Lost in the Supermarket
Summary: Wesley. Illyria. Grocery shopping.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and all other
There's a unique awkwardness around her. The visage of a grown woman
subdued with the ironic, albeit innocent, naivety of a child. Her
curiosity is fascinating to him. The way she seems to take everything in.
The entire world is new to her. So many things to learn and be explained.
His position to be the one to explain it all.
The florescent lighting shines across the streaks of blue in her hair,
making them much more prominent. Her dress of clothing is a bit eccentric.
His own fault really. He'd had her put on one of the few long skirts he'd
found in Fred's closet, and a thin, frame hugging cashmere sweater. The
scarf wrapped around her neck is almost overdoing it, but it hides the
patches of blue tinted skin. This is L.A., he thinks. Illyria probably
wouldn't garner a second glance from most people, but the final touch of
sunglasses hiding her eyes, he feels, is necessary.
"It is so bright in here," she says quietly, head tilting downward in
recoil of the light after so many days in Fred`s dimly lit apartment, and
starts to remove the glasses. "The pain is intriguing."
His hand shoots out clasping against her wrist. "Leave them on," he says,
voice clipped, memories awhirl at the last time he'd uttered the phrase.
"Your eyes," he says, his voice calming, "People will notice."
"And I should care about such matters?" She asks.
"Not always," he concedes. "But for the time being I suppose you should
care. To be aware of other people. To be cautious of how you act."
She pulls her wrist from his grasp.
"As you wish."
He smiles cautiously at her.
"If you behave yourself," he offers. "I'll let you push the trolley."
There is nothing she doesn't seem to touch. Her cold stony fingers
finding their way across the various fruits and vegetables stacked along
the aisles. She taps carrots against their holding bin. Tests the weight
of beets in the palms of her hands. Tosses a bag full of strawberries into
a scale and taps her finger gently against the glass where the needle
She smells everything. Savors more fruit than vegetables. Recoils at the
onions and peppers, but sniffs deeply at a pear or an orange. Bananas,
apples, broccoli, artichokes, she examines them all, a train of intrigue
following her. When she comes across the plums she seems excited. It takes
him a moment to grasp that yes, she does seem oddly cheerful at the small
round fruit. He thinks that maybe she is drawn to them because of the
bluish purple color they have in common. But if that were true she would
have been just as happy to see the eggplant or blueberries she poked at
"Can it be?" She asks him. "Can oscrats have really survived so much
"Oscrats?" he asks.
She picks up a plum and offers it to him.
"These here, are they not oscrats?"
"Plums," he says. "We call them plums."
"The resemblance is uncanny. It must be them."
She takes a bite, and he winces and moves to take it from her.
"We have to pay for these first," he says off her annoyed reaction. "And
then wash them. There are pesticides, things to keep insects from
devouring them while they grow."
"Poison," he explains. "To kill bugs."
"You would poison your own food?" She asks.
"To protect them."
"I do not understand."
He starts to explain some more. Stops. Not sure how. He'd never really
given the idea much thought before, and now that he had it does seem a bit
"They do not taste right."
Wesley examines the plum, rotates it gently in his hand.
"It's not ripe," he explains. "It's not ready to be eaten." He takes
another plum from the bin, holds it up to her. "To see if they are ready
you just give them a little squeeze."
Illyria takes the fruit from him, holds it with her thumb, index, and
middle fingers, and squeezes. Wesley jerks back slightly, blinking quickly
as the juice of the exploding plum hits his glasses. She stares into her
palm, pulp and juices running down her arm.
"Right," Wesley mutters, cleaning his glasses with the end of his shirt.
She wanders around the circular bins, randomly sticking her hands into
them, picking up pieces of chocolate, peppermints, and caramels. Sniffing
at them as she'd done with the produce and picking up the tin scoop,
shoveling the candy in and letting it fall back down.
"Sweets," she says. "I know these. Sugar confections. Like the ones in
the cupboard at home."
He stiffens, swallows hard. Fred's apartment is home now is it?
"Pick anything you think you may like," he says, clearing his throat, and
handing her a plastic bag.
She seems pleased. It's hard to tell with the glasses on. She takes the
scoop and tosses candies into the bag with subtle fervor. Picking
caramels, gumballs, and little Neapolitan bites. She has a handful of
"Pretty colors," she says.
He nods his agreement though he's never been fond of them himself. She
has another handful now, silver wrapped teardrops with an over
affectionate name. She must think he isn't paying attention because she
pops a few into her mouth with the wrappers still on. Gagging she spits
them out onto the floor leaving a gob of foil, chocolate, and drool at her
"Not sweet," she comments.
