Disclaimer: Joss, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Mutant
Enemy, Inc., Greenwolf Corp, Kazui Enterprises, and Sandollar
Television own the characters. i.e. everyone except me, so don't
Spoilers: I'm setting this around season seven-ish, so basically everything so far.
Notes: This has been floating around as a concept for a while, but it took the return of my muse to get it finished. For Phil, to cheer him up in the only way I know how (that doesn't involve a camera!)
Feedback: You know the drill people.
I have a lot of regrets. A lot of things that I wish I'd never said. There were words that I should have kept up inside. I'm older now, maybe a little wiser yunno?
I'd always dreaded that moment when they let me go. A Slayer locked in a prison cell was a waste of everybody's time and supernatural energy. They would always have to kill me or let me go, and I figured none of the powers of good or evil would really want to take on a slayer who hasn't actually slain in three years. Especially when that slayer is me, who hasn't got laid in three years either.
Can you say pent up energy?
So, I didn't really turn myself in with any possessions that night, and the brown suede jacket hangs a little loose. It's probably so out of fashion now that Cordelia will shy away from it. Even those higher powers have weaknesses you know. And part of Cordelia will always be a shallow bitch. Those in charge of the greater good don't mind that I guess, it keeps her real. In touch with this earthly plane where she has to do the work. Fight the good fight.
They boot me out of the gates unceremoniously and it's a strange feeling. I can go left, right or straight ahead. Part of me wants to go back, to the things that I know. This world has changed. It has to have changed. How many apocalypses must Buffy have averted in the three years I've been staring at bricks and mortar? Probably that many, she always seemed to be averaging about one a year.
No wonder her sex life sucked, and not literally.
Angel has been to see me less and less over the years. I think he reasoned he only had to get me on the right path, then it was up to me to walk it alone. I'd let him know my release date though, and I'm starting to realise just how much I had been hoping that he would be on the other side of the gates waiting for me to come out. If he couldn't make it then maybe Cordy or Wes. I know we would never all be best friends or nothing, but a familiar face would have been a good thing. I thought they might have wanted to see if I would be able to stick to the straight and narrow at least.
But there is no one there, and I find myself trying to make the decision. Where to go. Whether to stay in LA or go back to Boston. Maybe head down to Sunnydale and check out the Hellmouth. I am starting to think that I really should have thought about this before I was actually standing in the street. I mean, it's not like I've been busy over the past three years.
That's when I hear it. The carefully measured steps. Someone who is walking just a little too purposefully. I lift up my head, and there is the slightest hesitation in the footfalls. I smile. What else can I do? I am about to live or die or end back up on the road to hell.
Who wouldn't smile in the face of that?
She stands next to me, and I look her up and down. She's a lot thinner, but then again, so am I. Her hair is cut shorter, but mine has started to flow further down my back. I keep it tied back a lot these days though. I wonder why she is here? Should I be getting ready for the moment when I find myself flat on my back on the sidewalk? Can I even be bothered to fight her any more? I search her eyes for some kind of motive.
Part of me is waiting for Angel to appear and save me. I haven't learned trust while I was inside.
But when I search her eyes, I realise it is not the same Buffy in there. Her eyes always used to sparkle, whether it was with love or hatred or with that frenzy of killing, they always seemed so alive. Those eyes looked to me like they had been dead. She was lifeless. It was no longer like staring into a mirror. She was worse than me now, I just don't know if she knew it herself. But why was she here?
We don't speak. She just stops, looks at me and nods. Then she turns back around and I silently follow her. I don't know where she is taking me, all I know is that she has made the decision for me. We are going right, away from the prison gates and everything that has been my life for the past three years. It feels strange now that the order has gone, the freedom doesn't feel as good as I thought it would. Perhaps all the time I was thinking about freedom, it felt so good because I thought I would have a different guide.
Not the one person who I wanted to kiss and kill all at the same time.
