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Beholden to Yesterday, Part Eleven

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list August 12, 2001

Title: Beholden to Yesterday (11/?)
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Jason and Joss own all;)
Rating: NC 17
Summary: Buffy heads to Roswell after she kills Angel in "Becoming: Part Two" and finds love... with Liz. Need a refresher course?
http://www.geocities.com/trixie_ambition/fiction/beholden.html
Dedication: to Shayla, cause she thinks about this story;) And cause she wanted a fix! And to Whirling Girl: cause somehow my stories inspired her to write a *kick* one of her own:)



You cannot quit me so quickly
There's no hope in you, for me
No corner you could squeeze me
But I got all the time for you, love

        - Dave Matthews Band "The Space Between"

        The walk to Liz's is sweaty and hot. Perspiration makes my back and neck slick to the touch, and as I stroll down the quiet roads of Roswell, I glance up at the moon and wonder if Angel's looking at it to. He didn't come back the other night, and I watched Liz sleep for a long time, her hand on the nakedness of my belly. Her skin was glowing in the faint wash of night, and she looked sweet. Beautiful. Tears ran down my nose and cheeks and I shifted on the sheets, feeling her flesh sliding against mine. For a long time I curled up next to her and stared into the closed lids of her eyes, gazed at the lines of her shoulders, memorised the sleekness of her collarbone. I rested my hand in the place I loved- where her lower back curves inward. And I wept. I'm not sure what for. I knew it was doomed when I came here, and got lost in the dust of the desert. I knew it right when I fell in that ally and she touched the raw skin of my palms. That nothing good would ever come of this.

        The rungs of the ladder feel cool underneath my toes. My sandals dangle from my elbows, as I climb and rest my forehead against the metal for a quick moment.

        "Buffy?"

        I feel the sting of tears in my throat, and swallow them down. Taking the last few steps, I vault up over the balcony, and look at my lover. She smiles faintly at me, her hair shining bright. I touch the lounger to steady myself, and her mouth loses it's curve.

        "What's wrong?"

        "Nothing," I murmur, and bend down to where she sits, my mouth sliding over hers. I can't help it. I'm selfish. I had to have the last kiss with Angel, and now I have to have the last kiss with Liz. I may not be killing her, but I think what I'm doing might be worse. Her fingers graze my back, and she presses me down next to her. With my hands, I stop her, and lean back, looking into her eyes.

        "I'm sorry, Lizzie."

        She breathes in. "What do you mean?"

        "It means I'm going home," I answer, and want to laugh, because it's a joke. I have no idea where home is anymore. But I know that Angel finding me means Roswell can't be that place. Even if Liz is here. She looks so beautiful and I wish I could scream or shout with the pain I can feel bubbling up into my lungs, but I stay silent.

        "Where's home?" she whispers, as if she can't believe this is happening.

        "I think it would be better if you didn't know," I say softly, and jerk with surprise when she hurls her journal across the floor and it crashes against the far wall.

        "So this is what I get?" she snarls bitterly. "After all—I... I *gave* myself you to, Buffy. I got Max to risk everything to save you. I *loved* you. And this... this is what I get? No information, no nothing?"

        My tongue feels too thick for my mouth. I can feel the sobs tearing at my throat, and I stand, picking up her diary with careful fingers, smoothing down the velvet cover absently. "I'm sorry. I wish I could give you more. But... but I have to go. You don't understand. What I left behind... what's come looking for me- it's big and it's... too important for me to ignore."

        "Who came looking for you?" she asks, tears spiking her lashes. Her eyes are red and salty and I feel the immediate urge to lick and soothe away her pain, but squash it down.

        "The person I loved," I tell her, turning away. "He... he's here, and he wants me to come home with him, and I have to. I have a life there."

        She laughs. Harshly, and it shocks me enough to spin me around. Her teeth look sharp, hurtful. "You have a life there? Well, guess what? I had a life here...why the fuck did you have to come here and screw it up? And now you're just gonna leave?" She laughs again, almost hysterically, and she looks so lost my breath hitches.

