doyle: tardis (fic)
[personal profile] doyle
Thanks to the guys who tried to help me out when I was completely blocked on this. I ended up getting an idea after all. And even after begging the organisers for a few days grace, I managed to get it done within the deadline, too.

Title: Bulletproof
Author: Doyle
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Andrew isn't cut out to be a white hat. Wishverse.
Notes: For the iconography challenge: this is last minute, even for me. Started four hours before midnight on the day of the deadline. My challenge was Andrew - "lose the calling that you've been faking."



He wishes his mom drank. Or took Quaaludes, or smashed stuff, or even acted crazy like Mrs. Madison, who crashed Parent-Teacher night ranting that her daughter had stolen her body. And yeah, the rest of the cheerleading squad gossiped about Amy for a week, but at least it made grown-ups realise something was wrong at home. At least her mother got help.

Sometimes he'd like to talk to Amy, because he thinks she'd get it in a way his dad and Jonathan and Mr. Giles don't, but even if he could get brave enough to approach a senior - a girl-one, too - she's not at school these days. Nobody knows if ran away or ended up a vamp snack. Nobody asks stuff like that anymore.

Andrew's mom is baking when he comes home from school, like she's been every day for the last month. June fucking Cleaver. He hovers in the kitchen doorway, backpack held awkwardly in one hand, and he watches as she expertly cracks a couple of eggs into the bowl.

"Hey, Mom."

"Hi, sweetie, how was school?" All bright and happy, like she's not a person at all. A mom-bot, he thinks, and a couple of months ago that would have lead down a whole train of thought about whether you could really make a robot that looked totally human, so real you couldn't tell it from the genuine article.

None of that stupid kid-stuff matters now.

"Okay," he says. "Gonna do my homework now." He's lying; the teachers haven't set homework for weeks. No point when the classes shrink almost every day and nobody knows how many kids will be left alive come graduation.

His mother's gone back to her proto-cake, and he goes upstairs, careful to walk on the right of the hallway, away from the always-closed door of the second bedroom. When he gets back from patrol he has to make this journey in the dark, and it makes his mouth go dry and his heart accelerate. Sometimes he thinks he'd rather take his chances with the vampires than walk the fifteen feet to his room, because he's sure, deep down in his bones and guts and all the gross parts they covered in Biology, that one night he'll look at that door and the handle will ever so slowly start to turn.

Just like always, he sprints the last couple of feet and all but slams the door behind him.

He empties his bag onto the bed, spreading out the contents and reeling off the inventory by rote. The stakes are fine. Cross is okay; he checks that the one on the chain at his throat hasn't magically disappeared. In Sunnydale, it's not something he can completely rule out. But it's still solid and reassuring (like ten grams of metal is gonna drive a vamp back, the sarcastic bit of his brain, the one that's been getting louder recently, puts in, and he ignores it), and he runs an eye over the rest of the stock. The water gun's nearly empty, and he grabs a bottle from the bottom dresser drawer. Only six left. He notes that down and pins it to his corkboard, beside the picture of kid-him and kid-Jonathan in the treehouse in the Levinson's back yard. Father Kilpatrick recognizes him now, and never questions why he needs quarts of water blessed. He's the only religious leader left in Sunnydale, and Andrew wonders what will happen when he leaves, and whether they can maybe order their holy water on the internet.

He repacks his bag and gets comfortable on the bed, setting his alarm for an hour's time. When he wakes he'll need to see if Mom's remembered to make dinner, and to remove the fourth place setting she keeps laying at the table. It makes his dad lose it, and seeing his mild-mannered father yell and cry is scarier than the Stepford Mom.

**

Okay, mortal danger aside, it was kind of cool at first to be a White Hat. Like he was in the Justice League, or the Teen Titans, or even lame-o Young Justice. That took maybe two weeks to wear off, before he realised that being a hero mainly meant never sleeping and hiding bruises and never, ever not being scared. For yourself, for the rest of your team, for your parents whose eyes slid over the cuts and the exhaustion and the sneaking in as the sun rose.

"Hi, Mr. Giles, everybody," Andrew calls as he backs through the library doors, arms full of boxes. "I stopped by the donut place before curfew and they had, like, this special two for one thing, so I brought a whole bunch." And he despises the artificial cheeriness in his voice as much as he hates it in his mother's, but he thinks it must be genetic.

Their intrepid leader spares him a quick, irritated glance and says, "thank you, Andrew, just put them on the desk."

"Cool," Larry says, snatching two at once. Jonathan and Nancy grab one each, murmuring their thanks, and Oz waves the box away.

