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Beholden to Yesterday, Part Four

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list May 5, 2001

Title: Beholden to Yesterday (4/?)
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Joss and Jason own all. I merely play around for my own amusement;)
Rating: NC 17 (eventually)
Summary: Buffy heads to Roswell to forget about the death of Angel. Once there, she meets the gang and may have even found love again. Will she want to give it up when her lover returns from Hell?
Cate: Liz/Buffy... this is SLASH, people. You realize that right? I've been getting strange e-mails... *grin* 'Course there is also some Michael/Maria, Max/Liz, and major overtones of Buffy/Angel



You know we all need saving
She found you late last night
You feel the madness caving
You know you just can't win
You know this you know this
But I'm just so tired of waking up... all alone

        "Potato Girl" - Our Lady Peace

        As the shower water slides over my skin I realize there's still sand in my hair. The remains of the desert dirt seeps into my skin, drifting down me like red smoke and disappearing in the whirl of the drain like blood. I lift my face to the pounding torrent and open my mouth, wishing I could drown underneath it all and make this world I've slipped into go away.

        Angel... I think of him and everything goes a strange shade of rich black with pain. I loved him. I mean, I still love him. At night I dream and he's there and I think that he'll always be there. Crawling in the bowels of my memory like a ghost that refuses to fade away. I suppose I owe him that much- the right to stick to my brain- because I sent him to Hell. I sent him to a place where demons feed off his insides- just like he is eating away at mine now. I don't blame him for haunting me. I blame myself for giving him a reason to.

        Liz is in my bedroom, flicking through the channels of the TV and eating the remains of an egg and toast breakfast that I have pre-ordered every morning. My fingers, slick with soap, travel over my body with an absent stroke as I remember how she murmured to me that she didn't want to go home, when we woke, bleary-eyed under the hot desert sun. So we dropped off Maria's car, and walked in heavy silence through the dusty streets of Roswell to my hotel. Liz had a shower first.

        I gave her my toweling robe and she ducked into the bathroom, returning twenty minutes later, shiny and slightly flushed. When I passed by her I think I breathed her in and then I felt strange so I rushed to the shower, laughing at myself. Now, I'm standing here, and the rose of the oil I sometimes use in my hair curls around me and I'm inhaling it deeply, wishing that I could be someone else. Someone brave enough... brave enough to do what? I'm not sure. But I have a feeling there's something I should be doing right now.

        Suddenly the door to the bathroom opens and she steps in. I see the outline of her figure through the thin camouflage of the shower curtain.

        "Hey," she says, almost distractedly, and I turn my face away, lathering my shoulders with soap.

        "You take hot showers," she mentions, in her soft voice and I look up, watching the way the steam billows against the window, turning it a silvery color as it sweats condensation.

        "Do you want something, Liz?" I ask her, not cruelly, but simply because I'm uncomfortable and I think that I can feel sweat on myself now- not just on the windowpane.

        She breathes out and murmurs, "I'm glad you were around last night. You know... when the whole Max thing happened. It was probably an overreaction on my part... cause God, it's not like it's the first time he's ever stared at me... but still. Thanks, Buffy."

        "Do you love him?" I inquire bluntly and then feel stupid and angry at myself.

        "Yes," she responds in a quiet tone- but one that's filled with such desperation and such doom. I want to weep because I recognize it too well. "Yes, I love Max," she repeats and then says, "but I think... I think there's other things out there for me. I used to think he was everything, you know? Like, if he didn't exist—if he didn't belong to me- then I was nothing. But I think maybe, I was wrong."

