Let Me Start to Fade Away
Spoilers: AU during Anne
Archiving: House of Leaves. Everyone else please ask.
A/N: This is an extension of the drabble Undertow. Summary courtesy of Emily Dickinson. Title from Ivy’s Decay. Written to Lonely Lonely by Feist. Many, many thanks to moireach who was willing to beta for me.
Feedback: Is like air and highly addictive. In other words, yes, please.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the Warner Company, UPN, et al. I’m just taking them out for a little exercise.
Summary: Three times, 'tis said, a sinking man comes up to face the skies.
Dedication: Written with affection for chrislee.
Let Me Start to Fade Away
“How did you find me?” She smiles the sky pink and gold, and writes her name in the sand with her toe.
Her eyes still wink when she thinks of him. They twitch behind her eyelids.
“If I were blind,” he says, “I would see you.”
This is the meaning of bliss, Angel’s arms around her waist and the sun warm on her face. Two beautiful things in the same exquisite moment and it fills her up, leaves her breathless as the tide that pulls at the sand beneath her feet. She ignores the way it washes away her name.
She feels it, yearning as big as eternity, from her belly beneath his hands, from her heart, thudding against his chest.
“Stay with me,” she murmurs, head tilted back, throat open to the caress of his lips. In the face of sun and sinking sand, the threat of fang in flesh is a distant desire, unvoiced and irrelevant. For the first time, in a long time.
Angel whispers “Forever” against her hair and the future is bound in bridal white and smeared by the impossibly happy laughter of children. Innocence in the dusk and destiny that has nothing to do with slaughter.
Angel’s arms tighten around her waist as the sky darkens, a band of muscle and bone that speaks of more than just the surf and the pastel colors at the edge of the sky. The sharp scent of salt and water rise with the wind.
He whispers against her hair a siren’s wail of anguish.
Anne slaps the alarm beside her bed, sighs at the sharp crack it makes in the quiet room. She lies sweaty beneath tangled sheets and peers through make-up encrusted eyes at the mangled alarm. Her shift begins at six-thirty. Limbs heavy and sluggish with exhaustion, she struggles from the ropes of scratchy cotton and staggers to the bathroom.
Standing in the shower, beneath the icy blast of water, Anne recalls the dream, sun and the wistfulness of forever.
In the shower she pretends that she does not cry. Head bent, back bowed, Anne weeps and tells herself that it is only the soap in her eyes.
“You look like shit,” Mitch barks, watching as she double knots the apron around her waist.
Anne smiles, a curl of lip over even white teeth. “Thanks, Not really sleeping well.”
Mitch’s eyes slide away. There are secrets unshared, places untouched, histories that neither desire the details of. Mitch knows the rules, no questions. The diner is only a way station, a place for the lost and alone. The mainstream yuppies usually head for Sunset.
The days are long, eight hours on her feet complete only with the stink of oil in her hair and stains on the front of her uniform. At the end of the day Anne stumbles home with weary tired eyes but her body rings with anticipation. As the sun falls, her skin hums and the palms of her hands began to itch. Restlessness spills down her spine until she is nearly running home.
Anne wonders if they can smell the power on her beneath the aroma of hamburger.
She locks herself into her apartment, swallows the sleeping pills that her body burns too fast and wearily undoes the buttons on her uniform. Lets it lie where it falls and climbs half naked into the unmade bed.
She misses him, Angel. Misses the clasp of his arms and the caress of his lips.
“How did you find me?”
“If I were blind I would see you.”
They watch the sun sink into the distant horizon, a promise of gold, pink, and blue. She leans back into Angel’s arms and the freedom of miles and miles of ocean and sand.
“Stay with me,” she says, yearning thick in her voice.
“Forever,” Angel replies into the tangle of her hair. “That’s the whole point. I’ll never leave.”
A promise and a lie as new and as old as truth. It beats in the back of her throat and she wishes that it were real, knows in her heart, somewhere beyond this moment, that all of this is a dream. That his hands beneath hers are not there and that her heart is broken still.
Angel leans into her neck and whispers into her ear the thudding bass of betrayal.
Anne wakes disoriented by the boom and thud coming from the apartment upstairs. She wipes away the sweat masquerading as tears on her cheeks. Her breath catches on the memory of the dream, straining for the scent of the ocean. On the table beside the bed, the clock still rests broken on splintered legs. She’d forgotten to replace it. Across the room the face of the VCR shouts two forty-five in neon green.
“Godamnit!” Anne curses, throwing aside the blankets. She trips out of the bed and grabs the broom from its lonely corner. Bangs at the ceiling hard enough to dislodge the plaster. Cracks splinter the ceiling and she turns from the dust floating down into her eyes. The music dies down for a moment before soaring again.
