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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list April 27, 2001

Title: Beholden to Yesterday (3/?)
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Nope, last time I checked, not mine
Rating: NC 17 (eventually, I promise!)
Summary: After "Becoming Part Two" and "Destiny", Buffy heads to Roswell to forget her murder of Angel. There, she meets and makes connections with all of the gang in different ways. She may even have found love again- in the unlikeliest of places. When her lover returns from Hell- will she want to give up all she has found?
Dedication: to all my sweet, sweet Candygirls and to Jenn, my dovely fellow Lizizard.
Note: I'm gonna sort of take a scene from "Ask Not"... nothing major- just something I'm sure they would've done a lot in the summer- and BTW, one of my fave scenes in Roswell history (the one where they all dance)



My Prince, the stars have fallen from your crown
and I cannot fathom their fading
some things should be forever

        - Jewel Kilcher "Bukowsky's Widow"

        "Do I even want to know what that is?" Maria asks me with a dubious grin as she leans one slim hip against the table that I'm lying under, cleaning. She refers to a huge greenish yellow splotch adorning the surface, which I've already spent ten minutes attempting to scrub out.

        "Puke," I laugh and accidentally spray myself with Windex. "Lots and lots of puke."

        Giggling, she kicks me lightly and takes a cloth to the mark, sniffing it experimentally. "Mustard," she announces. "And relish."

        "Uh huh," I answer and knock my head against the table leg with a bang. Suppressing a cry of annoyance and pain, I doggedly continue to wipe the paper towel over and around all the dirt, which has been festering underneath the tables in the Crashdown. "So...what's going on with you and Michael?"

        Maria sighs, and scowls, her pouty mouth dissolving into an expression of distaste. "He has all this stuff that he needs to work through." Dealing me a wry glance she comments, "Mainly that he's an asshole incapable of real human emotion or feeling."

        I chuckle, even though I want to tell her I see more fire in his gaze when he looks at her than... than I've seen in a long time. I want to tell Maria that he loves her- that I can see it—but I have an idea she wouldn't appreciate that, so I stay silent and glance over at the kitchen, where sure enough- Michael is staring fixedly at Maria while flipping the endless burgers, and where Liz is... where Liz is rubbing her neck, her smooth fingers gliding over the flesh of her nape with unconscious grace.

        Catching my eye, she grins, and her teeth show, glistening white against the peach of her lips and I smile back, crawling out and stretching my muscles. Everything is sore lately and I'm not sure why. I haven't been sleeping well. Most of my nights are spent killing Angel, over and over again. Feeling the sword of steel in my hands, staring into his eyes, the dark burn of them leaving welts all over my face and chest and heart...

        Sometimes he talks to me as I do it. He says, "I love you, I love you, Buffy I love you, don't kill me, I love you..." And I listen, it seems no matter how much I scream and hold my palms to my ears, he's there, taunting me, forcing me to slam that knife sharp point deep into his ribs and his innocent soul. His soul never wanted to hurt me. His soul never wanted my death.

        Every night I wake up sobbing and crawl to the bathroom on wobbly hands and knees, my fingers extended, my stomach heaving out all the misery. Last evening, I awoke and his voice rang in my ears as I threw up, every part of me trembling. I started to think of Liz... of the way her voice cracked as we watched the stars, of the shining fall of her hair, and I lay my face against the cold tiles, falling asleep thinking of her.

        As I mop the floor I think of how much life is changing and how little control I seem to have. When I walked back to the hotel the other day, I took a short cut through the cemetery and saw a vampire. Stealthily, I crept down through the squishy grass, my feet making soft sucking noises as I did my dance of death. Grabbing a tree branch, I blinked underneath the light of the moon and poised for fight.

        That was when I saw the tears and the flowers and realized it was a man weeping over the tombstone of his dead wife. I stared at him dumbly, saw the grief carved through his face like a road map to darkness and fell to my knees, thinking for a moment that I was sitting on all the people who had gone before us all... that their eyes were glassy on me, that their teeth were cutting my hands as I gripped the blades of grass and wept.

        Swiping the mop once more along the edges of the floor, I breathe in the scent of bleach cleaner and my thumbs tremble. "I'm gonna go on my break now, ok?" I say to Maria. She waves me away absently, with a careless grin.

        Outside, I lean against the dirty brick of the ally and inhale deeply from a cigarette, the silver smoke drifting around me like tentacles of cancer and young death. I suppose I'm smoking so that I'll be out of this life early- so that I won't have to survive for long here, now that I know what it's like without Angel. Thinking his name makes my face sting and I realize it's clenched tightly so I relax it.

        The door opens and Michael steps out, rubbing his head with his elegance that seems to be somewhat of a contradiction. He appears rough- and he is—but there is something inherently graceful in the way he does things. He sort of glances at me under heavy-lidded eyes and mumbles, "You smoke?"

        I breathe out noisily and nod. "Mm hmm, you want one?"

