Disclaimer: Buffy and Angel belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
A/N: Written for the 2010 IWRY marathon. It's not your typical B/A fic; not by a long shot. But I realised long ago that creativity is my friend! OC's pov, please don't let that put you off! Lol
A quick shout out to Dee (BelovedSlayer) for doing a wonderful job of betaing this fic for me! Check out my profile for the banner I made for this story.
For Each Beloved Soul
I remember the first time I saw him; all those years ago. I was sitting at the reception desk, my feet stretched out in front of me, my wings tucked comfortably against my back. It's quiet and peaceful and I'm feeling relaxed when unexpectedly, I hear the sound of bells chiming. I look up in expectation, a smile forming on my face.
Across the other side of the large room is an archway; normally it's dark and silent, but when a soul passes through, it lights up with a soft golden glow; a sight that never fails to make me smile, even after all these years.
As the light fades, I see a young man stumbling through the archway. My smile fades as I notice the glazed expression on his face; simultaneously noticing his drunken steps as I slump in my seat. I remember thinking that he was nothing special; that he was no champion whatsoever.
When a person dies, there are a few of us entrusted with that soul's final journey. I am a guardian; one of the angels ensuring that the soul travels to the proper afterlife. I have a bad feeling that the man in front of me might just end up going directly to hell.
He's tall; with long dark hair tied at the nape of his neck; a few strands of said hair falling haphazardly over his face. He is wearing a baggy white linen, long sleeved shirt; which is stained with dirt and various spots of blood. His vest is made out of brown leather; his dark pants are tucked into a pair of black riding boots. He stops and looks about himself. He frowns in confusion, blinking drunkenly while shying away from the bright golden lamps that shone from the metal brackets on the white-washed walls.
He gets used to the sudden light and finally spots me sitting at the other side of the room. He pauses, letting his eyes roam over my tall, slim frame, his gaze resting on the curves of my hips and the tightness of the fabric covering my breasts. He smirks, the corner of his mouth twitching in amusement as he takes a step forward, stumbling towards me.
His boots squeaked against the shiny marbled floor. When he reaches me, he leans his arm on the marble top bench above my desk, flashing another grin at me. His eyes are dark and glazed, and I can smell the alcohol emanating on his breath as he hovers over me. I sighed and rolled my eyes in disappointment, my feathers ruffling in disgust as I wrinkled my nose. "Name and age?" I asked him quietly.
He smirks, unperturbed. "Wow, we do move fast, don't we lass?" he chuckles to himself. "It's Liam O'Rourke. Twenty and six," he mumbles in a thick Irish brogue.
I shake my head at his slurring words, an expression of annoyance flitting across my face. Rising to my feet, I turn away from the desk and survey the rows, upon rows of books on the shelves behind me as they extend far into the distance. These books contained the names of every soul that once had a previous life. Grouped into large volumes sorted by year. There are at least thousands upon thousands of them, dating back to the very beginnings of human civilization. I make a quick calculation in my head and quickly select the right book from the closest shelf. Grunting with the effort, I lift the heavy leather-bound volume off the shelf and returned to my desk.
Times have changed; I remembered long ago when the number of souls could fit into a little paperback. Now, the books were so heavy that I struggle to lift them with only my angelic strength. I plopped the book onto my desk; it creates a loud thump, causing Liam to jump slightly in the process. I brush a strand of hair away from my face, squaring my shoulders as I opened the thick book before me.
I searched through the pages until I discovered his name. I placed my finger over the elegant script, closing my eyes as I did. Images rapidly flashed through my mind: a bustling Irish pub full of music and song; a very pretty girl in a very low cut dress. In my mind I saw a violent fistfight; a shouting match between father and son. Lastly, I witnessed a little girl grinning happily as she occupied herself with creating a daisy chain.
I glanced at his sins; his love of the drink, and the many loose women that were a part of his life. I saw the way he had tried to appease his hard nosed father, and when that hadn't work, I watched in sadness as he spiralled further and further into the tunnel of darkness. I saw his triumphs, thought they were few. I saw the way he would laugh and joke with his friends, the kindness he had extended to the first, of many women, and the way he had doted on his younger sister.
