Disclaimer: I don’t own any of this, except my words.
Spoilers: For the new 'Angel' comic. I haven't read it, but did see a snippet.
Summary: After ‘Chosen’, Buffy hears news that sends her through quite a trippy grieving process.
Pairings: Buffy Summers (Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Spike)
Author’s Notes: part of the joss100 prompt: 'water'
it happens in Cleveland as she is closing up shop for the day, the Potentials feathering around her like birds, flapping and cawing and chattering. Giles calls her and says that Los Angeles has been sucked down into the underworld, as if licked up by tongues. he says that everyone is gone, everyone and everything. he says it like he thinks she might start crying, but she doesn’t. she locks up and clicks off her cellphone and walks to her apartment, the sky making noises and her breath white in the air.
when she was pulled up and through her mother’s body, she was pink as a blood orange. but that doesn't really matter. neither here nor there nor everywhere. she can remember swimming through her mother's body, a sweet arrow of purpose, and she can she can oh she can remember that beginning, that marvelous - oh she's channeling Giles now, isn't she - but it was marvelous, because it began. it began as a life, not really as a Buffy, there wasn't a Buffy involved yet. she was just a little baby, a reason for her parents to stay together, to not get divorced, 30 extra pounds on her mother's reed slender body, stretch marks and roast chicken cravings, with a little kiwi fruit mouth and a cry that shook the heavens.
After, after --
well, she went home to her apartment on Winchester Street, far away from the Potentials because they are driving her nuts, and after, yes, she went home. then what did she do? she sat down. she IS sitting down. there is toast on the plate in front of her, and flowers on the windowsill, dying, because she never remembers to take the watering can from the hall closet and fill it to spilling. her mom always said to put tea bags in the water to feed the plants, but she doesn’t even drink tea anymore. she isn’t Giles, marvelous or not.
and as he talks she lifts her hand and looks at her palm, at the thin greyish scar that runs waspishly down to her wrist. her palm is a badland of scars, from fires and floods, from being the fireman in Sunnydale. but this one is strange and beautiful, with a perfect edge. it didn’t have a purpose, really, it wasn’t done in any grand quest or epic trial. she got it when she went to see Angel after she came back. they met at a road stop café on the way to Los Angeles. a bit like Whoopi Goldberg’s café in that old tv show she and Dawnie used to watch. iraq café or something. he had tea waiting for her, but it was lukewarm and he’d left the bag in, so the tea was the color of tar. she tossed it and ordered another. he asked how she was doing and she said she was fine-ish and how was he? but he thought she said she was ‘Finnish’ and they were confused for a bit, too long without hearing each other’s rhythms. speech didn’t matter so much when they went around back, into a little gully of space beside the fire door and the dumpster. it smelled of wet coffee grounds. she let him put his fingers inside of her, into the little gully of space that smelled of burnt leaves. he didn’t cry but he did make her orgasm against his palm, it didn’t take much, just the novelty of him was enough to make her start the shuddering and the oohing in the heart of her throat.
Xander says, “Are you ok? You seem like you’re of the cranky today.”
She says, “No, I’m fine-ish,” and he doesn’t question it, ask if she’s switched nationalities, in fact he laughs and continues on, because obviously Giles hasn’t called him yet, too much fragility to Xander’s days and no one wants to disturb them.
as she came, she lifted her arm and when her hand touched the dumpster, well slammed down on it really, because it was one of those orgasms that made her feel as if she was breaking inside, her palm caught something sharp and ripped open. there was a lot of blood.
Xander says, “Want to come over tonight? We can drink a few sodas, get a little crazy.”
