Title: The Dark of the Matinée
Author: Darling_Effect [darling_effect@livejournal.com]
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers/Setting: Takes place BtVS post-Chosen, pre-Wolfram & Hart involvement. Which, uh, makes it mildly AU I guess.
Disclaimer: Done purely for my own amusement, and for love not profit.
Summary: AU. This takes place sometime after What You Decide to Be Is What You Are. Faith is still in NYC, working independently, and Wes is moonlighting for the reformed Council, rather than working for W&H.
Note(s): Writing for: allegraslade. Two things you definitely want included in your fic: wes and faith at the cinema, preferably seeing something classic, but not a cheezy lame classic (ie. not breakfast @ tiffany's). each discovering a heretofore (non-sexual) hidden talent of the other. One thing you definitely *don't* want to see in your fic: extended discourse on fred and/or buffy. Preferred rating: nc-17, or really rather dirty. Place: NYC.

The film referenced throughout is “The Lady Eve” by Preston Sturges

 

The Dark of the Matinée

Faith’s got a little secret. Well, okay, she’s got a lot of them, some more well-known than others. Oh, there are plenty of dark dark things hidden in the back of her mind that will never see the light of day if she has anything to say about it. She’s gotten awfully good at compartmentalizing.

Back in school (the five minutes when she actually attended, anyway), she sure as hell wasn’t popular. But infamous? Yeah. She only distinguished herself in two arenas: pissing off the principal, and having a reputation —as a klepto, as a slut, as someone not to be fucked with, ever. Didn’t matter if the rumors were true or not (although they mostly were). And that set the rather unfortunate precedent for pattern her life took after that.

She didn’t want to be the one who got called before the principal time and time again; who had perennially ripped clothes, skinned knees, and who accessorized with a smudge of dirt and a glint of righteous fury in her eyes. Deep down, she really wanted to be the girl with the most cake —the one who got to wear the tiara and cry big, grateful tears as she was showered with dozens of roses. The untouchable princess who got treated with care and respect and kid gloves.

The chosen one.

Yeah, right.

Even if she weren’t the Slayer (or even just a Slayer) she’d still have a hardened carapace an inch thick. She had to, really. Call it self-preservation. She was used to picking herself up and dusting herself off. (Vamp dust, usually, but sometimes, if she was really lucky, it was something altogether ickier and frustratingly Clorox-resistant.)

No, as secrets go this is something altogether more mundane. Strangely normal even.

Rainy days are her movie days. Not pop-some-microwave-popcorn-and-throw-a-tape-in-the-VCR days but honest-to-goodness going to the goddamn cinema.

She stays away from the multiplexes and the places with the awful fluorescent lighting. She feels too out in the open there, too exposed, and they’re fucking eyesores that only play crap anyway. That’s another of her little secrets. She’s no cinephile or anything, but she’s got this appreciation for the classics.

When she was a kid she and her grandmother had this ritual of going to the pictures every Saturday. Those were the best days of her fucking craptastic childhood. She loved the smell of the fresh popcorn, the feel of it crunching stickily underfoot as she made her way down the dark aisle to where her grandma was sitting. They’d split a carton of buttered popcorn and each have a soda. Faith would slurp hers down loudly during the previews and her Nana would shush her as the lights went down.

And that was the moment, the magical moment when the room was dark except for the soft glow of the opening credits and steady, comforting hum of the projector. That’s when she could forget about her life —her mom who couldn’t hold down a job, the tiny apartment with the perennially leaking roof and the dangerously sloping porch, the endless taunting at school, the dad who barely acknowledged her existence— and lose herself completely.

That’s when she allowed herself to be happy, if only for a few hours at a time.

***

These days happiness is a momentary thing. If she’s not patrolling, stalking, or killing, then she’s on autopilot, just waiting impatiently for the next opportunity for slayage. She doesn’t have the money for other distractions. The only culture she’s been soaking up lately is the one marked Lifestyles of the Urban Undead. You won’t find that one in <i>Time Out.</i>

Which is OK. Sometimes. She knows she’s not one for speed dating and small talk over super-sized martinis or whatever the hell passes for courtship these days.

She likes to think of herself as alone but not lonely. But that’s being optimistic.

And it doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t heard from Wes since… Yeah. Since.

She doesn’t want to think about it.

She sighs and lights her umpteenth cigarette of the day, knowing full well once she’s out that’s it for the week. She’s got five bucks to last her until Friday. Giles’ tidy stipend doesn’t stretch all that far in New York City.

She peers out the tiny window and watches the rain sluice down in great torrents. She can hear it drumming rhythmically against the roof. It’s kinda comforting.

The phone starts to ring and it’s been so fucking long since that’s happened that she practically jumps. She catches it on the third ring.

