I spent this evening watching Angel and working on chapter 27 of Voices. When it became obvious that I wasn't going to get the chapter done in time to get to angstchic, I set it aside and spit out just one of the bits that has been nagging me about the William fic. And I'm doing something I've never done before. I'm going to share it here in LJ. It's not titled; it's nowhere near a full chapter. I'm not even sure where it would fall in the story, although somewhere towards the beginning seems to be calling out to me. Maybe even a prologue of some sorts. Anyway, here it is...
He couldn’t write fast enough. Only here did the words flow so easily. Here, they cascaded in meters and rhymes that swelled beneath his fingertips with a life that pulsed in pungence, leaving him breathless and hungry for more. They wouldn’t survive once he woke, scattering to the far corners of his mind to hide as if in shame, waiting to be gathered and harnessed the next time he slipped into slumber. But for now, for here, William was intent on savoring each and every missive that his pen transcribed, desperate for the provender they fed his soul.
So consumed by his creation, he almost didn’t hear her approach, her step a dance across his skin that should’ve been familiar after so many nocturnal meetings, yet a rhythm he didn’t dare acknowledge in light of the tenure it bound around his heart. Only when her perfume, that delicacy that demanded he breathe more deeply, caught on the slight breeze to drift past his nose, did he hesitate, faltering as he debated the potential recourse to looking up. Would he be disappointed? Would she be disappointed? More likely, the latter, though each and every time she appeared, she seemed increasingly interested in his welfare, coaxing the words to shift from his pen to his tongue, drawing him out in ways no one else ever had.
Not that many had tried. Such was his lot. But she had. She did. And so he looked, raising his blue gaze to see her standing next to him.
As usual, she was radiant, dressed in the simple white dress she always wore for their meetings. The first time, he had been quite embarrassed to see her clothed so. In many ways, it resembled a shift as he’d seen in his mother’s wardrobe, yet shorter, revealing the ripe curve of her leg that had caused him to stutter in a way that hadn’t happened since his school days.
She had laughed at him then, teasing his unease until he’d had no choice but to smile in kind. “They’re only legs,” she’d said. “They don’t bite. That would be what those things called teeth are for.”
William had tried to rise when she sat down on the cold stone bench next to him, the feel of her thigh pressing into the side of his overwhelming, but her hand had been surprisingly firm as she held onto his arm.
“Don’t go,” she’d asked, and stared at him until he’d lifted his gaze to see the truth in her eyes.
That was the moment he was lost. Drowned in a pool of emerald that looked very much as if they’d witnessed the very end of the world. “Who are you?” William had breathed, and was captivated when the corner of her mouth lifted.
Tonight, there was no hesitation as he hastily set aside his paper, inching his body sideways to clear room for her beside him on the bench. He frowned, though, when she merely shook her head.
“I can’t stay tonight,” Buffy said. “But I had to see you.”
“Why?” he asked. “Have I…done something to offend you?” Fear welled inside him, the possibility that he had somehow risked losing this ephemeral intoxication smothering any desire to continue with his poems. They meant nothing if she wasn’t there to share them with him. Even if they only lived within his dreams, the words she evoked gave him hope during the waking hours for the beauty he knew existed within the world, affording him strength when it seemed as if the most negative of naysayers were determined to drag him down.
She turned her head then, golden hair catching what little sunlight the afternoon provided to gleam as it swept over her shoulders. Silently, she stood, poised as if she was listening to something, and when she turned back to face William, the smile that graced her face was sad.
“Things are coming,” Buffy said. “Bad things. Things that…I really wish you didn’t have to see. We’re trying to stop them. Well, actually, we’re trying to kill them, which would, in effect, stop them, I suppose.” She broke off, shaking her head as she did so often when she would find herself rambling. “The point is,” she continued, “I might not be here to help you if they get through. So I need for you to have this.”
William watched as she lifted her arms, her small hands going to the back of her neck to undo the clasp of her necklace. When the chain slipped from its hold, she reached forward and pressed it into his palm.
“Be careful,” she warned. “And remember, I…”
Her voice faded away, just as the scene dissolved into black, and the small child somewhere inside the young man screamed in frustration for losing the dream just at that particular point. When his eyes opened, he was staring up at the too-familiar ceiling of his bedroom, his nightclothes twisted around his body, the dull morning sunlight streaming in through his window. His mind stretched to try and grasp the feather edges of the dream, but just as every other morning, it skittered to hide in the shadows, the details escaping him.
The remnants of how he felt, however, remained as always, coursing through his veins with more life than anything outside these walls ever provided him. Beauty, and trust, and delight, and sorrow, intertwined to suffuse him in smiles that charred his memory in crimson. This time, the emotions carried with it a gentle tide of fear, and carefully, William sat up in the bed, leaning heavily against the dark headboard.
Always the same. Always the euphoria followed by the emptiness. Leaving him nothing behind in exchange.
It was then that he felt the cold metal in his hand, and frowning, glanced down to see the fist curled up at his side. Slowly, his fingers opened, and he swallowed against the sudden dryness of his mouth.
There, in his palm, gleaming as it reflected back at him the errant rays of the sun, rested the small cross that he’d last seen nestled in the hollow of Buffy’s throat.