        He shakes his head and snaps open a coke, taking a long drink and wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve. "What brings you to Roswell?" he asks abruptly and I almost snort.

        "And that's your business, why?"

        Darting a look at me, he smirks and offers me a sip from the can. I do, because the taste of the cigarette in my mouth still makes me a little sick and the sugar from the cola is comforting. Familiar and nondescript.

        Finally he leans against the wall beside me, and the skin of his arm brushes mine. His is cool, yet faintly sweaty, which is an odd combination. My flesh prickles, being close to someone is strange. His guy smell makes me nervous, but he doesn't. I see parts of myself in Michael already- how his leg shakes unconsciously, as if he is yearning to be somewhere else. Find something that was going to keep him peaceful. I want to tell him that with Maria he'll find what he's looking for- I can see it in the way he holds himself tense when she's near- because he's afraid he might grab her and do something he's sure he'll regret.

        "She's great you know," I say, and exhale again, the grey swirls winding through my hair and his.

        He jerks, surprised and answers defensively, "Who?"

        "Who?" I mimic and feel a bit of the Slayer is back. "The girl you burn a hole through every day with the blinding force of your eyes, of course."

        He is angry at my mocking tone, I can tell and it almost makes me laugh.

        "You don't know what you're talking about," he growls and spins away, facing me with all his brutal thorns that he wears as protection.

        "Don't I?" I answer lightly and take another deep drag, before flicking away the smoke, crushing the embers beneath my foot. Sweat drips down my neck from the clawing heat in the ally, and I toss back my head. "If you feel like being in denial, that's fine, Michael, but you really can't think no one notices. Besides, I don't see what you're waiting for. Maria's fabulous."

        His cheek muscles clench and for a moment I think he wants to cry or scream or kick something and I know that feeling well. "Don't you think I know---" he breaks off furiously and then begins to laugh. "I'm not letting you get to me—making me think I should feel guilty or something."

        "I didn't say you should feel guilty," I counter smoothly. " 'Ria won't even tell me the details. I think it... hurts too much."

        His eyes go black then they shroud with blankness and he waves a hand in the air. "It's over. That's just the way it's gotta be."

        I start to giggle and I think he's going to hit me or something. I can't help it. I want to tell him not to waste time on these nothing words and just kiss Maria because he won't know how much time he has with her—but I don't. He'll ask me why I know so much- why the hell I think I'm in any position to give him advice and what am I going to say? Oh, a few weeks ago I sliced open my boyfriend to save the world cause Hell was opening and it was going to eat us all up. He'd probably refer me to the nearest psychiatrist so I just light another smoke and inhale and exhale, smelling the sweat and tension in the air. It's not sexual though—and I'm glad. That would be horrible- if for some reason I thought maybe Michael could heal me up just by coming inside me and kissing my neck—but I can tell he couldn't. We're too alike.

        Suddenly Maria's head pops around the window and she says, "Buffy? Are you—"

        She sees me and her ex- boyfriend standing together, he like an opponent in a battle and me, casually smoking in the heat of the midday. For a second I see the suspicion in her eyes, the hurt, and then I wink at her and she brightens, rolling her eyes at her exes back. "Um, Guerin. Inside. Food that needs to be cooked, on the grill... remember, your job?"

        I catch the pleasure on his face, and I recognize that look. It's the "if I could just listen to her talk forever, I could die happy" look. He sort of nods to me and then brushes past Maria, throwing his coke can into the dumpster as he goes.

        Maria skips over to me and grabs the smoke from my hand, taking a long drag of it, and immediately coughing and hacking. She giggles and I laugh to, patting her shoulder. "He'll come around."

        Handing me back the burning tube of paper and drug, she bangs her head against the wall lightly. "Maybe. Maybe not, you know? He's... he's different."

        I nod. "Boys are always different. It's not whether he's different that matters though. I think it's whether he's right. And I can tell Michael's right. For you, I mean."

        A weary smile breaks out on her pretty face. "Thanks," she responds and rubs her thigh as if it hurts her to stand. "Sometimes the right ones are all wrong."