        "I didn't mean to... to mess things up for you."

        "Well you did!" she shouts, and stands, her skin shiny and damp from the heat. Her hair sticks to her neck in wet patches. "You... you shouldn't have let me fall in love with you... if you knew that you were going to leave..."

        "I didn't have a choice," I reply, my voice small. "I didn't come here looking for anything."

        "So it just happened to you?" she scorns, and grips one of my arms, her nails digging into my skin, leaving thin red welts in their wake. "I can't..." she coughs suddenly and her forehead rests on my shoulder. I smooth her hair- I can't help it- and feel how hot her skin is. How flushed. She sways into me, and her tears are scalding against my neck. "Buffy..." she whispers. "Please don't leave me here... please don't leave me. I'll be alone."

        "I'm sorry," I sob, because I think she's right. And I wish I could change things. "I don't want to leave you. But I have to. It's just something I have to do. Life may not be of the good back in Sunnydale—"

        She looks up and touches my cheek. "So that's where you live? It's called Sunnydale?"

        I realize it doesn't matter if she knows where I come from. I feel so tired. "Yeah. Sunnydale. Or Slayerdale, as I like to call it. It's on the Hellmouth- which basically mean it's demon central."

        She looks slightly confused, but smiles. "And you're the one who slays all those demons, huh?"

        I grin and rest my cheek against hers. She croons a little and burrows into me. I don't want to do this. I can't do this. Her skin is so soft. She smells like powder and dust and sweat and musky Liz. "I have to go," I say quietly, and moans a little, like an animal about to be shot.

        "Nooo... please don't do this," she murmurs desperately, curving closer to me, her limbs wrapping around mine.

        I feel suffocated, and weary and wish I could crawl beneath her red velvet covers with her. I stare up at the stars and they blur and meld together into a mess of yellows and silvers. Dizzily, I wrench away from Liz and as if from underwater, I see her staring at me, her eyes huge in her white face.

        "Buffy..." she says, and her voice slices into me like millions of little paper cuts. "Did you ever love me?"

        I gaze at her and sob. "I..."

        She looks at me with something akin to misery and stumbles over to her window. "I'm going inside." She pauses, and brushes her hand over her eyes. "Goodbye...Goodbye, Buffy."

        She disappears through the window, and I slump against the brick, scraping my nose as I lean into the wall, tears burning my eyes. I feel like throwing up. But I walk back to my hotel room, and lie still in bed, the sheets kicked to the end. I can't sleep without her. Her presence has been so constant, her kisses so addictive, her skin always flush with mine- that I feel restless. For the first time in a long time, I take out a pack of cigarettes and light one with trembling fingers.

