Decisions
Summery: Xander.  Riley.  Lindsey.  Three vignettes.  (X/S, R/Gr, L/A)
Spoilers: Major for ‘Intervention’, ‘Dead End’, ‘Into the Woods’, basic for Buffy 5th season
Date: May 3, 2001
Notes: Thanks once again to Charles

**********
*****

Xander hates Spike.  He thinks.

Maybe.

Basically feels the same way towards the annoying British one as he did towards the equally annoying Irish one.  Spike.  Angel.  Good.  Evil.  Flip a coin or something!  Just, pick a side and stick with it for God’s sake!  Is that really so much to ask?

Not even going to think about Faith.  Nope.

It’s the waffling he can’t stand.  The indecision.  Which, of course, is always closely followed by confusion.  Xander feels he has enough on his plate as it is without having to constantly worry about one of the people he’s let in throwing him on a bed and trying to choke him to...

Hey!  Wasn’t supposed to think about her!

Dammit.

Not that Spike could ever do that.  Well, not the choking part, at least.  But, he could do the whole throwing on a bed thing, which, if Xander’s completely honest with himself, he really wouldn’t mind trying.

See, that’s why Xander’s rarely completely honest with himself.

Spike is bad.  Spike is not that bad.  Spike could be a whole hell of a lot worse.  No, wait, Spike is bad again.  Oh, hang on, now he’s only kind of bad, sometimes.

Xander’ll lend him a coin.  Heads, and Spike can turn back into the arch enemy everyone knows and would gleefully wipe off the face of the planet.  Tails, he can become a full fledged Slayerette.  Xander would even hold his hand at the body art place when he got the requisite tattoo.  He wonders what Spike’s ass would look like with a cartoon Great Dane permanently etched into it.

Ulp.  Thinking about Spike’s ass again.

Okay, he’ll think about other things.  Like, how gruesome Spike looked when he and Giles took the vamp back to the crypt.  Spike looked awful.  Spike looked beyond awful.  Spike looked like death, and not even the warmed over kind.

Xander had cringed at the cuts and bruises.  Whispered an honest apology when his hand inadvertently brushed against a still sensitive wound.  Giles had kept up a steady stream of questions, though he wasn’t in nearly the kind of Inquisition mode he could be.  He just wanted to know if Spike had given up Dawn, though, Xander thought that answer was pretty obvious.

Spike hadn’t said a word.

Xander had seen enough torture victims - once again, his thoughts lead straight to a bout of ‘There’s-something-fundamentally-wrong-with-my-life-itis’ - to know that what happened to Spike was beyond the pale.  Beyond every shade of pale, ever.

So, why did the vampire let it happen?  Glory might be evil incarnate, but she’s not going to waste her time playing shishkebob with a vampire when she could be out doing whatever it is she wants to do with Dawn.  Why didn’t Spike tell?

Xander doesn’t know.  And, he’s not going to ask.  He’ll just accept that their little accordion-like circle is expanding again, for better or for worse.  For good, or for bad.

Probably for bad.

But... maybe not *that* bad.

**********
*****

Riley can admit that his mental state has been a little south of sanity for a while now.  He likes to think that maybe Maggie did something to his head too.  That she tinkered around in his brain, cut a few of the more important synapses or something.  That’s what he likes to think, but he knows that’s not the truth.  The truth is he was too weak.

His black and white mentality couldn’t handle all the subtle shades of gray brought into play by... go on, say it.  The Scoobies.  Tries thinking about the absurdity of it.  The foolish ignorance that accompanies willfully calling yourself something like that.  The Scooby Gang.  Makes him remember that for the most part its members are nothing more than children.  That the reason they carry that moniker proudly is because they’re too caught up in their Saturday morning fantasy to see the stark reality.  Stupid.  Irresponsible.  Illogical.  Focuses in on the animosity, the burning not quite hatred that simmers in his gut, knowing that if he concentrates long enough and hard enough it’ll overshadow the aching hole in his heart.  Or maybe not his heart, his soul.

Part of him can’t help but miss them.  The people who could have been... who were, his friends.  It’s the part of him that wanted to go back even when he was getting on the helicopter.  Not just back to Buffy, but back to all of them.  If he had just stayed... But he hadn’t.  He wasn’t a member of their family.  He never would be.

He didn’t have a family anymore.  He’d occasionally wonder what his mother and father were doing.  Felt the odd pang of guilt over what they must have thought when he didn’t show up at the farm for Christmas.  Knows he can never go back there either.  Doesn’t know what would be worse, the questions or the answers.

The answers.

At least the people he’s with now, his new team, know to not even ask.  They get told what to do.  They do it.  They move on to the next assignment.  Simple, mindless, and Riley wants to love it.  He keeps remembering the Initiative before the onslaught of annoying locals, and wants it to all click again.  He wouldn’t even care if they started more experiments, as long as it would take him away from the mess in his head.

