NOWHERE TO RUN

S J Smith

Disclaimer:  Joss never calls, he never writes.  I'm thinking the relationship is over.  And you just know he'd win that lawsuit, so I can't claim 'em as mine.  The lyrics are from Brother, "One Heart, One Soul".  

Rating:  PG

Spoilers:  Possible for the end of BtVS season 7 and AtS season 4

A.N.:  This is part 3 of the series, Postcards From the Edge.  If you haven't read the previous stories, you need to know the End of Days happened, Spike sacrificed himself for Angel, Cordelia was mentally shattered when the demon was taken from her and afterwards, Angel, Connor and Faith went on a road trip to heal themselves.  

A.N. 2:  Buffy's P.O.V.

Thanks to D.M.E. for providin' the title – not to mention all da readin'.   

* * *

Eyes on the future, what's to be done?

Need understanding to stand as one.

Too many secrets, too many guns

Mice on a treadmill with nowhere to run.

* * * * *

Angel sends me postcards. 

Photos of places I've never been, showing scenes I'll probably never see.  I mean, sure, Knotts Berry Farm was someplace I'd been, once before, when Mom and Dad were still happy together, before we moved out of L.A.  I remember roller coasters and the smell of jelly lingering in the air. 

But he sends me postcards of the Black Hills, of a ghost town that he, Faith and Connor prowled around one night.  And writes to me in code that they'd needed their special skills to clean up the town.  I remember when I got that card my hand clenched as if it held a stake, too.  That I could use it to help them.  But by the time I got it, four days had passed and they were somewhere else, tooling around in that great big boat that Angel calls a car and Xander drooled over enough to make Anya jealous. 

He writes about what Faith and Connor are doing.  And without saying what they're doing, even I can read between the lines.  "They like each other."  Duh.  Even I could see that when we all fought at that last big battle.  Connor barely left her side.  And when Faith went down, he went nuts.  Nearly took out eight demons by himself. 

I had someone at my back that day but Spike's not here anymore.  He died. 

Angel took the blame for that.  He told me that Spike had pushed him out of the way.  Sacrificed himself for Angel.  I almost didn't believe it, I didn't want to.  Spike hated Angel.  Hated everything he stood for.  And yet…it made sense. 

Spike would've done anything for me, even if that meant saving Angel.  He would have done that, thinking it was what I would've wanted.  Angel, still alive; Spike dead and gone. 

At least he went down fighting.  It was a good death, better than something stupid like tripping and falling on a stake.  But I promised myself I wasn't going to think about Spike today.  Or 'dwell', as Dawn says, with an eye roll and a hair flip.  I was going to think about something else. 

Like the postcard that came in today's mail. 

They surprise me.  Well, the first one, at least.  Like I said, Knotts Berry Farm wasn't exactly where I'd guess Angel would go after helping to win the war against darkness.  Disneyland, maybe. 

He probably wouldn't get the joke. 

A few days later, the next postcard arrived.  Like a little travelogue for me, since I had to stay behind.  Well, okay, I hadn't actually been invited.  Faith just said she was heading back to L.A. and I hugged her goodbye – really hugged her, held on like I was afraid I'd never see her again – and the next thing I know, I'm getting cards from Angel. 

Dawn tries not to be jealous but I can hear it in her voice when she sees each card.  She knows we don't have the money to go anywhere.  I never thought about Angel having money but I guess those silk shirts, dusters and leather pants don't grow on trees.  I know Faith doesn't have anything.  She barely has clothes.  I gave her some stuff to wear, took her shopping with Dawn and me and we made her get some new clothes.  Not like she could go wandering around in what she'd borrowed from Cordelia forever. 

God, Cordelia.  Willow and Xander drove to L.A. to see her a couple of days ago.  She isn't any better.  I feel so guilty.  The last words I said to her…I'm not going to dwell.  I'm not.  She doesn't remember me anyway – probably for the best, really.  When we all went to see her, Willow, Xander, Dawn and I, she combed Dawn's hair and braided it really cute.  But she didn't recognize either of us.  Willow and Xander, yeah; sort of.  God, her mind was erased.  She's like a little kid. 

I wonder if Angel sends her…no, God, no, I can't be jealous, can I?  I can't think about it.  The Cordelia I once knew is gone, completely, totally gone and I was suddenly thinking about Spike dying. 

Is it fair, I wonder (don't dwell), that Spike is gone and that Angel has a son – a son, another thing I still can't manage to think on without feeling so damned hurt and God, I'm so tired of hurting.  But I still hear his voice, echoing around that sewer: that speech Angel gave me when he broke up with me about sunshine and making love and children.  Especially the children part.  He's a vampire, still and he has a kid.  A boy.  A handsome, blue-eyed son that Dawn refers to as a hottie every chance she gets.  Angel's son, who has something going on with Faith. 

My head hurts and my throat's so tight and sore from the tears that lodged in it.  It's been a month.  Thirty days.  Maybe longer and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.  How many people do I have to lose?  Merrick, Dad, Angel, Riley, Mom, Giles, Tara and now Spike.  And a part of me thinks maybe it's for the best that Spike is gone - it was never, ever going to work or hadn't I learned anything from Angel? - and a part of me misses him so much.  He was there when I needed him and now he just…isn't. 

 When Angel told me what happened, I couldn't believe it.  I almost thought for a minute that Angel did something, that Angel was the one who took out Spike.  And when he told me what really happened, I still didn't believe it.  Spike couldn't be gone.  He couldn't have left me the way that everyone else does.  And when I finally realized Angel was telling the truth, that he wasn't lying to me, I took it out on him.  I hit him.  I hit Angel for telling me about Spike's death.  I wanted him to take it back.  I wanted him to hurt, too.  I screamed at him and I punched him.  And he just took it.  Just let me.  Didn't even try to block the blows. 

Later, Giles told me he'd offered to tell me but Angel wouldn't let him.  He gave me that look that he does, cleaning his glasses with a handkerchief, telling me what happened with Cordelia in the fight.  I'd been busy, too busy, Faith and me fighting side by side.  Willow told me about using her magic to drive out the demon who possessed Cordy and that she'd given birth to some…thing.  Wes had to kill it, Willow said, before it turned back and killed Cordelia.  But Angel knew what happened to Cordelia; someone, Willow?  Giles?  Wes?  I don't know who told him.  And still he wouldn't let Giles tell me about Spike. 

Angel told me and I wanted to hurt him.  I didn't know he'd already been hurt; that the demon inside of Cordelia pitted him against his son; that the demon turned Angelus loose; that the demon stole Angel's soul, holding it hostage.  I didn't know that the demon told Connor that he was going to be a father; that the demon then told Connor that Angelus would kill the baby.  I didn't know, I swear, when I screamed at Angel that I hoped he and his little family would rot in Hell. 

And he still sends me postcards from places I may never see. 

* * * * *

Eyes on the future, what's to be done?

Need understanding to stand as one.

Looking to heaven, trapped on this earth

Hear my confession, what is it worth?

Turning a blind eye up to the sun

Turning our backs on what is to come.

One heart, one soul

One day, some way

(One day I'll find you

One day I'll hold you)

One heart, one soul

One day, some way.