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Beholden To Yesterday: Epilogue

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Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list September 17, 2001

Title: Beholden to Yesterday: Epilogue
Author: trixie
Disclaimer: Joss and Jason are the rightful owners of the BtVS 'verse and Roswell 'verse
Rating: PG 15
Author's Notes: this is an epilogue to the story "Beholden to Yesterday". If you haven't read that, you won't get this. So go read it, silly! http://www.geocities.com/trixie_ambition/fiction/beholden.html
Summary: A long lost lover says goodbye
Dedication: to Dru, for writing Roswell fic, and for Shayla just cause I love her!



        Liz wasn't sure.

        What had happened. Since she left, that was. Sometimes, in her dreams, she saw the desert sun swelling against a merciless sky and she caught glimpses of sticky fingers and thighs like shiny roots- so young! —and red mouths like blushing cheeks. Those were the only moments that were real to her. She was living in the blur, and that was fine for now.

        Looking at the grave made her feel dizzy. She avoided it by pinning her eyes on a sunken tree to her right. It's branches were brushing the ground, and as she touched and sifted the dirt beneath her fingers, her eyes followed the movements of the leaves.

        *backandforthupanddownbackandforthupanddown*

        She wouldn't let herself believe Buffy was down there.

        It was laughable, really.

        It was.

        For one summer. One dusty, sweaty summer- she had belonged to someone. And that someone was dead. She had no place in the world anymore. Liz suspected she'd never had a place in the world. Not concretely, anyhow. Or else how would Max Evans have been able to blow it all away so easily?

        He was just that way, she knew. Was he now? She didn't know. He had drowned himself in the sky and followed Tess and she was glad. She was glad she'd never had to see the baby. She didn't want to know about tiny hands and rosy bibs and everything she would never have.

        Was she just being selfish? Maybe. Finding out she could never have children after a short battle with cancer hadn't exactly shattered her. Then... maybe the worst was still coming. She still couldn't breathe around Isabel and Kyle's children. Sometimes she tasted vomit, thick in her throat when their fingers grabbed her legs and she thought about kicking them off and screaming bloody murder and running away- far away- just like Buffy had done- but she never did.

        She never ran.

        Except in sleep. Sometimes she had dreams where Buffy's body cleaved into hers and it hurt. She had dreams where her skin dissolved underneath a pink tongue and from those, she woke up with burning eyes and shaky legs.

        She had been peeling an orange when he called. She always thought she'd know if something huge happened in Buffy's life. But she hadn't.

        The orange peel turned black later. She cleaned it up- but the sickly smell of rotting fruit still clung to her hands and she pressed them against the sweet autumn grass, glancing up into the blue, blue sky. The sun was too bright. The rays tasted like a girl's kisses. Bitter ashes and coca cola. Tears and the ripe scent of pears and vanilla orchids.

        Of course- Buffy had probably changed over the years. Liz knew that. She probably hadn't smelt the same, she told herself firmly. But to her- she would always be sixteen. The girl with the irrepressible eyes and trembling hands. Tiny, golden- such a hurricane- but so familiar.

        *I love you, Buffy

        IknowIknowIknowIknowIknowIknow*

        She remembered the feel of her lips sliding against her ribs and the brush of Buffy's skin in the night. Sometimes, she woke up with a startled cry and wondered why she was alone-

        - where was Buffy?

        But then she'd realize that it had been years, and she'd start to cry. She never went to work after those nights.

        Forcing herself to look at the block of stone, she read the letters and the words and the sentences and couldn't understand them. But she stared, nonetheless, making her mind accept the reality of it all. The horrible reality of it. Buffy was dead.

        *I was always scared of flying, you know*

        It should have been laughable. It really should have been. Buffy, dead? No, she killed people- she never got herself killed.

        She wanted to laugh. To open her mouth wide and drink in the hilarity of it- but she suspected if she parted her lips she might start to scream, and that was no good. After she left, Liz had convinced herself that she hated her. *IhateyouIhateyouIhateyouIhateyou* she'd murmur each day like a mantra, and sometimes Michael would send her quizzical looks- but tenderly- he always looked out for her after that cold, cold day in the middle of summer when a girl took off for home- and she knew why. Buffy had asked him too of course- flashing him that half smile that got her whatever she wanted.

