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Beholden to Yesterday, Part Nine
Reply to Trixie or visit her websitePosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list July 2, 2001
Title: Beholden to Yesterday (9/?)
Disclaimer: Joss and Jason own the Buffy and Roswellverses respectively
Rating: NC 17
Summary: After she kills Angel in „Becoming Part Two¾, Buffy heads to Roswell, where she finds loveä with Liz
Dedication: to Shayla, who always seems to want another part of this;)
Feedback: Required, thanks;) email@example.com
I sit at the counter of the Crashdown, slowly sipping an Alien Blast. The air conditioner is broken again, and sweat drips down my neck with insatiable fingers, crawling down my back and pooling in the hollow at the base of my spine. It occurs to me that I'm getting too thin- Liz told me so the other night while she traced my belly with her thumb. She said I was bony and that if I didn't stop smoking I was probably going to get cancer. I just kissed her and said I was glad she worried about me.
Reading my way through a Stephen King book I picked up in one of those big bins at the grocery store, I watch Michael working in the kitchen. He looks particularly pissed today and I wonder why. I see him glancing at Maria, and then I realize why he's angry. Most of the top buttons of her uniform are unfastened, and everytime she moves, there's a flash of creamy smooth flesh. Giggling to myself, satisfied that he's feeling sexual frustration- since he deserves it for being such a stubborn bastard.
I feel a hand brush my back and turn slightly, seeing Liz behind me. She bends close and I smell her, breathing in deep and smiling. She grins softly and whispers, "Wait for me until after my shift?"
"Ok," I reply and wish I could kiss her. For one brief second- I'm sure no one catches it- she presses her cheek to mine, and then walks off in the direction of the kitchen. I duck my head and continue to work on my icy drink.
It's been a week since I told her I was a Slayer, and although I still don't think she fully understands, she hasn't been as weirded out by it as I feared she would be. Sometimes she laughs and asks me why she only attracts supernatural creatures. I tell her I don't know, and that I resent being compared to Max. That makes her giggle helplessly- even though she always looks guilty as she does it. At night when I smoke and she curls up against my legs and arms like a blanket, she tells me about when she and Maria were kids and innocent, and they used to have crushes on Kyle Valenti. She speaks of Isabel- who was the original Ice Queen, and Michael, who only had sneers and snide glances for them... and Max, who was silent and still and watchful. She tells me that he intrigued her- his fascination with her pulled her in. When Liz says that she always looks ashamed, and she flushes, as if she knows it's selfish- but can't help herself. I just smile and drag deeply on the cigarette, watching the tip glow brightly against the desert sky. Then she pulls me down into the sweat-soaked sheets and kisses me, and she tastes like ashes and dust and sugar.
My stomach hurts, and I touch it unconsciously as I read.
Groaning inwardly, I set the novel down and look at Isabel, who sits down beside me, her hair falling over her perfectly curved cheek for a moment. She's so beautiful it's silly. She wears a black dress, simple and expensive and she glances at me as she orders a diet coke from Maria, who looks at me sympathetically.
"Hi," I finally respond and wonder if ignoring her would do any good.
"So..." she pauses for a second and taps a lacquered nail against her white teeth. "You and Liz."
Oh jeez, does everyone know? "That's right," I answer shortly, and she looks surprised, smiling coldly.
"Does she even care what she's done to Max?" she asks me and I shrug.
"Why don't you ask her?"
"I'm asking you," Isabel counters and I sigh, taking another gulp of my Alien Blast.
"I don't know. Does he care what he's done to her?"
Again she appears surprised and blinks. "What did he do to her?"
"Started playing house with Tess," I snap and cock my head. "Just out of curiosity, do you intend to do the same with Michael?"
She flushes and then tries to slide the haughty mask into place. "That's none of your business."
"Fine," I respond, not caring anyway, since I know she has no interest in Michael that way. Every time I see them talking, they always look like brother and sister, comfortable, sedate. None of the hungry passion that shines in his eyes when he catches sight of Maria's undone top, or the glint of her hair. I wonder if Isabel has anyone who makes her sweat like that- if she has anyone who makes her insides clench.
She shifts on the stool and leans into me threateningly. "I don't like when my brother is hurt."
For a moment my palms and feet literally itch to kick her ass clear out the window. "That's nice," I say blandly. "But I forget- what's the part where I'm supposed to care?"
Her face flushes with anger and her fingers grip the glass of coke. I almost expect to see little sparks shooting from them any moment. It's fascinating, sitting next to a being that I know doesn't come from here. Then she sort of crumples and sighs, her lips forming a pout of consternation.
"I don't understand Max and Liz," she admits wearily. "I just don't get the soulmate thing. And I don't want to," she bites off decidedly. "But when he gets hurt... I get mad. And Liz isn't my favourite person, so it's... it's hard for me not to automatically blame her."
"Why don't you like Liz?" I inquire and she lifts her shoulders in a gesture of dismissal.
"Why are some people annoying?" she answers, and shrugs again. "I just don't."
"Wow. Are your pants ever on fire," I smile and swallow some more of my drink, crunching on the rapidly melting ice. Her startled cat eyes lock on me and she laughs grudgingly.