        The tip glows bright like Liz's hair- and as the dust rolls in through the window, I cough and remember what it was like to feel her cheek against my shoulder as we slept.

~~~

        I walk through the aisles of the grocery store, and feel my stomach swelling with nausea. I know I have to eat before work, but the thought makes me feel dizzy. Picking up an apple, I throw it into my basket and contemplate getting a huge bag of chips or a large chocolate cake. Maybe that would make me feel better.

        I settle on fruit and a bagel, mentally blocking the image of actually swallowing the food as I take it up to the register. The cashier glances at me doubtfully as I ask for a pack of cigarettes, but she hands them to me with a defeated sigh. I used to find it amusing that she would never ask me for ID, but now I just pay and walk into the sunshine, my temples throbbing.

        "Buffy."

        I groan silently and turn, facing Max with a forced smile. "Hi Max," I say brightly.

        He scowls in his quiet way and says, "Hi."

        "Well... that went well," I joke, trying to smooth things over. "Not at all awkward."

        He doesn't laugh. Or move his facial muscles at all. His eyes are blank and yet full of rage. "If you hurt Liz..." he threatens softly, and I giggle.

        "I'll call you to finish the job?" I retort and he looks startled.

        "What's that supposed to mean?"

        "It means," I spell out for him, "that I think you've hurt Liz more than I ever could. Seeing as you shacked up with Tess the second you were free from your former girlfriend—"

        He glares at me and interrupts to reply, "Liz broke up with me. Not the other way around."

        "So you got dumped," I grin, "and you can't deal. I think you should try and think about why Liz broke up with you in the first place. I don't think she liked being one of the crowd."

        "I am *not* with Tess," he enunciates and his mouth twists. "But Liz sure moved on fast enough- maybe I should have too."

        "Are you fucking blind?" I snap. "Liz has *not* moved on. She still loves you. She's hurting over you every day. God... people just don't 'move on' from love like that. Don't you get that, Max? If you'd get your head out of your very smug ass for one second, you'd see that you're not the only one feeling the extreme pain here. Liz is confused and she doesn't know what she's doing..." Suddenly I feel weary. "She loves you. I know she does. But... I don't think you deserve it much."

        His eyes flash fire at me as he snarls, shaken; "How in the hell would you know? You barely know her."

        That makes me laugh. Wiping sweat off my forehead, I take a step closer to him and slant him a teasing grin, that's filled with malice. He rubs me the wrong way. "But I know what she tastes like... do you, Max?"

        His face loses all colour as his hands crush the cup of coffee he's holding. Scalding liquid splashes over his fingers and I watch as it drip drips down on to the dirty street. "What are you saying?" he asks me, his voice trembling.

        "What do you think I'm saying?" I giggle, and feel sick to my stomach. I can't seem to stop. "I mean that I know her in a way you never could. I know what sounds she makes, and I know about that place on her back- that curves downward- and it's always sweaty..." I trail off and enjoy the anguish in his eyes. Good, Max. Suffer. I hate you. "I'm going to be late for work."

        As I walk away, I feel his gaze on my back and my skin prickles. It's so hot out that I feel nauseous. I throw away the fruit and tear pieces of the bagel, thinking of the way Angel's chest split open when I ran home the sword. Thinking of the way he said "I love you"- so trusting. Thinking of the way Liz leaned into me last night- right before I broke her heart with my killer hands. Of the way Max's power seemed to cave I spoke...cutting him up with words, as if they were weapons.

        Am I really just a murderer then? Do I kill bodies and dreams and love...?

        God, I need a smoke.

~~~

        Everyone seems slow and careful today. The heat is overwhelming, and customers seem content to simply sip their frothy milkshakes and stare out the windows at the shimmering hills in the distance. I'm on the floor, and the whirr of the air conditioning distracts me as I take orders. My breastbone aches for the cut of smoke into my lungs, and everything is a little blurry. I can't remember why I broke up with Liz. I can't remember why I left home. I can't remember why I felt like it was so important to kill Angel. Angel. God, he's alive. He's back. He's a reality again. I don't understand it- he's supposed to be the dark figure in my dreams, biting my lips bloody and making me scream and making me wet and making me the Buffy I used to be.

        As I walk back to the kitchen to ask Michael what's taking him so long, I catch sight of Liz. She's grabbing a coke from the fridge, and the fall of her hair is loose over her shoulders. The smudges underneath her eyes are so frightening, that I feel my breath hitch and I swallow back the vomit stinging my throat. She glances up as if she feels me, and looks over. Her skin is glowing with sweat, and her eyes are huge. And betrayed. And exhausted. I feel my heart crack as she stares at me and then her arm twitches a little as she turns away, going back upstairs.

        I don't want to know if I made a mistake. I don't want to know anything. I'm so tired.

        "Michael!" I shout into the sweltering kitchen, the wall of heat enveloping me like a sticky cloud. "Michael Guerin... you get your lazy ass back to work!"

        There's no grumble, and no muffled laugh. Only silence. I sigh, and step into the room, looking around at the emptiness. I suppose he must have snuck out for a break, and that's just unacceptable, seeing as I have about thirty customers waiting for food that's obviously not cooked.

        Opening the door to the ally, I snap- "Mi—" and break off as I see a virtual miracle before my eyes.

        Michael is kissing Maria. Maria is kissing Michael. They are kissing.

        Oh, thank God.

