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Undertow, Part Two

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list October 23, 2001

Title: Undertow (2/?)
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Joss and Jason own the BtVS and Roswell 'verses respectively.
Rating: NC 17
Author's Notes: Take's place after "Flooded" without the B/A ending
Summary: The sequel to "Beholden to Yesterday" http://www.geocities.com/trixie_ambition/fiction/beholden.html After Buffy comes back from the dead, she meets up with two faces from her past- Liz and Michael- who are in Sunnydale running from their own grief
Cate: Crossover, Buffy/Liz, Buffy/Angel, Liz/Michael and Michael/Maria



Sometimes I feel lost
As I pull you out like strings of memories
Wish I could weave them into you
Then I could figure the whole damn puzzle out

        "If I had it All" - Dave Matthews Band

        I stare at these ghosts from my past and breathe in, running an unsteady hand through my hair, as it falls in golden waves down my back.

        Michael gazes at me with the same shock that lacerates through my own belly and says uncertainly, "Buffy?"

        "What..." I pause and my eyes meet Liz's. There's horror in her expression, and bewilderment, and suppressed tears and rage and I feel myself dissolving under her insistent glare. "What are you two doing here? Are you looking for me? Did something happen?"

        Michael laughs and it surprises me. He laughs and his teeth look so sharp. They glint under the faint cast of the moon and he nods to Liz. "She doesn't know. I almost forgot, Liz. She doesn't know."

        "Doesn't know what?" I ask stupidly and look blindly between them.

        "It's Maria," Liz finally speaks, her voice wobbling. Squaring her chin, she faces me dead on and rubs her bloody palms down her sides. She's wearing leather pants, I think absently. How un-characteristically bad-ass of Liz. "Maria... she was in a car accident about a month ago."

        "Thirty two days ago," Michael breaks in. "Almost thirty-three."

        "Was she hurt?" I inquire, confused.

        Michael laughs again, and this time I catch the anguish behind it. "You could say that. She's dead."

        It's like a punch to my stomach, swift and sure and with all the power of a two tonne fist. Gasping, I bow my head and clutch my midsection, feeling the tears swelling in the back of my throat as I fight for breath. "Oh God..." I murmur. "Oh God, oh God..."

        "You can keep praying, but he isn't listening," Michael snaps, his voice like a razor, but even sharper. He's using it to make people bleed, I think absently, to make people bleed like he is. Like Maria did. Maria... Oh God, I was just thinking of her today...

        "Were you?" Liz asks, and I realize I spoke out loud. She continues, "Did you think of her a lot? Because she used to think of you. I know she did. Sometimes she would get silent and I knew she missed you. But she never mentioned it to me. Of course. She knew how I felt about talking about you and that was that I didn't want to talk about you. Ever. I never did, and I feel bad now cause maybe she missed you and I couldn't do anything to help her cause---"

        "Liz, Liz... Shhhh..." Michael murmurs and draws her into his arms roughly. It's not really a tender embrace, and it doesn't look like either of them are enjoying it. But she clings to him and he clings to her. I stare at both of them, tears streaking my face as I think that I never met Maria wherever I was- in heaven- or in some other dimension, caught between the worlds. Oh, Maria. She made me laugh- and I remember her eyes the morning after she and Michael slept together in the summer. She was glowing. Happy. Sweaty and sweet. She didn't deserve this.

        "Did you come looking for me?" I ask, my voice scratchy. I don't recognize it. The night wind is cold against the backs of my legs and I shiver, holding my torso with shaking arms.

        "No," Michael says, "I didn't even know you lived here. Liz just suggested we come up to California, and somehow we ended up here."

        Liz's eyes meet mine and I suddenly know that *she* did come looking for me. I think that I can't handle this right now. All I can remember is the sweat and the taste of her against my mouth at night. We'd lie together on those sheets and eat Chinese food (but only ice cream and egg rolls for me) and laugh at cheesy shows on TV. Her arm would cover my belly at night and I'd dream of Angel- of the sword and the salt of his kiss- and then in the morning we'd go to work and wink at each other over our notepads. I'd watch her walk, long to touch the shiny rope of her hair, kiss the back of her neck, take her out into the alley and go down on my knees to lift up her skirt and taste her. I look at her now and think that so much has happened. It has been years.

        Too many years? I don't know. But I'm not the same person I was then. Not the same girl who took a life and ran from the fallout. Now I'm just a dead girl walking, and like I told Spike, I don't know if there's anything inside. "I'm sorry about Maria," I whisper and Michael glances quickly at me, his bones so tight I think he is going to crack.

