Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated…
I’d had the Ramones on full volume all the way down the coast to Sunnydale, car shaking, seats stinking of alcohol and cigarettes. My skin was burned in places where the paper over the windows wasn’t stuck right. I was wound so tight I felt like I might bloody well explode. I wanna be sedated, too right. But now the cd player had cut out at last and the radio switched on. Green Day. Not too bad. They know bugger all about punk, but…
I fell out of the car and looked up at the familiar green and white sign. Sunnydale. I tilted my head, listening to the lyrics of the song. I couldn’t help laughing. The sound had a bark to it. Like it hadn’t been used in a while. My mouth tasted bitter.
“Welcome to Paradise, yeah,” I said. Then I passed out.
So it had taken me a bottle or three of Jack Daniel’s to get me to this point. So bloody what? I sat up, rubbing the back of my mouth with my hand. I was beginning to sober up now. Not a pretty feeling. It was one I’d avoided for a couple of weeks – cos the last time I was sober was when I’d come up with this genius plan. Head back to the town that had whipped me, where no one respected me, and where what I reckoned was the love of my undead life had gone and topped herself. That sounded like a right good plan, alright.
Course, a thing or two had changed since I left town last. Yeah, there were a couple of surprises I had up my sleeve for that git Xander and his uptight chum Red. Then we’d see who was running who out of town. I let myself smile. Like my laughter it had a weird feel to it. Like a mask that didn’t exactly fit. Sort of stung a bit – but I quite liked that.
And, of course, there was the Bit.
After Buffy – After that, Dawn and I had looked out for each other a bit. I tried to be the kind of man I’d promised Buffy I could be. The responsible sort. The sort of man who would’ve got up that tower two minutes earlier and - Yeah. The kind of man who’d not let bad stuff happen to Dawn. Not again. And I liked being with her. Alright, she was a pain in the arse at times – fifteen year olds have that knack – but she didn’t patronise me, or tell me that what I was feeling wasn’t real. That my grief didn’t matter, not compared to the grief of people with a pulse. Dawn didn’t tell me that I hadn’t really loved Buffy. Maybe it’s cos she knew she didn’t exactly come from human roots that she had a bit more sympathy for me. Or maybe it’s just that a year old ex-ball of energy makes a better human being than Xander Harris. I dunno. What I do know is that, for the first couple of months after… she died, looking out for Dawn held me together a bit. Gave me something to think about besides the remorselessness of my own conscience. Could I have been quicker, better, all that useless shit that I couldn’t seem to shift. And I reckon having me around did the Bit some good too. I didn’t baby her like the others. Well, the others ‘cept Glinda. Blonde witch has a bit of sense, I think. Knew what was what. I think she was at least half on my side.
Course, that didn’t do any good against the combined might of the git and Red. They were constantly on my back. God, I would be so happy to snap their necks. P’raps I will. After all, things have changed. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Xander and Willow were on my back all summer. Xander in his usual loudmouthed way, Willow in a soft-voiced, “we’re-only-looking-out-for-Dawnie” fashion. They reckoned it was bad for the Bit to spend so much time with me. Xander even hinted I had some other reason for hanging out with her. I couldn’t get Buffy so I was perving over her kid sister. Stupid fucker. He refused to believe I could feel affection, or responsibility.
Funny though that it was them who turned out to be irresponsible. I’d been babysitting Dawn one night. The scoobies were off doing something or other. Late that night, Xander came crashing in with Willow in his arms. Blood all over her hands and face. Xander wouldn’t tell me what had happened, but Willow croaked it out. Not thinking straight from the blood loss, I reckon. They’d tried to bring Buffy back, but it had failed.
They’d tried to bring Buffy back. And they hadn’t told me. They’d done this huge, dark thing and hadn’t included me, though I’d fought by their sides all summer, borne black eyes for their worthless hides… Let’s just say things turned ugly. Xander threatened to burn me in my crypt as I slept, and Willow revoked my invitation.
I could have just got Dawn to invite me back in, I s’pose. But I was just so fucking furious. I decided maybe it was better that I skip town. And I s’pose part of me was frustrated and felt crap cos I couldn’t beat the shit out of Xander. Not that I reckoned he could kill me easily, but it wasn’t like I could defend myself. Feeling threatened by that weasel made me feel like… nothing. Like I was nothing. Everyone’s favourite punching bag. Maybe Dawn would be better off without me. Sure, I wasn’t exactly leaving her with the Von Trapp family. Willow had been using more and more magic. You’d have to be blind not to recognise the signs – though I didn’t think the others knew yet. Well, maybe Glinda. She was looking a bit strained round the forehead. Poor bint. What do you do when your girlfriend gets addicted to magic? And Xander had got even more self-righteous since Buffy died. Self-righteous and fat. Still, I saw the effect all this arguing was having on Dawn, and what could I do? Take her away with me? That was just bloody weird. And it wouldn’t be what Buffy would’ve wanted. That was what I came back to. Buffy would’ve wanted Dawn to stay at home and do her homework and all that crap. So I decided to make it easier on her and left.
