Title: A Lifetime Apart, Part 11

Rating: PG 13 for now

Author: Specks

Disclamer: Mutant Enemy, Fox and all those network honchos and writers own all, I own nothing, don't sue.

Synopsis: Buffy/ Dark Angel crossover with Highlander elements. An immortal Buffy finds herself in Seattle, Max's world. The two meet and clash, what happens next? Read and find out.

Pairings: M/L and B/A with implied B/S

Spoilers: Not much of Dark Angel, up to first season finale I guess. Spoilers up to mid season six I guess.

Author's Notes 1: I would like to thank my beta readers Jolie and Kyria. You guys are the bestest! Without you two I would never have gotten this chapter ready for posting! Also thanks for reminding me that there are actually people out there willing to read it without me paying them lolz. hugz Thanks so much!
Author's notes 2: Special thanks to Nina G. Your constant prodding and impromptu suggestions have shaped this fic into something I haven't anticipated. Its greatly inspired me. Also thanks to my penguin, I know I'm a pain but hey, that's why you love me. G

Feedback: Yes! I crave feedback, I'll even dance a jig on top of a bowling pin if you give it to me. See? does jig…falls off bowling pin Ok, maybe not on the bowling pin but you get the idea. Any constructive criticism would be welcome as well. Email me at thanks!

Buffy sits, gazing down at rolling emerald-green hills as far as the eye can see. The only interruption, a tiny cottage that stands nestled within the valley below, its chimney releasing small puffs of white smoke into the clear sunny air. It is exactly the kind of house she's always pictured when she thought of Ireland or Scotland. Red brick walls, a thatched roof, and a small picket fence to keep the house animals in.

'How charming.' she thinks, wandering into the yard. "Hello!" she calls out, reluctant to disturb it's occupants, "Hello?"

"Buffy?" An unmistakable voice calls out to her in answer: smooth and rich like dark chocolate.

"Angel?" she says his name, a breathless question she is almost afraid to ask.

"What are you standing out there for, baby?" he asks, his voice light and laughing, happier than ever.

The cottage doors open, the world blurs, and suddenly he is there, physically there; Holding her in his arms, kissing the top of her forehead as though the last twenty years has not happened. For an eternal, breathless moment, she wraps herself in the potency of his essence, caving into his embrace. He smells like rain and night and hot chocolate made fresh with marshmallows still floating on top. He smells like him, like home. It's so good to be home. But before the shock of his presence can register, he is pulling her along to the entrance of the house.

"Come here, I need to show you something."

Reluctantly she follows, stopping as she stands before an old wooden door, "What did you want to show me?" she asks in a child-like voice she can hardly recognize as her own.

He smiles his non-smile, all mysterious cryptic guy again. "It's what we've always wanted. Open it and see."

She smiles back at him, forgetting for the time being that this wasn't real, that he wasn't really here, smiling down at her so beautifully surrounded by the glowing sunlight. Together, with his hand covering hers', they pull on the door handle.

Whiteness emanates from the opened door blinding her. When she can see again, she finds herself in the middle of Angel's bed, a hand covering the area above his heart, feeling the steady thump thump thump of his blood beating against the suddenly hot flesh of her palms. Sunlight streams through uncovered French windows, and she watches, in quiet amazement as he greets his first sunrise in over two hundred years. Tears, love, and gratitude mingle in their shared kiss, and she feels her heart swell with unspeakable emotion.

She is compelled to reach for him, to run her fingers through his soft, sleep-ridden hair, but her hand passes through his muscular frame, landing on the soft comforter as he fades away into nothingness. Curling her fingers into the soft pliable cotton sheets where he had lain not moments before, she grieves for something that never was.

The silence of the moment is broken when she hears voices in the distance. Following them into the old study, she finds herself suddenly hovering; Watching a younger version of herself sobbing into the shoulder of her one-time lover. Blubbering and murmuring, with sorrow as deep and as wide as an ocean welling in her eyes.

She feels it then, watching her double there; A phantom echo of a keening pain that carves its way into her soul and cleaves at it. Screaming at her to remember. To remember because they had promised that she would never forget.

I'll never forget

I'll never forget

I'll never forget…

"You know you can't blame yourself, B," a matter of fact voice from the past admonishes, "You can't find your future if you don't let go of the past."

