Emmie (angearia) wrote,

FIC: Mirror Mask

This piece was written in response to the SlayAlive Scribes challenge that I'm running.  I've decided not to enter the challenge as I'm moderating it (maybe down the road I will, but I'm serving in an advisory capacity right now), but I desperately wanted to write something for this prompt:  "Using your favorite Whedonverse character, show us what makes them beautiful to you.  Show us why you love them." 

So here is a piece about why I love Buffy and why she's beautiful to me.  And really, this is only one facet of what I find beautiful about her.  It's admittedly the tragic side but Buffy is courageously beautiful in the way she carries her pain.  This is post-Chosen.  959 words.  Rated G.

When she looks in the mirror she’s not sure what she sees. Her face has become an abstract vessel, a utility she molds into a facile mask that conveys messages at will. When she wants her friends and family to breathe easy in the knowledge of her perky happiness, she smiles and lights a twinkle in her hazel eyes. When she needs to intimidate, she scowls with jaw firm and a pointed glare of ice cold green. Her eyes and mouth are ever ready to meet the need of any situation her sensibility determines.

Her skin is smooth and slightly tanned. No time for lazing in the sun now that she’s awakened the Slayer line in every Potential the world over. By morning light she paints her face with delicate touches of color, accents to a beauty she no longer recognizes as beauty, but more a conglomeration of disconnected features, the sum of parts a baffling portrait failing to illustrate her self. Her eyes hint at tragedy veiled but that faint sign is the lone outward symbol of twisted scars running through her veins. Pain walks in tandem with her strong and dainty stride.

By fluorescent night she washes away the top layer of her mask with warm water that opens the pores.  The diluted pink and beige paints slide down the drain in a clockwise swirl. She gently massages moisturizer into her flushed cheeks, sighing deeply as her heart slows and the tension in her spine unfurls. Her mom would be happy to know of her faithful nightly ritual. Skin care was important.

Her mom would be proud of her even though she never finished college. She hopes her mom is proud of her. Unbidden by desire or design, she’s become a teacher and leader of heroes. Battle tactics and weaponry are unusual courses to profess, but she’s always been unconventional and the knowledge is important. Apocalyptically so. She wears an air of wisdom when she hands out sage advice to the Potentials – no, Slayers, they’re all Slayers now. Just like her. Except not. Different. They’re all different. No, they’re all the same. The same with each other. Solidarity sisters. Woo to the hoo.

She’s the one set apart. Alone. Why is she different?

When the Slayers look at her they see a mythic figure, a legend in her own time. All Slayers before her inspired the next generation through posthumous glories, the space of time separating every Chosen one like... breathing room. It feels wrong now, cramped, and she resents the hushed whispers and awed gazes—their stares of adoration make her uncomfortable. Odd. She used to crave being popular when she was younger. She’d courted the oohs and aahs—her bevy of ingratiating flatterers had beamed youthful adulation and she'd graciously accepted their worship.

She’d been young and foolish. She’d been shallow and joyously happy. The unfettered happiness that inspires hearts to soar and feet to skip. The sort of joy that doesn’t know any better. Light is meant to contrast dark and true happiness cannot be known without experiencing sorrow. Or so she’s read. But sadness has inevitably found berth in her heart, a permanent anchor, while the fleeting happiness of years past and present barely skim her surface. Her greatest past sorrows engulf her present joy, forbidding its blossom, swallowing it whole, making all new happiness ephemeral and bittersweet. She’s forgotten the ease of a carefree smile. Her mask doesn’t imitate it well.

She’s unable to forget her sorrow and pain because her heart is full of love and love does not alter when alteration finds. Her love endures long past its recommended expiration date – she still drinks it down, sour and toxic. All her loss and grief is born of love and she loves it blindly. The First Slayer was wrong to warn her not to pull away from it. That was never her problem. She clutches at love long after it’s lost its warm gleam, courting flames in the ashes of love abandoned. Abandoned by the others. Not her. Never her. She remains true, standing stalwart sentinel to love lost.

In this devotion she finds a new love of griefs and weighty emotion. As she waits for love lost she misses the love yet to come, mired in the past, unable to let go. Her love always points North when those who would love her arrive from the South. Her back is turned to new love, her direction set on that ever-fixed mark. Only the determined and infuriatingly devout may spin her round and patience prerequisite to the task is short in coming.

She never asks when love will find her again. She never looks to the future in her heart. When she closes her eyes she doesn’t dream of personal possibilities, but calmly recites duty to be met by daybreak. She is not a romantic. Not for herself. She encourages her friends’ relationships eagerly, wishing them well without reservation. And when they think no one’s looking, she sees them smile, sees their genuine joy, and the emptiness inside her echoes.  Her fingers rub the edges of her mask and she wonders if she’ll ever wash it away. No, she needs it. If they ever knew her heart and all that she carried inside, they’d only share in her despair.

She loves her friends. She loves them so much their happiness means more than her truth. Yet in the unexamined corner of her neglected optimism, hope lives on that love lost will return. The fires banked in secret shadow await her other to be her someone. To be her one. To rekindle her flames and burn away all past griefs.  To make her clean and bright once more.


Someday she’ll be Buffy again.
Tags: buffy, fic
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