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Angel Fic: Reflection

Category: Angel (the show)
Description: Teenager Fred Burkle encounters a vision of the future.
Disclaimer: you know the drill

Wrote this a while ago (May 2004!), but just got around to posting it here. Enjoy.


Reflection
by semaht

Winifred Burkle rolled her head and squeezed her shoulders together. A small smile formed on her delicate lips, and hung there. She had been working this problem for four hours, but she was nearly done. Everything was falling into place nicely, and she had hit no snags. It looked like this project would be another “A”.

She barely heard the sounds of the high school library around her, even the loud laughter of the football-and-beer crowd sitting near the window. Winifred Burkle fell into the world math and science like other kids fell into fantasy novels. She had always had a head for numbers. In the first grade, when the class was shown a list of the numbers from one to fifty, the little brown-haired girl, known even then as Fred, had blurted out something about how interesting it was that some of the numbers could not be divided by any other number, other than itself and one, without leaving some over. Her stunned teacher notified her parents, and she was subjected to a series of “intelligence tests”. She had scored at the genius level in math and spatial ability, and thus was established the pattern that would define her life.

Her head was constantly swimming with ideas, calculations, theorems. Sometimes, she pictured herself as a little atom among all these other atoms of different colors, spinning and lurching around. In that fantasy, she felt at peace.

Just as she was finishing the last sequence of her problem, a lanky young man dropped into the chair next to her. A pair of wire-framed glasses was the only thing keeping his shoulder-length ginger hair from covering his face completely. “Hey, Fred.” He said.

She waved her hand at him for silence while she double-checked the position of her parentheses. Satisfied, she dropped her pencil and smiled at him. “Hey, Jed. Aren’t you supposed to be at band practice?”

“Cancelled. Magwire is ‘sick’ again.” He made air quotes, indicating that he knew the band director was really at home in a dark room, passed out drunk, or well on his way. “So, you wanna get a soda pop?”

She started to decline, then thought better of it. With just the slightest tilt of her head, she said: “Sure.”
After all, she and Jed had been friends forever, so it wasn’t like a real date. She knew he was interested in her, but he just wasn’t her type. Her ideal man – and she had given it a lot of thought, in between atomic fantasies – was scholarly, dark, complex. An accent of some kind wouldn’t hurt. Australian, or English. Jed was all about saxophone, smoking pot, and truck engines.



At the diner, Fred plopped her gigantic bookbag down next to Jed and excused herself to wash her hands.

The diner was recently remodelled. There was a lot of shiny aluminum and bright vinyl. There were seven other customers: a woman in a maintenance uniform eating a plate of bacon and drinking coffee; a young couple who looked like tourists; three average Joe types sitting in a row at the counter; and a pregnant woman eating pie à la mode as fast as she could. One waitress, her tight pink uniform accentuating the rolls of fat running around her body, moved among the patrons delivering service with a grumble.

Jed sat nervously waiting. He was going to ask Fred to go steady. He thought he’d have wanted a girl who was less into studying, but there was just something about Fred. He couldn’t stop thinking about kissing her. Maybe more . . . though, at sixteen, those thoughts still embarrassed him. He was startled from his thoughts by a scream from the Ladies’ Room.

The other patrons, and the waitress, coffeepot in hand, turned their eyes toward the sound, then, when no more was forthcoming, returned to what they had been doing. Only Jed sprang up and went to the door of the restroom.

“Fred-” he said, but it came out all croaky. He cleared his throat and tried again.

“Fred!” Better.

No answer came, and he tentatively pushed open the door. “Hello?”

Still no response. He entered the room and found Fred sunk in a corner across from the sinks, shaking in terror. She was crying and muttering something over and over.

Jed bent over her and grabbed her shoulders, leaning in close to shout in her face. “Fred! What is it? What’s wrong?”

She looked up at him, but didn’t seem to register what she was seeing.

“Fred!” He shook her, and was relieved when her eyes cleared with recognition.

“Jed. Oh my gosh, Jed, I saw -- ” her face crumpled and she began to sob again.

“What?” He asked her. “What did you see?” He looked around for some clue. “Do we need to call the police?”

Fred shook her head, but couldn’t speak. He helped her to her feet, carefully supporting her with one arm around her thin shoulders. “Why don’t we forget about the sodas, and I’ll just take you home.”

She sniffed loudly, wiping her face with the backs of both hands. “I am kind of thirsty.” She said.

The fat waitress and the tourist couple looked at Jed and Fred suspiciously as the two teens emerged from the Ladies’ Room. He still had an arm protectively around her as he led her to a booth in the back, away from where others were sitting. He went to get their bags, and requested two cherry colas on his way back.

Fred had calmed down. She was not shaking or crying. Instead, she was staring at the table with a blank expression. Without looking up, she said, “I forgot to wash my hands.”

“That – uh – that’s okay.” Jed dropped their bags onto the seat opposite her, and slid in after them.

The waitress brought the two colas, setting them down with another look of suspicion. With a flourish, she deposited the bill on the table, and left.

Fred slurped at her drink mechanically, turning the straw in little cirlces around the ice. Jed pretended to drink, but there was too much cherry for his taste. Sweet and bitter at the same time. Without thinking, he made a noise: “Pffaah!” and pushed the glass away from him.

Fred jumped and looked up at him. A droplet of cola clung to her bottom lip, and her eyes were round and moist. “I’m sorry.” She said, so quietly that he sensed rather than heard it.

“Oh! Not you! I just -- ” Jed didn’t know how to finish. He wanted to be sympathetic, but his plans for the afternoon had been so completely ruined that he was fighting rising annoyance. If she wouldn’t tell him what was wrong, how could she expect him to help?

She was standing up, reaching across him for her bookbag. “I’d better just go.” She was saying.

He grabbed her arm, intending to apologize and ask her to stay, but the crackle of electricity where he touched her stopped the words in his throat. Her appearance seemed to change: she fixed him with ice blue eyes and an expression of disdain. But Fred’s eyes were brown, and she disdained no-one. He opened his fingers, and she was herself again, her arm moving past him and grabbing one shoulder strap of her bag.

“I saw something awful, Jed.” Fred’s voice, quiet but steady. “I don’t think it was real, but it felt real.”

She saw it again, in her memory: the face looking back at her from the restroom mirror. Her face, only not. Hair and skin streaked with blue, lips set in a determined line, and the coldest eyes she had ever seen. Eyes that looked right into her soul, threatening to crush it with their intensity. She felt herself being absorbed into the image in the mirror, her sense of self fading so that she was unsure if she was seeing or being seen, or both. And then she had screamed.

“It was awful, Jed, awful. But I can’t talk about it. Not yet.”

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Comments

( 1 comment — Say It! )
(Anonymous)
22nd Feb, 2006 15:13 (UTC)
Awesome
That's awesome!

Fred was one of my favorite Angel characters too (I think tied with Wesley).

D.A.
( 1 comment — Say It! )

I'm -

Spirit
semaht
~/semaht\~

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