Then I saw something that left my blood running cold. Liam was stumbling into a dirty, unpleasant alley. A young woman in a striking, daringly low-cut white dress was turning towards him, revealing to him a smile of both promise and danger. He was stepping towards her and I saw her grin at him before her face began to shift. My eyes were widening as I gasped softly at the vampire's horrific visage. "No," I whispered quietly to myself.
I sighed softly in regret, releasing my hold on the book as I chanced a look into Liam's eyes. "You haven't been the most righteous of men, have you?" I asked him quietly, deciding to keep mum about what I knew of his premature death. "Fights… the drinking…the whoring around." I raised an eyebrow again. "What am I going to with you?" I muttered sadly.
For the first time since he made his way through the gateway and into purgatory, albeit in a drunken haze, I saw a glimmer of genuine awareness enter his eyes as he began to sober up. Most souls were too angry or scared when I first confronted them; usually out of the fear that the deeds they had caused in their old life would force them to spend an eternity in torment. Not Liam. When he had entered the gateway, he had appeared surprised, as if this was the last place he had expected to see. When I informed him of his sins, he had accepted them wholeheartedly. He knew what he had done, and somehow, he was going to deal with the consequences.
"So, I'm going to hell, aye?" he asked quietly, jerking his thumb to his left. I peered in the same direction he had pointed out. Against the wall, in the centre of the room, stood an elaborate elevator. It was painted a dark blood red; terrifying, sadistic demonic faces had been etched and carved into the metal surface. In various lights, their eyes glimmered as their mouths snarled. It was an imposing sight. One that I couldn't stand to look at for very long.
On the opposite wall, directly across from the elevator, was a large marble staircase with a maple and gold banister attached to it. The staircase itself lead to the world of paradise. The elevator, on the other hand, lead to the agonizing pits of hell. The place for sinners.
It still amazed me as to how much such simple structures could elicit such fear and joy in the many souls that passed through this chamber.
I gave Liam an even glance. "No," I told him firmly.
He blinked at me, startled. "What?" he questioned. "But…what I've done…I have been a right horror….. and… I don't regret any of it," he whispered.
I smiled softly at him. "I kind of realised that… a lot of those girls were very pretty." I laughed quietly as he smirked in response. "You have sinned Liam, but you have not killed…., pleasures of the flesh wilt in comparison to the sin of taking another life."
He paused for a second and his eyes were suddenly clear; no longer glazed by the alcohol still coursing through his body. "So… I'm not going to the pit then?" he continued with an uncertainty, but his voice was lilted with a tinge of hope.
"No, you've scraped through"
He grinned with relief, inhaling a deep breath and letting it out slightly. "My father would've been surprised at that," he chuckled as I threw him a smile of my own.
I crossed his name out of the book with a light blue pen, returning the book back into its rightful place. I handed Liam an aged piece of parchment in return. "Here is everything that you need to know about paradise" I told him as he took the scroll gingerly in his hands. "If you have any questions, just ask."
He nodded at that and spun slowly towards the stairs. Abruptly, he paused as he placed his hand on the banister. "T'was nice to meet ya lass," he whispered before climbing the stairs.
I smiled again. "It was nice to meet you too, Liam."
Like many different dimensions, hell or otherwise, time passes differently here then it does down on earth. Mere moments in this limbo can feel like months, or even years for many back on earth.
It was a day like any other; nothing extraordinary about it. Though almost immediately, I felt a slight shiver running down my spine. From high above me, I felt an almighty tug of raw power. I gasped. My eyes widened; threatening to pop out of their sockets. The gypsy soul on the other side of my desk was peering around frantically, her dark hair whipping around her face, the bangles at her wrist jingling as she whirled in a panic, searching for the source of the magic.
There was an almighty scream of pure agony from somewhere high above me. I felt a painful tug inside me as an unwitting soul was dragged from the heavens. I doubled over in pain, clutching at my chest as the power and magic surrounding me was nearing a climax.
Wild gusts of winds filled the room, whipping my hair around my face and sending papers scattering across the room. The gypsy girl was screaming softly as she crouched to the floor, her skirts fluttering around her legs. Finally, after a few minutes had passed in a blur, the wind stops howling. I took a deep breath, a tear leaking out of the corner of my eye as I began to sniff softly, a sudden emptiness filling my chest with an ache I couldn't dispel, nor decipher.