Wes chuckles softly to himself, notices an elderly woman staring at
Illyria strangely, and shrugs an apology. He moves closer to her taking
the remaining kiss from her hand. Unwrapping it, he holds it up and offers
it back to her.
"Oh," is all she says.
He has a loaf of whole grain wheat in his hand and a loaf of white
already in the basket. Illyria's head bobs up and down between the shelves
wondering what the difference is between them all. She squeezes the
packages, fingers indenting into the bread, and pokes at others leaving
the same impression.
Deciding to get the loaf of wheat bread he turns to drop it into the
basket, pausing at the sight of a package of Thomas' English muffins. He
knows he didn't grab them. Glancing over at Illyria, who sees that he's
noticed, smirks at him. Lips in an actual upturned movement of amusement.
It's slightly unnerving. So much so that he finds himself frowning. Was
she trying to be funny? Was she even capable of such a thing?
All he gets from her is a reflection of himself in cheap plastic lenses,
but he knows there is mischief in her eyes.
Yes, he thinks. She is fully capable.
She leans forward on the glass partition with both hands gazing down at
the assorted cold cuts, cheeses, and salad concoctions. Moving right to
left she leaves smears of fingerprints and fog from her breath along the
surface, and pauses at the warm food idling under heat lamps. Chicken
strips, wings, and spare ribs. Pre-made pieces of lasagna and tacos. He
knows what's got her attention, tries his best to ignore it.
He asks the clerk behind the counter for half a pound of macaroni salad.
"Tacos," she says. "I love tacos."
Not her voice. Fred's voice. Fred's memories. Fred's love of tacos.
He snaps a look at her, sees the tiny blue vein of electricity running
between her fingers.
"Stop it," he growls charging toward her grabbing at the hand with the
spark. His arm snaps back in recoil but he ignores the pain. "Do not, for
any rhyme or reason, ever use her memories. They are not something to play
with for your own amusement. You are not her. You killed her. And if you
insist on torturing me with them our truce ends now, do I make myself
Illyria nods, shocked at his sudden rage. Not scared, never scared of
him, but something in his action has got her shrinking away. He looks back
to the clerk who stands watching, slack jawed, macaroni salad in hand.
Wesley ignores him, forgets the salad, and continues along. Illyria
following closely behind.
Keeping a two or three foot distance away from him, Illyria stays quiet
leaning against a cold box with her arms folded across her chest. The
anger he has at her careless attitude about Fred's memories still
resonates. Still makes him hurt and yearn and curse it all again.
He stares blankly down at a sirloin tip all red and raw and imagines his
insides look the same. She shifts positions, he watches from the corner of
his eye, and can't help but think that this is what he and Fred's first
argument would have been like. Something simple and arbitrary to quarrel
over. Both parties so sure that they are right. He tries not to think it's
Fred standing there. Knows with every fiber in his being that it's not.
But it's her voice, her love of Mexican food, her memories locked away in
the shell. He sighs and puts the sirloin tip in the basket.
"I'm sorry I snapped at you," he says. The feeling of being right not one
to stick at the moment.
She turns to look up at him, pushes down the glasses so that they rest on
the bridge of her nose. He glances quickly side to side hoping that no one
"It is important to you," she starts. "That I do not use what is left of
her to try and find my place."
Her eyes are almost hypnotizing. He can see himself drowning in so much
"Then there is no need for apologies."
Her hand clenches at his shirt whip quick and she pulls him closer to her
so that their noses nearly touch.
Lost in ice blue eyes.
"But do not, for even a moment, presume that simply because I am in your
favor I am indebted to you. We have a bargain, you and I. One that will be
He nods slowly. She lets him go and pushes back the glasses so that her
eyes are hidden once more. Cautiously he breathes, hand traveling slowly
up his chest to where she grabbed him, skin still feeling ghostly pressure
from her touch.
Turning away from him she glances back to the contents of the cold box.
"These are entrails," she says. "Unworthy of even a dogs meal. How can
you eat such things?"
He looks just over her shoulder, sees a cow's tongue and beef kidney's.
Chickens feet and turkey necks.
"I haven't a clue," he replies, thinking that a quick change of subject
is a good thing. Wonders how she thought it too.
"You keep things cold," she begins, lowering her hand into the box.
Rotating it around in the frosty fog. "It keeps them fresh, yes? The kill,
it still smells fresh. The blood as well. Fresh and good."
He nods grimly.
Of course it does.
Pulling out a full gallon and a half gallon of milk from the cooler,
Illyria's hand halts his once she notices the picture of a cow on the jug.
"This ilk," she says. "Is of a cow?"
"Milk," he corrects. "And yes, it is."
