AN: Written for a challenge set for the wonderful Skitty from BuffyWorld Forums. (It came third hehehe.)
Sunrise, sunset./Sunrise, sunset./ Swiftly go the days.
She sits on the edge of the sand, a few feet from where the waves break, if an especially big one was to crash it would lap her feet and ankles, but for now she seems pleasantly content to just risk it. Who knows, maybe she wants to be awashed by the waves.
She's been here before, even if I hadn't heard the stories I would know from her feet and hands, calloused and dirty from every time she's beaten down the path from the caves above the bay to sit in her little private beach. Her hair is waxy with salt and it curls and spins in the night air, she's luminescent. Here at least.
If you walk down the beach, keep walking like all hope is gone, you reach her. Just a girl lying on the sand. It's the demon story heard in every bar, not that I've been in many lately, but Gunn still does, knows enough to relay something like that on to me. Of course the next part of the story is less pleasant, but isn't it nice to pretend it just ends there, a lone figure, ghostly and beautiful underneath the moonlight, isn't it nice to want to believe in fairy tales. So when I'm restless, when I have energy that would have once been used to kill the shadows, I walk down the beach… but see I do have hope, and eventually I just turn back, because I'm unsure of what I'm going to find there and I want to keep holding onto the hope.
Except here I am.
I didn't turn back quick enough and I've reached the private bay, I've reached her. She can't stay the luminescent figure sitting on a beach if I'm close to her. She can't be a fairy tale if I talk to her.
She asks quietly into the darkness. I'm not as quiet as I used to be, and she's no doubt better at listening.
"Hey" She looks at me as I sit beside her and raises an eyebrow at my white sweater and khaki pants.
"I didn't realize they sold Versace to vampires"
I shift uneasily in my seat, wow, awkward.
Her tiny face cracks into a grin and she cackles wildly, the sound bouncing through the night.
"Don't worry, I know" She gently thumbs the soft wool and her wild grin softens into a sad little smile. "The irony hasn't escaped me either"
She pulls away, and sinks back into the sand. Her eyes closing so she can only watch the stars under almost closed eyelids, and she can't see me at all. I lie next to her, my arm pressed against her chilled one, and I too can only look up at the stars.
"It's really been along time hasn't it" She comments quietly, leaning into me "We're not even going to spar together are we"
She nestles her face into my side and unconsciously I drape my arm around her shoulders, pulling her close to meld her shape into mine. She's always been the perfect fit.
"We're going to be alright" She whispers to my sweater, "We'll be fine"
She's wrong. She knows perfectly well that she's lying. Even if I didn't have Maris and Ella, I don't belong to her world anymore, I don't belong to her. So I don't even bother answering, I don't bother confirming what she already knows.
"The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone." She recites mindlessly, pausing she glares into my eyes and gives a very feline smile (Is she insane? Did I send her insane) "Will I always have you, my Angel"
She brushes her lips against mind and presses her forehead against my own.
"You think I don't know. I know. You have a very human life, congratulations"
With a growl I pull her away, her body sprawling across the ground like a rag doll. Like a miser for punishment she deliberately probes at the thing she knows I will not let her touch. She can't just let it rest. She smirks gleefully at my agitation, revelling it. Softly she creeps forwards again until her smile is inches from my scowl.
"I was alive 6 months after you changed Angel." She pauses and her eyes flash with something akin to anger or pain but not quite. She's not capable anymore. "Who's really the monster?"
You're lying while you confess/ keep trying to explain/ A sunrise and the sun sets/ you realize then you forget/ what you've been trying to retain.
Fuck him. Fuck the fact he can walk up the beach and sit down next to me and I still want something from him. Fuck the fact he doesn't wear worn leather dusters and black slacks anymore but shudder, Versace cream sweaters. Fuck that he goes home to his pretty wife at the end of the day and tosses his pretty children up into the air. Fuck that he can live that fucking life and not remember. Fuck that he can see the difference between me.