Or, maybe instead of messing it up more, they could fix whatever was wrong.  Just like they could fix Graham.  And a sliver inside holds onto that.  Knows it’s complete and utter bullshit, but holds on nevertheless.  But, that small bit of hope will die, just like...

They were going over Intel one night, just the two of them, experience counting more than seniority, planning a raid on a rather large vampire nest.  Suddenly Graham’s hand closed over his forearm.  It felt like his palm was on fire.  And Riley’s body very quickly followed suit.

There were no kisses.  No touches besides the bare minimum needed to get each other off.  And then it was over, quick as it had begun.  They wiped away the evidence, rearranged their fatigues, and went back to work.

When their job was done and Riley was back in the shabby little room they had assigned to be his quarters that trip, he sat on his cot and tried to cry.  He wanted to cry.  Wanted to bawl like a baby.

He really should have been able to cry.

Once, when they were rubbing against each other, hips fitted against each other so nicely, pleasure from the contact making Riley feel more alive than he had in months, once, he made the mistake of looking in Graham’s eyes.

When he was a kid he always thought being dead meant you were under six feet of dirt and had a nice, respectable cross planted at your head.  He wasn’t a kid anymore.

Forrest.  Spike.  Graham.  There were varying degrees of deadness.

Before, Graham may have kept his mouth shut most of the time, but his eyes were among the most expressive Riley had ever seen.  Teasing, sardonic, passionate, those were words most people wouldn’t have associated with the demure Agent Miller.  But, then, most people never paid attention to the different lights that came into those bright blue eyes.  Riley had.  That was the reason, when they were grinding together, that he had sought out Graham’s gaze.  He wanted, needed, to see what was there.

He should have known better.

Riley hadn’t looked into his friend’s eyes since.

And, he still couldn’t cry.

**********
*****

Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.

Lindsey’s almost used to it by now, the automatic writing.  Its former owner might be dead, but the hand is still rightly pissed.  Lindsey knows enough not to question the absurdity of the situation.  He has an evil appendage.  He can accept that.

Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.

Until the flesh forgets he tries to keep it busy as much as he can.  Strumming his guitar.  Working on his truck.  Performing any number of menial, odd, promised-himself-he’d-never-ever-do-in-his-life, jobs.

Will work for food.

Will work to keep my evil hand occupied.

He may have spent the last several years out of touch with his humanity, but Lindsey figures the first saying would go over much better than the truth.  Not that he actually did need to work for food.  He may have brushed the cobwebs off his conscious, but he had no compunctions about keeping his money, bloody or otherwise.  He had earned it.  It was his.  And, that was something he couldn’t say about much in the world anymore.  So, no, he was far from destitute, and would remain that way for quite some time.  But he still had to do something.  Idle hands, and all that...

Ever the pragmatist, Lindsey did accept any money he was offered for his labors, though most of the time his payments were of the edible variety.  He didn’t dream of complaining though, not when his belly was full of foods he hadn’t even seen in years.  Home fries, and Virginia ham.  Rich, buttery biscuits sopping up thick country gravy.  Grits.  God, how he had missed a good plate of grits.
 
So, he washed dishes in Tucson, mended fences outside Santa Fe.  Mucked stalls.  Painted barns.  Mr. former closet full of Armanis with paint splatters on his sleeves, calluses on his hands, and horse shit on his boots.

If only Angel could see him now.

If only...

Knows it wouldn’t matter, not in the least.  Lindsey could give all his money to widows and orphans and lame puppies, he could single handedly build churches and schools, he could dedicate the rest of his life to saving endangered species and cleaning up oil spills, and it still wouldn’t matter.  He would still be evil lawyer Lindsey, worthy of nothing more than thinly veiled contempt and the occasional ass-kicking.

Damn self-righteous vampire.

Fucking holier than thou blood sucking son of a bitch.

Lindsey is also well aware of his lingering issues.

Any time his disobedient appendage relinquishes writing control-

Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.

Lindsey puts it down.  Pours his heart, and whatever he might have left of a soul, into words, onto paper.  After editing out the odd homicidal statement, he’s even performed some of these emotional outpourings.  Graciously received the acclaims, shrugged off the ‘helpful’ suggestions regarding his career.  Politely states that he’s not looking for one of those.  Puts up with the looks of disappointment and pity with only a modicum of the amount of annoyance he feels entitled to.  He wants to yell at them, wants to tell them that he had had a career, wants to explain that he knows all about wasting your life, and other people’s as well.

Doesn’t though.  Doesn’t care to.  Bringing up the past is contradictory to forgetting about it.  He knows the aches he feels will never truly be gone, and he’s all right with that.  Amazing lyrics can come from pain.  But, it would be nice if the edges were a little duller.  If he didn’t feel a surge of *something* every time he hears a certain A-word.

Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill.

Maybe the hand does have the right idea.  Except he doesn't want to kill Angel, not really.  Not when keeping him on edge is so much more fun.  That’s why he’s sending the postcard.

Wish you were here.

He just won’t specify the why part... But he does cross out the couple of ‘kill’s that worked their way in there.

**********

the end


Back