"You take their hides. You take their tongue and their kidneys. And now
you take this. Why is this one animal so hated?"
"It's not hated," he explains. "It just so happens to provide a wide
array of nourishment to us."
"All these items," she starts, moving along the coolers, hand on glass.
"They all contain milk?"
"Why do you not drink the milk of your own?"
"Only human females can. And even they can't generate it in any sort of
mass quantity. It is mainly only available during a pregnancy." He says.
"A birthing cycle," he restates off her look.
"So you take the cows."
"So strange," she states. "And frustrating. The more I try to understand
the more confused I become."
"You'll learn," he assures. "All in good time."
(Cereal, Chips, Boxed Goods)
For her instinctual aversion to milk, she is oddly captivated by cereal
boxes. So many pictures and vibrant colors designed to grab attention.
Doing their job in spades with her. Exclamations of essential vitamins and
minerals. Claims of free toy surprises. Brief image in of her zooming
around with a free toy car, and he ducks his head to hide the smirk even
though she's not looking at him, he puts his hand to his chest where she
grabbed him, the smirk dropping from his lips.
He chooses a bag of plain potato chips, moves further down the aisle
letting her lag behind. He grabs a box of pancake mix and a seven dollar
bottle of maple syrup that, before the Wolfram and Hart pay, he never
would have given a second glance too. Moving slowly she starts to catch
up. He knows she wants to ask for a box, she's looking at them far too
intently to not want some.
He doesn't fancy her reaction when he tells her you have to pour milk in
(Canned Goods, Juice, Powdered Drink Mix, Coffee, Tea)
She takes her time with labels. Studying them, painstakingly, one at a
time. Sticking to the right side of the aisle she grabs cans of soup,
chili, green beans, and fruit cocktail. Spam and tuna fish. Reading the
ingredients aloud to herself and trying in vain to pronounce them.
He leaves her to it, grabbing himself a bottle of cranberry juice. Two
cans of minestrone soup. Three cans of tuna and one can of deviled ham.
Two boxes of English breakfast tea and one box of Earl Grey. At the end of
the aisle he tries to think of anything he may have forgotten, but still
ready to move on. She still lingers behind, her progress slowly pulling
her to the middle, holding a can of New England clam chowder.
"If you'd like a tin of something," he says. "Pick one and come on."
"Illyria," he starts when she makes no notion of hearing him.
"My, my, that's a pretty exotic name," a soft voice states from behind
He turns to look at the source. Sees the elderly woman from the produce
section. Her smile is kind. Her compliment genuine.
"If you don't mind an old woman's nosiness," she continues. "Can I ask
where it comes from?"
Wes glances back at his companion, who has noticed the interaction, puts
down the can and moves toward them.
"It's, um, Ancient Mesopotamian," he says, inwardly cringing at such an
obvious wrong reference. "It means flower of light."
"A pretty name with an even prettier definition to back it up." Illyria
has reached them now. "Hello dear," elderly goes on. "I was just bugging
your husband on the origins of your name. Very chic I must say."
Illyria, confused, glances at Wesley for help.
"Say thank you," Wesley tells her.
"Thank you," Illyria replies, it coming out more a question than a
"Oh you're very welcome," elderly smiles, placing a hand on Illyria's
shoulder. "You know sweetheart," she says leaning closer, "You do know
you're inside. You don't need sunglasses."
"She has sensitive eyes," Wesley interjects.
Elderly glances back at him frowning. "Do you always answer for her?"
"She doesn't speak English," he says.
"Oh," Elderly says moving her hand from Illyria's shoulder. "I see. Well,
you two have a pleasant evening now."
She moves on, and once she's clear of the aisle Illyria snaps her head to
"You deceived that woman," she says. "You let her believe we were wed,
and you insult me by giving false information of my name. You say I can't
speak and let her think that I am some invalid who succumbs to your beck
"And it all made her smile and wander off without a second thought," he
returns. "Would you have felt more comfortable answering more of her
questions? Do you think she would have accepted the truth?"
"So lying is acceptable as long as it causes someone joy?"
"No," he balks. "Not exactly."
Illyria scowls at him, shaking her head in frustration.
"The contradictions Wesley," she growls brushing past him. "Spare me from
(Ice Cream, Frozen Foods)
With her need to touch everything, she discovers that her fingers leave
markings against the chilled glass of the coolers. Wesley watches as she
scribbles along the surface, making various symbols. Some of them he
recognizes from her sarcophagus, but the rest he's lost on.