Andrew's always the last to arrive, usually making it into the school as the last sunlight fades and Sunnydale becomes vamptropolis again. He doesn't know why this makes him remember summer at grandma's house, and playing chicken with Tucker on the railroad tracks.

***
He keeps a tally in his head. Vamps dusted, innocent lives saved, like there'll be a magic number when they'll have won the game and he can be just Andrew again and hang out with Jonathan and read comics and look forward to the new Star Wars movie. He keeps track of time, too. Watches the red LED on his Spider-Man alarm clock and the tick of the second hand on his battered Timex.

He stares at the clock now. An hour till he'll have to leave the house. He should really make it forty-five minutes to be safe, to be sure of getting there before dark.

Maybe he could make it an hour and ten.

"Hey, sport."

The dumb nickname makes his throat hurt. "Hi, dad," he murmurs, sitting up. His father's still in the hallway, hands braced either side of the open door. Nobody in this family comes into rooms anymore, Andrew thinks. It's like they have personal spaces a mile wide.

"How's school?"

Small shrug. "School-y."

His dad gives a fake, jocular chuckle that Andrew thinks he might have copied from dads in movies. "Keep at it. You're smart, you could go far." And he's gone, fatherly responsibilities dealt with for the week.

Tucker was the genius of the family. Tucker skipped two grades and got accepted to MIT. Andrew's good at Physics and Home Ec, terrible at English and languages, and when he thought he had a future he had idle thoughts about film school or working in a comic store.

He was never the favorite, he knows. Never his parents' golden boy, but now he's inherited the mantle by default. He thinks about his mom and dad's reaction if, some night, he didn't come home.

It's the first time he's ever thought that his death could be the thing to break them even more.

He walks slowly to school. "You bring food?" Larry asks when he slinks into the library. The rest don't look up. There's work to be done, always work - stakes to be whittled, info to be researched, weapons to be cleaned.

And Andrew takes a deep breath and says the two little words that have been bottled up inside him for a long time.

"I quit."

**
He expects an argument, yelling, Larry beating him up behind the bleachers, Mr. Giles telling him what a disappointment he is. But nobody says anything, and the next night he watches TV till midnight and then tries to sleep.

The next morning he doesn't speak to any of the White Hats, not even Jonathan. He eats lunch in the cafeteria instead of the library. Larry passes him by the lockers and doesn't shake him down for lunch money or say hi or acknowledge his existence at all.

A few days later he passes Nancy and Oz. They don't see him, and his ears prick up when he hears his name.

"...totally let us down."

Andrew flushes scarlet and feels like crying, but Oz's quiet voice says, "cut him some slack, Nance, his brother died," and she shuts up.

And that, it seems, is that.

After a few weeks he's able to sleep at night.

***
He waits for one of the all-staff meetings to sneak into the office at the library. He leaves the bottles of holy water, and the stakes, and the crossbow that always made him nervous to use.

He fingers his necklace, but decides to keep it. Almost all the students wear them, anyway - even the Cordettes have turned it into some kind of fashion statement. Protection with style.

His backpack feels weird without the extra weight.

***
Maybe he's getting to be like his parents - see no evil, hear no evil - because it takes him two days to realize that Jonathan's not at school.

He can rationalize like his parents too, and he constructs dozens of scenarios that have nice, mundane endings. Jonathan's sick, or... or he had a dentist appointment one day and a doctor's the next, or he got hurt patrolling and had to go to the hospital.

But when he sees the way Larry glances at him and seems to be on the verge of saying something and then looks away quickly, his heart freezes. He runs all the way to the library, ignoring Snyder behind him yelling, and when he bursts through the doors Mr. Giles looks up, and he's just so weary.

"I'm so sorry, Andrew," he says, his voice more sympathetic than Andrew's ever heard. "I was about to come and find you."

He says a bunch of stuff about how Jonathan got injured on patrol (Andrew doesn't care that he was half right), and him dying early that morning, and some grown-up lies ("he didn't suffer" and "it was quick" and Andrew wants to scream that two days to die isn't quick and he's sure as fuck there was suffering). And he makes tea and lets Andrew stay in the library all day.

"We should head out," Giles says, much later, when the others are there too, huddled in a group on the other side of the table from Andrew. He stares dully at the surface of the desk, and knows without looking that there are significant looks being exchanged between the group.

"I'll, uh, stay with Andy," Larry finally says, the unspoken argument resolved.

He lifts his head and says, "I'm coming with you. I'm back in."

Youngest in the team, runt of the litter; smallest, weakest, last to join, first to leave. But there must be something in his voice that says he's really not kidding, because Mr. Giles hesitates and then just nods.

