by backfromspace

Wesley gets in the car, pulling the aging door shut with one hand while he starts up the engine wth the other. He can't get her face out of his head.

"Someone told me long ago," states the radio, suddenly, "there's a calm before the storm."

"Thanks for sharing that," snaps Wesley. He's annoyed. He doesn't remember having turned on the radio, and he's not in the mood for music. Except maybe some particularly gothic funeral dirge. The radio's not cooperating, though.

""In your head in your head zombie zombie zombie," asks the radio, calmly. "What's in your head in your head in your head?"

He stares at the radio, wondering how they'd gone from CCR to the Cranberries. Thinking he's going insane. He reaches for the dial but it breaks off in his hand.

"I can't do what ten people tell me to do," lectures the radio, "so I guess I'll remain the same."

"Oh, God, you're not haunting my radio now, are you?" He looks in the mirror and there's Lilah, again, eyes matching the sly grin half-hidden by the reflection of his head. Those smile-wrinkles in her cheeks are there. He sighs and brushes at an imaginary hair. "You've got to stop this."

"Ain't no mountain high enough to keep me from you," observes the radio, diva ululations somehow drowned out with the overly gentle tones Lilah always used when she was mocking him. He twists the mirror away but she moves with it, grinning at him from behind the passenger seat.

"Why? What do you need to say to me?" he finally bursts out, slamming his foot down on the brake, remembering too late that she's missing the throat to say anything at all. There aren't many other cars on the road, yet, even though the sun's back, but a single horn echoes angrily between the silent skyscrapers and tenemants.

The ghost in the mirror looks thoughtful for a moment. "Nothing is good enough for people like you," the radio finally blurts. "You have to have someone take the fall."

Wesley jerks like he's been slapped and glares at the empty passenger seat for a moment before returning to its reflection in the mirror. "That's not true. You couldn't stand the thought that you might change. I tried so hard..." he trails off, knowing it's a lie, knowing he'd loved Lilah the real version, not the watered-down all-good second edition that never had time to be made.

"I'm getting tired of waiting and fooling around, I'll find somebody who won't make me feel like a clown," threatens the radio. "This can't go on. Lord knows you've got to change."

"You're mocking me again," he says, and her smile widens a little more. He hopes suddenly that she doesn't open her mouth and show him the hole where her throat used to be. He doesn't think he could take that. "Unless you're telling me you're never going to give me a lick of sleep or leave me in peace with new love interests or what-have-you, go away. You're dead," he accuses, false bravado a thin layer over depths of... something. He's not sure just what, yet. Elation? Rage? Hurt? It's all blurring into one.

The ghost flashes another white smile at him through the headrest of the passenger seat, perfect teeth dulled by pale almost-skin. "How does it feel to be on your own? Like a rolling stone? With no direction home?" the radio croons.

"What do you want," he demands, suddenly exhausted, the words barely a murmur.

"Let go in our heart, let go in our head, fairly now..."

"I try. You're not helping." Then, "I'm not sure I can."

"Don't let it bring you down, it's only castles falling," the radio comforts. His nose stings and his eyes are filling with water. He'd been wrong to think he could change her. He wonders suddenly if he'd really wanted her to be changed at all.

"Please don't bother trying to find her," the radio states, the cold detachment of a doctor. "She's not there."

The water's too much for surface tension, now, and it trickles down his face, two furrows tracing their way down his nose. Where Lilah's fingers had been, a million years ago. "I know," he whispers hoarsely. "God, I know. Lilah..."

The ghost's grin is frozen, now, a mask covering an emotion that defies words. "You don't understand that a girl like me can love just one man," the radio admits. And then she's gone, and Wesley feels empty inside. No more water left in his eyes, no more conversation with her ghost. Just the hollowness of an abandoned car's shell, sitting alone in a dump somewhere gathering rust.

And then, over the radio, CCR again.

Someone told me long ago
There's a calm before the storm
I know
It's been coming for some time

I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
Coming down on a sunny day

Yesterday and days before
Sun is cold and rain is hard
I knoW
Been that way for all my time.

You'll forever come and go
Through the circle fast and slow I know
It can't stop how wonder

And I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Coming down on a sunny day

But he's not listening to the song.


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