There’s a faint click, and then one word: “Faith.” It’s a statement, not a question, and her stomach involuntarily twists up in a little knot upon hearing that voice, honey-smooth and crisp, finally. Jesus, three months later and it still has the same effect on her. She practically goes from zero to wet in two seconds. Christ.

“Wes.” She keeps her tone neutral, matching him shot for shot.

“I’ve found myself in your …lovely… town for a few days and was wondering if you’d like to join me for—”

“’Join’ you? Is this a cult or a date, Wes? I seem to recall the last time you were here our casual little wine n’ dine didn’t go so well.”

“Oh?” She can practically hear his arched eyebrow through the phone, “I seem to recall a satisfactory ending.”

She doesn’t answer him, just takes another drag off of her cigarette and stubs it out in the overflowing ashtray. This is definitely not how she’d envisioned this conversation going. But then, he’s feeling his way and she’s feeling hers.

Hence the strained, awkward silence.

She sighs heavily. “Do I want to go on a fucking date and like, hold hands and shit? Not my style. Maybe we’d be better off leaving this behind us, y’know? Because I’m wondering what else we have to give one another.” Her voice quavers a little bit, self-preservation kicking in again. She knows she doesn’t really believe it and doesn’t imagine he does either.

“I think we should talk. In person.”

“Talk? Or something else?”

Now he sounds thoroughly annoyed. “Faith.”

“Talk. Yeah. Not my strong suit, you may have noticed.”

He laughs softly. “I didn’t notice a thing.”

“Fucking liar.” She’s not usually one to change strategy mid-stream, but she decides upon a new tack. Tries to salvage what’s already gotten off to a tentative, slightly tense start. “Hey Wes? Do you wanna go to the movies?”

“The movies? Does that also entail small talk and holding hands? Because I seem to recall…”

“I know, I know. It’s not a date. I just need to get out of here. And…”

“Yes?”

She’s quiet for a second. “It’d be good to see you.”

***

He tells her he’s going to surprise her. Two hours later she finds herself in the lobby of this tiny box of a theatre on the outskirts of Chinatown, a dusty one-room rep that’s seen better days. For a rainy day, the place is strangely deserted. There’s no one in the lobby save for the bored ticket seller, and the movie posters hanging on the walls —lots of Orson Welles and Billy Wilder one sheets— are faded and worn.

She had to take the subway and a bus to get there and she knows she looks like something the proverbial cat dragged in. She’s wet and rumpled and there he is, standing in the corner and looking as impeccable as ever.

Bastard.

He doesn’t say a word, just hands her the ticket.

“Good to see you too.” She gives him her best smirk.

He just smiles and wraps his arm around her waist.

***

The lights are already down by the time they enter the theatre and find seats. The place seems just as thoroughly deserted as the lobby, but in the inky darkness it’s kind of hard to tell.

She knows the second the movie starts what it is. She’s got this little knack for retaining sense-memories of old films. The music swells and there’s this ridiculous cartoon snake crawling across the credits, clutching an apple— that’s when it all comes back to her. Long before she dreamed of being a princess she wanted to be a fast-talking, resourceful dame like Barbara Stanwyck.

Maybe that’s one dream of hers that came true. Sort-of. She still covets the wardrobe though.

She looks at Wes. “I think I’ve seen this. I must have been, like eight or nine. My grandma loved old comedies, we went every Saturday—”

“It’s one of my favorites. When I saw that it was playing, I knew that it would be perfect.” Then he goes all quiet and serious, because the movie is starting and Wes believes wholeheartedly in giving one’s full attention.

She decides to do the same. And it’s easy because the movie is really funny —all snark and innuendo, most of which probably sailed right over her head when she saw it the first time.

And she recognizes more than a bit of the old Wes in hapless Charles, especially when anti-heroine Jane starts in on her meta-commentary: “’Every Jane in the room is giving him the thermometer and he feels they’re just a waste of time. He’s returning to his book. Won’t do you any good, dear, he’s a bookworm. Watch him swing anyway. How’d you like that hanging on your Christmas tree? Oh, you wouldn’t? What is your weakness, brother?”

For a brief moment she’s sad just how thoroughly she knows the answer to that question.

But she doesn’t dwell, because the movie settles back into the sparkling repartée. And she’s laughing again, leaning against Wes and feeling strangely at ease—and fuck, suddenly it’s like they’re on a fucking date.

Can’t have that.

It’s when Jane commands Charles to go down on his knees in front of her that she decides to go for it.

“Say, Wes?” He turns to her, looking slightly annoyed at being interrupted. Movie going really brings out the uptight in him. “Bet you never lost it at the movies.” Her tone is equal parts come-on and dare, and he answers her self-satisfied smirk with a glare of mild protest. She arches an eyebrow at him: “Oh come on. Wes. Expand your horizons.”

