Author: Silverspoon PM
Los Angeles has fallen to the forces of darkness and the humans have been driven underground. There is one who can wrest them from the jaws of hell. He bore the burdens of a champion, the guilty conscience of a martyr, and the face of an Angel.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Angel & Buffy S. - Chapters: 55 - Words: 126,122 - Reviews: 534 - Favs: 89 - Follows: 99 - Updated: 04-07-13 - Published: 12-23-08 - id: 4737468
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Division of Souls – LII
White or red?
Red or white?
It had been five days. She had to decide, already. People were getting impatient. They never said as much, but the persevering smiles seemed stretched too thin now.
Willow had looked up the meanings of various flowers and their colours for her in some ancient book- she could never bring Dawn back, but she could look things up. Helpful.
White for innocence. Red for courage. Was there a colour for betrayal? She doubted it.
What colour said, 'I died because of my sister's stupidity'?
Buffy was having a hard time coping. Or so people were reliably informing her.
The flowers for Joyce had been white. Would Dawn like the same? Like mother, like daughter.
Giles placed a mug of tea gently on the table at Buffy's elbow then eased himself down onto the couch at her side. He took off his glasses, cleaned, replaced. He did that a lot. Buffy had noticed more so the last twenty-four hours.
His eyes were red rimmed. Buffy rubbed at her own with clenched fists.
Tired. She was so tired.
"Have you made a decision?" Giles spoke softly.
Why was he being so kind? She didn't deserve it. Pity and tea and sympathy were the last things she deserved. She should be the one burning.
Red. Like fire. Like the flames of Hell.
"White," Buffy blurted out, and tucked her knees into her chest.
The coroner's report had read 'myocardial infarction'. It hadn't mentioned deals with Satan. Dawn Summers had suffered a heart attack as a result of an undetected genetic defect. Apparently, the toll the birth had taken on her body had been the catalyst for a massive cardiac arrest.
According to the doctors, the baby had indeed brought about the end- Dawn's end. Prophecies were always wide open to interpretation. Giles felt bad about that one, Buffy could tell.
Nobody so far could explain why the baby had been recovered from the hospital janitor's closet. Buffy could take a guess or two. She also knew that the thing that had come for her sister was no heart attack.
"Have you given any thought to…" Giles swallowed, his voice cracked, "music yet? Perhaps a song by Dawn's favourite band or…"
"I haven't paid the phone bill," Buffy interjected, sitting up suddenly and looking about wildly for the telephone. A gentle hand on her shoulder eased her back against the couch.
"I'll have Angel take care of it," Giles promised. His thumb brushed repeatedly across her shoulder.
She didn't deserve comfort. Was there comfort for Dawn?
"Thanks," Buffy mumbled into her sleeve. Her stomach growled loudly. She had forgotten to eat again. Not hungry, anyway.
"Buffy…" Giles leaned forwards, clutched at Buffy's cold hand, "I know this is unbelievably difficult…"
Was white really the right choice? Too cliché, perhaps?
"Hey Buffy," Willow's tone was full of forced cheer as she entered the lounge, Giles in tow. There was a stack of books in her arms, all old and dusty and capable of more things than Willow was willing to attempt.
Sometimes, Buffy hated her for having such power that she refused to harness. She shook her head. Dispelled the thought. Willow wasn't the one to blame.
Chatter washed over her. Buffy picked out the words 'prophecy' and 'zombies', but she only really switched on again when Giles spoke directly to her. Even then, she watched his lips move to help the words sink into her brain.
"… thinks that she may have solved the mystery of the things that showed up the night Dawn…" Giles trailed off, concern alight in his eyes, "Buffy, are you listening?"
She nodded. Hadn't been listening really, but did it matter now? In the wake of things.
Buffy shuddered. So much to organise. Too much. Dawn had always been organised.
"Willow believes that she has the answer regarding your mindless possessed townsfolk," Giles repeated, glancing at Willow, who nodded before taking a step forwards.
She'd been back from England for three days, and she already had answers. Typical Willow.
"I swung by Giles' apartment, and the energy almost knocked my socks off… I've only ever felt anything like that once before," Willow stated in a breathy rush, "back in England, when I was connected to the coven."
Buffy was aware her expression was hopelessly blank. It was hard to recall facts these days.
"Willow believes that what you encountered was… well, Nature."
"Nature…" Buffy intoned, forgetting the correct inflection to make it a question rather than a repetition.
"Mother Nature," Willow answered, smile wide. Realising her error, she corrected her treacherous lips. "I've spoken with some of the sisters and they all agree it sounds…"
"Why?" Buffy demanded, unable to inject much conviction anymore.
