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Dressing Up

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He was waiting for her perched on a ledges, sleek and dark and savagely cheerful, all of which Faith had expected. The drafty fortress with its eroded walls and shadowed corners, the tidy piles of bones, the scattered charcoal sketches of vivisections--all these she might as well have carried graven on her heart.

What she hadn't expected was the neat row of dresses on headless mannequins with chipped toes. One was in livid red, cut with a certain severity, its only ornament a single mazed opal. It attracted her; she distrusted it. Another was in lush velvet and lace, another sewn from silk tatters like a chrysalis unbound, another--she tore her eyes away and scowled at Angelus.

"This some kind of joke?" she demanded.

"Well, you weren't here to model them for me," he said, as if that were a perfectly sane answer.

She turned the idea around in her head, tried to find the trap. "I'm here to save you, not to play dress-up."

Angelus made a show of looking around her. "Sorry, don't see the witch in tow. Unless you've scared up a gypsy?"

"Naw," Faith said, "'s just me."

"What kind of stupid do you take me for, Faith?" But he seemed more curious than contemptuous.

"You kill me and you'll be all alone in this wasteland," she said. She didn't often let herself think of the shrinking world and its stunted denizens, more shadow than substance. "Call it truce until we find a way out of here?"

Angelus laughed. "You know what they say about bargaining with demons."

"You wouldn't be collecting those things"--she jerked her chin toward the mannequins--"if you weren't looking for someone to talk to."

"You think I need talk therapy, Slayer-style?"

"Mock if you want," Faith said, undeterred, "the truth's the truth."

He swung down from the ledge. "All right. Truce--but don't think I'll give you fair warning when the timer's up."

"You do know you're still not getting me into any of those dresses?" Although she couldn't help another wistful glance at the red one.

"Everyone dresses up from time to time," Angelus said, "especially at the end of the world. Even if it's just to pretend that they're good company."