The soul rose to her feet, spinning to face me. "It seems that someone had wanted vengeance. No?" she whispered in Romani, her voice still and low as she focused her large brown eyes on me.
My eyes study her. I noticed, for the very first time, two little holes protruding from the side of her neck, trickles of dried blood coating the neckline of her dress. I swallowed painfully, my eyes narrowing in anger despite my sympathy. "Vengeance against a soul that has done nothing wrong?" I snapped at her in the same language, feeling my blood boiling for the first time in almost ten thousand years.
The girl merely shrugged at my reaction. Her eyes were clear and unremorseful. "He deserves to suffer for what he did to me," she quips, pointing at the puncture holes in her neck. "These are not the only bites that he had given me, you know," she continues. "He took his time; made it hurt just enough… He is a monster. He deserves to suffer for the rest of eternity," she practically hisses, venom in her voice.
"You are not the vampire's only victim," I told her softly, willing her to understand. "With this vengeance you carry, you have made his soul a victim of the demon's evil as well."
She didn't budge. Instead, she curled her lip in disgust, turning her head away as she crossed her arms over her chest, muttering a curse in Romani.
I sighed in defeat, knowing that there was no hope in making this young woman understand the horror her clan had just committed. "Name and age," I announced in a robotic, weary voice.
As I watched the gypsy girl going up the stairs, the phone on the desk beside me started to ring. I picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
"He's gone," the deep voice on the other end answered.
"Who?" I demanded, knowing the soul that had been ripped out of heaven would have been important, otherwise he wouldn't have called me.
"Liam O'Rourke," the voice simply said.
I gasped, in my mind's eye I saw again the memory of the young blonde woman, her face transforming to expose her piercing, intricate fangs. My heart immediately sunk at the image. This was much worse than I thought it would be. I had been hoping for the polar opposite; that the vampire who had incurred the wrath of the gypsies would have just been a fledging. Instead, it was a vampire who had been around for a hundred and fifty years.
I remembered the drunk, carefree soul that had wandered into my domain all those years ago. I shivered with dread at the thought of what he would have to deal with. Murder, torture, rape… the evil crimes that would never end. For the second time that night, I started crying. "Thank you for telling me." I whisper into the receiver before gently placed the phone back on it's hook.
I rose to my feet, trotting towards the bookshelves. I walked past the first and second shelves, searching through the volumes from the mid eighteenth century, my eyes catching the book that I was hunting for. With a grunt of effort, I picked up the heavy book and carried it back to my desk. Dropping the book recklessly on the desk, I began to flick through the pages. Every single name has been crossed off; so much time had passed.
Towards the back of the book, one single name was free. His name no longer had a mark striked through it; it shone brightly on the page. I released a soft sigh, shutting the cover. After one hundred and fifty years in paradise, suddenly being shoved back into your body was something that I couldn't even contemplate. I didn't envy him one bit. I prayed that the soul would get through this; that he was stronger then the demon that still held residence inside.
The first time I saw her it was just a few years after my promotion. The last century had just flown on by. Two World Wars had kept me incredibly occupied. So many soldiers, so many unsung heroes. There were a number of levels in the organisation now; different gateways to the beyond. The lowest level was reserved mainly for politicians, the world leaders, and the TV actors. The levels in between (we had about five now) are for the ordinary folk, the ones that go through life; loved by those that knew them and unknown by anyone else. The highest level, the desk that I was now manning, was reserved for the heroes, the champions, the ones that actually changed the world. The artists, musicians, and the writers.
It was only a few years before the dawn of the new century and it had been quiet lately. I had just finished dusting the place, and my white dress had a smudge of dirt at the hem. I ruffled my feathers, annoyed at myself, and sighed softly. I heard the beautiful chime filling the air again and I turned as the gateway glowed with a sudden light. A young girl had stepped out; looking around curiously as she moved further into the room, a pool of water forming at her feet. Her hair was damp and dripping down her back. She was wearing a beautiful white dress and a black leather jacket. It was an unusual combination, but it suited her. In her hand she held a loaded crossbow.
My eyes widened in awe as I sensed the power radiating from her. She frowned when she spotted me, her gaze lingering on my large feathered wings. "Hey," she casually greats me.