        That's so true that I loop my arm around her shoulders and give her a squeeze. She wants to cry, I can tell. She's tired. So am I.


~~~

        It's early evening and the Crashdown is closed. Isabel and Max are here, as well as a girl I've never met named Tess. She has curly blonde hair and a kewpie doll cute exterior. However, there's something ancient about her eyes that startles me. I don't know what it is. Alex is there too- and he's gangly and sweet. Already I adore him as if he were a brother. He asks me lots of basic questions about my likes and dislikes and strums his guitar. I think he is infatuated with Isabel and when I watch her with him, I'm fairly certain she likes to play with him. It makes me angry- because I would never want to be someone's toy.

        Maria brings out pizza and a CD player and she loops an arm through mine as we all eat and I get to know them a little better. It's strange how well I feel I fit in among them- but I don't question it. The guys eat so much that there's barely any food left- but it's ok, cause I don't like to eat anymore. My foot taps and I long for a cigarette.

        "Let's dance," Maria urges me as Isabel pops in a CD. I take a moment and stare at her dress. It's black leather and so tight I'm sure she's going to pop out of it at any second. I think I should feel jealous of her because she's so perfect it's silly, but I guess I don't have time for that anymore. I picture her and Cordy getting along. Cordy. That makes me think of Xander, and then of Will, and then Giles and Mom... and I bite my lip hard, grinning at Maria with wide eyes.

        "Sure," I answer and let her pull me onto the shiny floor, where we begin to sway together to the chick rock. Maria swings her hips and I see Michael watching her. I wonder if anyone notices- I wonder if anyone notices anything within this group. Like the way Max is staring so longingly at Liz that I think his eyes are going to bug out of his head and he's going to melt into a little puddle of Max-love right there on the seat of the booth. She is scrunched down so far I'm surprised she hasn't faded away and for some reason it makes me angry.

        "Liz," I call quietly. She hears me, even above the loud music and smiles a true, simple Liz smile. "Come dance with us," I say and Maria holds out her hands, chuckling and making playful "c'mere, c'mere" noises at her.

        Liz laughs and gets up, walking over and beginning to move with us. She's insecure- and it's alien to me, because I've always been comfortable with my body- the way it can work and fight and move. Maybe because I can control mine- I've had to ever since I got called. But Liz is awkward at first, until I take her hand and she looks into my eyes. Dark clashes with green and I feel the sweat on my back slide down my spine.

        Tess and Isabel join us and for a moment I want to giggle because it's as if we're giving a show for all the guys. Michael is watching Maria, Alex is gazing raptly at Isabel, Max's glances shift between Tess and Liz... but no one watches me. Except Liz. Her stare is constant and I dance with it, my shifts and sways fluid and smooth, and our fingers interlock. Hers are cool and mine are warm. I feel like I'm burning. The music spins a web around us both, the threads silken and tight- my breath feels constricted and I feel an urge to reach up and trail my thumbs down her cheek.

        "God, could Max be *more* puppy dog right now?" Maria says worriedly, glancing at Liz. "He doesn't look like he's going to give up, Lizzie."

        "He's going to have to," she replies in a little voice and then drops her hands from mine, placing one on her stomach. "I just wish he would stop... stop staring at me like that."

        "I guess he just... he loves you," Maria says helplessly and I can tell she's wishing Michael looked at her like Max does Liz, and I want to tell her that the way Michael gazes at her—it's so much more honest- it's raw and it's there—but she'd never believe me.

        Liz looks pained and her eyes dart as if she wants escape. "Want to go for a drive?" I inquire softly, and she nods dumbly, not meeting my gaze.

        "Maria, can we borrow the Jetta?"

        The blonde haired girl looks alarmed, and shoots me a grateful glance. "Sure, Lizzie."

        As we walk from the room, I notice Max's dark and brooding orbs follow us, but I don't say anything to her. I don't want her to be hurt, so I step into the little red car and strap on the seatbelt, asking, "Where are we headed?"

        "The desert," she answers, her voice choked and yet strong, unwavering.


~~~

        It's cold out here, as we walk. My skirt flaps around my thighs and the air sticks to my skin. I can see goosebumps appearing on Liz's arms, as she grips her torso with them, staring anywhere but the sky. Suddenly she stops. We're under a strange rock formation and she grasps it with her eyes- her furious eyes.

        "I used to dream about the desert you know," she tells me.

        "Oh?"

        "Yeah," she laughs and gawks unseeingly at the stone and sharp pinnacles that appear ready to pierce the heavens. "Of the endlessness. I grew up here—it's what I know. All the open space and the dust and the—" she breaks off and sits down abruptly.

        "I dream about things too," I inform her and then wish I hadn't. My nightmares- my terrors about Angel and the sword are for me, only.

        Her eyes fix upon me and she whispers, "What things?"

        "About..." I pause and shiver, chilled to the marrow. "About the things I left behind."

        "Pretty important things, I guess," she says perceptively and hugs her knees, placing her chin upon one and gesturing for me to sit with her. I do, and our elbows brush. "What are you running from, Buffy?"

        "Running?" I murmur, and fall back so I can lie and let the stars wash over me. "I'm not running... I'm just... I'm escaping for a while."

        "What happens when you can't escape anymore?" she inquires and lies back too, her hair touching mine. I can feel the cool skin of her temple and shift to avoid a rock digging into my hip.

        Thinking for a moment, I respond, "I'll always be able to. What I left behind isn't going to come looking."

        She doesn't say anything, and so we lay underneath the bowl of night and I think we're both mourning for our Princes- the ones that were supposed to save us- and be the ones we watched the stars with.

        Liz's knuckles slip against mine and then our fingers interlace and we stay that way- till morning.

To be continued... feedback, feedback, feedback: trixiefirecra16@hotmail.com

Continue to Part Four

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