Strange how many times I dreamt of her when I was in that prison cell. Sometimes I would dream about stabbing the knife in her and seeing how she liked it. Other times I would dream of her kissing me and gently sliding her fingers into my body, telling me that she loved me. It didn't matter which of the dreams it was, if I dreamt about Buffy, then I woke sweating and shaking.
Now I was following her down the street, and I had no idea where we were going. I figure that Angel must have let her know that I would be out today. The big guy wouldn't send her to me knowing that she was going to kill me, right? So then, this can only be a good thing? It's logical, but it's not making me feel any better.
She stops next to a red SUV and opens the door. She climbs into the drivers seat and I walk around to the other side, swing the passenger door open and get in. I am waiting for her to say something. Anything. I am even waiting for that killer right hook she has to catch me by surprise and send me flying and bleeding back out the door. Instead, she just turns the key in the ignition and puts her foot to the floor.
She may have changed a lot, but she's still a crappy driver.
As we head out of town and into the desert, I have no idea where she is taking me. I can't get my bearings after spending so much time inside. I feel like those walls and rooms were the only things that I knew. The only things where I could find my own way, and now as we drive and there is nothing to see for miles, I feel even more lost than when I first walked out of those gates.
I glance across at her, wondering if she is going to help me find my way back. Or whether she is going to make me feel even more lost than before. I want to pinch myself to make sure that this is all real, but I know she will know why I have done it and what I am thinking. I feel weak enough as it is, I don't want to make myself even more at her mercy.
When I don't even know if she is going to kiss me or kill me.
Or maybe just leave me dying in the Californian heat, bleeding, the way I once thought I deserved to die. I am scared to look out of the window and up and the sky, in case there are birds circling up ahead.
She glances across at me, slyly, and I am sure I can see the hint of a smile that is dancing on her lips. She's always thought she was superior, like she knew something that no one else did.
I feel the anger begin to bubble in me, and I push it down hard. It is too easy to feel too much around Buffy. She has that way of doing it to everyone, making them love her, or hate her. If you spend time with her, you always end up feeling something. I ended up feeling the good and the bad, but I know that was more to do with me than her. My head is clear these days. As long as I keep telling myself that, I can keep the anger pushed down, where it can't get me and it can't hurt any one else.
The silence is starting to drive me mad. If she won't speak, then the least that she could do is turn on the stereo and drown out the sound of the engine. I want to get out of the car. A few more miles and I'll start to panic. I can feel my heart rate jerk up another notch, and I know that she can hear it. There is nothing that I can hide from her Slayer senses. So why can't I pick up anything from her? What is she hiding from me? I try not to let fear spike through me, try to keep control of myself, try to make sure that I don't blurt out loud something that I'll only regret later.
All the time I was inside, I was the one who was in control. I wasn't happy or anything, but I was alive and there was no one in that place who could take me. You know how much that would make me feel better right? Knowing that there was one space where I could have some control for the first time in my life. Who would have ever thought that of all the places it would be that one?
I know when I turned myself in that I had no real idea of what I was doing. I just knew that if I didn't want to spend the rest of my life running, there was only one place for me left to go. Either that or I would be looking for Buffy over my shoulder every single day for the rest of my life. And with her after me, I was guessing that it would be a very short life. So, it might have seemed like I was doing the right thing, the most noble, goody-goody thing, but really, I was still looking out for number one. It just meant that everyone else got a pretty good end of the deal as well. I guess it was only once I got in there that things really changed. All the time with just me and a bench press got me thinking more than I was used to.
And the prison psych pushed me the rest of the way. It took a long time for me to feel sorry for everything, yunno. Even now, I don't let myself get all guilty about it. It's like it's not even me who did those things. It all seems so far away and such a long time ago, that in my head it might as well be someone else who stuck the knife in and watched as the blood began to flow along the blade and across her fingers. No, that wasn't me - that was someone else.
Maybe it just hurts less that way. But it's how I deal, and it's the dealing that has got me through three years of being locked up without killing anyone who tried to touch me up in the showers. A girl's gotta get through, you know?