        "Shit happens," he replies in a blank tone that invites no sympathy.

        "Where are you staying?"

        "At the Sunnydale motel. It's the only decent one," Liz answers, her voice brittle. "How are you?"

        I stare at her with hollow eyes. "Fine. I'm doing absolutely fine."

        "How's Angel?" she inquires coldly.

        "I don't know," I bite off, angry that she asked me that- angry that she re-opened that wound. "As far as I know, he's all right. He lives in LA now."

        "Left you, huh?" she snaps and I feel fresh tears burn in the back of my throat.

        Swallowing, I bow my head and feel my hands twitch. They've done that ever since I tore my way out of the coffin. I don't know if I'll have it for the rest of my life. A livid reminder of what used to be. Where I used to be. "Yeah, he did. About two years ago." I don't tell her that the exact number of days is 822 and every one of them has felt like tiny pinpricks into the future I always thought I'd have.

        She doesn't say anything for a moment and then she grins nastily, "Must have been horrible. The love of your life leaving you, skipping town, with barely even a goodbye."

        "Why are you saying these things to me?" I whisper and she looks off into the middle distance.

        "Max left a year ago," she says quietly, almost by way of explanation. "With Tess. He took off on the spaceship and they went to their planet. She was pregnant you know. Kyle and Isabel are together now. Both my best friends are dead. Tess murdered Alex and Maria died in a car accident on the way to a gig- she was so excited about it." Liz's eyes are far away- glazed over. They scare me because they're so familiar. She pauses and clears her throat. "Michael and I took off. We couldn't take it anymore. Do you know how quiet the Crashdown was without Maria?" Turning, she touches Michael's bicep- which is also covered in the same leather as her pants- and mutters, "We should get back. Are you feeling ok?"

        "Sure Liz," he sneers. "I feel great. Abso-fucking-lutely fabulous." He spins on his heel and regards me with the same wariness that he used to back in the days when we'd hang out behind the kitchens, sipping coke and smoke and talking. "We're planning on staying in town for a while. Guess we'll see you."

        "Wait..." I say suddenly. "When? When will I see you? What are you two even doing?"

