Hugs to Jo.
Written for Blood Roses Advent Calendar 2007
Standing in the frozen wilderness, he feels as if the world is holding its breath, waiting for something to happen. The landscape is utterly still, and there are no clouds passing overhead to mark the passage of time, and any trace of civilization was lost hours ago. There isn’t a breath of wind to kick at the smooth blanket of snow, nor are there animal tracks marring its pristine cover. He cocks his head, listening for sounds of wildlife. There are none. Not even a fox announcing its presence can be heard. He realises there isn’t even the sound of a man breathing. He feels he is as lifeless as the surrounding terrain. He could be a rock, rooted there, a faceless boulder that eternity washes over and pulls along in its wake. Around him is the crystalline beauty of snow and ice. Even the stars above look down with sightless eyes. He is but a speck – yet to be dust – in the universe’s scheme of things. Unnatural, maybe. Enduring, yes. Forever remains to be seen.
His hands are deep in the pockets of his long coat. His boots are not fur-lined and would not have protected the feet of an ordinary man, but he is comfortable in them. His toes, already dead things, will not feel the bite of frost. Woollen socks are all he wears. Beside his feet gleam slivers of steel.
He stares across the expanse of frozen water, barely noticing the trees with their naked branches grasping with icicled fingers towards the heavens. He is waiting. Angel is always waiting, it seems. Waiting for the world to turn, waiting for his destiny - now denied and forever out of his reach - and now, he is waiting for the one thing he loves most in all the world. That isn’t true, he reflects. He loves his son above all else. How can he not? His is a father’s love, and the boy is a miracle. His miracle. He knows, now, that a heart can be filled with love, many loves, and that it has the capacity to accommodate more. A heart contains the lifeblood of all, and as a vessel it can hold the most precious thing of all. The organ in his chest does not beat but it fulfils its function. It anchors him to the world, alive in all other senses of the word: to continue on, to be.
Something makes him look skywards. There is a star, brighter than the others, and it is radiant in the heavens. He is reminded of the star of Bethlehem, and contrary to others’ opinions, he wasn’t around to see it. However, the star’s gleam has a brilliance he hasn’t seen before. Is it a trick of light, he wonders? Surely, that is all it is. He knows, first hand, the existence of a higher power. How else could holy water sear his flesh and the Holy Bible raise welts to burn his hands? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Who knows what the Almighty has in store for humanity and demons alike?
He tears his eyes away from the luminescence in the sky. The night is silent, poised in expectation, he thinks. Is there a miracle looming, or is he projecting his own hopes on the night? Then, a whisper of a sound, a scrape, reaches his ears. Suddenly, the world spins on its axis again. A breeze picks up and he hears the screech of an owl. He ignores all but the scrape he has heard, and peers expectantly over the ice. His vision, suited well for the night, catches sight of another vision. It is hurtling towards him in a swirl of graceful, flowing, symmetry. He reaches down and snaps on the skates beside his feet. Stepping onto the ice he races forward, meeting the fur-clad and beautiful creature he has been waiting for.
He hadn’t been sure she would make it but he had come anyway. How could he not? It had been a promise made a year before, at Christmas, by telephone, to meet here in the middle of nowhere. He hadn’t seen her for four years. Life had a way of butting in, preventing them coming face-to-face. Meeting here, a cabin tucked a mile or two away for their comfort, away from friends and the inevitable apocalypses, they would have time to talk. Time to get reacquainted. Time to see if she had done baking.
Her wonderful laugh greets him as he glides by her, catching her by her arm and waist, and sweeps her out to the middle of the lake.
“Buffy,” he says as he inhales her scent, her laughter, and her brilliant smile.
Perhaps the star in the heavens was the precursor of this small miracle after all.
“Angel,” she shouts with glee.
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