"My name," she says pointing to a specific series of symbols. "You were
correct in assuming its relation to light. And for that I commend your
intuition. In my time, to my people, I was the light. I was the sun, the
moon, and the stars to them. My army and I ruled our lands with strength
and authority. To my enemies I was the light of death. All who opposed me
were met with a bright and blinding end. I am demon pure Wesley
Wyndam-Pryce. You fail to appreciate such fact. You mistake me for some
tamed little lamb because I find your human rot tired and confusing."
She moves closer, her steps slow, thin frame menacing.
"Make no mistake that I will not continue to stand idly by whilst you
feed me such confusion."
He sees her hand twitch and spark with blue, she turns her back to him,
faces all the different flavors of ice cream.
"This has been the best night ever. First there's you taking me to ice
cream. Then there's the ice cream. Then that monster jumps out of the
freezer and you're all brave and `Fred watch out!'"
Fred's voice again. Once more twisting a knife poised above his chest and
straight into his heart. Pain pulsing through his body with each beat and
turn of the blade.
"I asked you to stop that," he says weakly.
The blue spark fades. Illyria turns back to face him.
"And I asked you to teach me."
He bites back a reply, swallows hard, and shoves off leaving her standing
(Beer, Wine, Spirits)
He takes a bottle of vodka. A six pack of Newcastle. A bottle of
Jameson's Irish Whiskey.
Drinking himself into oblivion had helped numb pain before. Slowly
covering memories in a heavy alcohol haze. If he were a stronger man he
might be able to take it. To keep his chin up and bear through this
unwanted responsibility. He has been strong before. But not this time. Not
over his girl. Not over Fred. His heart belonged to her for so long before
acceptance of it. Then her swift death and his Fred filled heart
shattering into a thousand pieces. He glances over his selection. Thinks
about another bottle.
Illyria's frustration with him is just. He doesn't know what to do with
her. What to say. How do you teach someone so clearly not human, to be
His hand lingers on a pint of rum and it makes him think of his father.
The old man detested anything other than a good scotch or brandy. "Beer,
rum, whiskey," he'd say after a round or two of his preferred poisons.
"Drink for the heathens. We Wyndam-Pryce's, son, are of a better breed.
Well except, perhaps, for you."
He tosses the pint of rum into the cart so hard he nearly breaks the
He's failed his father so many times.
He's failed Fred once.
Only one matters to him the most.
If Illyria becomes another failure people will die.
And there won't be enough alcohol in the world to numb away them all.
(Books and Magazines.)
He finds her simultaneously flipping through issues of Popular Science
and People. She seems almost normal leaning against the shelves leafing
through the pages. Shifting slightly he can see that she knows he is in
front of her, but she doesn't look up.
Casually he glances toward the latest issue of Guns and Ammo, briefly
wondering if Smith and Wesson have made any new modifications with their
9mm's. He picks up a copy, flips through the pages but sees nothing on any
"If we keep arguing this will never work," he says. "And that's blood I
don't want on my hands."
"Is that the single reason?" She asks, not bothering to look up. "Perhaps
it is the thought that she would not like to see blood on your hands as
"Perhaps," he complies.
"Is this an apology?"
"And you will no longer treat me as some thing to be toyed with and
"Yes. I know that I shouldn't speak for you. That you have a mind of your
"This is true," she agrees. "So am I to assume that we are we no longer
"I'm not sure."
"Even with your uncertainty, is it enough?" She asks, finally looking up
at him. "To continue?"
"For now," he says. "It has to be."
Illyria nods and puts down the magazines.
"You're a good man Wesley," she says grinning.
He looks at her hands, expecting the little blue vein of electricity.
He sees nothing but her victorious smile.
As much as he's tried not to, this whole experience he's been wishing for
what will never be. A shared domestic bliss in doing something so simple
as grocery shopping with the love of his life.
Illyria helps him pile all of their items onto the conveyor belt,
repeating the names of everything softly to herself. Glancing to the candy
rack on his right, he eyes a Hershey bar, and reaches to grab one. He
hands it to Illyria who seems pleased, says the name of it aloud, and
tosses it along with the rest of the food.
The cashier smiles at them both, says a generic hello, and begins
scanning all of their merchandise. Illyria picks up an issue of Soap Opera
Weekly, stares intently at the cover.
"I know these people," she says holding up the magazine for him to see.
"On the television. I watch them when you are gone."
As much as he thinks he's getting to know her, she is still full of
surprises. He takes the magazine from her hand and nods his head toward
"She's going to ask you a question," he says. "And I want you to think
about it before you answer."
"All right," she replies moving toward the cashier.
"Good evening," the cashier says smiling politely.
"Hello," she responds, looking to Wesley who stands with his arms folded,
waiting patiently. He nods. "There is something you inquire?"
"Oh, right," the cashier continues. "Paper or plastic?"