reunion; an indesolution logbuffy the vampire slayer (indesolution-verse) | warren mears/andrew wells | 3,309 words | log
begun on 11/19/07
notes co-written with amber (andrew pov). takes place after this post. UNFINISHED.
The fake sky is overcast today. Andrew doesn't know why — maybe they like to mix it up a little at the weather bureau. But it doesn't help his mood, and he kicks at the neat pebble path angrily as he moves between buildings, his cheeks splotchy from crying. He should know better than to try and fix things anywhere other than in person.
That, and Andrew would really, really like to yell right now.
It hadn't been hard to find Warren; he'd just asked at the entrance dome. It's funny, thinks Andrew, that they are all in different buildings. Maybe safer for the population of Babylon, too.
In the elevator to the second floor Andrew scrubs at his face with the sleeve of his t-shirt. He's worn simple clothes — he still loves his jeans, even if tweed is cooler — and he doesn't want to come off as trying to be this mature White Hat, because he's not. Andrew runs a hand frantically through his hair. It's silly, to be worried about his appearance — but then, it's probably silly to be worried about Warren, as well.
He takes a deep, calming breath in the hallway (it's getting to be a habit.) This isn't about blame, he tells himself. He has to be assertive and remain in control of the conversation. Which sounds fine now, out here all alone, but Andrew knows from experience that life doesn't work that smoothly.
Warren probably doesn't want to see him. But that's Andrew's fault, and he's going to do something about it. Clenching his jaw resolutely, he knocks.
Warren hasn't moved from the desk chair, but he's turned away from the computer; it hasn't been long enough for the screen to go black, and the light reflects off the side of his face. Warren stares unseeingly at the opposite wall, the dented plaster and the keyboard lying below, square letters scattered comically on the carpet in front of it. His hands are shaking, and his belly feels like it's been disemboweled, the rage coiling up there in place of his guts. It's how he'd felt when he'd gone after the Slayer (Buffy now, and another twist knots into place). He remembers that, he remembers it like it was only seventeen days ago. He's wondered at least that many times every day, if these people, these friends, are really from his world, are really his. But they seem to expect him as he is, and it's another twist, to meet their expectations and come up short when he's used to larger than life.
His leg jitters up and down compulsively. Andrew says he's coming, and Warren hopes that if anything hasn't changed, just one goddamn thing, it's the gentleness of Andrew's face, that it will perform on cue and fall far when he is hurt. Warren wants to hurt him.
Then there is the knock on the door, and Warren's tightly wound guts begin to unravel into something else, something he won't name. He rises from the chair mechanically, but by the time he reaches the door his fingers on the knob seem to tremble to a different tune. He tips his forehead against the wood, runs his other hand over his eyes before pressing it against the door in an effort to still his own body.
He doesn't want to open it, would rather just let Andrew stew and not have to put a face to this new and improved model. He's only just left behind the old version. He'd liked the old version. Pliable and strange and, like, scarily good at remembering entire scenes of dialogue from movies he'd only seen once. Fucking Andrew.
Warren opens the door. He looks at Andrew, and doesn't speak, doesn't move but for his eyes, taking him in, everything that is different (everything that is the same). He seems a little taller. Warren suddenly thinks he can feel the full weight of the time that has passed.
Six knocks in quick succession and Andrew presses his palm flat against the door, willing it to open. Another six, and his forehead joins it. The door opens and he stumbles forward, catching himself just in time and finding himself face to face with Warren.
It's like going back to a room after ten years and finding everything exactly where you left it. Warren seems exactly the same as he was on the day he flew off with that jetpack on his back, and that brings memories rushing vividly back in a way it hadn't with Jonathan. Andrew wants to kick himself for all the things he'd forgotten; the way Warren hunches forward, the shadow of his nose, the space between his fingers and the precise pattern his hair settles into. There's barely a scar left on his cheek.
Andrew realises they're probably about the same age now. It only emphasises the difference between his past and present self. He can't hold Warren's gaze, can't look at him, and blue eyes dart around the apartment, lingering on the fallen keyboard, the pile of bags in the corner — is that? His attention snaps back to Warren and the usual pliability seems to seep in, mingling with his anger, making everything confusing. He wants desperately to hug him. Instead, one hand reaches up to check Warren is real before Andrew aborts the movement.
"So," he says, once he's sure he can speak. One of his feet slides forward a little, not wanting a door slammed in his face. There's an innate gentleness in Andrew that keeps his tone low and even when he speaks, leeches all the waspishness out. "You're going to have to buy a new keyboard." Probably the most idiotic thing he has ever said. Well, in the top twenty, at least. "Can I...?"
He doesn't finish the question — the answer would probably be no — and instead steps into the room. It takes all the courage he's learned to stay there.
Warren continues to hold the door open even when Andrew is clear of it, fingers grasping the edge tight enough to make his hand hurt. He continues to look Andrew up and down for seconds that are each filled with all the matter a second can hold; which is, it turns out, comparable to an ant and fifty times its weight. Warren thinks that if he were to make a robot version of Andrew — his Andrew — it would look a lot like this. His replicas were flawless, no one could ever touch the perfection of his designs, but it was something in the way they held themselves, something he'd never been able to duplicate from the specs of the original, that made them just a little off. A little different from what someone who knew them would be expecting.