I can feel the bile rising in my throat as I watch the road rising up in front of me. Wherever it is we're going, we're going there fast. I look at her out of the corner of my eye again. She seems to have forgotten that I am there.
There is a distance in the death of her eyes now. She is somewhere else, just like I was.
She is still beautiful, but she looks worn. Her skin is a little too pale, her wrists look too thin on the hands that steady the wheel. It makes her look more vulnerable, even though I know she isn't. It just seems strange to me, because I never remember Buffy Summers looking vulnerable. Even when she thought that she was going to watch Angel die, she never looked as weak as she does now. It is like there is something wrong with her, like something that was so much part of her has gone forever. She's not the person I knew. The person I knew would not be here to drive me into the desert. She would have kicked my ass right there on the street. Yet there's something about her that is still *Buffy*. It's in there, and I can still feel it.
She stops the car suddenly, swerving onto the edge of the road. I start to panic. Why did she chose this spot of road that looks just the same as all the others. I can't understand. Why the sudden stop? She kills the engine. We are here alone in the middle of nowhere.
She doesn't order me out of the car. She still doesn't say anything. She just gets out as if she knows that I will follow her. She's right. I do. She steps off into the dust, and I walk behind, fear in my stomach. This is the B that I know now, the one who is used to being in charge. The one who clearly wants something from me, and knows that she can lead me into the middle of nowhere to get it. Underneath it all, there is the familiar tingle of desire that fear always brings to me. And the rush of blood that just being with Buffy Summers can bring. I had forgotten that. But out here in the open with the wind blowing my hair across my face, stinging my cheeks as it flicks up, I remember why I used to lust after her. Why I would do anything to have her alone with me. Why, when we used to spar, I would find some way to bring her down so I could lay my body on top of hers. Pin her under me and for a fraction of a second imagine that we were both naked and she wanted me to be there. Sometimes, I think she knew what I was thinking, could see the desire in my eyes. I would get off her then, missing the feel of her, and feeling as dirty as everyone thought I was.
Because I was thinking of taking the pure Miss Summers. Of having her sweating underneath me, moving her body and begging for my touch. I was just a kid then.
I'm a woman now and I find myself walking behind her, wanting it just as much. Wanting her more. Wanting to see something replace the death in her eyes when I made her scream out my name.
She stops suddenly and turns to face me.
She looks in my eyes and I think I can see the beginning of a spark there.
She raises her fists, and there is a hint of a smile on her lips again.
I am thinking that she knows where her decision lies. She will kill me. Not kiss me.
She steps forwards and I stand there with my arms still at my sides. She doesn't hit me with a fast blow. She is close to me now. I can see her eyes clearly. I can see the emotion in them reappearing. Like she has spent all this time waiting.
Waiting for me.
Her face is just inches from mine, and I know that this isn't meant to be the end of our little road trip. There was somewhere she was taking me, something else that she is supposed to do with me. But she's chosen to stop here first.
I find myself raising my fists, but we are so close our arms brush. I couldn't hit her properly from this distance. She's not making me defend myself. She reaches up and pushes me back, a little roughly. I stumble backwards, suddenly finding that her foot was somehow behind my ankles. Damn, that's a new trick.
I hit the ground in a cloud of dust. And then she is on top of me, her hands either side of my head, her hips straddling my waist and pinning me down. I don't struggle. Not this time. I just lay there waiting for her.
She dips her head and pushes her lips against mine. I can tell by the motion of her mouth that she has kissed a lot more in the three years I have been away. There is a new confidence to this Buffy. It may be a hollow kind of sexual power, but it is one I will let her have for now. She slides her tongue between my lips and I start to crumble.
She is kissing me.
As I slide my tongue into her mouth a little more roughly, I know that she is testing me. Trying to find out if all her suspicions from years ago were true. I haven't got anything left to lose any more, so I let her know that she was right. That all those years ago I wanted her. That a part of me will always want her, just like there will always be a part of Angel that will crave everything that is Buffy Summers. I bet that soldier boy has jerked off about her more than once since he last saw her.
