lot of useful power and. And.

The sound of his own voice was hollow in his ears, but it seemed to be enough for Jonathon.

It's ending with Andrew walking in the footsteps of the dead. He likes the way that sounds. He likes it a lot, actually.

It has an almost fantastic ring to it, like it should be written in some really cool font -- no -- stamped in some really cool font on the leather binding of a book older than old.

He doesn't know where he's going, but Warren knows, and sometimes Warren looks over his shoulder and grins at him.

The warmest, most open grin Andrew's ever seen outside of television. So confident. So sure.

So sure of him.

Like Andrew would never (I know you weren't the one who left me to die, Andrew.) betray him, no matter how oddly... right Jonathon looks in this fresh, new high school. Warren knows.

Warren understands. Warren believes.

Andrew follows.

But, really, it doesn't end until Jonathon won't shut up. On and on and on about the people who (put them here, right here, digging a hole into the worst, so awful no no it's for Warren) hurt them, and ignored them, and broke their precious, special three even without Jonathon's help. Without Jonathon's betrayal.

And for what? For who? Women who laugh and scratch and scream and die?

People who don't give a damn.

And through it all, Warren just stands, waiting and smiling.

Andrew knows that face. It's the one Warren saves for when he knows everything is going to be okay. He doesn't have to say a word. Andrew hears it. You see? You see what I told you?

Jonathon was never really one of us.

And as the knife slides in, through skin and fat and muscle and every red thing beneath, Andrew knows it's the truth.

It starts with Jonathan's blood finding the proper paths to the best, most powerful summoning Andrew's ever even dreamed of.

It ends with the glaze filming over Jonathan's eyes, showing Andrew nothing and no one but himself.

At last.


If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Te

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