Warren snakes out a hand to grasp the end of one of Andrew's curls and stares at it as it twists between his middle and index fingers. "You look like a fucking angel." It isn't kind. Warren drops his hand; the curl falls, and Warren gets a strange satisfaction from seeing it remain displaced as Andrew shifts about.
"Would you go away if I told you to?" There is the implied order in his tone, but some genuine, if petulant curiosity seeps in as well, earning his words their question mark.
It's not quite leash-like and Andrew demonstrates everything when he grits his teeth against the tiny pain and doesn't move his head. He can do what he wants with his hair, and clothes, life. But Warren touching his hair hurts more than if he'd been slapped. He's real, really real, and Andrew keeps his eyes turned towards the floor because he doesn't want Warren to see the vulnerability and guilt shining there.
Shuffling a little, quick glance to the open door like a cornered animal, or a man who wants the last temptation gone. The tinge of authority in Warren's voice makes him feel sick inside. There are so many layers to it all. "I don't know," he says, with his guts all twisted up and his heart in his throat.
His feet itch towards the door without even the barest of commands, and this is Warren. He does what Warren says — maybe he whines, maybe he questions, but he does it. He can't think of it past tense because it's a Pavlov reaction, that need to obey. It would be easier to turn around and walk out and leave Warren to his ridiculous little plans and brooding.
But Warren needs him more than Andrew needs to feel good about himself. He can pretend it was a question, that Warren wants him to stay. Maybe deep down he really does. "I don't think so." He swallows the lump in his throat, but when he speaks his voice doesn't quite sound as forbidding as he wants it to. "We need to talk."
The words threaten to drip like bile from his tongue, but it's the thought that Andrew might stay, and not that he might leave that closes his throat around the flutterings of panic he's becoming all to used to, here. He hasn't even really had the chance to enjoy that Claire Redfield lives, like, right down the hall.
Warren's eyes jerk up towards the ceiling in frustration and anger before his gaze falls to the side with the tilt of his head, eyes shuttered and lips pressed into a hard line. He releases the door and gives it a shove, arm briefly reaching past Andrew's head with the movement. The slap of wood is sharp and satisfying, resonating with the anxiety in his belly.
Warren moves back to the desk chair and straddles the back, crossing his arms lazily across the back and rubbing his face with one hand. He looks up at Andrew and gestures. "So do the talking thing." His leg resumes its quick, compulsive up and down.
The slam of the door makes Andrew jump. He stares at Warren because it's all so familiar, like hearing a song you've heard a hundred times before and can't remember the words for. Like something deeper than similes.
"Maybe you should do the talking thing," says Andrew, crossing his arms defiantly. "Because, see, for all your talk of delicious Szechuan spices, you're the one who's being um, totally weird about all of this." Weird isn't quite the word Andrew wants, because Warren is always weird, they all are. He's being detached, like none of anything ever happened. None of anything. It makes his stomach hurt, which makes him think of Jonathan, and his hands ball tighter under his armpits.
"Look, I know I was a mushroom and you were the tasty meatsauce in like, a stew of evil, but I got over it." Andrew takes a deep breath, speaking without thinking and just steeling himself for the consequences of saying what he wants to. "Maybe you should, too."
Warren stares at Andrew silently, all of his nervous movements stilled by the coldness that slices through him. Andrew's own fidgeting only increases, however, the longer Warren looks at him with eyes so hard that his head aches with it, anger pounding behind his temples and it feels good, familiar. Andrew is about to open his mouth again, the soft skin at the corners of his eyes revealing his misery and goddamned repentance, but Warren cuts him off.
"Who the hell are you?" Incredulity rises and mingles with the fury. "Why are you even here. Aren't you afraid your shiny halo will get, like, scuffed if you hang around me too long? I'm bad influence guy."
Warren drops his gaze and shakes his head slightly to dislodge the sudden confusion. He'd never minded being that guy. Doesn't. But it reduces the equation to sum it up in those terms, and it had always seemed like something bigger than that. Something amazing and terrible, in an epic sort of way. He'd changed their lives.
Warren's eyes snap back to Andrew. "You would've been eaten by one of your pet demons a long time ago if it wasn't for me and a mushroom, Andrew, what the fuck."
As soon as the words are out of his mouth Andrew wants to take them back, and as Warren's silence stretches on it becomes an effort of will not to apologize, to downright beg for forgiveness as the utter horror and rejection on Warren's face sinks into Andrew's subconscious. It could be there for a while; maybe the rest of his life. He loses the battle and takes a shuddering breath to start, but Warren explodes.
How many tears can he shed in just a few days? Apparently the answer is measured in gallons. His eyes and face burn with shame, and he glances around the apartment again; with the lack of somewhere else to sit, he just drops to the floor, wrapping his arms around his legs and staring up at Warren with stricken, wounded puppy eyes. It's not even the words. The words barely register. It's the fury on Warren's face and the malicious knifes in his tone, and worse: the fact that Andrew can't stop feeling sorry for him. Warren hates it when he gets like that.