He's looking at me now with a mixture of disgust and remorse and I know he wants me. It doesn't seem to matter that I don't fit into his little redemption fantasy, that I'm tainted, impure. I can smell his arousal and I know that Angel still wants me.
"How's Connor?" I ask casually, closing the current line of conversation (keep him in suspense, keep him thinking, hurting). "Enjoying his brotherly duties?"
I smile cruelly at Angel's shuttered expression, oh and I though that degree of angst was exclusively kept for me, how naïve, what a shame.
"Doesn't know? Another one of your past 'acquaintances' that didn't fit into your shiny new life."
Angel and I square off again, Warm chocolate meeting my own mossy green seriously, It's a warning not to press, he doesn't need to worry, I'm done.
This has got to be hard for him, his OTL all destroyed and such. At least Spike had the courtesy to cry when he found me out. Doubtful anyone will record his last moments as a sissy, but if someone did ask me, I'd tell them, he died a good man. I'm nice like that. Angel doesn't flinch when he looks at me, or if he does it's internal. Maybe he got used to this kinda stuff, but then I never imagined he'd ever get used to me.
"Are you doing ok?" He asks,
"There's no need for you to get happy with the stake if that's what you mean"
"That's not what I meant."
Cryptic and taciturn as ever, although I do know what he means. He wants to know if it's possible for the darkness to invade the light entirely, if I'm happy that it has, if I am completely what he was or can he keep pretending.
"Go home Angel" I reply harshly, my face wrinkling into a scowl. 'Go home"
And god he will, he prepares to rise with his usual grace, albeit slower and stiffer. My eyes widen to watch him leave and like the waves crashing over my feet, my temper breaks.
"You Fuck!" I scream up at him, and my face stays pale and unflushed despite my anger. "You're just gonna let me say those things, let me think about slaughtering you children, hanging them from the walls, and you don't even react! You don't even care"
"Oh trust me" he answers with dangerous calm, "If you slaughtered my family, I would definitely care"
"You didn't even mourn, did you even cry?"
He looks at me strangely, his confusion a gentle wrinkling in his brow. "What?"
"When I died, Angel. My whole life was spent waiting for you and you didn't even love me enough to morn it's ending"
He absorbs my words for a second and in that time nothing moves to break the silence. Then his face becomes more unnaturally angry and frightening then it even did as a vampire and he crouches in front of me, his hands gripping my shoulders. I wince, not from his grip, but from the sheer intensity of his expression, and I know how much he loved me, probably right to the end.
"Do you love me now Angel?" I whisper, my voice a childish lisp in the cold salty air. He sighs and his ferocity crumbles until he's just another broken down man, like the rest of them.
"No. I loved Buffy"
"I am Buffy"
"No you're not" he roars, the scream pitiful in the vastness of our surroundings.
"No your not" He repeats as a whisper, and I'm not the only one resigning to the fact.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror/ cause you have changed/ Yeah, you have changed.
"Then am I beautiful? To you?"
The question hangs in the air, catalytic, probing. She's testing how far my walls extend, how many bloody tears she can wrench from my moving carcass. I look at her, really look (because even I don't know the true answers to her questions, only the here and now… what else exists I suppose) and I see the same hazel eyes that I saw when she 16 and I fell in love with her, the same pink lips twisted into a bitter smile, the same golden hair flung over her shoulders, the same wiry limbs, full of hidden strength. An acquaintance might be fooled, but no one who knew her truly because those eyes are cold, not warm, her lips aren't smiling but smirking, her limbs are stained with the sickening stench of blood and lost lives. She's a parody of the person she once was, a statement of everything we lost in the war. She's the bitterness, the injustice, the brutality, the grief, and the anger. Every life lost and every soul broken is represented in her eyes and stature, something once as pure and a good as a thing good be dirtied. Slayer fallen.
"No" I reply honestly and to my surprise there is no cutting retaliation, no shrieking or yelling. Just a nod. A nod of someone who has been broken.
