AUTHOR'S NOTE: I still like the
idea of this story, but the execution here sucks. One day I hope
to go back, try again and really make a go of it.
It was Summers’ blood that tore the tiny hole in the fabric of eternity. It rent the intricately woven tapestry of space and time. It threatened to dissolve all of the barriers to meld one dimension with another, to create and obliterate all at once.
It was Summers’ blood that started it all.
And Summers’ blood that ended it all.
Contrary to popular myth, Buffy’s life did not flash before her eyes as she swan dived into the Void. She didn’t have some great poetic reflection on her existence. She did not – however surprising – even have time to think of her beloved Angel. She simply leapt. Her thoughts were mundane, but central.
The “them” did not refer only to her sister, to her friends, her Watcher, or her lovers. It was everyone. Humanity. The overriding thought was that she had to perform the service for which she was born. She was a Slayer and in that instance the person she had to slay was herself. She had to die to protect them, and that was exactly what she did. She was not Buffy Anne Summers, daughter of Hank and Joyce Summers when she plunged to her death.
She was simply the Slayer.
In retrospect, she realized how much grief she could have saved herself if she could have merely altered that one tiny fact. Slayer. A supernatural being. One girl in all the world. To her eternal chagrin, she was unique, special, powerful. Even in death, she could not find the anonymity she sought. For, where the void would have ignored Buffy Summers, normal human girl, it could not ignore the Slayer.
Her death had not been mapped out by the Fates to transpire in such a manner. It was Dawn who was to have died, her unnatural existence ended as abruptly as it began. Buffy Anne Summers, Slayer, was supposed to live to fight another day. The Void knew this and in some vain attempt at correcting its mistake, it tried to make amends.
Turkey June, 1570
The young man startled when she entered the tavern. Odd, he thought, that none of the others noticed. But they didn’t. The swell of humanity trudged along in her presence exactly as it had before her arrival, blissfully ignorant of what exactly was in their midst. He, however, was not so naive. He knew what she was. As inconspicuously as possible, he reached inside the loose coat he wore, feeling blindly for the familiar comfort of his stake.
She was at his side before he was aware of any movement, her cold breath stirring the hair on his neck. He didn’t move, too terrified to turn his head and face his killer. He felt her smile against the flesh of his neck. He shivered visibly as her tongue came out to wetly lave the area against his jugular, toying with him, mocking him.
He had no intention of dying like this. He lived too long and too proud to be played with by such a repugnant creature.
“What do you want?” he ground out, being sure to keep his voice low. Though he was certain of his own death, he had no intention of whipping the creature into a frenzy that could endanger the lives of the other tavern patrons.
She laughed lightly. “You’re going to help me, Enyos,” she said evenly, her voice completely free of an accent as she spoke fluidly in his native tongue.
The dark haired young man glared at her, his hatred and mistrust obvious though she wasn’t even looking at him. She idly searched through the contents of his wagon, absently fingering medallions and charms meant to keep her kind away.
“You think you know what I am,” she said quietly.
He snorted insolently. “Vermin,” he spat.
She turned towards him slowly, her face perfectly serene. She looked pointedly at a large silver cross hanging from one of the supports. Her gaze went back to his, and never breaking eye contact, she wrapped her hand firmly around the potent symbol.
Enyos’ mouth fell open, leaving him to gape at the spectacle. “But ... “ he started and then trailed off.
“You don’t know,” she said evenly. “Not about me. But you do have knowledge that I require.”
His relaxed posture stiffened immediately as he ran through a mental index of all the things she could do to him to try and force the knowledge from his lips.
She smiled wryly at his theatrics. “I have no interest in seeing your pain,” she commented. “I am not your enemy.”
Romania February, 1647
The coughing wracked his frail frame, causing him to shake uncontrollably despite the roaring fire in the small room. She offered him a spoon of broth which he refused. “You need this,” she said firmly.
He searched her face for any trace of regret, but found none. She was always aloof, completely untouchable. After a lifetime at her side, as her lover, even he could not wring blood from the stone that was her heart. “I am ready to die,” he said with finality. “I have lived long and I deserve my reward.”
She nodded, setting the bowl down. “Thank you, Enyos,” she said with sincerity. “You have been a true friend.”
He smiled, running a withered knuckle lightly along the smooth skin of her cheek. She still looked as perfectly flawless as she had a lifetime ago and yet he was a mere shadow of his former self. Physically. He knew inside he was a much better person than the arrogant boy who had dared insult this magnificent creature. “I love you,” he said, his hoarse voice cracking with emotion. “I have always loved you.”
“I know,” she said, her voice possessing none of the vanity the statement would imply. It was a cold, hard fact just like so much of her interminable existence.
“Find someone,” he said, “someone you love.”
She smiled at his blunt nature. She had always enjoyed it immensely. “I am alone in this world, Enyos. You know that. Besides, I much prefer your company to the idle prattle of some young boy.”
