Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: Onward
Author: Little Faith
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None - future fic
Summary: Oz hits the road again.
Disclaimer: Joss etal for characters. Mike Rayburn for music (download it or something, okay? It's called Go In Peace)
Author's Note: The fic (including lyrics) is exactly 1,000 words long.


Morning is cold and gray, the sun is about to rise. I know without looking that someone is there behind me, standing in the doorway. She's just watching as I fold the last of my clothes into the battered suitcase. She's already been crying and she'll start again soon. She thought I loved her. The truth is, so did I. The last thing I'll pack is a framed photograph of the two of us. Her sister took it at the park. Once I'm gone, out in the van, somewhere down the road, I'll pull the picture out. There's another photo, trapped behind our frozen smiles. That hidden image has something true in it. I'm not smiling very much, but I was happy when the shutter snapped.

The ground is frozen and cracking
The dawn is brittle and clear
A suitcase is open for packing
A face holds a trace of a tear

She's leaning against the frame of the door with a crumpled tissue in one hand but as I reach for the frame on the dresser, she runs over and snatches it. "I want to keep this picture," she says in a tear strained voice. I nod and take it from her. I slip the photo from the frame and hand it to her. The frame I put, glass down, in the suitcase. She doesn't see the picture that was behind the one displayed. There's a moment of awkward silence as I notice that her tears are flowing again.

It's a scene that I'm too used to playing
Someone's staying and I'm moving on
And I know I'll remember the words that need saying
Ten minutes after I'm gone

"G'bye Nic," I say softly, closing my bag. There's nothing I can do to comfort her. She wants me to stay but I can't. They always want me to stay. I can't do it. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost. I don't think that will help right now. At least she's not in the doorway anymore. She's staring at the photo and I think she hardly notices as I slip out the door.

But there's a road that carries me onward
And a calling that I can't release
'Til our paths find us together
May you forever, go in peace

I set the suitcase in the back of the van, next to a guitar case and a locked box. I open the suitcase to look at the picture. It's an old photograph, taken during my second senior year of high school. My old girlfriend, smiling brightly, her arms looped around my neck as she looks over her shoulder at the camera. I replace the frame and photo, slipping them under some of my clothes for protection. I think I've got a long way to go this time. As I drive away, I notice that the latest girl I've left is watching from the upstairs window. I wonder if she hates me for leaving, but I guess it doesn't matter. I'm only doing what I have to do. She'll be all right.

Night drive from Nashville to Houston
Broke down at four in the morn
A little man at the Star filling station
Had a smile that took me through that storm

I've begun to really like strangers. They don't ask questions, they don't ask me to stay. They talk and they joke and they don't think I'm a bad person just because I'm on the road. They might if they knew what I leave behind.

And there's a thousand others just like him
Who've meant more than they'll ever know
And these days it gets harder to look at the scars
And understand just why I go

I can't help but think of all the people that I've hurt as I drive onward. The days and the nights blend together as I try to chase the sun. Go west, young man. There's a lot of desert out this way and it makes for a good drive. There's a little traffic and a lot of solitude. It gives me time and space to think. I don't think about where I'm going, I never do. I just go, and the roads have never failed to take me somewhere.

But there's a road that carries me onward
And a calling that I can't release
'Til our paths find us together
May you forever, go in peace

I wish I could tell them not to get too attached to me. I wish I had a way to warn them that I wouldn't stay long. Words have never been my forte, and I don't have the power to explain my sudden exit. I can't even say a proper good-bye. Even I don't know what I'm looking for. I just get a feeling that tells me it's time to move on. I get another sort of feeling, telling me where to stop and when. I never look for a girl, but they always seem to find me. I honestly wish I didn't have anyone to leave.

But there's a road that carries me onward
And a calling that I can't release
'Til our paths find us together
May you forever, go in peace

I could fool myself into thinking that my destiny is calling me. I could easily pretend that I'm fated to love 'em and leave 'em'. That isn't true, but this is not exactly a choice. I'm pondering my karma when I see the signpost up ahead. Sunnydale, next exit. The first place I left. The first girl I ever left. I wonder if she's still there. Now is not the time for me to go back.  As I pass the exit, driving on, I wonder if my journey is just my way of stalling until I can go home. Maybe Sunnydale is where I belong.

'Til our paths find us together
May you forever, go in peace