        "I never worried about you." Her voice shattered the silence, and Liz felt uncomfortable suddenly- as if by speaking- she had made it all real. But she continued, striving desperately to fill the void- and pretend someone was answering. "I knew you'd be ok. No matter what you did. I worried about me. Isn't that selfish? It really is." Liz paused for a moment. "But I did, so I might as well admit it. I didn't think I'd be able to get through after you left. And now you're... you're actually- dead?" Her voice cracked and she bit her lip.

        Nothing- not Future Max- not Tess's knowing eyes- not Max leaving- had prepared her for this kind of pain.

        She remembered prom- breaking up with Max as the muted strobe lights played across his eyes and the song played in the background-

        *byebyebabyiworryaboutyounowyou'regonebyebyebabybyebyebaby*

        And it had all swirled in a sickening rush as she thought - God, Buffy... why can't you take me away? Why can't you walk in—and she stomped on Max's heart- sympathetically, because she knew how it felt.

        "Let's just stop pretending"- she'd whispered.

        Let's just stop pretending I love you. Because we both know I'm dead. We both know I can't be a whole person anymore- and that I'm holding onto this dream because I don't want to be alone. Let's stop pretending that I stopped loving Buffy when she left. We both know I cry for her every night. We both know what I write about in my journal. We both know why I'm running after Sean DeLuca. To forget. It's always to forget. Let's stop pretending that we are meant to be together, Max. Let's stop lying...

        Liz smiled bitterly underneath her tears, licking her lips clean of salt. They had stopped lying. But everything was different now. Roswell had sucked her in, and she knew she might never leave. After her parents moved to Florida, she moved fully into her longtime home, taking care of the Crashdown meticulously.

        But she never- ever went into the back alley. Once she had, and in a flash, she was back to that day- seeing the girl bent on the ground, her palms slick with blood, her eyes wide and hurt and full of such dull doom. Liz dimly remembered throwing up after that- and never venturing through the kitchens that way again.

        "I didn't think it would take you this long to come."

        She turned to him and thought that she had lied to herself almost enough to make herself believe he wouldn't come.

        "I was busy," she bit off.

        "For years?"

        "What do you know about my life?"

        "Not a lot, I suppose," he admitted, and leaned against the tree behind the grave, his eyes gazing into the middle distance.

        Liz sat up straighter, brushing her palms against her knees. "What did Buffy know about my life?"

        He looked at her then. "Nothing. She didn't want to know."

        That hurt. Liz swallowed and touched the grass. "Why not?"

        "Because she still loved you," he told her. "But she never mentioned you. At least not to me."

        "I guess you guys were together till the end?" she felt the words settle like ashes in the air.

        He gazed at her. "No. I left her. A year after we came back from Roswell. I just couldn't be with her anymore. But I... I still regret it. Every day. Every day that I could have had with her- I regret."

        "I wonder what that feels like," Liz muttered sarcastically, standing. "Look, Angel... I appreciate you sending me the news all those years ago... but I... I've said Goodbye, and that's all I needed to do. So I'm leaving."

        His quiet words stopped her. "You didn't say Goodbye."

        She spun around, slowly, as if balancing on the head of a pin. "How do you know that?"

        "Because it's impossible to say Goodbye to her," he whispered simply, his eyes so full of pain that she whimpered a little.

        She didn't want to share memories of kisses and skin and blushes and Chinese food and the stains on the sheets and the sweat that trickled off eyelashes like rain and the dust and the reedy lake and the dancing and the laughter and the tears that tasted like cigarette smoke and the hands and the broken teeth and the blood and the rusty ladder and the journal and the linked fingers and oh god---

        oh god—

        Buffy was dead.

        Liz fell to the ground, on her knees, and felt it all break inside of her, for the first time.

        She barely felt his arms pick her up, or the rocking of his embrace, but as she stared up at the sky, as if from beneath the ocean, she thought she saw her eyes.

        She didn't say Goodbye.

        End.

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