Well, if you ever come back

For Jane or for me

Well, your enemy is sleeping

And you're woman is free...

Famous Blue Raincoat- Leonard Cohen

She should be sleeping. He was, and hell, he was nocturnal. Something was wrong with her, something deep, and she couldn't even put a name to it. But no, here she was, no demons to destroy, no vampires to slay, and she was still awake, staring into the night as the minutes on the clock ticked closer and closer to the time the clock was set up for.

Life ought to be perfect. She had everything she ever thought she wanted, and she still felt empty, lost. This was supposed to be happy ever after time and instead she just dragged through each day, feeling like death. She had died so many times. When did the reward come?

Buffy sighed, gave up on sleep, and pulled herself up to her knees, head cradled in her arms. Screw this, she muttered. She thought she meant to be quiet, but as soon as the vampire next to her stirred, she realized the truth was she just hadn't cared enough. Great, she thought to herself as his eyes opened, his vision better in the dark than it ever was in the light, another moment to chalk up in the what's wrong with Buffy? column.

"I'm sorry, baby," she said, trying to master false sincerity. "I didn't mean to wake you."

He sat up too, wrapped cold arms around her, rested his head against her shoulder. "What's wrong, Buff? Can't you sleep?"

"Must be insomnia. Been trying all night."

He rubbed her back gently, the cool easing through the t-shirt she wore to sleep, and his voice was suggestive as he whispered, "I could try to relax you..."

She pulled away, annoyed. "No! I mean, not now. I just can't sleep. I just... can't sleep."

He pulled back, concerned. "Sorry, didn't mean to push."

She knew he still remembered the way she was when she was younger, the way she always needed him. She had grown up since then, changed since then. She had been the oldest slayer that had ever lived for years now, and the weight of it on her seemed to suck her down more and more each year.

She jammed a hand into her freshly cut hair, feeling the short ends tickle her palm. Yet another attempt to try and feel new, different. Yet another failure. "I just gotta go. I'm gonna take a walk or something."

"Want company?" He hated leaving her alone, hated any time that he wasn't with her. But she shook her head. He loved her too much. He wanted to give her things she didn't even need.

"No, I'm just gonna, I'll be back. You rest."

Buffy pulled herself out of the bed, dressed in whatever she could find in the dark. As she was walking out the door, he called out, "I love you, Buffy," in the same sweet and gentle voice he had always used.

Her answer was mechanical as she responded. "I love you, too, Angel. Get some sleep."

And then she was down the hall, past the bedrooms where Conner and Dawn slept, down the stairs, and out the door, out where she could be free.

The night air was cool and crisp, sharp with the first edges of fall. This time of year always tasted like slow death to her, the coming of the darkness. She had hated it ever since Willow dragged her out of heaven. September rolled around and all she felt every year was just another year older. All the things people were supposed to collect in their life, to have and to cherish, were hers, and yet none of them felt real. There were the two children, neither hers, and there was the man, her childhood lover, her soul-mate, and she couldn't even understand why she was with him.

She sighed again, drew the chill into her lungs, tried not to think of dying.

The darkness stirred, walked closer. Her night vision had never been anything to sneer at either, and besides, she recoginized that walk. When he spoke, it was almost anti-climatic. "Hullo, pet. Miss me?"