I drifted for a while. Place to place. Don’t really remember the first month. It was then that things… became unstuck. I drank a lot, I remember that. Woke up in places I didn’t recognise. And every time I woke up I remembered seeing her body on the rubble. The smell of her blood. Worse than that, though, was when I woke from dreams where I’d moved faster. Where I’d been quicker, cleverer. I’d knocked Doc from the tower and sliced through Dawn’s ropes. And Buffy thanked me. That was all. Even in my dreams she didn’t kiss me. She just said thank you, and I swear to God I’d wake up crying. Crying and aroused and aching, just fucking aching, and furious with the stupid bitch for throwing herself away like that. Sometimes I hated Dawn for not jumping, and sometimes I hated myself for even thinking that. Most of the time I hated myself, actually. So I drank. And drank. Might have managed to poison myself – even vampires must have a limit – if I hadn’t discovered I could also drink something else.
‘Bout Christmas time I had these headaches. Like the ones I’d had when I was still fool enough to try to kill people… But a hundred times worse. And I had a fever. Strange dreams haunted me, dreams of my childhood. Dreams where I killed my mother and her blood, not her dust, was on my hands. And through all that, the pain. Thought I’d die from it.
Till one day it just stopped. And I felt… It’s hard to explain. I just knew something was different. Like my brain was freer, somehow. Something had snapped inside my head.
Didn’t take long to figure out what that was. So my binges took on a new colour. I had nights where I’d stalk blonde girls. I didn’t just bite them, I ripped out their fucking throats. I got a name for myself in the LA papers. The Slasher. Other nights it’d just be random. Just drinking. I particularly liked hitting the clubs and finding prey. They were done up on coke and speed and E and that meant I got a hit too. Blood and drugs and beer. Nights I don’t even really remember. Waking up with blood on my hands and wondering what the fuck I’d been doing. The taste of blood sour in my mouth. I took a savage pleasure in it. Hurting them. Forgetting them. But it couldn’t get the thought of her out of my head. Nor of the Bit I’d left behind. Most of all, it couldn’t wipe out what I felt about myself.
It was getting towards summer. Dawn’d be sixteen now. I wondered what her birthday had been like. If the scoobies had given her a nice party. The thought of them happily smiling over birthday china made me grind my teeth so hard my jaw ached. Hatred boiled in my stomach like bile. And it struck me – I could hurt them now, if I wanted. And they could never make me feel weak again. I could see the Bit if I wanted, and sod the lot of them. Not that I was sure the Bit would want to see me – but I could make her see me, all the same. Funny how I got some nasty pleasure out of that thought. The only person who gave a shit about me, far as I knew, and I wanted to twist her arm. Maybe Xander’s right. Maybe I am just a monster.
So, having acquired this plan in a brief moment of sobriety, I headed back to Sunnydale.
I got myself cleaned up so I didn’t smell quite so much of stale booze and fags. I pulled on a fresh t-shirt and then chucked on my duster. I ran my fingers through my hair, and paused. Twisted it up. Scrabbled in my dashboard for a kohl pencil. Drew a rough line around my eyes. Not quite how I used to look back in the day… But not quite like how I used to look in Sunnydale, either. A bit rougher, I reckoned. I parked the car, not even bothering to lock the doors. No one was going to nick that, I didn’t reckon. Not after several thousand miles of me living in it and the windows all covered in newspaper.
I headed into the Bronze. Where else? I wasn’t quite ready to step back onto Buffy’s porch. And you never knew, Dawn might be here. Giggling with some girly pals, drinking a Pepsi. Or p’raps the Scooby gang. I could give them a bit of a scare.
Grinning, I headed into the club. Felt my body move with the crowd, moving between them, like a hunter again. It felt good to be stalking through the crowd. My blood was high and there was anger and frustration in my belly, just waiting to strike at something like a fist. One covered in nails.
I lay quiet
waiting for her voice to say
"Some things you lose
and some things you just give away"
If only I'd held on tighter to her pale
white skin that twisted and withered
away from me away from me
Watch me lose her
It's almost like losing myself
Give her my soul
and let them take somebody else
get away from me
Watch me fault her
”You're living like a disaster”
“Kill me faster
with strawberry gashes
The music thrummed a hard song in my empty veins and I was just on the right side of thirst, the itch beginning to burn in pleasant-pain, and then I smelt something. A scent I knew. Her.
I started to move through the crowds, quietly, quietly, to the dance floor.
((open - principally to Dawn, but don't have a problem with Tara joining later))
|comments: leave me lying here|