TITLE: "Swan Song" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: mc@fangy.net
SITE: http://fangy.net/mc.html
FEEDBACK: Would be delightful!
DISTRIB: List archives, or just ask.
PAIRING: Spike/Buffy
SUMMARY: "The dust collected under her nails, covering her skin like blood on guilty hands."
NOTE: Xander POV. Character death.

* * *

Imagine, if you will.

The setting. Autumn, late night, Restfield Cemetery. You know the one. The usual premise, which by now you must be fairly acquainted with. No need to describe the rows upon rows of pale tombstones, sticking out of longish grass like dull teeth; the occasional mausoleum, its rough iron door creaking in the cool breeze; the gargoyles, who've seen it all yet still look upon with morbid curiosity. Dead leaves, colourful, are picked up by the wind and brush past us like gossamer things. Quiet rings around us deafly, in the aftermath of a brutal dance to which we have only been spectators.

Dramatis personae. Oddly, down to basics. The quintessential troika, like in the beginning. No significant other, no life partner, no proactive Watcher, who had opted for a quiet evening of book-lusting instead. Willow and I stood silently, shivering in our thicker coats like the sun-kissed little California kids we were. Willow clutched an empty crossbow to her chest, absently, while I shoved my hands deep inside my pockets, as far as they would go (I had left my own weapon - an axe I had come to be familiar and rather skilled with - embedded in something's spine). And finally our leading lady, the prima ballerina, the one girl in all the world, frozen into a broken version of her fighting stance, stake held high, oblivious to the unseasonal cold, swirling around her limbs and reddening her cheeks.

It was almost pretty how she broke apart, crumbling to the earth piece by piece until hands and knees sunk into the grass, digging calmly at the soft soil we've tread every night for years. The stake fell from limp fingers and clattered dull end first onto the ground, to be forgotten. Then her body shook, the girl's eyes wide with panicked regret, and the manicured talons clawed frantically at the earth, where a thin, scattered coating of dust stirred idly in the breeze. Her fingers raked through the brittle blades and the dust collected under her nails, covering her skin like blood on guilty hands.

Willow looked away and the heroine shattered, a sharp scream piercing the heavy night air, shaken with sobs. I looked down at my shoes, hearing the laments we'd been expecting since the beginning, but I couldn't look away for long. The tragedy of it was too powerful, the whole thing too gothic and purple and I-told-you-so, it didn't seem deserving of passing interest.

And so I watched, silent, feeling the unseasonal cold seep into my very core along with something else, as wind picked up the remains of her loved one and blew them upward in a swirled flourish, caressing her weeping form one last time like the fingers of a dedicated lover, before ascending to the greyish heavens he had, in the end, earned for her.