        When they hear my voice, they break apart. I watch the way Michael's palm cups her cheek and then slides down her shoulder. "Think you could knock next time, Buffy?" he inquires sarcastically, and I shrug, pressing my hand to my mouth to keep from laughing.

        "Sorry. Just the hundred customers about to eat me because they're so hungry that kept me from observing the pleasantries."

        He scowls, and looks down at Maria for a moment before walking back inside. She is glowing, her eyes shining and her smile bright and sweet. Breathing, she hugs me and kisses my cheek quickly. "Thank you."

        "For what?" I grin.

        "For being here," she says simply. "Liz has been distant lately- what with the Max thing- and it's been so great- with you here. You've really helped me, Buffy. And I think it was partly you that made Michael come around."

        "Nonsense," I dismiss, lighting a cigarette, ignoring the fact that I should probably be getting back to work. "Who could resist you?"

        She grabs her ass with one hand and strikes a pose. "I don't know. Many people, I would imagine."

        I slap her butt lightly and throw away the smoke, crushing it underneath my shoe. "Micheal sure couldn't resist this ass. Besides, it's very perky. You were bound to get some action if he didn't come around."

        She giggles naughtily and touches her lips, which look bruised. In a good way. "Yeah well... he's enough for right now, I think. I hope he got a bed."

        "Beds are a good," I agree. "Comfy making out place, and convenient if things are going to go that extra little step."

        Maria winks at me, chuckling lustily. "Yeah... you know the first place Michael and I ever made out was at the Crashdown?"

        "Really?" I say, interested.

        She nods. "It was during a heat wave. I guess he got all hot and bothered, so he came along and we just... well, entered into a very destructive relationship that basically consisted of kissing and not kissing and him being an ass... but still," she looks dreamy. "His mouth is worth it." Her voice lowers as she leans in. "He's very good with it."

        I wrinkle my nose. "Ugh, 'Ria. No need for visuals. He's like a brother at this point."

        She giggles and pushes me towards the door. "Aren't you supposed to be working?"

        "Aren't you supposed to be at home replaying every moment of the kiss in excruciating detail back in your mind?"

        She arches an eyebrow and smiles. "You're right about that. I'll be going now."

        I enter the Crashdown again, noticing how Michael studiously avoids my gaze. Poking his arm, I lean over and tease; "So you finally caved, huh?"

        He looks furious and then adopts a bored expression. "None of your business. Pass me the pepper and the cheddar shit for the burgers."

        I ignore him and in a sing song voice continue; "Michael Guerin- actually giving in to Maria Deluca. What *is* the world coming to? Guess someone's not as bad ass as someone tries to be, hmmm?"

        He is trying not to laugh, I can tell. His eyes soften as he glances over at me. "Only a couple people on this rock can tease me, Buffy."

        "And those people would be?"

        "Correction," he asserts. "Only one person. Maria. Everyone else is forbidden. And I do mean forbidden." I can feel his breath on my face as he moves forward. "I have powers. Serious alien powers."

        "And I have serious muscles," I return, tapping his nose with my finger. "So don't even try it, Guerin. I wouldn't want you to get hurt."

        "Hurt?" he scoffs. "By a tiny thing like you?"

        I can't help it. He is so asking for it. So, I grab him, haul him over my back and flip over, landing on his belly all in one lightening quick movement. His face is so comical I wish I could frame it. "Still think I'm just a tiny little thing?" I ask sweetly.

        He pushes me off him and stands, shaking his head, suddenly laughing. "Man, you do have secrets, don't you?!"

        "A few," I admit, brushing myself off as I get up, leaning against the wall.

        He goes back to the grill, still shaking his head. "Who are you, Buffy?"

        "I think you of all people can understand someone having a secret," I respond, finally handing him the items he asked for a few minutes ago. He accepts them with a nod and cocks his head, his hair falling in a dishevelled fringe over his forehead.

        "Yeah, I get it," he concedes, then grins devilishly. "I'll just ask Liz. Girl can't tell a lie."