        "Maybe you were," I reply, chilled down to the very marrow of my bones at her words. I turn the shower off and she spins away abruptly, leaving the room with a bang of the door. Stepping out, I squeeze the excess moisture from my hair, and it drips around me, the streaks of faint redness down my belly and legs make me think I'm bleeding from the inside out.


~~~

        It's hot back here, in the kitchen of the Crashdown. Michael slaves over the oven, sweat beading his brow. Every so often he licks it off his bee-stung lower lip and wipes the grime from his face, streaking it with grease and dirt. We all look wilted. I can feel the heaviness of my hair, laden with perspiration as it drips down my neck and back, falling over my forehead as if it's weary from a long journey. Maria sticks her head in to call an order, her eyes hollow and purplish- making me wonder if she sleeps.

        Liz rubs her back, stretching the creamy curve absently, painfully, as she jots down the wants of a customer, yelling it to Michael. He answers with barely a grunt, his mouth twisted in a grimace of concentration. I watch Liz and she looks at me, smiling for a bare moment before running off to get someone a coke.

        "I'm gonna die," Maria moans, falling into me, her head resting against my shoulder. I pat her belly playfully, saying;

        "You can't... who's gonna rub my feet tonight?"

        "Who's gonna rub mine?" Maria counters, laughing for a quick second, jumping up and down, trying to restore feeling to her joints. She flexes her muscles, not noticing the gaze of Michael, who appears transfixed by the movements of her lithe body.

        "I'm going for my break now," I say and Maria looks regretful.

        "I took mine too early. Should have waited."

        "It s'ok, 'Ria, you'll get another later," I remind her and grab my cigarettes, almost colliding with the door in my haste to get outside. Breathing in the slightly cool, slightly refreshing air of the sunshine morning, I light a smoke with trembling fingers, leaning against the alley wall with my sore back and creaking bones.

        As the smoke curls loosely around my head in a hazy twirl, I close my eyes and dream of a better day. Sometimes I think I'm never going to be able to go home. I wonder what everyone's doing and then it occurs to me that I can't imagine life going on without me. It's as if they should all be stuck in a bubble awaiting my return. That's a funny thought.

        Sometimes I imagine Angel is back in Sunnydale waiting for me. In the quietness of his apartment. The bed where he made love to me for the first time, still rumpled, the covers red like spilt blood, the sheets giving off the scent of us--- I smelled like him for days afterward. It was horrible- as I fought him- Angelus, all I could smell was him, his skin and his come and his mouth and tongue and I suppose it made me weaker and stronger all at once. I fought for the man whose essence still lay on my flesh- for the demon who had taken him away. But I also couldn't give it my all. How could I? I was attempting to run a stake through the first lover I'd ever had...

        Inhaling deeply, I choke and cough, tears spurting from my eyes and burning the length of my cheeks with salt. I taste vomit at the back of my throat, like ashes, and bend over, spitting and heaving, my stomach contracting and releasing all the poison and ache and sting.

        Looking up, I realize Liz is at the door, her pale skin even milkier as she watches me, one hand over her mouth. Wiping my lips, I wave the burning tip of the cigarette at her and laugh hoarsely. "I'm fine."

        "You're not," she comes towards me firmly and reaches out, ignoring my jerks away from her as she swipes tender fingers along my chin, looking straight into my eyes. "I know what happened to you, Buffy."

        "You do?" I whisper, horrified, yet fascinated in spite of myself.

        "Yes," she nods. "You left the man you love. Isn't that—" she breaks off and giggles hollowly, using her sleeve to soak the sweat from my skin. "Isn't that what happened to us both?"

        I want to speak but my throat has closed over. I brush a strand of hair away from her face, which has escaped from the ponytail she keeps it in. Curving her face into my palm, her dark drowning Angel eyes implore me. I don't know what we're doing... For some reason I don't care and I suppose I'm so lost that maybe she makes me feel found...

        "Give me your purse!"

        The command shatters the dreaminess I was finding in both of our minds, as sickly, my stare slides to our right, where a man with a gun- a middle class man with wild eyes and a desperate glare- shakes his wrist at us threateningly. For a moment I'm about to hand it over dumbly, because what else do you do in a situation like that? Liz is gazing at the barrel of the weapon like she is about to faint and instinctively, I take hold of her fingers and go to hand over the cloth bag...

        ...but then I remember what's in it. Angels ring. The silver band he gave me when he said he was going to love me... well, he almost said it... but he gave his heart to me and I could taste my own mascara and the seaweed smell of the docks was everywhere and I remember it all... and I'm not giving it to this man with his killer grin...

        Poised to fight, I see the gleam to him and wonder if he's a demon- as I wish he was- or just a man, down on his luck-- and then he yells to me, "Give me the fucking purse!" and Michael yanks open the door and I see his finger press on the trigger cause he's nervous and trembling—just a split second—and then something sticky spreads down the front of my top and I look down to redness and look up to Liz's darkness eyes—spinning, spinning, and I'm lying on the dirty ground—

        "Oh God... OH GOD!" Liz is screaming, her hands pressing on my chest, where I imagine my heart is going to burst from- tear past my ribs and spray us both with my insides. Choking, I glance up at her and wonder if I'm dying. Then Michael is there, over me, and I hear Liz yell, "GET MAX! GET MAX!" but Michael is frozen so Liz runs away in a swirl of shining strands.

        "Michael," I murmur, my mouth gaping, as I look down and see his fingers covered in the redness from my split belly. "You love Maria."

        His eyes are glazed, his jaw locked as he rips off his shirt and covers my stomach with it, binding it tight, until I feel suffocated- but less like my whole body is emptying. "I do," he tells me quietly, and then he brushes the hair off my face and whispers, "Max is coming. I wish I-- " he breaks off with a curse and bows his head.

        I want to ask him why it matters if Max is there when I die. I also wonder why they haven't called me an ambulance. I want to ask what he wishes—I want to ask for Angel- for Liz- for my Mom and for Willow, and Giles and Xander—but my neck lolls back. I feel dizzy and stare up at the bright bright sky where I think I see my love's face... Angel... he's come to get me...

        Then it all happens so fast. I feel a rough but gentle hand on my cheek and Max's voice. "LOOK at me, Buffy. Look at me," he pleads and with effort—have to make an effort—I open my eyes and stare into his- they're dark and reassuring.

        Dimly I think I catch Maria's sobs and my gaze drifts to where Michael holds her and I smile—and then I see Liz—and she looks like death- terrified and alone, shivering as she stares with blankness. Max's insistent thumbs bring me back to him and I feel his hand on the hole in my flesh and muscle. Something starts to glow.

        "Look at me," he whispers and I do, my hazel stare seeking his, and something passes... something buzzes and tingles and it's as if he has poured red wine into my blood stream—everything is warm and calming.

        He steps back and breathes harshly, leaning against the wall, his face sweating. I sit up so slowly and they all stare at me. Michael appears worried, his arms locked around Maria, who smiles at me, starting to laugh with nervousness which reminds me of Willow. Isabel (who I didn't know had come) is rubbing Max's back and her wrists are tense as she glares at me, but I sense that she's afraid. It's coming off her in waves—fear.

        And then I look at Liz... who is shaking and who stretches out a hand to me. She bends down and presses her cheek to my brow. "We have a lot to explain to you," she says quietly and helps me up.

To be continued...

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