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the fear of falling apart

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You had only been in the car for thirty minutes, but all conversation had been dead for what seemed like hours. Willow was staring blankly out the windshield, and you were pretending to sleep, face pressed up against the window. 

Just as you were about to actually fall asleep, Willow's voice broke in. 

"How do you do it?" 

You sat up and glanced at Willow, who was pointedly looking anywhere but at you. "Care to vague that up a little, Red?" 

Blushing, Willow glanced down and muttered, "I mean... with the togetherness thing. And not being.. completely crazy?"

She looked nervous, like she was scared that simply mentioning your past would be enough to set you off again. 

But you just laugh, and lean back again, looking away from Willow. "Prison tends to help. That, and my own personal Evil Anonymous mentor." 

Sometimes, joking is easier than talking.

She doesn't ask you again, but barely five minutes later, she's pulled the car over, leaned over, all the way into your side of the car and before you can ask what she's doing, she's kissing you.  

Red kisses like she's scared you're going to pull away, fast and desperate. She's changed, you realize, no longer a seventeen-year-old innocent. 

You've changed too, edges blurred out, mindless anger focused into a weapon, but Red's hardened. 

She's powerful. You can taste it, bitter and bloody, in her kiss, feel it sparking in her hands when they slip under your tank top. 

---

The sun has started to rise again, and Willow's sitting on the hood of the car, doing something that looks suspiciously like meditation. You stumble out of the front seat, tugging your shirt back on, and join her. 

She looks incredibly solemn as she cracks an eye open, making sure it's you. The two of you sit in silence until she whispers to the rising sun, "I killed a man."

You lace your fingers with hers, and lie back against the windshield.

"Me too."