She gets under your skin and into your blood. Then she looks at you with those eyes as if she is the one who is innocent about the whole thing. That she didn't realise she was drawing you into her with those long looks and little smiles that hinted there could be so much more. That look like the one she is giving me now as she pulls away from me, licking the excess moisture from her lips as she does so.
She gives me a little nod, and I know that I have passed the test. She's not going to kill me. Not just yet anyways. She climbs off me and gives me her hand so I can pull myself up. Without saying a word she heads back in the direction of the car. She knows that I will follow her. At least she has started to admit that she really does know what is going on in my head. She knew all along. I know she did.
We head off back along the road, and I know where we are going. There is only one place where she could need me enough for all of this. Sunnydale, and I no that there has to be something going down there or she would have just waited until the time was right.
"You remember High School?" she asks suddenly, catching me by surprise. "My High School, not yours. Well, they rebuilt it. Right on top of the Hellmouth all over again. You would have thought that they would have learnt the lessons from last time, but no. So they re-dug the foundations like the idiots they are, and Xander was even part of the construction team but apparently there was nothing that he could do and well, to make a long story less long, they appear to have disturbed something. Cracked some mystical barrier. And now the evil seems to be heading right back to Sunnydale. Vampires are everywhere, and it's getting too much to handle with all the other demons who want to be here as well."
"So you needed a little Slayer help."
"Obviously. Angel told me that you were as good now as you are ever going to be, so we decided to take the chance and get you out. That was why I came to get you. If there was one thing that was going to bring out the worst in you, then we all knew that it was going to be me."
"Nice way to test me though B. Was everyone else in on that too?" I look over at her, and she starts to colour slightly. Just the slightest hint, but enough to let me know I've got her on that one. Her eyes seem to be sparkling again. Maybe it's just the sun setting on the horizon up ahead.
"No. That was more a spur of the moment thing."
"It's cool," I shrug. If there is one thing I know by now, it's not to push Buffy too far. Get a blow in and then pull back nice and sharp. She fights like she lives, and all that sparring back in the day taught me well. I'm starting to relax a little, knowing that I still know just how to hit her buttons and get her going. It's a good feeling, and boy have I missed it. "So what's the plan? You have got a plan right?" I can't imagine that the Brady Bunch back-up haven't got something clever going on. Me, I'd just burn the place to the ground again, kill everything that got in the way.
Being good doesn't mean you have to change your style, yunno?
She's gone all quiet on me again, and I can tell that she is wondering just what to tell me. She still doesn't trust me, even though her tongue was probing my cavities a while ago. This was the part that I didn't miss all that much. If there is one part of me that doesn't liked to be fucked, it's gotta be my head. Trouble is, it's the only bit that Buffy here likes to fuck around with, repeatedly and with precision from what I remember. I see her glance at me again, and she must know that I'm pissed off with her whole attitude. She's probably dragging me off to my death here, and she won't even let me know what the plan is. I am so close to folding my arms like an angry kid.
She takes a deep breath and hits me with the big revelation. "Well, not really."
"They don't really have a plan. Well, not as such. Giles went back off to England, and he's only just come back. Willow is off, the magic - long story," she waves her hand dismissively at me, even though that was the bit that actually sounded interesting; Buffy's tone made it sound like our friend Red had been a naughty girl. "Xander's planning skills haven't really advanced that far to be honest. So, we are, more or less, well, without a plan."
"So going in and killing everything isn't such a lame idea for once." I grin over at her, knowing that it'll piss her off. "Coz it's not like you can come up with anything better, huh?" I know she wants to tell me where to get off, but she ain't going to give me the satisfaction. Oh no, she still thinks she's somewhere way up above me.
The fact that she needs me right now is something that seems to have slipped her mind somewhere back down the road.