        I shrug, unconcerned. Lying may not be her strong suit, but I know Liz. She'll do this for me. "Go ahead, Guerin. Set yourself up for disappointment," I mock, and then walk over, laying my cheek against the back of his shoulder for one moment. "Congrats about Maria," I whisper. "She's a lucky girl."

        I can feel his slight smile. "Why, cause she has me?"

        "No... because she's lucky enough to be able to see beyond your strangeness- to the actual good heart underneath."

        He chuckles quietly. "That was touching."

        "Just call me Hallmark," I say lightly. "But I mean it. You're both lucky. Just hold on to it, Michael. I won't always be here to whip your ass into gear."

        He turns abruptly, and gleans my face for answers. "Where are you going?"

        "Back where I came from," I reply mysteriously. "You know... the lost kingdom of Atlantis."

        He doesn't fall for it. Damnit. I should have known he's used to my distraction tactics by now. "Where are you going?" he asks again, firmly.

        "I'm going home," I answer. "I have to leave. It sucks, but I'm needed there."

        He looks confused. Like he doesn't know how he should be reacting to the news. "Oh," is all he comes up with and I nod, understanding.

        There's really nothing to say.

~~~

        After work, I begin to walk back to my place, fiddling with my cigarettes with one hand as I brush the heavy mass of hair back with the other. Startled, I realize I haven't cut it since I left, and it's long, feathering past my shoulders in blonde waves. I think of Liz's hair, and the way it looks when she's above me, moving her pelvic bone against mine- and then I realize what I'm doing and breathe in, concentrating on taking one step and then another.

        I feel him even before I unlock the door and step inside with suddenly shaky knees. "Hi Angel," I whisper, and he emerges from the shadows, like he always does. A ghost in black with a paler than milk face.

        He stares at me for a moment and then answers, "Hey... I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you. Do you want me to leave? You must be tired."

        I want to laugh, but tears are already welling in my eyes, so I know it would turn into something else. "No. It's ok. Wow- this feels familiar, doesn't it? Late night visits and secrecy- just like the old days—"

        He cuts off my babbling; "Not quite like the old days," he reminds me, and I nod. I feel my hands trembling and grip my fingers into my palms, trying to stop the convulsive movements. My nails cut thin cuticle shaped welts into the skin, and I feel the stripes of blood begin to slide down my wrists.

        "Not quite," I echo, and sit down on the rumpled bed. The sheets still smell like Liz. Last night I pressed my face into them and breathed in- imagining that she was there and it was all dream. Then I drifted in and out of sleep and dreamt of Angel. Always him. Black hatred surges through me and it's familiar, so I embrace it. I can deal with hating him. With hating everyone. It's what I've become accustomed to this summer. It's loving him that's the problem- always was. If I didn't love him, I might have killed him long ago and felt nothing. He would have been dust in my face and a slight memory that tickled me every so often. He wouldn't have ever become the messy bruise he is now.

        "So what are we going to do, Buffy?" he asks softly, and I shake my head.

        "How should I know? I never asked for you to come back." The second the words are out of my mouth I regret them. Bitterness clogs my throat and I cough, wishing for a smoke. My chest aches fiercely at the thought. "I didn't mean that."

        "Didn't you?" he asks bleakly. "And it wouldn't be wrong if you did. I should be in Hell, Buffy. You were right in sending me there—"

        "Don't say things like that," I cry out, facing him where he stands, silhouetted by the window. "Do you think *that's* why I ran away? Because murdering you felt so damn *right*? God, Angel... when I think of what I did—" Nausea swells in my belly and I swallow, tears streaming down my face, dripping onto my fisted hands, "—"right" doesn't even come close to describing it."

        "I'm a killer, Buffy," he informs me blankly, gazing out at the black desert night. "I deserved to spend eternity paying for what I did. What I did to you- what I did you to your friends—"

        "Angelus did those things," I murmur desperately. "Not you. It was *not* you."

        "I keep telling myself that," he admits. "But part of it's me. The demon can't exist without the man, Buffy. Parts of me wanted to torture you." He breathes in unnecessary air and rubs his neck. "Parts of me still want to kill you. For wasting your life on me. You should have sent me to Hell and never looked back... you should have—"

        "I should have what?" I cut in quietly. "I should have kissed the love of my life goodbye and went merrily off to school? I should have felt your blood all over my hands but still smiled each morning when my mother made me breakfast? I should have still felt your kiss on my lips but kissed other guys in some move to get over you? Tell me what I should have done, Angel. *Tell* me," I insist, as I get up and cup his face in my hands.

        "You..." he trails off softly, and his hands burn on my back. "I don't know. I don't know anymore."

        "Neither do I," I murmur breathlessly, and raise my face to his. "But I do know... I love you. I never stopped."

        Tears glisten in his dark as a panther's eyes. "Me neither. Even through all the years- the only thing that kept me from despair was you, Buffy. The memory of you. I knew... no matter what torture they visited upon me... you would sustain me. I used to picture you with your sunshine hair and your smile..." one shaking finger touches my lips which are slick with tears. "I never thought... I never thought you'd be..."

        "Such a mess?" I finish, and curl my face into his chest.

        He shakes his head. "I thought you'd move on, I suppose. I hoped you would."

        "Hope is a good thing," I say, inhaling the spicy, musky scent of his black shirt. His skin feels cool, even in the heat. "But it's usually better when it's based on something that could actually happen."

        He breathes in, and his hands brush over my hair. "I love you, Buffy."

        "I love you too," I answer, the words dripping off my tongue like poison. I know they will do no good. I know it's doomed. I know it's over. We can never go back. We can never really go forward.

        "When are we going back?" I ask, and he curves a palm over my back.

        "Whenever you feel ready," he replies quietly. "If you ever feel ready."

        I don't know if I will be. Blurrily, I gaze out at the desert and wish to be out there with the sand and the dirt and the open sky.