He laughed and then shook again as it quickly degraded into a cough. “Buffy,” he said, taking her hands in his, “promise me that you will try.”
She met his gaze evenly. “I promise,” she said.
He looked at her for a long moment with an intensity that finally caused her to look away. He let her hands go and moved to the bed, allowing her to help him under the covers.
Her head was bowed as she said, “You are upset with me.”
“You have never lied to me before,” he replied.
Buffy stared up at the cold night sky, feeling the heat of Enyos’ funeral pyre against her back. He had been a good companion, better than most she had kept over the centuries. At least Enyos had captivated her imagination at times, cheered her with stories or surprised her with his insight. For a being as ancient as she, distraction was a rare gift.
She sighed, turning to watch the dying embers. Enyos had been a means to an end, a way of keeping a promise she made to herself back when she still remembered what it felt like to be human. She kept the promise. She had the knowledge she needed, but more and more it seemed useless. The idea of utilizing her knowledge bordered on the absurd. A childhood fantasy that meant nothing to an adult.
It took her eons to piece together what had transpired after she threw herself off that platform in Sunnydale. Lucky for her eons were all she had. The Void sought to balance the scales, to right its wrong. A Slayer plunged in. A Slayer who wasn’t supposed to be there. The Void did only what it could, it returned the Slayer to her rightful place. She woke in a cave in a time before the written word, surrounded by the three shamen. She felt the demon enter her body and animate her flesh. The Void had not returned her to the state of a Slayer, the Void returned her to the state of The Slayer. The first Slayer.
Her horror had known no bounds. She became a wild thing, possessed, unmanageable. The shamen finally put her to death. Another Slayer was Called. But only then did they realize that being the first, being the girl joined to the demon, that she was no longer mortal. A new Slayer rose. But so did Buffy. They didn’t try to stop her as she left, they merely parted before her and watched her wander into the unknown.
Buffy lost herself for centuries. She spent interminable amounts of time trying to find a way to undo her immortality, searching for some loophole. To her eternal – literally – chagrin, she discovered the truth. She had always called vampires immortal, but they weren’t. They were merely ageless and difficult to kill. Buffy was more than ageless, she truly was immortal, bound to this plane of existence for eternity.
Initially, she lost herself in hedonism. But that eventually grew old. You could only indulge for passions for so long before they lost their appeal. After that, she wallowed in depression. It grew tiresome quickly.
For lack of anything better to do, she began to take an interest in her surroundings, her world. She had never been great at history, but she knew enough to know that whatever world the Void had returned her to, it was not, in fact, her world. For a while, that was interesting. She tried to discover the differences without affecting the timeline. But her history of her own world was too sketchy. She seriously wished she would have paid more attention. But for all of the differences she could pinpoint, there were also a lot of similarities. That led to her next phase, a long period of reflection and contemplation.
She dissected her existence, both as Buffy Summers and as this timeless being she had become. In her reflections, she came to the not-shocking realization that Angel was the only person who had ever made her feel alive. In an impetuous moment, she decided that when the time came, she would search out his human incarnation in this world, that she would spare him the horror of a century and a half as Angelus. She would gift her love with the beauty of a pure soul.
That was why she had sought out Enyos and the gypsy magics he knew and guarded. Now, she was more knowledgeable on the subject than any Rom. She could perform their spells and incantations effortlessly. But it didn’t even seem worth it. The promise she made to herself to find Angel had been made before fire destroyed the library at Alexandria. Even for a true immortal, that was a long damn time ago.
Now Angel just seemed like some foggy dream, an old keepsake tucked away in some long forgotten corner of her heart. She could no longer remembered the exact breadth of his shoulders, the true timbre of his voice. She had long ago lost his smell and his feel. He was a ghost, ephemeral and distant.
She made a decision on that cold night. She would let this ghost rest.
Los Angeles, August, 2001
Angel could hear them arguing long before he turned the corner. It was obvious from the sound of Cordy’s voice that she was suffering the after effects of a vision. “Don’t tell Angel what?” he asked, nonplussed with the conversation his employees were having about him.
They stared at him like the proverbial children with their hands caught in the cookie jar. Wesley started to make some lame excuses, but Cordelia conceded defeat. “My vision,” the Seer said, her voice easily conveying the defeat she felt. Wesley sighed audibly as his partner in crime threw in the towel, but it was apparent he felt relieved to have it out in the open.
“So we have a case,” the vampire said with clinical precision.
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” Wesley said, unable to meet his gaze.
“Sure it is,” Angel countered blandly. “Cordy has visions, I fix the problems. That’s how it works.”
The Watcher was silent. “It was about Buffy,” Cordelia said softly.
Angel blanched, his already pale countenance taking on a waxy tinge.
“I’m sorry,” Cordelia continued, her voice oddly soft, “I didn’t want to tell you.”
Angel coughed, clearing his throat. “What was the vision about?” he asked, his voice as unsteady as he felt.