Buffy says, “Maybe tomorrow. I have a lot of ironing to do.”
he chuckles, low and dry. hangs up soon after, soon-ish, and she eats her toast as she walks through her apartment. little crumbs dot after her, like handkerchiefs might mark her path, and she decides to take a bath. it will be like drinking slow deep drinks of water, warm and hot, like the tea at the rest stop. twisting on the tap, she runs only the hot water, making sure it is piping before she wanders, with her toast, into her bedroom. the air is still and soft, fragrant with the smell of her sweat and with the smells of the city that pass through the open window.
she takes off her clothes, one piece after another. first her shirt, which is wet at the armpits. she trained very hard today. it slips off easily, only catching at her breasts. they have grown since she started eating Mcdonalds each Friday with Xander and Willow. scooby time. next, she pulls off her stretch pants, and her pink scrap of underwear. she expects if she looks in the mirror, there will be a hole through her belly, a smoking hole, for Los Angeles or maybe a blood jet from her vagina, an aborted city. so she doesn’t look at the mirror.
Spike would sometimes eat ribs while he lay on the floor of his crypt-home-thing, legs sprawled wide, lazily anxiously watching her. she would walk around and pick things up just to put them down again, while he ate legs of meat and got bone between his teeth. his fingers often stung her afterward, covered in barbecue sauce and spice. he tasted of jalapenos and when she whispered that to him, he laughed and said, “it’s pronounced halapenos.” she bought him ribs a few times a week, not minding the sting, because it was better when he didn’t mean to hurt her.
but there was so much blood when her palm sliced open. it ran all down her wrist, got on her leather jacket. she was still wearing her jacket. Angel had unzipped her pants and gotten his hand between the layers to seek out hair and skin. he went all gamey in the face when he smelled the blood and she asked him to lick it up, seal the cut with the wax of his tongue. he didn’t resist, because it was accidental blood, which she supposed meant it was ok. ok for him to get hard too, which she took care of quickly, surprised at the taste of him in her mouth, cold and brimstone, like pure salt, hurting her mouth.
“Angel?” she says soft, and realizes she has forgotten about the bath. water covers the floor beside the bathtub, clear and slippery. she twists off the tap and steps in, sending wavelets slopping onto the floor. Buffy submerges herself in the pale ocean, until it fills even the hole in her belly where Los Angeles once was. little skyscrapers bob to the surface, little plastic figurines that are meant to be Spike and Angel and Pistol, or whatever the other one was called. she can’t remember.
what she can remember could fill the earth up to spilling, she thinks. or at least this room. maybe her memories could fill the Grand Canyon, which she once visited with her Mom and Dawn, or maybe they could cut through the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, which she never visited but read about once, where she can’t recall. the titanic sank there. she sinks now, down and down some more, to the bottom of the tub. spike once said to her, his fingers gilded by moonlight, “it’s just the two of us now” and the next day, he burned up until there was nothing left of him, a crater his only grave. he didn’t do it on purpose, she could see that in his eyes, and so she gave him the gift back – spontaneous heroism was, after all, something she identified with. she said, “I love you” and felt her hand catch fire.
Angel called her a few weeks ago. said he was surprised she wasn’t in Rome. she didn’t know what he was talking about, laughed at him. “it’s so tacky there. besides, now I have my very own Hellmouth again!” he seemed to enjoy her faux enthusiasm, said she sounded good, very good. she didn’t ask if he had a girlfriend or a boyfriend, for that matter, though she wanted to, as he always called when he was having feelings for someone else. “are you good?” Buffy asked him. “sure,” he husked out, and they hung up soon after, but not before he told he loved her, and the words for once, were painless.
her hair drifts around her, and she imagines swimming through the canals of her Mother’s body, safe and warm and bound by skin and blood and water. the skyscrapers begin to sink, as do the plastic Angel and Spike. the Spike goes first, rushing ahead, grinning wickedly in her direction. he can see her naked body beneath the water. the Angel struggles, for he knows he can do better, and there is always something else to say, always. but he disappears, he has to. that is it. that is that. tears sting her eyes, like barbecue sauce tears, jalapenos, her little accidents. “Finnish, fine-ish,” she whispers, climbing from the water.
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