~~~

        As I climb the ladder to Liz's balcony, I feel the rust underneath my fingertips. It smells coppery- like blood. My palms are still bleeding a little, but I don't care. The sting is gone.

        "Liz?" I whisper, and cross over to her window, climbing inside and gazing down at where she lies on top of the red velvet covers, her little body clad in boy cut underwear and a tank top.

        (You wear boxers?

        They're more comfortable for work...

        Ahhh... god, Buffy...)

        Blinking back the hot tears, I slide my hand up her leg, feeling the slight prickle of some unshaven lines of hair, the silk of her tanned skin. She jerks under my caress and opens her eyes. Coming out of sleep, she looks dizzy and not really attractive. But to me, she has never appeared more beautiful, and I feel the desire bubbling in my stomach.

        She holds out her arms to me wordlessly, and I go into them, her embrace warm and sticky from the heat. Her nipples are angry and throbbing against my lips and between her thighs is slick and open.

        She moves down my body and I feel her tongue inside me, her hands slipping against the naked skin of my knees as she holds them apart. Her fingers are punishing, and they hurt- enough to make me gasp. Her thumbs travel up my flesh until they are brushing against my mouth and I suck on the digits with a hunger I never knew I had. God, do I love her? I don't know.

        As we both come, together, sweating and shaking in little pants, I press my face against her shoulder and see the tears on her skin.

        "Liz..." I sob and she holds me tight.

        "I know," she whispers.

~~~

        She sleeps. She's beautiful. I watch her from my seat on the balcony. Naked, I smoke and flick the ash into the starry night. I had to have one last taste. I'm selfish. It must be over- it has to be over. My belly has the syrupy feeling it gets when I feel sick, but I ignore it and concentrate on drawing the nicotine laced smoke into my lungs slowly and evenly.

        I think of Angel- somewhere out there, drifting through the streets of Roswell like the ghost he was sentenced to be, and wonder if he can ever love the girl I've become- with the same fervour he loved the sleeping Buffy he left on that morning so long ago? I wonder if she's still lying there- waiting for the world to be right again- before she wakes up?

        I think of him, and of her, and the old me, and I smoke. The grey tentacles weave their way down my throat like the bars of a prison cell, and I cough, knowing that someday-

        -I'm going to choke.

        End of part eleven

Continue to Part Twelve

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