Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Swallowing Razor Blades
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

She doesn't remember- she can't forget- how she got here, how this came to be.

This is not the way it is.

They were supposed to protect her, they would never leave her, they were looking for her, they'd save her, they had to, that was the rule, that was how this worked-

Handsome man, save me from the monsters.

No monsters here, only Lilah- beautiful Lilah- who came to her and smiled and kissed her face and drove the needle home. Who opened the door to let the shamans in.

But I don't know I don't I was there but I didn't see I don't know I can't help you please don't please stop please let me go.

The shamans hurt her; they touched her and closed their eyes and chanted and smoke rose from under their hands. They were changing her, she could feel it; hollowing her out, making her ready to hold something else. The agony was pure and exquisite and too much to be real- the reaction of human flesh to drops of concentrated sulfuric acid, the crawl of radioactive waste across skin, the searing whiteness of a lightning strike stretched out over an eternity of heartbeats- but she loved the shamans, she would crawl at their feet if they asked her, she would welcome the shamans every day if she could because when the shamans didn't come the demon did.

The monster, the monster, if I could remember your name I would beg you to save me from the monster. I do remember that you're beautiful, but how much longer will it be before they take that away too?

The aching pressure of the demon on her chest, weighing her down and hollowing her out, staring into her eyes and sipping away everything that made her real. "Miss Burkle likes vampires," the dark-haired man had said, smiling at Lilah over the bed where Fred had been restrained when she could still move, before she was hollow. "She likes to play vampire games. This is just another type of vampire."

Vampires? I remember vampires. Someone hated vampires...someone taught me to kill them. And he loved me.

"And your little games won't interfere with my project?" Beautiful Lilah, arms folded across her chest, tossing her hair, so clever, so brilliant, so terribly strong.

Strong...the other girl was strong...I remember her name, Cordelia! Cordelia is strong. Cordelia is Lilah-strong, but without the knives and wires and shamans. Cordelia, help me...

"Of course not," the man was smiling still, and in the sharp vertical lines of his teeth she read his name again. Gavin. "Your project comes straight from the Partners, Lilah, I'd never interfere with that. She doesn't need her memories to do what you need her for. She doesn't need her mind at all."

My mind? I lost it once and just now found it again, I'd like to keep it if I could, please.

"Considering the margin of error on your little experiment, that's a good thing," Lilah sniffed. "All right. Go ahead. The moon's not quite right for the next phase of our spell anyway."

A lunar cycle has...it has...it has how many days?

"Wonderful." Gavin gestured and the demon came in, the vampire who didn't want her blood. The vampire who wanted her memories. Wanted her mind.

It's mine, they're mine, I don't want you to have it, I can't breathe, get off of me, stop-

Things faded in patterns. She saw swords and axes and caves and portals all around her while the demon fed. If she could reach the portals, she would be safe. She would jump through to Pylea where at least she was a cow, not the nothing she would be when the demon finished. When everything in her mind was gone. And when Lilah's shamans finished...when they made her into what they needed her to be...what then? What would be left of the Fred-that-was?

Oh, I still remember Fred, that's good...I wish things faded in lines, not patterns. The handsome man; I remember his face, but not his name or what he did for me. And the other man, the one who loved me...why does he have two faces, and no names? And Cordelia, why do I know she would help me if she could when I can't remember anything else about her?

Days passed, stars fell, both patterns twisted through new iterations. They sliced into her stomach, reached into her womb, implanted something she didn't think should be called a baby. It bit, gnawing from the inside out, and if she could remember how she would have screamed.

"Won't be long now," Lilah promises...beautiful Lilah...did I ever live before I knew her?

And another day, and they took the not-baby out again. A shaman gestured and they walked it through a portal. The sight made her ache even more than the blood pouring from her out over the floor, because it reflected an echo of a memory that was gone.

Bye-bye, baby, bye-bye...I knew a baby once, I think, that didn't love its mother...

And another day, and the wall fell down, and tall figures dressed in dark burst in to fill the empty spaces. They lashed out and the shamans fell, but Lilah was gone, gone, she'd run long before the wail of sirens...

Lilah's so smart, so beautiful...she always knows.

"Fred? Fred?" The darkest shadow knelt beside her, reaching out to touch her face. "Oh, God, Fred...we killed that thing that took your place, Fred, as soon as we found out what it was...we should've known sooner, dammit, Angel, we should've figured it out..."

Angels are figures of Christian mythology. Embodiments of the Lord's will, with wings. None of these shadows have wings. Therefore, there are no angels here.

The air shivered again, and tore itself into a portal. A figure stepped through, one she recognized at once as the not-baby she'd been changed to nurture. It grew tall and strong since it left her. It smiled at the tallest shadow. "And so it goes in every world...we meet and fight and fall...it's our destiny, Angel. Maybe this time, I'll win."

All this talk of angels, when there aren't any at all. Without wings, an angel cannot be. A matter of definition.

The tallest shadow and the not-baby fought like they wanted the roots of the world to tremble. The darkest shadow cried over her while the third stood over them both and stared, hollow-eyed. She touched the darkest one's face and smiled, humming comfort as best she could, and wished that she could remember the manner of making their words.

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