I smile at her. "Welcome….Slayer."
She frowns at that. "How did you…?"
I shake my head. "Dear, there is so much that you don't know. Few souls have the strength and goodness of a Slayer."
She opens her mouth to reply when the lights start to flicker ominously. She took a peek around to study her surroundings. I frowned, confusion filling me as I kept my focus on her. "You are not meant to be here…" I realise. Quickly, I hurried over and took her arm. "You need to go now!" I snapped in desperation.
Her eyes widened. "What?" she sputtered. "But the prophecy.."
"Screw the prophecy!" I snapped, pulling her back around and steering her towards the gateway. "It's time to live again." I shoved her through the gateway, her eyes opening as the golden light flared to life.
When the light dimmed, she had disappeared. I smiled in relief. The Slayer was much too important to loose before her time, and the power, strength and goodness I felt within this particular warrior was enough to make me shiver in delight. I was glad I got to her in time; so glad that I could get her back to earth. This Slayer will change the world forever.
I was sure of it.
The second time Liam entered through the gateway; he was not the soul that I remembered. Almost two hundred and forty years had passed since the moment he had stumbled into the chamber. His face was still the same, but he was almost unrecognisable. His hair was short and spiky, his eyes clear and alert. He was wearing a pair of black slacks, and a black dress shirt that hung open after three buttons.
His muscles glistened in the light, water running off his body and pooling in a puddle on the floor. I frowned at that. I had just finished cleaning, again.
He walks slowly over to me, his eyes never leaving me. I licked my lips. "Welcome back. I have been wondering where you went to." I smiled at him
He frowns in utter confusion. "I'm sorry," he apologized, taking a glance around the room. "But I've never been here before."
"Of course you have, Liam," I smirked as he gave me an expression of shock. "You just can't remember. That's how it is with these kind of things." I add
He looks down. "It's Angel now," he countered. "My name is Angel, not Liam."
"Oh," I mumbled, my wings fluttering as I closed my mouth with a soft snap.
For the second time, he paused, absorbing everything in. "What is this place?"
I shrugged in nonchalance. "Officially purgatory. The place between heaven and hell." As his eyes widened, I tossed him a fierce grin. "What? You never thought you would get a chance to get into heaven?"
"No," he admitted.
I shook my head in light resignation. "Silly soul, you are not the demon." In a nanosecond, I saw his body begin to tense, his eyes facing mine in horror. "Yeah," I nodded. "I know about that, Angel. How after one hundred and fifty years you got your soul back." I shifted my gaze away, unable to look at him. "I'm sorry about that."
"Why?" he asked in disbelief. "What could I possibly mean to you?"
I shak my head again. "No soul, not even you, deserved to go through that. To remember the demon's actions as if they were your own? Having to deal with the demon's instincts?" I pressed.
He looked away. "It's better than the alternative. A demon in my body. Having my memories. Wanting to hurt the ones that I love… I would rather be in control" he told me quietly, his voice rough with emotion.
I nodded at that and paused. "So why are you here again?" I asked in confusion
He shrugged. "I…I don't know. I was content. I was happy. Buffy…" My eyes widened at the name. In my mind, I see again the tiny, blonde-haired Slayer. "I wanted to be there for her, to feel, to love. To give love. And then…"
"And now you're here?" I finished.
I nodded. Rising again to my feet, I headed towards the books, moving past the first bookcase. I moved past a little corridor between the stacks of books towards the ones that had been dormant for centuries. The book, when I pulled it out of the stack, was covered in a coat of dust and spider webs. I coughed and wiped the cover at an attempt to clean it as I headed back to the desk.
He's there, waiting patiently. He had managed to button his shirt entirely. I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed at that.
I had discovered that his name was still unlined. Taking a pen, I drew a line across it once again. He watched my movement with silence. "So what now?" He asked, breaking that silence.
I handed him a piece of parchment. "Well… don't you think it's time you called it quits? You can't help her from here. The only thing you can do now is wait for her."
He looked down, but it didn't stop me from seeing a glimmer of tears developing in his eyes. "I…I can go to heaven?" He was hopeful, but careful.