He starts to speak. “Faith, this is—”

She doesn’t let him continue. “Not the right place? But that’s what makes it so perfect.” She’s already kneeling.

And he doesn’t say another word, just tangles his fingers in her hair and lets her unzip him.

It’s funny how the world can become so reduced — how sensation can simply override everything else. How the rasp of the zipper going down practically fills the room. The tiny indrawn breath he takes when she first curls her fingers around his half-hard cock. The utter simplicity of taking him in her mouth and swirling her tongue around the tip until she achieves the desired effect. It’s practically a fucking Zen moment when he throws his head back and grips her shoulders tightly. That’s all the encouragement she needs to speed up.

His hips jerk forward and his body tightens up under her and she knows he’s ready to come. She’s ready for it too, swallows it all down. Keeps him in her mouth for a moment afterwards, hears him moan and feels him shift away from her slightly. She slides off of him and rocks back on her feet.

She feels …depleted. Like she’s not sure if she did the right thing. Like she’s fucked up a very delicate balance. For a second there’s just silence between them and the film soundtrack is clattering on in the background and all she wants to know is what the fuck this is between them. But it’s not the time or the place.

Was it ever going to be?

The point is kinda moot because her fucking knees are killing her. She starts to get up, slowly, figuring she can just watch the rest of the movie and then slink away with the last shred of her dignity intact. But Wes grabs her wrist.

“You seem to be operating under the misapprehension that we’re done.”

And she just stares at him, open-mouthed, like he’s speaking in Esperanto.

“Lean back in the chair, Faith. And take off your underwear, would you?”

“But …here?” She glances around, feeling slightly queasy at the thought of being seen. She’s not sure where her usual bravado went but she’d like it back, stat.

“Turnabout is fair play, don’t you agree?”

“Wes, I’m not sure—“

“Oh come on, Faith. Expand your horizons,” he drawls as he opens her thighs with insistent fingers. He hooks one finger into the waistband of her panties. She raises her hips obediently so he can drag them slowly off of her body.

She knows he’s mocking her but she’s not going to complain when her underwear is gone and her legs are wrapped around his waist and he’s sliding down between her legs.

And jesus fuck, he’s good at this. He throws his whole body into it, fingers and mouth and chin and tongue. He angles her just right so he can hum along her clit while twisting his fingers up inside of her. He seems to know instinctively when her clit’s about to go into sensory overdrive, and that’s when he slows everything down. Alternates between shallow, delicate drags of teeth and tongue along her skin, and these absolutely lethal deep thrusts of his tongue.

She’s feverish, thrashing wildly under him but he just holds her steady and just keeps on fucking her. She can’t even moan properly; instead she’s making these little mewling sounds that she’s sure to be mortified by in retrospect.

Then she’s coming, so suddenly that she’s taken by surprise. She’s totally untethered, lost, hands clutching at him, eyes shut tight. This cry rips from her that sounds like a sob, and she collapses against him, breathing heavily. Wes kisses her belly and smoothes her skirt back down over her hips.

It takes her awhile to come down, and when she manages to open her eyes she’s almost startled to see the film still unspooling. She’s forgotten all about it. Jane’s face is filling the screen and she’s smiling coyly as she mutters, “I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”

Wes interrupts the moment when he takes her hand. He pulls her out of the chair and she stands, somewhat unsteadily. He’s as infuriatingly composed as always.

“We should go. You must be hungry.”

“Yeah, I am, kinda. But don’t you want to see the rest?” She nods in the direction of the screen.

“Well, they get a happy ending after all.” He slips his arm through hers and leads her down the aisle. As her eyes re-adjust to the dark she finally realizes that they’ve been totally alone in there the whole time.

It’s only when Wes goes over to the ticket booth and starts writing out a check that it dawns on her as to why.

She gets this hitch in her throat and can’t tell if she wants to laugh or cry. She can’t let him see it so she walks out onto the sidewalk to wait. She doesn’t light up a cigarette because she knows he’d disapprove so she just sits at the little café table and tries to regain her composure.

When he finally emerges a few minutes later, she can’t help beaming at him. He looks at her with a neutral expression, like he hasn’t the faintest idea what she’s so fucking happy about, but the tiniest smile breaks through.

“Wes, that’s the strangest, most romantic thing anyone’s ever done for me. And that includes the time I got thoroughly well-fucked in this restaurant bathroom…”

“Ah, but don’t forget, you still have a hotel room trashing to look forward to.”

“Was that a joke, Wes? I can't tell. It’s kinda like spotting an alien or Elvis: unless you get a photo you’re not sure it actually happened…”

So they don’t get a cut-and-fade-to-black movie kiss. That’s okay. They got something better.

The End