Anne closes her eyes, her hand pressed to her heart. She stands in the center of her tiny room and shakes, squeezes the broom handle until it snaps.
The pieces fit perfectly jagged and perfectly sharp in her hand. Some habits are a gift of blood and bone, unbreakable.
“Shit. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Anne shoves the wooden fragments into a cupboard under the sink.
She turns on the TV, a tiny set she bought to fill the quiet corners of her apartment, and stares blankly at re-runs of I Love Lucy. Once it was funny but now she cries every time Ricky says I love you.
She doesn’t remember falling asleep, doesn’t remember the heavy, inevitable sink of her eyelids. She remembers turning and then Angel on the beach.
Anne doesn’t realize that she smiles in her sleep.
She wakes to the blaze of light streaming in through her apartment window. The clock on the VCR says that she is late and suddenly there’s no time for a shower or to even brush her hair.
She runs all the way to the diner, struggling to breathe around the lump in her throat, straining to see through the prick of tears in her eyes. She insists that It’s only the wind.
Mitch doesn’t say anything when she finally dashes into the diner, ignores the tear tracks and apologies, just watches her double knot her apron.
She showers in the evenings now. Shaves twenty minutes off her morning and spends the extra time in bed.
Anne stares through the steam fogging the bathroom mirror at her thin body. The press of her collarbone, the angles of her hips and elbows. There’s no softness there, in her body, nothing to really say that she is a girl and that once she was loved. Nothing beyond the pink of her mouth and the unimpressive swell of her breasts.
Her hand floats down to the newly concave hollow of her belly. Her hipbones press tightly against the skin.
She doesn’t remember the last time she ate. At the diner, maybe, a few days ago. Anne used to go in early enough for breakfast. She could get a free meal before her shift started, but lately that has changed. If she skips breakfast she can sleep an extra half hour.
Anne turns away from her image in the mirror, bundled in her towel she lies down in bed, her hair wet on the pillow.
“How did you find me?”
“If I were blind I would see you.” The sun is still setting and the tide rushes over her feet, pulling away the sand. She still feels the tugging in her bones, the pull of the unseen moon in the sunny skies. Beneath her hands, around her waist, against her back, she feels Angel. It is enough.
“Stay with me,” she begs.
Stars creep across the dusty sky and she feels a vague press and prick at her throat. Shaking her head against the buzzing in her ears, she tries to settle back into Angel’s arms, but the angle is all wrong. There is a sharpness between her breasts. She doesn’t look down. Afraid that she’ll find the hilt of a sword pinning her to her love if she does.
She imagines that Angel asks her to stay. Dreams of Angel and this beach, the surf washing across their toes and rinsing her name from the sand.
Leaning into her neck, brushing his lips across her ear, Angel whispers “Forever. That’s the whole point. I’ll never leave.” It is a promise trimmed in spanish lace.
“Not even if you kill me,” he says and the shore collapses beneath her.
Anne sits up in bed, tears in her eyes and sobs, broken sounds that tear from her chest and will not stop. She cries her broken heart, bitter, onto the blankets in her lap. Shivers and cries herself sick. Ignores the beeping alarm on her bedside table and later, she ignores the pounding on her door. The sound of the landlord calling her name from the other side: she’s too loud, the neighbors are complaining.
A moment of sand and sun and Angel’s arms encircling her waist, chin dipped into the curve of her throat: "If I were blind, I would see you."
He dissolves. Blown away by the salty breeze and the sharp rise of guilt, Angel waits in the waves, she knows.
“Forever, that’s the whole point. Even if you kill me.”
She wakes with a start and stumbles from her apartment. The trip to the ocean doesn’t take long.
She sinks into the sand, hugs her knees to her chest and stares into the blackness of night water. She imagines herself, Ophelia beneath the waves with lungs full of salt and froth. Luca Brasi in gossamer chains.
She put a sword through his gut for the honor of her kind and to save the world, again.
Sitting there, on the beach, smothered by the scent of brine and rot, Anne watches the tide until she can't resist the pull of the moon. Forever calls to her in the crash of waves against the shore.
At daybreak she dreams of Angel waiting in the sand.
Forever, she thinks, and Angel’s arms around her waist. The water is cold against her ankles, the tide rushes and tugs and pulls. Her throat fills up with the flavor of salt and the sharpness of the sea.
On the shore she has left a warning, two words written in the sand: Buffy, and beside it, Angel.
| Fiction Index | Home Page | Back |