My mouth twitched in amusement. "Of course you can. Why would we punish a soul for something that he hasn't committed?"
"But I…. did things with the soul. Things that I regret. Things that I wish I could take back." He shakes his head. "I am not a good man."
"You are not a demon either," I point out quietly. "Or intent on dominating the world, like some men do. This is also the only time I have had to convince someone to enter paradise." I quirk an eyebrow as I smirk at him.
He ducked his head at hearing those last words. "I just don't deserve this," he rebutted.
I shrugged again. "I think it's a good thing that this is not up to you then." I point out.
He chuckled softly. "Maybe." He shook his head, looking directly at the stairs, chewing his lip in a nervous gesture. "I pictured this moment for such a long time now. It's hard to believe."
I put a piece of rolled parchment in his hand. "If you have any questions, we have a new email address," I point out helpfully.
"Thanks," he mumbled.
His attention now focused on the stairs, he lifted his face with a look of wonder. Behind him, at the other end of the room, the gateway had flared to life again; a soft glow brightening the room. A dark haired, copper-skinned girl stumbles through it. She took in her environment, her eyes widened, showing a hint of fear. She studies me, her eyes flickering past to my shimmering wings. Then she gazed at Angel and her eyes narrowed in bewilderment. "You!" she screamed, stalking forward, her feet stomping on the freshly cleaned tiles. "What have ye done!"
Angel turned, his expression resembling a ghost as his eyes narrowed into slits. "Kendra?" He was stunned. "What's going on?"
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot about that. I turn to the girl. She is both strong and powerful; another Slayer. Without hesitation, I thought of the blonde that I had returned to Earth. She had been dead; only for a few seconds, but apparently it had been enough to activate another Slayer.
Here was her replacement. Standing proud, showing no interest in turning away, staring daggers at the soul of the man that was once called Liam. I didn't't know what was going on; I didn't't even want to know.
"Kendra Young?" I asked sternly.
She snapped her head away from Angel, fixing me with a dark gaze. "Yes?" she spoke impatiently in her exotic accent.
I took out the small book that I had kept under my desk. Unlike every other soul that is born, the Slayer is unique. When her soul is born, she would appear in a book that was dedicated to all Slayers, past and present. It is a slim book; about as big as the first Harry Potter, and filled with names of the young girls that have helped to shape this world.
I know nothing about each Slayer except her name and the order of when she is Chosen.
I opened the book and flip to the relevant page. Unlike all my other 'Soul' books, the Slayers are written in order of being Chosen. I reached the middle of the book and in the page, her name was written: Kendra Young. The name directly above it, Buffy Summers, was still free on any line and shining brightly on the page.
Under Kendra's name was the name of the new Slayer, Faith Lehane; having been chosen the moment Kendra had entered through the gateway. Below Faith's name there were three more. These girls carried the potential, and once Faith and Buffy leave their duties behind, they will be Chosen. It could be weeks, months, or years, but eventually, their future will lie in becoming the Slayer.
I exhaled, keeping my eye on both Angel and the newly fallen Slayer. "Do you guys know each other?"
Kendra responded by sniffing and jerking her head in Angel's direction "Yes. He is Buffy's boyfriend. His crazy childe is the vampire that killed me." She pointed to her neck, but then she suddenly frowned, lost in her thoughts. "But if your ear' then how can you still be in Sunnydale?"
Angel's brows furrowed. "Dru killed you? What do you mean? You mean the demon?" He took a step towards her. "What has he done?" he demanded, his voice rising.
"Oh, shit," I muttered under my breath as Kendra studied the room.
"He…he wants' ta destroy the world," she began. "He's… he wants ta open dis portal…"
Angel's eyes darkened, his body turning to face me. Recklessly, he threw the parchment on the floor. "I can't go up there!" he shouts, pointing up the stairs. "Not when the demon is still in charge! I can't leave. I can't let her face him alone," he shouted, his chest rising and falling frantically.
I began to pace in front of my desk, clawing a hand through my hair. "There's nothing I can do." I placed my hand on his arm. "You are not bound to your body any more. Your soul is free."
He doesn't budge "I. Can't. Leave. Her" he snaps angrily
Suddenly a bright golden light fills the room, interrupting his next words and the light completely enveloped him. I bounced a step backward, shielding my eyes against the brightness. The room echoed with his unexpected howls of pain, his body quivering as he was ripped from my dimension. His eyes flashed golden briefly as he disappeared into the golden light.