She picked at a loose thread on her pants, realising she had not dressed again today. Her old Yummy Sushi pyjamas. She'd bought them on a shopping trip with her Mom and Dawn, and her sister had sulked all the way to the movies afterwards because there had been none left in her size. She'd grown into Buffy's only a year later.
Sometimes when Dawn got sick, Buffy would lay the pyjamas out on her sister's bed, and when she was better they would be waiting freshly laundered in Buffy's drawer again.
Water splashed Buffy's knee. Dark, wet circles appeared on her pants.
She raised a hand to her cheek.
Goodwill could have the pyjamas.
"Our guess is that she wanted to see the baby," Willow answered, frowning in concern as she watched Buffy dry her eyes on her sleeve. "A half-human, half-vampire child goes against every law of nature that has ever existed. If you were the queen bee, wouldn't you want to make sure the child arriving in the world wasn't about to throw off the balance for good?"
"The fact that immediately following the birth all was returned to normal is rather promising indeed," Giles said, a soft smile alive upon his lips. "It suggests that the baby is harmless… just as Dawn insisted she would be."
"I don't have to kill anything?" Buffy checked, brows knitted together. Giles let out a chuckle and shook his head.
"You don't have to kill anything," he confirmed.
Buffy nodded. Good. She curled her knees up onto the sofa and leaned against Giles, sighing when he wrapped one arm around her body.
Tired. She was so tired.
"Buffy, if there's anything I can do…" Willow began, tailing off at the hopeless look behind Buffy's eyes. She swallowed down the diatribe, almost choking on it.
Buffy regarded her oldest friend, recognising the sympathy written upon her features. If only she knew.
Then again, would it alter much? After all, both Angel and Giles were aware, but neither had been anything but supportive and steadying. The antithesis of everything she deserved.
When Mrs. Collins from three doors down had knocked on the door with a casserole on Thursday and declared that Dawn had gone to a better place, Buffy had punched her in the jaw. Angel had wrestled her back into the house, ignoring her enraged screams, and Giles had chased after the middle-aged mother of five to talk her out of pressing charges. The cops had yet to show up at the door, so Buffy presumed that he had been successful. She hardly cared anymore, anyway.
Angel had tipped the casserole into the garbage disposal, refusing to eat it out of loyalty to his wife. She loved him all the more for the gesture, and hated herself all over again for what she had brought upon them.
There was a poem she had read in English class back at Hemery in L.A. The poet and the title were forgotten, but Buffy had held onto the memory of the content long after the other details had faded. She supposed Giles would recall if she were to mention it, but talking required too much effort. Better to be quiet.
It had spoken of death and of the divisions of souls that comes along with it. At the time, Buffy had not been jaded enough by life to fully comprehend the meaning of the prose but, as time had passed and the list of loved ones lost had grown, the poem could have become the Slayer's mantra.
It certainly felt as though some part of her soul had been ripped away along with Dawn. Two souls existing in separate planes now, and her own seeming fractured beyond repair as a result.
It hurt to breathe, again. Usually, that was a sure sign that the sobs were bubbling up from her chest. Buffy covered her mouth with her palm, determined to hold the tears back.
"Buffy, we're so sorry we weren't here," Willow whispered, her eyes shining in the dim light with unshed tears.
Buffy shook her head. Resisted the urge to giggle.
Worst case of misplaced guilt, ever.
"It's ok, Will," she choked out, running her hand through to the ends of her hair. She frowned as the pads of her fingers came away somewhat sticky with grease, and she wracked her brain to recall when she had last showered.
"I just… if I could change this…" Willow began, hesitating as Giles shot her a harsh look.
"It wouldn't be her," Buffy whispered, shaking her head sadly. Her own logic and reason told her that Dawn's soul was somewhere unreachable now.
Giles nodded in approval.
"We'll continue phoning round family and friends," Giles said quietly, planting a kiss on the crown of Buffy's head before he climbed to his feet and beckoned Willow with a glance. "Try to get some rest, Buffy."
She nodded. Leaned her head back against the couch cushion.
Closed her eyes against the pain and the relentless, gnawing grief.
Red or white?
White or red?
It had been five days.
A.N. – The tone of this chapter was quite obviously very different from all the others. I wanted this to be about Buffy's utter desolation, and so I hope that came across. The best way, in my opinion, to reflect grief and guilt is through simplicity.
When you are lost in grief, you see more of the black and white, and far less of the grey in-between. Just the very act of living is painful, and sometimes we fixate on the trivial just to keep ourselves breathing. I hope I got that across.
Reviews are welcome creatures.