Chapter 7: One Last Thing to Prove
"Buffy, I don't know what you want from me." Angel blinked at the displayed pages. "I thought you wanted normal, but this is . . .
Finally, Angel looked at her. "Do you want to be the slayer again?"
"No." She glanced back at him. "But I have the power to make my son's world safer."
"I don't - Buffy, this is . . ."
He breathed out. "Yeah."
"It can be done. I saw it." She frowned at her work. "I just haven't figured out the best way."
Letting go of her hand, Angel crawled forward. "Sealing a hellmouth has got to be risky. Buffy, some of these ideas-" He squinted at a collection of post-its. "They're really dangerous."
"When Lilly and I crawled out of that hell dimension, it literally disappeared behind us - same with Acathla." She met his eyes bravely. "Dimensions to other worlds can close completely without harming this one and without leaving behind mystical energy." She stared at her notes. "I didn't open the mouths to hell, so there has to be a way to shut them down without me dying."
"Assuming that's even enough power."
Her nose crinkled. "I know."
"Who else has been working this problem?"
She didn't answer.
His brows shot up. "You haven't ask for help?"
"I thought about contacting Wesley, but when I saw what he has going on in L.A. -I mean, this is so not something he'd want to get wrapped up in."
He looked at her carefully a moment. "Okay, what about Giles or Willow or hell, even Spike? You've known a lot of people with knowledge of this kind of stuff."
"I told my ex-husband about us and I told you about this." She waved at the couch. "I think I'm awkward-conversationed out."
He frowned at a pinned 3x5 card. "You're willing to close a hell dimension from the inside, but are too cowardly to reach out to the people you've hurt."
"Yup." She pursed her lips. "Some apologies are best saved for the afterlife."
"You can't do this alone." He plucked up a card of scribbles. "So who on this list of crossed out resources scares you the least?"
"You're leaving again?"
Buffy sat with Sunny in park's sandbox. "The last trip was for me; this one is for him."
Sunny looked at Vinny digging a little hole. "All your boy needs is his mom."
"And if everything goes according to plan-"
"What plan?" Sunny rolled his eyes.
"The one Wesley is going to help me come up with, and when it's over, Vinny will have me and a much safer place to live." She leaned closer. "Do you really think Cleveland's hellmouth isn't a problem?"
"Course it is. But why you makin' it yours?"
"I'm not sure I am. The powers gave Vinny to Linds for a reason. Either they care about Vince having a normal human upbringing or . . . ."
"Or what? They magically guessed you'd run to Ohio and pick up the slayer torch to save Vin from a hellmouth he doesn't even live over?"
She shrugged. "Maybe they knew or maybe I'm getting paranoid . . . but I can't deny I was born with extraordinary powers. I can't protect Vinny from every evil, but maybe I can lessen it."
"What are you going to tell Lindsey?"
"That this is the last time. I'm going to do one huge thing for the safety of mankind then I retire - for good."
"I don't buy it." Sunny looked down solemnly. "He won't either."
Buffy drew her finger through the sand. "It's time people rescued themselves. It's time I let them." She filled in one of the holes her son had abandoned. "After the hell mouths are closed, if I make it through this, that's it. I'm ready to lay roots."
"I can't tell if the world is set against you getting what you want, or if you don't know what you want."
"Angel is stumped too."
Sunny started to stand. "Do whatever you want Anne." He wiped off the sand. "You always do." Before she could reply, he followed Vincent's crawl trail and picked him up.
Buffy watched her close friend hold her son. Sunny wore a sad but resigned expression. She knew that expression well.
She wanted to survive whatever came for a lot of reasons. She wanted to see her son grow up, she wanted to watch Sunny grow too, and more than anything, she wanted to see her loved ones be happy again.
The days of quiet resignation were over. She'd proved it by closing both hellmouths permanently . . . even if that was the last thing she proved to them.
Buffy lay on the floor of Lindsey's house across from Vinny and Angel. Knowing this might be their last night with him, both Angel and Buffy felt content to watch him play. Vinny took turns chewing and stacking the doughnut rings. He drooled and squealed smelled just like a baby should.
Lindsey stood in the door. "Can I talk with you a moment - alone."
Buffy crawled to stand and followed him out. She closed the door behind her.
"It's not your night to watch him." Lindsey stopped her from cutting in "-But Sunny said this was your last night here, so he made an exception. You want to tell me what's going on?"
"Angel and I are going back to L.A. to get help closing a hellmouth."
"Before we met, I kinda stood guard over a portal to hell. My job was to keep it from opening and protect the town from evils attracted to it."
"And what makes you think it's going to open now?"
"My main concern is that not far from here, there's another one."
"What? Where?!" Lindsey lifted his hand over his mouth and dragged it down wearily. Pulling her by the arm, he whispered, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You've been handling Vinny and I've been handling the rest. That's why I had to start slaying again. The hellmouth isn't in town, but it's close enough to cause problems."
Lindsey leaned against the wall shaking his head. "I grew up here."
"I want to be a good mom for Vincent, but we both know I'm not right now." She looked down. "Scrubbing blood off my hands on the walk over here isn't working for either of us."
Lindsey's eyes found hers. "It's better than not having you here at all."
A faint smile glimmered across her lips. "I think so too."
"I'm lucky. Most moms can't change the world for their kids. If I can make just one of these theories real, that's exactly what we'll do." She reached for his hand.
He watched his hand in hers. "I don't want to lose you."
She glanced at Vinny's door. "Just the thought of him will keep me careful."
"Please stay." His hand tightened. "We can leave -go some place where we can be a family."
"Don't you see? I'm doing this for our family."
"I love you."
"You don't." His fierce expression hardened hers. "You love that I love you, and that's a hard thing to lose; I know."
"It's not my fault I don't remember!"
"And this isn't mine." Glancing at the door, she lowered her voice. "We stopped, and I had to find a way to go on. We couldn't be the most important people in each others' lives anymore."
"So you're never going to forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive." She lifted their entwined hand. "Linds, me leaving isn't about us. It's about Vin. He already has a good dad. He needs a good mom and a safer town. By leaving now, I can give him both."
"Or you can get yourself killed."
"Those are the options, yeah." She smirked.
He did too. Soon, they were both smiling, though, neither could say why.
Lindsey nodded towards the door. "And Angel is on board with this?"
"He thinks I'm crazy." She grinned and Lindsey shook his head.
"At least we agree on something."
She stroked his arm. "It's going to be okay. I'm a superhero remember? Being awesome is kind of what I do."
He squeezed her hand one last time before letting go. "Put him to sleep for me?"
She smiled radiantly. "Thank you." She walked back into Vinny's room. "Hey buddy."
Lindsey listened to Buffy and Angel murmur to each other a moment before walking away. On the way to the stairs, he turned to the wall. Holding it with one hand, he punched it with the other. The murmurs from Vinny's room stopped, but no one came out.
They didn't ask if everything was alright because they all knew it wasn't.
He pulled his hand from the wall and continued towards the stairs.
From Vinny's room, Angel and Buffy listened to Lindsey's feet go down the steps.
Angel watched her snuggle close to Vin. "Are you sure?"
"About this." He looked at the floor. "About us?"
"Nothing about this is going to be easy, but no, I don't doubt the choices we made . . . you?"
He shook his head. "I love you."
"I know. I love you too."
Their eyes met and held a moment before they returned their attention to the child between them. Vin gurgled happily bringing tears to Angel and Buffy's smiling faces.
I don't plant to post next week or the week after due to work, but here's hoping either I can sneak in a quick post or three weeks from now, I get a weekend.
Your reviews are what keep this crazy writing train on track, so what do you think so far?