        He curls his lip at me furiously. "What in the fuck do you care? We're running away, Buffy. I think you of all people can understand that, huh? Every time I turned around in that fucking dust bowl of a town all I saw was her---" he breaks off and pants a little, breathing hard. "Fuck it, I don't want to talk about it. Liz and I are here. That's it. C'mon, let's go," he takes her arm roughly and she glances at me mutely before leaving, their figures just tiny ants in the distance before I come back to myself and go back to the Bronze to get my coat.

~~~

        My bones ache as I wake the next morning and there's a slight sickening throb to my head reminding me that it doesn't like vodka. Stepping into the shower, I feel the hot water sluice over my skin and breathe out, trying to forget the horrific dreams of the night before. Full of Liz with a blood soaked belly, reaching out to me screaming, screaming, screaming. Maria's glowing eyes and happy smile as she flies through an unforgiving windshield that doesn't care if she is a girl with a dream. Angel's entrails being eaten by carrion crows as I stand over him holding the very sword that ran him through. Dawnie falling from Glory's tower into a shower of white noise, her slight body breaking under the weight of the worlds. My Mom calling my name as she dies, "Buffy, Buffy, please help me!" her eyes going glassy as wind chimes tinkle outside in the sunny afternoon.

        A coffin.

        I dream of them sometimes. Just a coffin. Alone and still and starkly white. Funnily enough, those dreams scare me the most. It's hilarious, really. But then, a lot of things are. My skin is turning a blotchy red under the steam, and I reach up to turn off the tap, starting in terror as it turns into a skull with red flashing eyes. I stare at it, wishing it away, wishing I was just a normal girl with a normal life.

        Trembling, I step out and reach for the towels, wrapping two around my shivering body that never seems to get warm, no matter how much heat I pour into it. I dress in red leather pants and a sleek black sweater, tying my long fringe of hair back in a tight ponytail. Black boots make me feel more capable than I feel and as I pour orange juice and make Dawn's lunch for school, my belly rumbles with hunger.

        Kissing my sister's forehead, I whisper, "Goodbye sweetie."

        She smiles worriedly but brightly and touches my back. "I'll be back after school."

        "You have a good day," I murmur and stand at the door, watching her walk down the path to the bus stop- her hair swinging down her back, curling around her denim knapsack. She's still a little girl. She's just happy to have her sister back. How can she know that they've brought back a girl who never wanted to leave where she was? She can't know. She can't ever know.

        Sighing, I leave the house and walk. I don't want to go to the Magic Shop. I don't want to know what they're doing. Tara and Willow are probably still in bed. God, how can it be that I don't want to see my friends? How can it be that I only want to see one person right now and he's in LA, living a shiny happy life that doesn't involve me?

        I press my fist to my mouth, suppressing a sob as I cut through the cemetery, the overcast sky threatening rain from it's swollen clouds. The grass is soggy beneath my feet and as I walk, it makes gross sucking noises that make me think Hell is trying to grab me- it wants the parts that Heaven didn't keep. I stop in front of my Mother's grave. As always the name jumps out at me with stark clarity- Joyce Summers- and I feel a single tear slide down my cheek.

        "Who was that?"

        I jump slightly at her voice and don't turn around. "My Mom. What do you want, Liz?"

        Her tone is uncertain. "I looked you up in the phone book. I saw you on the street and I followed you... I'm sorry."

        "For following me?"

        "Yes."

        "Not about the things you said last night?"

        She is beside me now and the back of her hand brushes my arm lightly. "No. Should I be?"

        "Maybe. I don't know. But after all we—" I break off and feel tears stinging the back of my throat. "Did you come to Sunnydale looking for me, Lizzie?"

        She sighs. "Maybe. I don't know, Buffy. All I know is that Maria is dead and Michael's a mess and maybe I did want to see you. Is that so wrong?"

        "No..." I pause and breathe in shallowly. It hurts to be near her. "You and Michael... you're together, aren't you?"

        She looks surprised and then strangely guilty. "How did you know?"

        "I could smell it on you," I whisper. "The sex, and the clinginess. It was all there. I'm not going to judge you, Liz. I've done it with guys that I now regret."

        She bows her head, and the shining strands of hair obscure her expression. I realize with a slow, dawning horror that this bothers me as it always used to do. I feel the itch in my fingers to slide the locks away from her face so I can see her- see Liz. Oh, God... oh no. I don't want this again.

        "It's not like we love each other," she says quietly, lost. "He's with Maria- somewhere- he's not with me. And I—" she looks at me with shuttered eyes, blinking and grinning sharply. "Well it doesn't matter how I feel. But it's not—it's not anything that would be considered love."

        "It's sex," I say matter-of-factly and expect her to blush.

        She doesn't. She nods and touches the gravestone with absent fingers- long and slim and magnolia white. "When did your Mom die?"

        "Not too long ago," I reply. "She had a brain tumour. Like Michael said, shit happens. What can you do but go on?" I laugh bitterly. "Everyone sure expects me to, that's for sure. They expect me to know what to do, how to feel, how to deal with things- but I don't know if I'm gonna be able to."

        "Yes you will," she answers calmly. "You always know what to do."

        "That's actually a big lie, Liz," I smile without any warmth. "I'm not all powerful Buffy."

        She giggles and crouches down as if her knees hurt. "Did I say you were? Did I say I thought you were even a good person? Maybe I fucking hate you, Buffy- did you ever think of that?" Her tone is brittle, unfeeling. I want to cry but I'm so afraid to show tears in front of her. What if she wants to kiss them away? What if she laughs in my face? What if she holds me? I can't fall into this trap again. I can't let her pull me with her into the web of her addictive skin and eyes and understanding.

        "No I didn't," I answer, crouching down with her, my legs giving way, making me sit down with a thump on the wet grass. It squishes beneath me. I lean against my Mother's grave and want to scream for all I've lost. "Do you hate me?"

        She laughs again, and it's such a terrible sound. "I want to, you know. I lied to myself just enough to convince myself I hated you. I used to have dreams that you'd come back. I used to have dreams that I killed you, or you killed me. Do you think that's sick?"

        My thumb reaches out and caresses the rosy curve of her cheek. "No... it's just... it's normal. It's something that happens when people break up."

        "We didn't break up," she snarls in a sudden flash of anger. "You left me and it was like I couldn't breathe anymore. Nothing made sense. And God, I did hate you sometimes. I think I did. I loved you and I hated you and I just..." she trails off.

        "You just what?" I ask, stricken.

        She sits down next to me and folds her legs underneath her.

        "I just wished you'd come back."

        End of part two. Send feedback! It's like sex or Chad Michael Murray (Charlie on "DC"), I can't get enough!!

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