The Wife of Lot
Disclaimer: Joss, oh my gorgeous squirrelly Joss. You own these tales. I merely wish I did.
Timeline: After “Graduation Day: Part Two” in Season 3
Author’s Notes: a)Written for fantas_magoria. For “Welcome to the Hellmouth” .
b)I borrowed a variation of a line from the Nicci French novel, "Killing Me Softly".
Summary: A big sweeping exit, but then, a return. Buffy/Angel centric
It is the night after graduation and all through Sunnydale, kids are celebrating their escape from the great Snake. The air smells of beer and her mouth tastes of it too. A bottle of Molson rests on the asphalt beside her tired body, and earlier, she slung her jacket (because it is the color of oxblood) on top of the nearest trash can. She just can’t handle colors right now, especially blood colors or anything that reminds her of fire and brightness.
This is the exactly the right place, Buffy thinks, exactly the right place to be grieving.
If only she could. Grieve. That, is.
The rod is still here. Driven between the two buildings, born down into brick and mortar. She remembers balancing there, palms slightly skinned from the effort. She hadn’t perfected her centre at that point, and her body had been off-kilter, just the tiniest bit, but it had been enough to make her wrists throb for days. She remembers the art of the balance, the way her breaths had been coming quickly, the way she had watched the darkness for the stranger.
His first words. Is there a problem? And well, no, there hadn’t been a problem. Not at that point, at least. Buffy thinks, if she had known, she would have staked him right then. Right? Right. Better to get it over with. Ashes against concrete, no witnesses except the stars.
So, she sips her beer. It tastes cool and soapy, the foam catching on her upper lip. She licks it away, leaning back against the wall, suddenly and terribly afraid that she is going to cry.
“No,” she says out loud, definitively.
“No,” Buffy says, quietly. How long has he been there? She looks up, straight into his eyes. How long has she known he was there? His eyes aren’t glowing, or anything special. But they are faintly shiny, as if he too wants to cry, but won’t. “No. What do you want? I thought you left. Wasn’t that what the big sweeping coat was about?”
“What?” he asks, confused. But he doesn’t let her answer. “I forgot something.”
“One of my suitcases.” His voice is sheepish. “I need it. It has my—“
“No,” Angel looks annoyed. “I—I also wanted to congratulate you. On your graduation. On beating the Mayor. I wasn’t going to, but it seemed—childish to just leave.”
She tilts her beer in his general direction. “Ok. Bye.”
He takes a step away, huffing and puffing a bit, but then he turns. “I thought we had—gotten past this, Buffy. I thought you understood. At the dance thing—“
“I was feeling nostalgic. 80s music does that to a girl.” She closes her eyes and gulps more of the drink, marveling at its numbing powers. “We danced. I wore a pretty dress. You rocked the James Bond look. But it’s done. Time for you to go and leave me to my normal life.” She laughs. “It’s almost here.”
“You’ll—“ he seems to be struggling, and he swallows, staring at some point beyond her. “You’ll have a good time at college.”
“There’ll be still be vampires there.”
“There are vampires everywhere.”
“Thanks, Dr. Freud, but I’m already signed up for Psych. Oh, props for that idea—maybe they’ll be a cute TA.”
“He’ll wear glasses, and we can drink wine and do crosswords.”
“Stop saying my name.” Her eyes snap open and she stands, fluidly, dropping the bottle of beer. It doesn’t break, just rolls away, splattering cool, white foam across the alley. “Just. Stop.” She breathes, slowly, but it doesn’t stop the burn upon burn of it, the salty unfairness, the stinging horrible sadness. She feels like one of the amateurish art projects the freshmen make, ‘here is the woman scorned, left, the tower of anguish’, and she just. won’t. “Stop. You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to feel like the bigger person. I get what you think you’re doing, leaving me for the fictional babies and the fictional husband, and thank you, they’re swell, but just don’t pretend that this is something it isn’t.”
“What… what isn’t it?”
“Mutual.” The wave retreats, and Buffy feels suddenly ashamed of her outburst, embarrassed by it. “Anyway. Um, have a nice time, where-ever you’re going.”
Angel blinks. “Have a nice time?”
“Yeah. Send me a postcard.”
“Why are you here?”
She literally canNOT believe he’s asking her that, but she smiles wryly anyway. “Seriously forgettable, huh?”
Angel doesn’t answer, just thinks about touching her —she can see the decisions that he wants to make, flickering around him like fireflies – and then he nods, once. There is no smoke or sirens, and it isn’t the same. He just smiles, sort of wryly, and walks away, stepping over some litter as he goes. A coke can, her beer bottle, an empty plastic bag.
She slides down against the knotted brick, beneath the hot moonlight. What-could-have-beens orbit around her, spinning like galaxies, and she imagines different futures, what would have been if she had staked him, if she had not had sex with him, if she had stood in this alley three years ago and listened. Because he had warned her, he had warned her – that he was not her friend, that he could never be her friend.
Months later, she receives a postcard in the mail. She is on her way out the door, going to meet Riley for mocha frappuccinos in the café by her Lit class. Willow left her letters by the door, rubber-banded and smiley-faced. The postcard is the third item down. It depicts a tall, thin rock on a seashore, and she turns it over, confused.
A geological formation which overlooks the Dead Sea and is named for the wife of Biblical figure Lot. While escaping Sodom, she disobeyed the angels, looking back toward her city. She was turned into a pillar of salt.
He has only scrawled a few words. But tears sting her eyes anyway –
It was where we first met. I remember.
-- because, of course. She has never listened to prophecies. She has never listened to the logical, the scientific, the cool calm collected. If she had known, it would have been the same. Warnings upon warnings wouldn’t have changed the ending to the saddest story of all, her love, her heart.
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