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TITLE: On the Persistence of Beige and Memory (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shadow
FEEDBACK: Very much appreciated.
SUMMARY: "He wonders if evil is just another word for nothing left to lose."
RATING: PG-13 for naughty language.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own them, more's the pity. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy do, which I suppose is second best.
NOTES: Set after "Hell's Bells," poem comes courtesy of Edna St. Vincent Millay and various pop culture references come courtesy of my weirdo brain.

What is it about the past that makes people worship it? The fact that it's gone? That it can never be changed? Or that it is certain and unwavering no matter how hard the winds of adversity may blow?

Winds of adversity.

That's a good one, he thinks. Who'd a thunk Car Guy, Donut Boy or any other of his nerdly incarnations would be capable of deep thought or something that could be poetry, if you squint.

He sighs and tilts his head back, sharply rapping the cheap wood of the bedstead and is surprised when it holds.

Beige. Everywhere beige. Or possibly piss yellow, the yellow it gets when it has sat in a toilet bowl too long.

Possibly the love child of beige and past piss, he thinks, which reminds him he has to go to the bathroom.

If only he could regain those crazy motor skills of his.


It comes to him then, the resolution of a single image to perfect clarity, like on that show that wanted to be "Twilight Zone" so very badly.

Faith, astride him, the same beigellow on the cracked ceiling and walls, but he could not really see that because she was, well, on top of him.

You try to think coherently when you are in that situation.

Plus nothing else mattered at that moment except her, all chiaroscuro except for the slight rose of her nipples.

Faith wasn't beige. Faith would never know beige. Faith was all things dark and light and painful, but never that halfway yet somehow malevolent color.

But beige leads to ivory and ivory leads to Anya. And therein lies the pain.

Watching her crumble and melt as his words struck her, solid and final as a frying pan to the face.

He had told her he couldn't do this, wasn't ready, was afraid of hurting her. Of course, he was really afraid of himself, afraid of becoming his father, afraid of a beer-stained miserable existence, afraid of rearing little Xanders who would quip their way through life and wake up one day in vomit and blood and remember nothing.

It used to be simple: find evil, get scared by evil, watch as Buffy defeated evil, dance off frustrated adrenaline at the Bronze. Now, suddenly, there are so many more opportunities to be the screw-up everyone thought he was.

I saved us, dammit, he thinks angrily, gritting his teeth. Even if he never did tell them, since oddly enough it isn't very easy to work the fact that they all owed their lives to him into everyday conversation. Memories of that day lead him again to her. Her, guarded even in the most intimate of moments, years of pain masked by a roll of her hips, hands confidently guiding him into her.

Love me, she didn't say, but her body did. Love me though I'm tarnished, love me though I can't help myself, love me for I am. What a fucked up pair we would have made, he chuckles mirthlessly. We could have put Dru and Spike to shame. The damaged can always smell their own, and Faith reeked. She never spoke of her childhood-she really never talked about herself, period. Which made sense, as he knew perhaps better than anyone that Faith was a doer, not a talker. He wonders what she is doing right now. He knows she is in jail, Buffy has told him that much, but beyond that...

He sees her as she was, fighting, always fighting, against monsters, against Buffy, against herself. He sees her fighting other prisoners, perhaps, maybe grinning a little as a punch hits just so and her opponent drops to the ground, hard.

He sees her thrown into solitary confinement, happy that, for today, she still hasn't drowned, one more day that Faith is still winner and champion against the world.

"What would be the point," she had said when he had come to see her after that night. "What do we have to talk about? We fucked, one time deal, later Xander." And had pointedly held the door open.

"Faith," he'd said, drawing next to her in the door frame, feeling the heat of her body, thinking suddenly "I burn my candle at both ends/It will not last the night/But oh, my foes, and ah, my friends/It gives a lovely light," words by some old lady prophesying the woman in front of him with eerie precision.

She had looked at him, and her eyes had seen forever.

"Just go, Xander. I can't give you what you want."

Now, lying here alone, life in shambles, on a bedspread with an odor best left unanalyzed, he looks into the black and feels the black look into him, wonders if this was what she saw, after killing that man, after the sky imploded and the foundations she had so carefully laid to define herself were reduced to rubble.

He wonders if evil is just another word for nothing left to lose.

He wonders if the pain ever stops.

He lies there, and thinks of the dark abysm of time.

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