Title: Vanilla and Cinnamon Author: Coru Rating: PG Spoilers: Um...'The Body' and the end of season six, sorta. That's about it. Summary: Oz reflects on his life and Willow. From 'Challenge In A Can' (http://www.dymphna.net/challenge/challenge.html): Oz, Lonely, Candles. Disclaimer: I am poor. I own nothing. Got it?

~*~*~

She always smelled like vanilla and cinnamon.

After fifty years, two failed marriages and three children, I still remember her. She had the softest, most vibrantly red hair I've ever seen or felt. Her smile was shy, but friendly and sweeter than any other I've seen, before or since, and her bright green eyes always sparkled.

She was loyal, unfailingly so. She loved her friends more than anything. She would have died for any of them. She never let anything stop her, once she had set her mind to it. She would put on her resolve face, and that would be it in her mind.

She loved without question. She never asked for anything in return, she was happy just to love. For most of her childhood her world revolved around her best friend, but she never asked for him to love her back.

I didn't tell her often enough, not how I really felt. I never tell them often enough. She knew though. It's the reason why, now, at sixty-nine years old, I'm alone. My children are grown, married, with children of their own. My oldest daughter is 45. She lives in Sunnydale, of all places. When she moved there, I asked her to look up a few people...

Xander was the only one still alive.

The End of Days came and went, and I never knew. The final battle that took Buffy, Angel, Giles, Cordelia and Dawn. There were others, people that joined the fight after I left. Tara had died many years before. A small part of me enjoyed hearing it, a fact that I regret to this day. But she lived. She and Xander lived together at 1630 Revello Drive for the next ten years. Xander told me that they couldn't bear to sell it. It was Buffy's house, after all. A house where their friends had lived, loved and died. No one else would live in Buffy's home, so long as a 'Scooby' remained on this earth, as Xander proclaimed.

She was thirty-seven when she died, a heart attack of all things. The magic had hurt her, or so Anya told them. Xander found it ironic, he found her in the exact way Buffy had found Joyce, sprawled over the sofa. He grieved, but losing the others had taught him something. Death comes when it chooses. And she had been ready. They were both tired, the fight against evil that had spurred them on in their youth was over. They had no purpose but to go through life, existing instead of living. I still regret letting her die alone, after all these years. We never got to meet in Tibet.

But now, I look back on my life, and know that for all the years I've spent on this planet, I really *lived* for many of them. Some years consist of great moments in between dull days, and others were filled with greatness, every minute. I fought my battles, I conquered something inside myself that others never believed possible, and for a few years, I was a part of something real. Something I'll never be able to forget.

On my dresser two candles burn. The scent teases my senses, and I can almost feel her hair under my fingers, and see the face I loved. The rest of the world is growing dim, but she grows brighter. She smiles, and takes my hand.

She smells of vanilla and cinnamon.