"Fine. I don't like her because... because she took Max from me. Basic kindergarten principle."
"I see," I reply and think that I'd be happy for someone to take Max. Far far away.
We sit in silence for a few moments, and I drift a little, closing my eyes because it's so hot and remembering how slick Angel's skin would get when we'd train, and he'd look shiny and new. He glowed, like marble, his pale skin milky against mine. I recall the time he called me and then got embarrassed and mumbled a few things, and afterwards, when I asked him about it, he said he had never gotten used to the phone. His face was so red when he said that, and I'd taken pity on him, kissing his lips and holding him close until I felt him relax.
Leaning on my hand, I sip my drink and ignore the burn of tears in the back of my throat. Isabel's hand trembles when she taps it against the counter absently, and I wonder what brought me to Roswell, of all places. I realize that she and I are sisters beneath the skin- both frightened, and alone. Sometimes if I glance at her in the right light, she looks like an animal that has been cornered, and is sweating blood-hot terror. I know what it's like to feel that kind of afraid, where you don't know if someone is going to divulge who you are; if they're going to freak out and rake you with their eyes as if you're some kind of monster.
We're all just aliens, anyway. Tired suddenly, I brush her arm with my fingers gently. "I'm sorry that we hurt Max," I say and don't really mean it. I'm sorry I hurt her... but not sorry about Max. I wish I could be, I have a feeling it might make people here feel better. "We didn't mean to. We're just lonely."
She nods and smiles curtly. "I don't need an apology. He gets himself into these things anyway. He should have stayed away from her."
"It can be hard," I utter quietly. "People that you love are hard to stay away from." I know that; I know that so well. Nothing in me wants to defend Max, but I feel I have to, because I think Isabel really doesn't understand. All she wants to do is protect her family, and I can appreciate that, but she's never experienced all consuming burning love... never been so swollen with it that she thinks she's going to implode and spray everyone with blood. So she can't comprehend, and it's not her fault. It's not anyone's fault.
She glances at me and takes a long drink of her diet coke, her feet shaking with bottled energy. "You sound like him," she informs me almost accusingly. "Like Max. Don't feel bad though. I think everyone here has a little of him. I guess you got the biggest part though."
She stands up and I turn to her, asking, "And what would that be?"
"Liz," she smiles bitterly, and leaves, her perfume hanging in the air, heavy and cloying. I take a deep breath and look over at my lover, imagining her for one sickening moment as one of Max's limbs, or his torso- Liz growing out of his chest, just one piece of Max Evans. No. I refuse to think that way. She's Liz. She's not him.
Getting up, I stretch a little and wipe the thin film of sweat from the back of my neck. My chest stings, and I walk through the kitchen, into the back ally to light a cigarette. It occurs to me that I haven't been able to quit like I thought I would. But it doesn't really matter. Taking a long deep drag of the smoke, I breathe and lean back, watching it curl into the sky like grey tentacles. Angel would hate this, I think and the thought hurts. I know he smoked as Angelus... and it would have wounded him to see me doing something from his blood stained past. He hated to be reminded of it. Hell, he hated to be reminded of a lot of things.
Sliding down the brick, I balance on the balls of my feet and rest my chin against my knees. I try and picture what Willow and Xander and Giles are doing right now. I wonder if they're looking for me, and the idea would send me into a panic if I didn't know it would never ever occur to them to look here. My eyes shut as images flash before them of the library and the school, of my room and my bed, of the covers, of the way they felt beneath my cheek every morning before I woke up. Of his apartment, the way the lights were so dim in there, and the rain thrummed against the roof as he came inside me and pressed me deep into the cocoon of the sheets. Of the way I moaned against his shoulder and he whispered my name with such love that I can still recall it even now.
Tears stream down my face and I swipe my palms over my cheeks angrily, hating the way I weep over him, as if I have the right to. As if I didn't send him straight to Hell with a kiss and a "so long, sweetheart".
The door opens and Michael comes out. I don't look up, but I recognize the boots. He sort of grunts a Hello, and I know he must be exhausted from working the stove all day. I hear the snap and the bubbles as he cracks open a can of coke and I accept when he offers me a swallow. My belly fizzes with Alien Blasts and ashes and cola, and it makes strange noises that I ignore.
"What are you doing here?" he asks. "Are you working tonight?"
"No," I respond. "I'm waiting for Liz."
He doesn't reply to that, just nods. I know he does, even though I can't see him. I know his Michael ways by now.
"I saw Izzy talking to you," he informs me and I stand, my knees cracking.
"I'm sure everyone did," I answer casually. "So what?"
"Did she upset you?" he wants to know, and gleans my face for the answers he understands I'll never give him.
"Nothing upsets me," I reply. "Not really."
"Yeah," he says, appearing frustrated. "I get that. And I wonder about that. You're different, Buffy."
"I know," I laugh and touch his cheek. He almost jerks away from me but then stays still, his eyes questioning. "So are you. And that's why I care about you. Take care of yourself, Michael. Please?"
His expression softens. "I always take care of myself."