"It w-was a metaphor," he manages to choke out, and the waterworks begin. "Why do you have to be like this?" He sobs on the last word, and it comes out long and distended. It's awful and he wants to bury his face in his knees and just imagine he's somewhere else for a little while, but he can't stop staring at Warren's face — the flicker of a vein in his temple, the knuckles whitening on the back of the chair.
"I mean fine, okay? It was all you. It always was. But if you're going to try and guilt trip me for moving on when you weren't there anymore... it's not going to work." Except for the fact that it quite obviously was. Andrew took a few gulps of air and wiped uselessly at his face.
"I just want us all to be friends again," he whispers miserably.
Warren doesn't have any lights on, and the overcast sky outside lets Andrew's features draw gray shadows along the side of his face. His tears shine, though; the cherub hair makes his face look as soft as a baby's and it's what he'd wanted, what he'd wanted, what he'd wanted. But the wetness on Andrew's cheeks seem to coat the back of Warren's throat with disgust, making it difficult to swallow, to breathe, and the anger builds up in his lungs until they burn.
"Just, stop. Stop looking at me like that," Warren spits out, the words tumbling over each other in a sort of panic to get out of his mouth.
Andrew shudders, suddenly afraid of the frantic note in Warren's voice, incredibly aware that he's alone here and nobody but Jonathan knows it. "Sorry," he whispers, dropping his eyes to the floor as the thousandth tear of today rolls off his nose and hits his knee.
He pulls up his t-shirt and rubs at his face with it, a move he used to do all the time back in Sunnydale. He never cried this much in Rome, and the well-practiced movement makes him feel incredibly young again. But that seems to be the last of the tears, for now, and he peers up through still-damp eyelashes, never able to keep his eyes off Warren when they're in the same room. "Please, Warren," he says, his voice distant from his thoughts, small and lost in the vast gulf of space between them. "You don't have to— you're making this... so hard. Harder than it has to be."
"You used to be easy," Warren mutters. If he'd even been able to think about the words before they'd spilled out he would've wanted them to hurt, and he hates the bitterness that clings to them.
It'd been a rush job, but in the timeline of before and after, everything after had been as carefully engineered as any of his creations. Andrew was the grease. He'd let Warren do anything. Be anything. Warren had needed him, and without him he is stalled, while Andrew has slipped out of his machinations and moved on. The touching parts (cheap wine label smeared with red running mascara replaced by dark circles musk scent seeping into his pores pleas falling from blue lips) all scream metal on metal in his head. He should be dead oh god. Warren laughs and it's a wild, desperate sound.
At first Andrew shrinks back because this isn't the sound of an entirely sane person, but then he shuffles forwards on his knees. They both seem to think he's learned to be strong, and maybe that's so he can be strong for Warren, too, stop (fictional) history repeating itself.
"Please calm down," he says, not quite as reasonably as he would have liked, and he reaches up to catch one of Warren's hands in his gently. He's kinda positive that he'll end up with broken fingers, but he knew when he came here that he'd end up hurt. Andrew still is easy, but he's not going to admit that to Warren — or himself.
Warren has never felt comfortable in his own skin; he slouches like his epidermis is a hand-me-down that's too small for him and if he straightens it will split at the seams. It's been worse since he got to Babylon. More specifically, since the revelation of his cause of death. It's all too easy to imagine (all he can do is imagine) that they took him during the split second when the magic was preparing to separate skin from muscle, that it lingers underneath waiting to finish the job given the right command. When Andrew touches him the skin on Warren's hand prickles, the hair raising like hackles, and Warren jerks away. His back hits the desk, and it rattles. "Don't touch me."
The shock in his voice keeps it from echoing his startlement, but the same can't be said for the rest of Warren's body; the adrenaline is making his fingers tremble. He crosses his arms and tucks his hands underneath, keeping his back pressed tight against the desk. He looks at Andrew, on his knees in front of him, and the expression that twists Warren's face is beyond a sneer, something cruel and full of pain and he doesn't want to think about whether it is his or Andrew's. "This Kodak moment looks familiar anyway," Warren says smoothly, quickly. He laughs again. "My savior."
The hardest part is that rejection tastes bitterly familiar — with all the wholesome lo-calorie Scooby Gang excitement, Andrew had nearly forgotten the sheer idiotic optimism involved in putting himself on the line again and again and expecting different results (wasn't that the definition of insanity? oh god.)
It's not enough to restart the waterworks, but he snatches his own hand back and cradles it in his lap guiltily, not knowing what he would have done if Warren had taken it. Fallen into line? This entire drama isn't getting either of them anywhere. Andrew's gaze slides away and back around the room, knowing Warren's expression would be enough to shred the last of his bravery.
He reaches out again, but this time just as something to hold onto as he stands, limbs still slightly awkward but no longer bumbling. Andrew thinks he's seen Spike do this, get right into the personal space of whoever he's arguing with, but it immediately makes Andrew uncomfortable; Warren still has gravitational pull. He takes a few steps backwards, ending up right where he'd started. "Don't laugh at me, okay," he snaps, and then, quieter: "You're really freaking me out, Warren."