"No one gave me a funeral" She muttered, "there was no one except for you… I just hoped…"
I'm not fooled, the emotion is precisely executed so much that she probably doesn't even realise she's doing it, so used to pretending as she is. But Buffy, the real Buffy, would have really had those slim hopes, and that makes me feel as low as I think I can feel.
"What about Dawn?" I ask warily, She laughs, a bark of something that sounds completely unnatural, raw and full of pain.
"What about her. Long gone" She raced ghostly cuts across her wrists and smiles absently, real tenderness etched on her features, "looked so pale amongst all the blood"
She looks out into the ocean, her dark eyes dancing in the light of the moon. Softly she traces the shape of an upside down cross in the sand.
"Giles and Willow both died together, you probably know about that"
I nod; there is no other answer. Giles sacrificed himself to absorb Willow's powers; the darkness over took them both. I saw their corpses, blackened and burnt, in the last minute Willow must have grabbed Giles' hand for comfort and reassurance because we where never able to part them.
"Xander is out there, somewhere. Hiding from himself, from the life I gave him"
I let her crawl back into the cradle of my body, her arms entwining with mine.
"When your all alone it's easy to give up"
"Is that what your doing now?"
She looks at me surprised,
"I can still smell the sunrise"
She doesn't reply, just looks back at the swirling, churning water. Against the naked flesh of my hand, I feel wetness, she's crying.
"I don't think I'm right Angel, I don't think I can be what I am after being what I was"
"You have a soul?" It's a stupid statement, I'd know if her soul remained. I'd know if Buffy still lived beneath that hardened exterior.
"I have nothing" the sob echoes across the beach and she looks helplessly up at the sky, beseeching nameless powers. "I am nothing. I can't feel, or hurt, or ache, or be happy. I'm not anything. Even when I kill, even when I destroy it brings nothing."
A part of me is fractured and divided. Between who I was, and who I have become. I could wait here tonight, pull her from that ledge. She's a killer, a vampire- but I loved her with all my heart so I want to save her. On the other hand, I have a wife and children, the former, which may already be wondering where I am. How can you choose between your wife and your soul mate, one which you devote your life too because you love, and one you would because fate and destiny has preceded it. How do you choose between two things so sacred, between your love and your everything else… that you don't, not anymore ( I once though love was the most important thing in this world, that was when I loved Buffy, Now I don't and I don't, is that suppose to mean something?). Along time ago, I might have tried. Despite not loving her, despite what my life is now. I just can't seem to work up the energy.
I can only get up and walk away. I should owe it to her to say goodbye, for the last time. I should owe it to her to say sorry, for all the times I've broken her heart. I don't.
It's easier just to walk away.
Hold your sadness like a puppet, keep putting on the play/ But everything you do is leading to the point/ where you just won't know what to do/ and at that moment you may laugh.
The tears that have begun to drip down my tears mix with the salty, brine spray and freeze. I feel like this should be a major moment, soundtrack, labyrinth of emotions, my own personal camera crew shooting him fade out of sight at artistic angles. A lot of couples just sort of drift apart, a noiseless crumble of something that once was stable. I guess we're no different.
I hope he doesn't dwell upon what happened tonight, not when the sun shines in the sky; he has children, and his family to love and support him.
I'm glad. It makes it easier to fade away too.
A hundred years and not a lot changes in a world, radiation hasn't poisoned us to extinction, we're not drowning in our polar icecaps. The world still rotates and the people who live there still live and breathe and love and hurt. I don't. I am different. See, you could say the same thing about him but just because his life is serene doesn't make him a different Angel. He'll go home and brood for a while, then it'll begin to stop hurting and he'll still be a good man.
Same old Angel. Just revamped is all (excuse my little pun).
The person who I was is dead. The naïve girl is gone, faded out into the nothing. Doesn't exist.
Soon I will too.
Sunrise, sunset/Sunrise, sunset/The sunrise and the sun sets.