"I'm not sure you do," I take another drag of my smoke, and he grabs it from my mouth, crushing it beneath his boot.
"I could say the same for you," he challenges and I giggle, a little pissed about the wasted cigarette, but too happy for a split second to really care. He smiles crookedly, and looks embarrassed.
"I shouldn't have done that. Sorry."
"Don't worry about it." I dismiss it with a wave of my fingers and lean back. "I should stop smoking anyway. Apparently they'll kill you."
He raises an eyebrow. "I got the impression that was your aim."
My chest squeezes down on my ribs and I swallow, my throat aching. I want to cry so much. Fall into his arms and weep against his worn T-shirt.. For a blinding wrinkle in time, I think that I'm going to run, scream, run, run, run... until Roswell is just a pinprick in the distance, and no one knows me again. I don't like the way he's getting beneath my surfaces. I suppose it was inevitable. But I hate it. I don't want to love him like he was my brother. Like he was a friend. I care about him, but I don't want to.
"Where would you get that idea?" I inquire hollowly, and he shrugs, his shoulders moving beneath the thin cotton of his shirt.
"The way you smoke," he says calmly. "Like you're hoping they'll make you forget." He hastens to explain; "Not like I haven't had that feeling. I get that you want out of here. That you want off this rock. So do I."
Nodding, I lean back and feel the hot rush of air against my face from the wind coming off the desert roads. He checks his watch and winks. "Break's over. I'll see you later."
"Bye," I whisper and think, no you won't, Michael. No you won't.
I look up and Maria's eyes shine back at me. She laughs and hugs me, and I press my face into her shoulder. I'm so tired. My bones hurt so much. Sometimes its too much pain to even be alive.
"Just trying to breathe out here," I tell her thinly. "It's so hot."
"I know," she commiserates. "Once school starts it begins to get a little better though. And it's sort of cool around Christmas."
"That'll be good," I murmur, and feel a stab of guilt at deceiving her. But it's for the best, I know. They wouldn't understand why I have to leave. Why I know suddenly that I have to get out of here. I'm starting to love them all... and Liz most of all. That can't happen. I promised myself that I wouldn't get attached, no matter where I went. And it's all gone to Hell. Along with Angel.
We stand there for minutes, as she gulps down a coke and moans about her aching knees. I listen to her and want to cry. When she goes inside, she pecks my cheek and smoothes my hair. When she disappears behind the doors, I really do weep, falling to my knees and wishing that I could rip my heart from my chest and leave it on the dirt to die. Then maybe I wouldn't feel anything. Then maybe I could have fed Angel to Acathla and gone off to school with no regrets.
I wait outside, and Liz comes out when the moon washes the sky. She smiles at me and kisses my lips with hungry absorption. "I hate work," she whispers. "It keeps me away from you."
"Well then I hate work to," I laugh, caught up, as I always am, in being with her. Her hair glistens in the night, and I run my fingers through its silkiness as she curves her face into my neck, her tongue sliding down to my heart.
We fall back against the brick and she runs her hands down my nipples, to my belly, her fingers inside me before I can catch my breath, and I gasp, feeling my insides clench around her. She smiles against my mouth and grinds her palm against me, my hips jerking into hers.
"Liz..." I murmur into her hair, my eyes gazing blearily at the stars which all melt together into yellows and golds as she makes me come and everything blends together in a shower of light. Breathing heavily, I press her back into the wall of the ally, going down on my knees and sticking my head up her skirt. I smell her wetness through the silk of her underwear and press my face between her legs. She moans and I grip her knees, forcing then apart as I shove down her panties and slide my tongue inside her.
All I can hear is her harsh breathing as she moves against my lips and fingers and I taste her for the last time, weeping salty tears that I know she must feel. Afterwards, she presses her mouth to mine and murmurs, "I love you."
"I know," I whisper back, and she smiles shakily, climbing the ladder to her room.
As I walk back to the hotel, I cut through the cemetary, the greedy grass squishing beneath my feet. Suddenly I smell it. A vampire. To my right. My mind whirls with pleasure as I realize I'll be able to fight tonight, and it feels so good my hands shake. Spinning stealthily, I see it through the trees, and approach, my steps purposeful. I feel as if I'm back in Sunnydale again.
Breaking off a tree branch, I call quietly, "I'm really not in the mood for a game tonight. Just come out and we'll have a real fight, okay?"
Off to my left I hear a snarl and then I feel it brush my back and the fight is on. I don't see anything, except a swirl of black and grey and milky pale. Kicking, punching, somersaulting, I slip back into my old skin as if I'd never left it, and the thought is exhilirating.
As we fight, I catch little flashes of lightening. He moves like him. It angers me to no end that this random creature could remind me of my long lost lover. But they remain; these little flashes of Angel brightness that blind me. All I can breathe, think, move; is kill, kill, kill.
We roll, on the dewy grass, over and over, and then we come to an abrupt stop. Him on top. I feel no alarm. I could dislodge him in a second. And then the moonlight shines over his face and my heart squeezes and shatters and I hear a roar in my ears but it's so far away.
It's the demon I already killed. From beyond the grave.
It's him, just him.
End of part nine.
Continue to Part Ten
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