Funnier in Latin

Title: Fractal
Author: Minim Calibre
Rating: R
Spoilers: Vague through S7 BtVS/S4 AtS, randomly and wildly AU from there.
Summary: 5 weeks of running, Fred relies on Willow
Disclaimer: I do not claim to own the characters in the fic, nor do I make money from borrowing them.
Archive: Recalibration
Author's Note: For: Doyle


For all that they're both kind of babblers at heart, they haven't really talked much since making their escape. Not with words, at any rate. Plenty's been said with fingers tracing patterns on bare flesh. In her head, everything is about patterns. Fred spends hours charting them, trying to sort out the important bits of data from the static. There's too many dependencies, too much recursion, not enough paper, and not enough time.

Fred outlines a constellation of freckles with the edge of her thumbnail, connecting each light brown dot with a faint pink line on white skin. The Big Dipper. She'll find her way home by the North Star, a tiny splotch on Willow's left shoulder blade. The panic's crawling through her edges again at the thought of home and stars, and she digs her nail in deeper than she'd been meaning to, drawing blood.

A rustle of sheets and Willow turns her head, brows drawn together in question. Fred bites her lip, trying to avoid the spot where she broke through it last week while she was counting pi to concentrate, gives a weak smile, and raises her hand to find Andromeda splayed across Willow's nose and cheeks.

"You have a princess in your face." The words don't really make sense, but they make Willow smile even a little, so maybe that's a kind of sense, a little order to their chaos.

"It's spreading." Andromeda shifts, limbs flailing as Willow frowns, breaking the pattern. Always shifting, never still. There's a weight to what should have sounded hollow, a certainty that Fred has learned to trust.

They've been running for five weeks, fragments of memory at their heels. Just five weeks. She survived five years. This should be easier. She clings to the thought, shutting her eyes tight until the flashes of green and red grow too bright in the darkness and Willow's shaking her gently back to right now.

"Hey." A little comfort, a little reproach, a lot of worry all tucked up in one little word. Willow's arms fold around her, her mouth murmuring nonsense against Fred's cheek, ticklish strands of copper red brushing against Fred's shoulders.

Willow smells like motel soap and incense and sweat. Fred pushes the fall of hair away and buries her face in the crook of her neck, breathing in the smell and sound of her, solid and real and here. She thinks there's another constellation somewhere in there, but she doesn't want to pull away to look, so she draws it with her tongue, leaving a damp trail of imagined comets and meteors in her wake. Little nips along the jaw, maybe imploding stars or planets. Willow shivers and turns her head until she intercepts Fred's mouth, capturing it midway through the Milky Way.

A princess in her face, and a cosmos in her kisses. Fred lets out a giggle at the thought, her fingers weaving into Willow's hair and pulling her mouth closer, sealing them together as Willow's hands slide down her back and over her hips. She comes up for air, hands still tangled near the nape of Willow's neck. She keeps them there as long as she can as she starts her space exploration up again, this time working her way down Willow's torso, finding new worlds in the rise of her breasts and the dip of her belly, imagining clouds forming with each gasped breath.

Fred buries her face in gingerbread curls, and now she's in a fairytale, dropping breadcrumbs in the forest, except this witch isn't wicked, at least not in a fairytale way, and nobody's going to lock her in a cage to keep her for a meal. The analogy's not working, so she goes back to thinking of stars and seas, Andromeda and oceans and bad movies where the princess gets rescued and they all live happily ever after. Listens as Willow moans in waves that carry through to her hips before journeying back to where they started. Then Willow runs sure hands over her until Fred's own limbs are left feeling more like butter and less like bone, until they're both out of breath, sticky and warm and curled together.

For a handful of seconds, the whole of the world's a motel room in Bakersfield. Then the air conditioner kicks in and pulls the sweat from their bodies, drying them off before they've even caught their breath, and Fred comes back to herself again.

"I made you go supernova," she says, trailing her hand down the remembered line of a galaxy. "Made order from chaos, or maybe the other way around."

Willow smiles, covering Fred's hand with her own. "You found a pattern." She sounds proud, or maybe just tired. It's hard to tell.

They fall silent, Fred's head resting on Willow's shoulder. The universe makes sense again, even if it's only in small doses and for short periods of time. Formulas chase each other around in her mind after Willow falls asleep, and she welcomes them, welcomes the clamor of numbers and possibilities in the lull. Fred curls closer, the lull fragmenting and dissolving faster than she'd like. Soon reality and memory will intrude again, and she'll see battles and blood and bodies falling, and Willow will wake up crying, another girl's name on her lips. That particular pattern has variations, but they're mostly related to duration.

She can feel the panic starting to bleed through again, the sickening helplessness that threatens to overwhelm her and lock out her mind. Willow's fingers tighten around hers in her sleep, and Fred reminds herself to breathe, swallowing the scream that's been stuck in the back of her throat for five weeks now. They'll solve this. They have to. She has to. Fred glances over to the nightstand where she's left her notebooks, picturing each page, wondering if one has the key hidden somewhere in the margins, then glances back down at Willow, closes her eyes, and tries to pretend it will all be okay.