Purge by Niamh
Nowish, Season Four.
came to me as an unexpected partner-piece to "Cleanse." Who knows
where it came from? I sure don't. It didn't end how I expected it to, and that
might be in part because about an hour after I had started writing this, I read
Lara's "Pain and Ashes" and very nearly *stopped* writing this :) She
said she wanted to read it though, so here goes!
How could she?
I mean, I have a
pretty good idea how *he* could, but I wouldn't have
expected it from
her. Never from her.
How *could* she?
I don't want to
believe it, even though I'm seeing it with my own two eyes.
It's there, right in
front of me. It's right there.
But I can't believe
it. I can't. I don't want to.
I had come, not
because of those taunting words...
("Do you really
think she's safe with him?")
...not because of
those words, but because I needed to see her. I needed to
see her and feel her
hands on my broken body, patching me, healing me, making me whole again. It feels as though she's always had
that way about her
- I can't remember a time when Cordy didn't patch me up. I know such a
time existed, but it
feels so far away, it barely seems to matter anymore.
I came here seeking
shelter, seeking some kind of solace, seeking something
that would give me a
reason to get up and get back into the fight. I find strength
in her. So many times in the past I've found strength in her smile, her wit, and - for a while - I found strength in the
tired shadows of her
eyes. I found strength in her mortality, fueled by my own fear.
How could this have
Anger - raw, pure,
unadulterated - surges up within me, only to be doused in
an instant by sorrow
and disbelief - it's amazing how quickly that can happen. I tilt my head back and scream. It sounds almost like
the howling of
a wolf - there's melancholy in the wolf's howl, if you've ever really
listened to it.
There's melancholy, pain, and a million other unnamable things.
I turn and run,
heedless of the all-over ache that has settled in my bones.
It won't be there
for long, but I find myself hoping it will linger. If my physical
pain lingers, I won't be bothered by this other ache. It's much easier
to ignore physical pain.
This is only
physical. It's the psychological and emotional pain that will
I know this from
I'm running from
rooftop to rooftop, some small part of me amazed at the
covering and the time I'm covering it in. My legs pump and propel me, every thump, every jolt, every shock my body
undergoes sending more
pain through me. I push myself further and further, harder and harder,
until I reach the
rooftop of the Hyperion.
It isn't until I
hear something hiss and sizzle that I realize I have come
all this way through
fire as it falls from the sky.
I'm a lot of things,
but I'm not suicidal. Not yet.
I duck into the
hotel. I wonder if the others have made it back. I wonder
if any of the others
are still alive.
Suddenly, for an
instant, I feel completely alone. Somewhere inside of me
lies the knowledge
that the others did *not* make it out alive. I know this on
a deep, almost primal level. I'm familiar with evil. Evil doesn't leave survivors,
it leaves refugees instead. I was tossed like a rag doll off of that
roof - there's nothing saying that the others didn't suffer a similar or
(please, no) a worse fate.
I stand in one of
the hallways of the Hyperion's upper floors, leaning
against a wall for
support - the wallpaper is faded and peeling, the sconces on
the walls are chipped and no light comes from them. There's so much work to
be done up here - renovations, redecorating... I had always thought a sort
of muted art-deco look would go with the rest of the place. Not too gaudy, but -
My eyes catch the
window. Fire is still streaming down from the sky.
thoughts come to a screeching halt and I lower myself to my
staring at the glowing sky, transfixed. Of its own accord, my
mind vaults back to Pylea. I think of Fred, hiding in her cave, afraid of
the world outside. I smile grimly - she had the right idea. There's always something out there with the potential to hurt, maim,
or kill us. And
we're always faced with a choice; we can either stay inside our safe
caves and slowly go
insane, or venture out into the unknown and take our chances.
I glanced up at the
cracked walls. How long before *I* began writing on
The smell of defeat - it smells of sulfur, smoke, and
"I told you,
English, I *heard* something."
Gunn. Wesley. Not
Wesley's outburst belies his appearance. I've surprised him. His
shatters for a moment, and I see him again - the Wesley I used
to know. I'm almost as surprised to see him as he is to see me.
lately, don't they?
long have you been here? We've been -"
"And how in the
hell did you get this far without bleeding out?" Gunn is
staring in disgusted
interest at my neck.
matter," I say, pushing myself back to my feet. "Everyone
Wesley purses his
lips. "We still have no word on Cordelia or -"
Safe." Safe. Right.
Wesley nods, noting
my tone. "Well, we'll need to pool our resources -
I hear his words,
but can't pull it together enough to understand them.