"Not again," I queried, pressing a palm to my face as I sighed in annoyance.
Kendra stared at the space that Angel had just occupied. "What just happened?"
"His journey has not yet ended." My shoulders slumped a bit. "Someone just called his soul to return. Again."
A few earth years go by in a blur, and more heroes enter through the gates. An Irish half-demon gives me a smile, and I hear from one of the lower levels that the Slayer's mother had passed on.
The second time I see Buffy Summers, she had finally grown into her power. She is still as tiny as ever; her long blond hair flowing down her back in straight lines. She's wearing a simple white knit sweater and a pair of black Capri pants. Her eyes begin to look around as she leans towards me. I reclined back in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest, waiting patiently.
She struts across the marble floor, her boots clicking softly as she heads towards me. She doesn't utter a word as she stopped on the other side of the desk, laying her palms on the timber top. "Buffy Summers. Vampire Slayer," she announces quietly.
"Welcome back," I quipped, flashing a smile as I take the Slayer book from under the desk. "I have been wondering when you would come back. You certainly lasted much longer then the others."
She doesn't respond. She studies the room with a curious expression, her gaze lingering on the stairs. After a few minutes, she whirls around to glance at the gateway. Then, she turns her attention on me. She stares at my enlarged wings. "Nice place," she murmured eventually.
I shrug in a casual manner. "Thanks. It comes with the job." I unfold my arms and sit up straight, pushing my hair behind my ears "Are you okay?" I asked.
"Death," she starts. "It's my gift."
I felt my heart sink at her words. She had taken her own life. One of the worst sins was committing suicide. "Oh dear…what did you do?" I reached out to pat her hand in comfort.
She sniffs, crinkling her nose. "What I had to do. I couldn't just let her die. I had to save the world."
I reluctantly opened the Slayer book, crossing out her name with a single line. Somewhere on earth, another Slayer had just been Chosen; called to their duty. Another girl had just become the instrument of the fight against evil, her fate consisting of a short life and a painful death. "You have done much good for the world," I told her. "You know that, right?"
Buffy nods absently as she turns, her gaze lingering on the stairs. She produced a small smile before turning to climb the first step. She vanished almost immediately from my sight.
My eyes shifted to the floor as I fought back the tears. So young, so carefree…I hated that they had to die so quickly. It wasn't right; these young girls being empowered with the essence of a murderous demon. What was wrong with the world? I solemnly shook my head at the foolishness of men. Even after all these years, I still didn't understand the thoughts behind the actions. That humans, who put so much emphasis on right and wrong, were as capable of committing such vile acts as any common demon.
The room around me begins to dim; the lamps on the walls flickered excessively as electricity sizzled in the air. I felt my hair start to stand on end as the power in the room increased. From a long distance, across time and space, my ears picked up a shout, a chant in a series of words that I had not heard in a very, very long time.
I shivered; a witch was trying to raise the dead. I remembered the last time someone had tried this. It had been the first century when a Roman warrior was pulled into the pit by a demon. A warlock, a good friend of the soldier, had tried to bring him back. I still recall the horrid cries and screams of the soldier as he was being pulled from the pit. Unfortunately, the demon had accompanied him, ripping into the warlock and soldier while destroying their souls in the process. It was a horrible way to lose a life.
Raising the dead took an extreme amount of power, but it wasn't the only requirement. It took faith, a powerful will, and a person to die under mystical circumstances. There were so many possibilities that this particular type of spell could go awry. There was a reason the dead should stay dead. A soul had a right to be at peace.
My ears were attempting to pick up any sounds, catching a voice that was completing the spell. Inwardly, I shivered. I had a distinct feeling of who they were attempting to resurrect. She had died not that long ago; had, just in fact, just entered heaven. She was a powerful warrior and had died saving the world.
I felt more tears pricking at my eyelids. They were trying to bring back the Slayer. They were trying to bring back Buffy. "No," I whispered. "No!" For the first time in an eternity, I left my post unattended. I raced out from behind my desk, crossing the room to run for the stairs.
