Fic for a Game of Cards prompt challenge using Buffy titles as prompts. The idea for this came from my bb. :D Fandom:
It was dark. Not that Andi wasn’t used to that, but for some reason, this darkness felt different, like something that could smother you, something that nearly felt alive. The ventilation shafts were normally big enough for her to crawl through comfortably, but right now, it seemed like it was pressing in on her from every side.
She breathed deeply, trying to compose herself. For a few seconds she considered going back, scratching this plan as a bad idea, but her stomach and her pride were against that idea. There was nothing to go back to. Either she found some food here or…
She didn’t want to think about the alternative. Thinking about it meant that she would think about all the reasons she had waited this long for coming here, all the warnings and stories about this place. And thinking about what she would do if she didn’t find anything here wasn’t even possible. There was nothing.
Nothing to go back to, nothing to do to stay alive. Nothing other than… no, she didn’t want to even think about that. That’s why she was here in the first place, because it was far better to face some mythical thing that might or might not exist than to give up her freedom, give up herself.
There was one thing that she was good at, and that was getting into places she was not supposed to get in and getting out in one piece. And there had been a time when this had been enough to stay alive here in Down Below, after her mother had been killed and she had been on her own, but with all the gangs taking over now and with them dividing territories and guarding them diligently, it was getting harder and harder to steal anything, and even more so, after the stealing, to sell it.
She had been living off of scraps for the last few weeks but even that had become harder and harder. Ever since Babylon 5 had severed all ties with Earth, ever since the war had started, there was a definite era of fear, even more than usual. Everyone hung on tight to what they got, everyone grouped up and violently defended what they saw as theirs.
There simply weren’t any places left where she could go, not if she wanted to stay free and herself and she very much wanted to. None of the groups would allow her to stay free, especially not the ones run by guys, and obviously, with the atmosphere in Down Below, 90% of them were run by guys, and the ones run by women were even more ruthless because they had to prove that they were just as violent and mean as any guy.
And obviously there was the option she never wanted to think about, the option of selling her body for some scraps of food. It was probably even better than joining a gang, at least it wouldn’t have to be a permanent arrangement, but the fear of being hurt, catching something or even being killed was too high.
No, she’d rather face whatever it was that dwelled down here. In the last few days she had been working up the courage to ignore all the rumors and just do it and she had thought she was as ready as she would ever be, but now that she was here, all alone in the dark, about to enter a place where nobody ever returned from, everything that she ever heard about it came back to haunt her.
She tried to focus on all the things she had been telling herself the last few days, that rumors were just that, rumors, that ‘only the ones who are pure of heart can enter’ didn’t even mean anything, especially in a place like this where things like that got twisted up really quickly, that stealing for survival couldn’t even really count as ‘bad intentions’, but her brain insisted on coming back to those stories that said that everyone who entered this part of Down Below with any bad intentions would never return.
Shaking her head as if to drive away all the bad thoughts, she took another deep breath and continued crawling. There was no way back. Not now. She was already deep inside the ‘forbidden’ part and she was nearly at her destination, what she believed would be used as kitchen and storage department. That was one advantage of living on a space station, the outline of every level was basically the same, so finding specific rooms via the air shafts was easy.
Well, easy if you knew your way around, and Andi sure did, having lived on Babylon 5 for the last three years, having been on her own for nearly two of them. She could navigate any shafts blindfolded.
Now she was at her destination and swallowing deeply she tried to shove away all those negative thoughts deep into her mind. She looked into the room which was dark and seemed empty. Carefully, she removed the grate with the tools she brought and placed it behind her in the shaft without even making a sound.
Then she jumped down the shaft as quietly as possible and started assessing the area. It was a kitchen alright, and one of the best she had seen on the station so far. Definitely better than her mother’s had been in their restaurant.
She looked around for a moment, getting her bearings in the near dark, the only light coming from a few dimmed lights at the bottom of the walls. Her objective was to find food and water as fast as possible and then get out of here, so she headed towards the back of the kitchen, to what hopefully was a storage area.
She didn’t get disappointed. There, in a pretty big niche were shelves upon shelves of food. She grabbed the first thing she saw, a bread that looked like it had been baked in the last few hours. Not being able to resist the temptation she ripped out a huge chunk and stuffed it into her mouth.
It was wonderful. She wasn’t even that much of a fan of bread but just the feeling of it in her mouth was awesome. She was careful to chew it properly and not to swallow too much at once, she knew the consequences of indulging after days of pretty much not eating anything but it was hard.
While she chewed the bread, she looked around a little more and her eyes caught something on the bottom shelf. Bottles. Huge bottles. She got down on her knees and examined them more closely. It seemed to be water with some kind of fruit. She took one of the bottles, opened it and drank as much as she dared. It was amazing.
She sat on the floor now, the bread in the one hand and the bottle in the other one, just chewing and swallowing, in as little bites and gulps as she could manage. Somewhere in the back of her head she still remembered that she had to get out of here as fast as possible, but it didn’t really matter anymore. Nothing mattered except for the fact that finally, finally, she had food and drink again.
It seemed like a physical impossibility to get up now, to walk away from all this.
Even when she heard a sound, she didn’t react as quickly as usual, her body and brain being in too much of a euphoria from finally getting nourishment again to react accordingly. But then she heard it again and there was definitely someone or something coming her way.
Despite being in sort of a daze she jumped up, ready to defend herself and try to get out of here somehow when she realized what exactly made those sounds. It was a little cat. Well, actually a pretty big cat. It came to her and snuggled against her leg, meowing.
She couldn’t help herself, she laughed out loud. All the tension left her body and she sat down on the floor again, talking to the cat, asking where it came from and if it wanted some of the food too.
“Well, I don’t think you would like bread, sorry. I’m sure there are some really yummy mice around here for you to catch, right?”
The cat looked at her as if it understood, rubbing it’s little head on her knees. She laughed a little again, realizing that this had been the first time in weeks that she even had anything to laugh about.
All the rumors and all the worries were forgotten right now, she just sat on the floor talking to a cat that wasn’t hers, eating things that didn’t belong to her, in a dark kitchen that probably belonged to scary people who were capable of making other people disappear, and still she was much happier than she had been in months.
-------------------------------------You don’t think we should do anything?
She could still be a threat.
She is not.
You are sure about this?