I stand under the hot spray of the shower. The water is rust red from the blood and dirt that washes off my body. I close my eyes and slick the water off my hair. I'm covered in cuts and bruises, nothing slayer healing won't take care of though. That's more then I can say about some of the girls I brought here. They're lying out in the lobby of this old hotel now. I get out of the shower, every muscle sore, and slip into workout pants and a tank top. I run a comb through my hair.
I pad down the stairs into the lobby barefoot. Illyria, I think that's what Angel called her, is picking up Rona's body in a fireman's carry.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"The shells must be disposed of. They will begin to rot," Illyria says.
"What? Where are my other slayers?" I ask noticing now that Wesley's body is the only one left in the lobby.
"We have put them in the box of fire ," Illyria says.
"You what?" I shriek.
"You heard her. We put the bodies in the incinerator," Angel says walking in from the basement.
"Those were my slayers. You had no right!"
"Did you want me to go steal some coffins, dig a hole, bury them in the ground? Maybe we could have a priest say a blessing over each grave," Angel asks.
"You can't just burn them," I say.
"We don't have a choice, Buffy. It's this or dump them in the alley to rot," Angel said.
I shake my head. No, no, no, no. They were mine, mine to take care of, mine to responsible for and he just burned them like trash.
"I don't even know why you came here, Buffy. I didn't need your help-"Angel starts.
"Yeah because you weren't in a battle to the death, you didn't need an army of slayers swooping in to help you, an army that died," I say, disgusted.
"Go back to Rome, Buffy. Go back to your wonderful new life with The Immortal. I don't need you," Angel says and whirls on his heel.
Have you ever been hit in the gut so hard you wanna puke? I have and this is worse. I stare at his retreating back in total shock. I'm going to be sick. I'm going to be sick right here in this lobby where we laid all the dead people. I turn and run up the stairs two at time. I throw everything in my carry on, at least I think it's everything and creep down the stairs. I know he watches me leave. I can feel him, but he doesn't try to stop me.
I watch her walk out of the courtyard from the balcony in my room. I've never wanted to stop her from leaving more then I do right now. I don't have that right anymore-- not that I ever did. She's got a wonderful, shiny life in Rome with The Immortal. It's not what I had in mind when I left her five years ago, but then it's not my life to live and she's not my girl, not anymore.
Five Years Later:
The afternoons here are decadent. They have feeling and depth to them. I wander down the crooked cobblestone alley that spills out into the market. I take a deep breath and the smell of warm fruit wraps around me. I'm here every Monday and Thursday. They're my favorite days of the week.
Mr. Giagilio's fruit stand is my first stop. I fill up my basket with peaches and plums, some strawberries and of course, grapes.
"Il Pomeriggio buono, Bello Anne," he says.
I laugh. "Ciao, Mr. Giagilio."
I'm not Buffy Summers anymore. I'm Anne Williams, an American from Southern California who lives in the tiny village called Siena in the middle of Tuscany. Five years ago I walked out of the Hyperion Hotel and I quit. I quit slaying, I quit being Buffy Summers. I pay Mr. Giagilio and fish a peach out of my basket. I sink my teeth into it and laugh as peach juice dribbles down my chin. Mr. Giagilio shakes his head and smiles at me. He's like sixty years old, but I think he's half in love with me. That's okay, his wife is too.
I buy cheese, wine and some fresh bread. The walk back to the little villa I live in isn't far. It belongs to a little old lady that doesn't speak English. It's okay; I've lived in Italy for six years now. I'm pretty fluent in Italian, but at first talking to her was a mystery.
I put my groceries away in my small apartment and change into a bikini. The rest of my day will be spent drowsing by the pool like a very lazy cat. When night falls I'll go to Celio, a nightclub where I work as a bouncer. I'm a huge draw, nothing people like better then watching a tiny blonde toss a two hundred pound, drunk macho man out on his ass. Celio is the Italian word for Heaven-- ironic that after I got pulled out of Heaven, I'm now working in it. As I'm lying by the pool, soaked in sunlight and warmth, I realize I like my life. For the first time since Angel left me, I like my life.
Contentment spreads itself over me like a warm blanket, no not perfect happiness, contentment. The little blonde next to me nestles down into my chest and I dip my head, kiss her on the crown of her head and take a deep breath. She smells like cool water and lavender.
"You know, we've been doing this for a couple of years now," she said.
I make some sort of noncommittal sound. It doesn't seem to bother her. One thing I happen to like about her is that she's persistent.
"I was thinking, if we're going to continue doing this, maybe we should just get married," she says.
If I had a beating heart, well let's just say it would have stopped.
"Okay, so I can tell by your silence that you're not totally on board with this," she says.
I shake my head. "No, it's not that. I just-I've never really thought about it."
"Angel, I'm twenty eight years old. We've been dating for two years. We've been sleeping together longer then that. I want to get married and I don't want to hear any of your excuses about why we can't or shouldn't. You will be getting your Shanshu in a little over a month and that negates most of those excuses," she says.
I start to argue. I start forming the excuses in my head and then it occurs to me why? She's right; the Shanshu will negate all the real excuses. The ones that are left are just me and my insecurities, my hang-ups. Finally I shrug, "Okay then," I say.
She's very still for a moment before sitting up and clutching the sheet so that it covers her chest. She arches an eyebrow at me. "Really?"
I chuckle. This isn't how I imagined a marriage proposal to go, but then she isn't the girl I imagined marrying. Don't get me wrong. I care about her, Hell I even love her but the fact that there's only contentment in our bed instead of perfect happiness speaks for itself.
"You've got a point. If you're sure this is what you want, then the Shanshu takes care of my objections," I say.
She glances up at me. "What do you want?" she asks.
I smile at her and tell her the truth, at least part of it. "You."