A bright golden light came into my vision and I stumbled to a pause at the top of the stairs. I was now standing in heaven's entrance. Paradise, Elysium, whatever you want to call it. It was a beautiful grassy field; sunny and warm. A singular path lead down the grassy hill and towards a sandy beach.
Buffy is standing on the path a few feet from me, a shocked look plastered on her face. She takes a step towards me. "I don't want to go!" she cries out. She takes a hold of my hands. "Please, I'm happy here. I don't want to go. Please!" she pleaded.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," I tried to apologized.
She pleads frantically, her hair whipping in various directions. The chanting voices became unavoidable, and Buffy was now encased in a white light. I kiss her gently on the forehead. "Remember the warmth," I tell her quickly, my voice urgent. "And know that you are welcomed back with open arms."
She faces me directly in the eyes, blinking back tears, nodding. "I won't forget." With that said, she vanished before me as quickly as she had come. The magic tore her out of my steel grasp, sending her soul to plunge back into her body.
I begin to sob, swiping the tears from my cheeks. My body starts to shake; my wings fluttering anxiously behind me. "Why?" I whispered to myself. "Why!"
I am beginning to wonder if there are any warriors left on earth. It had been a long time since one had wandered through the gateway at the other side of the room.
At the turn of the twenty first century, I had felt a sudden burst of power travelling through the entire world, signalling the calling of hundreds of potentials. Since then there have been hundreds of Slayers that had come and gone. Up until that point I had always assumed that the Slayer was the ultimate warrior of good. But since the activation of the potentials, and after a few Slayers had died, I had finally realised something.
Being a Slayer does not automatically mean that one will become a hero. So many times power corrupts, and only the greatest of Slayers had been able to reach the edges of paradise.
One particular Slayer who had passed was a young Hispanic girl; she had fought and argued constantly while being dragged into the pit.
A few years later, another Slayer had fallen through. She was older, with long dark hair and large doe eyes. She was calm and steady. When I discovered that she had killed a human, I felt for her. Her later deeds, closing the hell mouth, and saving the world had prevented this Slayer from entering the pit as well.
I was just beginning to wonder if all of the Slayers were less then heroes when the gateway flared to life again. I raised my head from painting my nails bright red, producing a dazzling smile at the person before me. Buffy was entering through the gateway, her hair in a no-nonsense braid that was trailing down the centre of her back. Her hazel eyes were bright and clear; a few small lines at the corner of her eyes the only indication of the years that had passed. She was older then how I had remembered her; stronger, more sure of herself and happier than in the previous meeting.
She headed towards me and returned the smile as I saw the recognition developing in her eyes. "You're looking good," she contemplated me. "Any secrets you would like to share?"
I giggled. "I moisturise."
Buffy laughs in response and studies the room. "It looks the same."
I gave another shrug of my shoulders. "I'm thinking of putting a picture up or something; to brighten the place up so to speak. What do you think?"
Buffy nods furiously. "How about a nice seaside landscape or something?"
I accepted her suggestion. "I'll talk to the boss. See what he can do."
Buffy shifts on her feet again as I produced the Slayer book, crossing her name out for the third time. "Hopefully, you will stay here this time," I conceded with a raise of my eyebrows. Another laugh came from her direction as she gave an impish grin.
"I'm not going anywhere. Not this time," she retorted harshly.
"Good!" I snap back. "Because I really can't deal with this any more. Do you know how much it hurts me when a soul is ripped from heaven? It's happened way too many times in the last two centuries or so, and I'm tired of it."
I could see her eyes becoming enlarged. "What?"
I pressed my lips together before answering. "You've been here twice before. Did you know that? As for Angel? I met him when he wandered in here entirely drunk back in 1753. I have seen him being ripped out of here twice since then. And not all that long ago, another soul was also released. I didn't realise it right away because it didn't display violent tendencies. The soul had wanted to go, but it's gone all the same."
"Spike?" Buffy questioned.
I nodded in confirmation. "The name the vampire took? Yeah, that's him, though I knew him by William. He was a sweet man." I looked away. "But Angel himself; he should be here. No one has to deal with what he had to go through."
"He has done a lot of good. I know that," Buffy offered, pride laced in her voice.