**
He gets back at three am, arms aching, and trudges up the stairs. The closed door of Tucker's bedroom is three feet away, and he regards it for the longest time.

Then he crosses the hall and opens the door.

The bed isn't made. He guesses his mother left it the way it was the night Tucker didn't come back from that party, clothes and textbooks and Scientific Americans strewn over the floor. Like if she freezes this moment forever she can stop time and he won't be dead. And she won't be left with the loser kid who reads comics and flunks gym and who killed his best friend by not being there.

He runs a finger across the top of the bookshelf. The dust is silvery in the moonlight.

Back in his own room, he pictures it left this way for the rest of time. Above him, model X-Wings battle it out in the dark, and on the shelf his action figures stand awkwardly frozen. He flips the light switch, blinking as his pupils contract, and as he tears the pictures of Jonathan from his board he feels nothing at all.

"We're, like, superheroes," he'd said on their first night as White Hats, and it must have been a million years ago because he can't ever have been so enthusiastic or so bulletproof.

And he tears the photographs into pieces, and when he throws them in the trash they're joined a moment later by a silver cross on a broken chain.

END

on 2003-08-13 02:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jidabug.livejournal.com
I like this a lot. Nice foray into the Wishverse, Doyle.

on 2003-08-13 02:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] gobi-rex.livejournal.com
Thank you for a terrific Andrew story, Doyle.

on 2003-08-13 02:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] vylit.livejournal.com
Well written, sad, and I love it.

on 2003-08-13 03:11 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] paratti.livejournal.com
Great Wishverse, feels like it really could have happened.

on 2003-08-13 03:12 pm (UTC)
usedtobeljs: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] usedtobeljs
That's a wonderful character-piece. Thanks. :-)

on 2003-08-13 03:15 pm (UTC)
octopedingenue: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] octopedingenue
HELL yes.

and Andrew wants to scream that two days to die isn't quick and he's sure as fuck there was suffering

This story was lovely. Thank you.

on 2003-08-13 03:30 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] deadmarshes.livejournal.com
And she won't be left with the loser kid who reads comics and flunks gym and who killed his best friend by not being there.

Awesome. I really, really enjoyed this. It leaves me with a hankering to watch "The Wish" a lot and picture Andrew helping out the White Hats.

on 2003-08-13 03:50 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] zarahemla.livejournal.com
Like if she freezes this moment forever she can stop time and he won't be dead. And she won't be left with the loser kid who reads comics and flunks gym and who killed his best friend by not being there.

Beautiful -- poetic, descriptive, and sad enough to cut.

on 2003-08-13 04:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] circe-tigana.livejournal.com
This was super great, Doyle, and Wish!Verse was an inspired idea for that icon.

on 2003-08-13 07:23 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] gsyh.livejournal.com
Oh my god, I love this. Does he quit again in the end?

(must remember to rec this...tommorow)

on 2003-08-13 07:31 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] wickedprincess3.livejournal.com
Holy fuck, have I told you how I adore your Andrew voice? Can I have this for FCFM?

on 2003-08-14 01:20 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] doyle_sb4.livejournal.com
Thanks, and sure!

on 2003-08-13 08:19 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] that0therguy.livejournal.com
That was so sad! =( Well written. Very good job.

on 2003-08-13 08:28 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magarettt.livejournal.com
Beautiful. Haunting.

on 2003-08-13 09:08 pm (UTC)
anr: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] anr
Oh, wow. That was awesome. Generally I don't care much for Andrew but in this story you made me ache for him. (Of course, it probably helps that I'm a sucker for the Wishverse. *g*)

Utterly gorgeous. I loved it.

on 2003-08-13 10:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] minim-calibre.livejournal.com
You made me cry. But that's good, right?

on 2003-08-14 12:35 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] keswindhover.livejournal.com
Cool Doyle. You've kept the same gentle melancholy tone right through, and this feels recognisably like Andrew, as he might have been if things had been different.

on 2003-08-14 01:59 pm (UTC)
ext_8105: my (former) self (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] cadetdru.livejournal.com
Beautiful Andrew voice.

on 2003-08-15 01:31 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lm.livejournal.com
Oh...my.

May I have this for wishful thinking (http://www.panavatar.net/wishfulthinking/)?

on 2003-08-15 03:11 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] doyle_sb4.livejournal.com
Sure, please take it :) Let me know if you need me to add disclaimers or other things that I always forget to put in the headers.

on 2003-08-17 02:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] thehush.livejournal.com
This is amazing, Doyle. Really it is. I really enjoy how you wrote Andrew's thoughts.

Poor Andrew.

on 2005-12-10 12:03 am (UTC)
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