Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. If they were, I’d look after them better. No money will ever be made from this fic.
Distribution: The Angel Texts; Dark Star’s Blood Roses Forum & Scribes of Angel, The Angel Elders Mansion
You want it? Really? Gosh. Just tell me where it’s going please.
Summary: It’s forty years after the Apocalypse
Written for Dark Star’s Blood Roses Forum, to celebrate its first birthday
I never saw him again. That was the last time, in the cemetery, when he gave me the medallion and I gave him the brush-off. I thought that if I could love Spike it would be simpler, with no curse to complicate things. And I did love Spike, but as a brother-in-arms. Angel was that, of course, but so much more as well. It took me years to understand that. And to understand my cowardice. I didn’t want to be hurt again, so I took the coward’s way out.
I was in Rome when the Apocalypse came to LA. I didn’t go to help him. I told myself that I was the second front this time, the one kept in reserve in case he failed. He didn’t fail, but I never went back.
I tried to find out what happened to them. Giles went for me, when the worst was over. He found three bodies, Wesley, Gunn and Fred. Nothing else. He was still looking when a ruined building fell on him and killed him. I tried to call, but the Hyperion was gone and so was Angel Investigations. No other listing. So I never went back.
That stupid cookie dough thing has haunted me. Of course I needed to find myself, but that really doesn’t take long. It’s the baking that takes your whole life. You never stop baking, and what you should do is spend your lives baking together. Growing together. I was too wrapped up in my own woes to understand, and I sent him away.
I never married. I spent my life travelling around the world looking for the next Slayer. Faith’s gone, and as far as I know, her death has never produced another. The ones we rescued, all those years ago? Their powers faded gradually, until after about a year they were just normal girls. The Watchers were gone, the army of Slayers was gone, and there was just me. I made it my task to find other potentials, and give them the training they needed for when I was gone. Following in Giles’ footsteps, I suppose. Unfortunately, I’ve never found another. No more Slayers. I think I screwed that up as well.
Now, I’ve come here to Galway. I see him round every corner, at the back of every bar, in every dark-haired, dark-eyed young man that I see, but only for a second. It never is him, of course. This is the only place I can say goodbye to him, though, and I need to do that. It’s been forty years since that Apocalypse, and I’ve finally accepted that I have to let him go. All I have left of him, after all, is a silver cross, the one he gave me when we first met. Just a plain, silver cross, with nothing on it except the hallmark, and a simple ‘A’. I wonder if he even knew my name when he bought it.
It’s just a trinket, and it’s the last connection to him, except what’s in my heart. I’ve decided to sell it, to let someone else find the happiness it could have brought me, if things had been different. Just a trinket.
Some things have claws that go deep, though. As the man takes it from me, it’s as if he’s taking my soul. Outside, I watch him put it into the window, then I go back to my lonely hotel, and eat my lonely meal, and sleep in my lonely bed. Cookie dough, old and spoiled and rotten.
The next morning, I realise that I have made a mistake. I cannot part with it. It may be only a trinket, but its giver is seared onto my soul for eternity. I must get it back and let it accompany me to the grave. Perhaps it will bring us back together again in the hereafter, as it should have brought us together in the here and now. I should have gone back.
When I reach the shop, I’m just in time to see the man lifting my cross out of the window. I rush through the door, a sob in my throat, to see him showing it to an elderly, silver-haired man. He’s tall and dignified, and he can never want a cross like this for himself. He has to let me have it back; he just has to.
“Please, I’ve made a mistake. I can’t part with it. Let me buy it back.”
The shopkeeper looks up at me, but his customer doesn’t. He’s just turning the cross over and over in his hand.
“Please. It means too much to me.”
If I have to pour out parts of my story to these strangers, I will. I can have no pride where this is concerned. I cannot understand what made me do it yesterday. At last, the customer takes notice of me and turns round. He’s about the same age as me. He carries a lot of old, faded scars, but neither the scars nor his age do anything to mar his beauty. Angel.
He’s human. What have I done?
His voice is as much a caress as ever, as he stands there with my beloved trinket in his hand. His expression is hard, though, the look of one who has been betrayed.
“You never came back.”
“I thought you were dead.”
It’s half the truth.
“I was in a coma for almost a year. When I woke up, I…I had to help put things back. There were so many damaged people. But I looked for you and you were gone. It was as if you had never existed, except in my imagination.”
I’d changed my name and kept on the move. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. No one has called me Buffy for forty years.
“You never came back. You never came to look for me.”
What can I say? It’s the truth.
I can hardly see him now for the veil of regrets filling my eyes.
It’s hardly more than a whisper, but I can manage no more. I can’t stay here. He has my cross now. Perhaps it’s better off with him. I turn to run.
The old pain in his voice stops me for a moment, but I know I have to get out of here. I can’t breathe.
“We’ve spent our entire lives running from each other. When does it stop?”
And then he’s behind me, and he’s fastening my cross around my neck.
“Don’t worry. I don’t bite.”
Suddenly, it’s as if I’ve been given the kiss of life. A second chance. Thank you, my beloved trinket.
17 August 2004
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