The Night of Magical Thinking
Characters/Pairings: Buffy Summers (Buffy/Angel)
Timeline: Directly after Normal Again
Prompt: #13 “The End” for joss100
Dedication: for helbel85 who wanted me to explore Buffy’s reaction to this episode. Love you, honey!
There is a tunnel of trees near Buffy’s house.
Sometimes she dreams of it, sees it as a dark hallway, bible-black. She remembers running there to meet Angel when she was sixteen and so new and her breath was hot tang, tinged with girl and tears, and she would be tripping and cursing, unwilling to be late, to spare a second with him. It is near the Church her Mom went to - Our Lady of Sorrows - and in the days when she was newly seventeen and her breath tasted of ash, the name of that Church seemed so so appropriate. In a way that made everything seem tight and achy, in a way that made her hurt.
That is such old pain, and maybe she should be over it by now. But sometimes the pains – old and new – seem to build around her. Turrets and walls and concrete blocks, all throbbing around her like veins freshly sliced. And she feels. Do they think she doesn’t? One stinging cup of antidote and everything’s fixed?
“So what if I tried to kill my friends,” she says out loud, testing the words on her tongue. She walks beneath the branches, glances up at leaves that are the color of burning. “They deserved it.” She laughs, because that is just so… not. Even if Willow vomited a snake, even if Dawn made her make the choice, even if Giles smashed into the sky, even if the Summers women are just dead, dead, dead—that is no reason. It can’t be. Buffy’s life is built on reasoning, on the actions she takes, on what she does.
Wind rushes around her, and she feels it, feeding from her like a river. Glancing up, she sees him, sitting on the steps of the church. It brings her up short. Pushing her hair back from her eyes, she blinks, but only once. There is nothing girlish about her movements; she can’t use that to sway him anymore.
“Oh,” she says. “Hi.”
“Surprised to see me?” he asks, and it should be a wry comment. A hint of humor. But there is nothing to laugh about, and so his voice is soft, slightly blank. A bloodied sheet wiped clean.
“Not exactly,” she admits. “Been waiting long?”
“The sun just went in.”
“So that’s a no.”
“That’s a no,” he agrees. Doesn’t stand. He is wearing black and it makes her feel hot and strange and a bit like hitting out at him. A permanent grief’s cloak. She thinks that it must get so heavy. “You look—“
“Don’t say good. Lying doesn’t suit you. It’ll make your face wrinkly.”
“I thought my nose would get long?”
“Old Wives Tale.”
“I wasn’t going to lie,” Angel says. “I was going to say that you look tired.”
“Lying would’ve been better.”
His smile is automatic. “Noted.”
“Want to take a walk?” she feels stupid. “It’s nice out.”
“I think so,” Buffy replies. “But maybe I’m just being ‘bright side to everything’ girl.”
They walk beneath the trees for long moments, and it is so familiar. So familiar. When the backs of their hands brush, Buffy feels stricken, yanked through the looking glass into an upside-down world. Her mouth is sticky and ineffectual and this, this is supposed to be the most important night of her life. And instead she is pretending. Imagining different endings, beginnings, imagining a past without Whistler or Acathla, without Claddaghs and broken Slayers, without a body and windchimes. There must be a reason for all of this. For all of that.
She knows. There has to be a reason for her.
“Why?” he asks simply.
She looks up at him. “I’m dangerous.”
“You always were.”
“In a different way now.”
Who better than him to understand? He says nothing, simply reaches for her. He smells of copper and smoke and he is so so beautiful, her Angel, and she allows herself to love him. Just this once.
He takes her there in the wet leaves and the smell of sickness rises and this is the only thing she has ever truly asked of him. The wet spurts against her neck are hot and the fortress she has built finally crumbles. The sky spins and the weight of him feels like trembling and she hears him whisper her name just once, and he is weeping, the tears silver against her face and she opens herself to the end, saying yes.
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