Instead, I lumber
past them both and head down the stairs. My legs are weak beneath
me, and if I don't drink something soon, I'll be more useless than I already
am right now. I push my way into the small kitchenette, stumbling toward the refrigerator and yanking the door open. There's
blood inside. I grab
a bag and tear it open with my teeth, gulping the cold, thick liquid
down greedily. I can
feel it dribbling down my chin just as acutely as I can
feel the others' stares of disbelief mingled with the faint tug of disgust.
"As I was
I shake my head,
wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I'm a little
better - I'm not
going to fall down anytime too soon, which is an improvement. "No, Wesley. It's just us."
Wesley blinks, and
for a moment he's once again transformed into the Wesley
I once knew. The
Wesley who wasn't fucking Lilah Morgan's brains out, the Wesley
who hadn't nearly bled out in a deserted park, the Wesley who hadn't misinterpreted
his son's future...
The father will kill
False prophecy or
not, the idea was an appealing one. It might still come
true. I look around
Gunn jerks his chin
towards the stairs. "He'll be down. He got pretty
"Looks like you
did too. Where's Fred?"
A pained look
crosses his face. "Don't know yet. We were just about to go
scout around for her
when I heard you upstairs."
My eyes dart to a
nearby window. Fred's out there, in this. "Let's go."
Wesley's hand is on
my arm. The old Wesley has vanished again, replaced
with this newer,
more somber version. "Angel, you can't possibly..."
"I'm going with
you." I now have something else to focus on - something
beyond the seeming
indestructibility of... whatever that was, something beyond my own temporary physical discomfort, and something
beyond the sight of
my son on top of Cordelia. My stomach lurches at the memory, and I feel
for a moment like
I'm going to vomit.
He was *fucking*
My tone brooks no
argument. "I'm going."
"No you're not.
Me and English are going out. You need to do something
about that gaping
wound - like covering it the hell up, just as a for instance."
So much for my tone
brooking no argument. They leave and I'm left alone.
My hand drifts up to
the wound in my neck; it's sticky and my fingers come back red. I do need to patch this. I need to get cleaned up.
I need to do a
lot of things. My feet lead me back upstairs and I shuck my clothes in
the bathroom. For
once, I'm glad that I can't see myself right now. I don' t
want to see myself. I've seen enough of myself.
slowly, her body spread out before him like an offering**
Hate, cold and
black, bubbles up in my chest. This is not righteous anger,
this is not
vengeance, this is not indignation... it's hate and it's as hard and
as cold as lead.
This is what I get
for needing; this is what I get for loving. Anger flows
through me once
again, and once again it's flooded with despair and anguish. The
water is flowing freely through the showerhead and somehow I've made it inside.
My back pressed against the frigid tile, I slide down until I'm sitting. I sit there, letting the stinging needles of water
pelt down on me
- my mind is numb. The world as I've grown accustomed to it is ending
outside, and I'm
sitting in a shower, a notch above catatonic.
The logical side of
my brain suggests that I learn how to prioritize. The
illogical side of my
brain, however, still doesn't understand what just happened. That's the whole problem, I guess: I don't
I don't understand
how this happened. I don't understand how - when I tried
so hard - how this
could happen. I don't understand the point of this. She couldn't
have been sent back for *this* purpose. Why was she sent back at all?
Why, if she couldn't have been sent back intact?
Is this some kind of
punishment? Is Cordelia being punished? Am I?
strikes me with such force, I'm almost startled.
It's not a
punishment. It's not about me, it's not about Cordelia, it's not
*about* any of us.
What's going on right now, all of it transcends the immediate. As sickening as it is, as nauseated as it makes
me, it's not important
- relatively speaking. And the only way I can effectively fight
what I'm supposed to
fight is by moving beyond the immediate.
Moving beyond the
immediate means that Wesley's right - we are going to have
to regroup. As
distasteful as that seems, it's clear to me now that it's the only way any of us stand a chance of defeating...
whatever that thing is.
What's out there
right now is far more important than any of us - any of our
problems. The small and petty world will still exist if we can fight
what it is that's out there, and that small and petty world will be a whole
lot more attractive than this one.
But allowing myself
to do this, to feel this way, to indulge this hatred and
anger and... It's
counterproductive. As much as this hurts, as much as I want to curl up and die right now, there are more important
things to do.
Yes, there are far
more important things to do.
Slowly, I push
myself to my feet and resume my shower. My neck is still
sore and tender, and
the hot water pulsing down on it does little to relieve the
pain. I refuse to let myself be consumed by that though - pain. It happened once; I won't let it happen again.
The woods are lovely, dark
and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
~ Robert Frost,
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"