Cordy shook her head. “I don’t know. It didn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t know,” she repeated. “It was Buffy ... but it wasn’t, and you were there, but it wasn’t really you, and maybe it was Spike but he looked really weird.”
Angel shot a beseeching look at Wesley. Wes shrugged impotently. “I’m sorry, he said, “I don’t have any idea what the source of this vision could have been.”
“Was it here?” he asked.
“No,” Cordelia replied. “Sunnydale.”
Ireland, April 1753
She promised herself she would not come, but in the decades that followed Enyos’ death, her curiosity got the better of her. She wandered aimlessly. Or she pretended it was aimless. When she found herself in Ireland in the year she knew to be Angel’s last as a human, she could no longer lie to herself. She came to see him, to watch him in the sunlight.
She gave in to her weakness. She would peek in and then leave. She was an ancient, so far removed from that silly little girl that fell in love with him. There was no way she could step into his life. She had long ago learned that it was best to let events run their course. If Angel was meant to be turned into a demon, then so be it. She was not one to meddle with the decree of the fates.
But that was before she saw him. She was not prepared for it, to turn a corner and see the man she had fallen in love with as a sixteen year old girl. But he was not that man. He was a loud, visceral human boy, bawdy and hedonistic. And he could walk in the sunlight.
That first day, she turned and ran. She locked herself in her room inside the manor house. She tried to put him out of her mind. But she couldn’t. His image tormented her days and nights. Michael banged on her door, begging her to come out, to let him enter, anything to assure him she was well. She ignored Michael, all of her thoughts on her Angel. Seeing him made her remember. It made her remember what it felt like to be human, to care, to be part of the cycle of life and death.
She stalked him effortlessly, century upon century allowing her to shadow him so completely that even Darla did not notice. She watched, spellbound as the beautiful, deadly vampiress drained him in that filthy alley and then slashed her own chest to feed him.
As his lifeless body tumbled to the grimy cobblestones, she spoke Darla’s name softly – and then buried a stake in her chest.
Michael was not happy and though she was well accustomed to his propensity to pout, Buffy was annoyed. “Help him,” she snapped.
Michael glared but dutifully walked over to the fresh grave and assisted the stinking fledgling from the damp earth. The boy stared at them, eyes wild. Michael snorted in disgust.
“Greetings, Liam,” Buffy said softly.
“I could feel them – above me – as I slept in the earth. Their heartbeats. Their blood coursing through their veins,” Liam said.
“That is the way of these things,” Buffy said enigmatically, smiling at him gently.
“Was it a dream?”
She sighed and stepped closer to him. At her side, she could hear Michael’s low growl, but ignored it completely. Extending her hand, she touched his cheek softly. “It is not a dream, my childe,” she said.
“This is not our way,” Michael spat, throwing the empty kettle to the floor.
Buffy turned to face him. Liam was in the next room taking a much needed bath for which Michael had just finished providing hot water. No doubt Liam could hear their conversation if he wished, but Buffy doubted he would listen. Fledglings were often too occupied with their new senses to notice much beyond themselves for the first few days.
“Our way?” Buffy mused. “What exactly would our way be?”
“Vampires,” he seethed. “I am his elder, I will not play his valet.”
Buffy nodded, crossing the room to stand in front of Michael. “Well,” she said softly, “the last time I checked, you and Liam were both ensouled vampires, therefore free from the rigid restraints of your soulless brethren. I, on the other hand, am something completely different. So technically we have no ways.”
Michael’s jaw tightened and his vibrant green eyes sparkled. He truly was a lovely male specimen, but as always, he held no appeal for her. He was a companion, nothing more, nothing less, lacking even the limited appeal that Enyos had held centuries earlier. Buffy assumed therein lay the rub. “You are jealous of my new acquisition,” she said blandly.
“I have served you faithfully for a century,” he said, his voice low and tight.
“Yes, on that we agree.”
“And you have never taken me to your bed,” he added with vitriol.
“Yet again we are establishing facts,” she said mundanely.
“You will take him, won’t you?” he seethed. “You will take that backwater Irish potato farmer into your bed and your body? You will allow him to sully your purity with his - ”
Buffy’s blow knocked Michael into the wall hard enough to crack the plaster. He crumpled to the floor and she carefully crouched in front of him. “Address me so casually in the future,” she said, “and you will discover just how diverse the knowledge is that I have acquired in my tenure in this world.”
“Of course we can see London,” she said gently. “We can see Rome and Constantinople. We can see China and the New World.”
The look of unbridled joy and wonder on his face almost brought tears to her eyes. No, scratch that, it did bring tears to her eyes. She wiped them away with more than a little wonder herself. He laughed and it was such a rich sound that more tears fell. Her Angel had never sounded like that. She never even guessed that his body was capable of creating such a joyous noise.
Of course, this wasn’t Angel. This was Liam, but she loved him all the same.
“You indulge him.”
“I indulge myself with him, Michael,” she said flatly. “Are you going to find fault with that?”
“Of course not, Mistress,” he said curtly.
END ... for now
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