I gave her a curious gaze, noticing the determination in her eyes. "I don't doubt that,"
Then I fell silent as a sudden thought ran rampant in my mind. I watched her, eye on her movements. "You will never stop loving him will you?" I asked, I wanted to know.
She laughs again. "No. Never." She fell into silence, biting her lip in contemplation.
"Do you think I could stay here?"
I blinked, my mouth agape. "What? Stay here? Why?"
"I want to wait for him to come again so we can go to heaven together." She smiled, her eyes flashing.
"He is a vampire, so you could be waiting a really long time," I prompted. It wasn't against the rules. Purgatory was a place in between after all. She could stay here for as long as she wanted, though it was unconventional. But she had never been one for obeying the rules.
She shrugged meekly. "I can sit in the corner. Do you have any books or magazines I can read?"
The smile returned to my lips as I reached under the desk, tugging a small book. I hand it to her and she froze, her body still and straight as her eyes widened in surprise. "Sonnets of the Portuguese," she muttered, stroking the cover tenderly.
"You know of it?" I was startled.
She nodded, her attention still on the book. "Yeah. For my eighteenth birthday, Angel gave me this book." She licked her lips. "It's my favourite." she threw in another smile, taking the book to sit across the room.
I watched in silence as Buffy began to flip through the pages, happiness in her expression as she sat back to immerse herself in the novel.
Being immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be. I see so many souls come and go, but only a few had the ability to touch me as deeply as the heroes that I had met. Young and old, Slayers, doctors, humanitarians, saints; all of them are heroes in their own way.
Buffy has been waiting for a long time, over five hundred years, and not once has she made a move from her spot.
I, on the other hand, needed to clean again. The place was becoming dirty. Not a surprise. You think a place like this would be free from dust, but no! I think it's his way of keeping me humble.
Buffy turns another page of her book before coming to the end, flipping the book to begin her never ending reading session.
As for myself, I was cleaning the place; sweeping the floors, polishing the marble staircase, bookcases, desks, anything else that needed it. I felt Buffy's eyes lingering on my back.
We both jumped, startled beyond belief when the gateway begins to glow. At first I was convinced that it is just an ordinary person passing through, but when I saw the worn leather coat, the tall, muscular frame, my wings fluttered, a feather falls to the floor. He stepped out of the white light, his warm brown eyes immediately finding Buffy's.
He flashed a genuine smile.
Buffy looks up, closing the book's cover as she placed it on the couch beside her. She stands up and rapidly walks towards him. When she is close, she circles her arms around him, and kisses him softly. Angel grins against those lips, wrapping his arms around her waist, as he held her against him.
Tears shimmered in Buffy's eyes as she held on to him with a desperation and need that had only burned inside her for so long. "I've waited," she whispered into his ear. "I've waited for you for so long."
He bends his head down and brought his lips to hers, closing his eyes as she sighed and melted into his fierce touch. "I never forgot you. I fought as hard as I could and I did everything that I promised I would do," he stated. "I helped to save the world." Buffy giggled, adding some distance between them. "I knew you would," she cajoled, kissing his mouth again, taking his hand as they made their way towards me.
I cocked my eyebrows at him. "It's about time," I muttered impatiently, rolling my eyes.
He smirked. "Yeah, well, it took longer than I had expected."
I rose and made my way through the stacks again, pushing my way through thickening cobwebs, my footsteps creating tracks on the dusty floor. I reached for the book from 1753; it's full of fresh motes of dust, and I coughed and wrinkled my nose in disgust as a large dirty black spot appeared on my dress.
I placed it on the desk and flipped it open. The name Liam O'Rourke is clear on the page. I grabbed my pen and crossed it out. I grinned at the couple. "Are you ready now?" I ask them.
They both nodded, smiling at each other. "I have been waiting for this moment my entire life," Angel whispered, squeezing Buffy's hand.
The Slayer smiled, her eyes drinking him in. "Forever?" she began.
He smirked at her. "Just try and get rid of me."
As one, they begin to turn, both facing the edge of the stairs, their bodies glowing with the strength of their souls. I kept my watch on them, a tear brimming in my eye as they escalated each of the steps.
Heroes, they were. Both strong souls, spending their life together in eternity, it's as it should be.
I could think of nothing that I liked better.