The scene changes again and she finds herself kneeling with her face still buried in her hands. She tastes salt from dried tears as she looks up at the girl she has sometimes hated and always loved. Faith is standing over her with her signature cocky grin-- thumbs looped into the pockets of black leather pants, her husky hazelnut skin shining darkly, silhouetted against the blazing sun. Rising to her feet, Buffy has to squint against the glare to get a better look. For a long moment neither move, watching the inane movements of shadows dancing along soft moss and dark dirt; Another second passes, then smiling sadly, Buffy can't help herself as she tucks a loose strand of chestnut colored hair behind Faith's left ear. Sorrow, regret, and so much more packed into one tender gesture.

"I miss you." she says simply.

"You shouldn't," says Faith giving her the barest ghost of a smile, "I mean. I've been dead how many years now?"

"Doesn't mean I shouldn't miss you," Buffy insists, "I never got to say goodbye. That I was sorry for all the shit I put you through."

"Eh" Faith shrugs, "You had a stick up your ass, but it wasn't totally your fault. I had issues."

"Still." Buffy frowns gravely, fisting her hands, remembering their shared history. "I could have done something."

Faith's eyes deepen, locking with Buffy's. "You'll get your chance." For a moment, knowledge lights within twin pools of darkness, eloquent and mysterious: holding the fathomless secrets of the stars. Time is counted between breaths and heartbeats-- nothing moves: And then just as suddenly as it had arrived, the infinite cloak of power falls, and Faith is just Faith again: making light of heavy matters. "Besides, it wasn't like I sent a postcard."

"Yeah, you were pretty MIA" Buffy admits, ignoring the chill of air suddenly colder, "If I hadn't had that dream I'd still think you were alive."

"What makes you think I'm not?" Faith asks, then laughs as she watches Buffy's face blank from shock, "Don't have a cow B. Just kiddin'. I'm dead as a door knob."

"Not funny."

"Sure it is," says Faith with a careless shrug. "Death's always funny. You laugh and laugh until your gut cramps and your lungs hurt and then you die. It's how life works."

With a sudden switch in mood and subject, Faith lifts her hand in a sweeping gesture, "Like my new digs?".

"Never figured fairy tales were your thing." Buffy nods at the majestic white castle towering behind the other girl, worn and cracked by time, neglect, and the constant prodding of insistent rose vines.

"Sleeping Beauty and I got a lot in common." Faith says, a wicked grin flashing briefly across her features, "Don't you think?"

"Yeah." Buffy acknowledges quietly, "I think."

"Anyways, that's not why we're here right now." Faith turns away, wandering idly over to a rose bush, running her fingers delicately across it's white, silk -soft petals.

"Then why are we here?" Buffy asks, watching her darker half warily.

"Don't you know?" Faith sing-songs mockingly, and for a moment they both watch in morbid fascination as a single drop of scarlet falls from her thorn pricked fingertip. Then one drop is replaced by two and then more and more and suddenly the sky is no longer light and shining like the wholesome image of fairy tale dreams. It is a foreboding dark made up of shades of gray raining crimson.

Death floods Buffy's senses, rushing through her nose and mouth and drowning her lungs in the taste of liquid pennies. Beneath the distant roar of the bleeding sky, Buffy watches in horror as Faith's body slowly deteriorates . Like the wilting of a week old rose-- her skin is no longer the color of sweetened honey dew and just ripe olives—instead it is cracked and dry with the milky paleness of death. Her body has become a shrunken wrinkled heap and as she begins to melt under the rain, Faith bares her wrinkled, rotten, lips into a grotesque grin. Her voice: clear and sharp, echoes within Buffy's head. "It's all about the blood B. Always. You, Me, Him, Her. You can't escape it 'cause it will always run through your veins, burning and howling and clawing at you until you die…oh wait." A derisive laugh, "You can't die, can you B? Bummer."

Buffy feels desperation grow as she sees Faith's image retreating into the distance. Running she chases frantically after the other girl.

"What do you mean Faith? Who are you talking about? What's happening?"

The silence of the roaring sky is all that answers her queries. Then, as gray and crimson slowly washes away into blinding white, she hears a last whisper from the long dead apparition, "It's all in the blood B. Forget, and you might remember."