FANDOM: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
CHARACTERS: Buffy, Angel, Dawn, Rona, Chao-Ahn, various other characters being mentioned.
WORD COUNT: 1360
A/N: http://kerkevik.livejournal.com/19023.html contains the original version of this story; written before three characters; Satsu's wife (Gazaleh), Dawn's wife (Lisa, from “The Body”) and the Chaplain all became much clearer, and important, to my imagining of this world.
It was also written before I realised that Satsu & Gazaleh were connected so strongly to this older; polyamorous, version of Buffy.
Roughly two years after I first wrote in this Buffyverse; which I call the 22'verse, after this fic I began writing a series of drabbles for elisi 's birthday. I got badly detoured part way through that, though the initial image; with sound effects stayed strong in my mind. So strong it's taken more than three years to get my head back to where it needed to be to complete the stories.
I can't honestly say that the collection traversed the same path between part five and its conclusion that it did back then, but I have written other stories in this 'verse, and there will be many more; some, possibly peering back into Spike's adventures, as well as stories about the Slayers in those intervening years.
They never knew where they came from; every year, almost to the hour, they arrived.
Neither did they know who sent them. When the investigated, it always a different person; usually Human, and female, and always a friend to the sender.
They always sent a Council Operative; even Buffy couldn't get the Council she led to approve the release of an actual Slayer and, invariably, the word would come back that the return address 'was vacated within the last couple of days; rent paid up to the end of the month.”
And always in untraceable currencies.
But she had a fair idea, since they always arrived in time for the anniversary of the night Buffy had been kicked out of her own house by Dawn and the others and it was always Dawn she remembered; Dawn she felt she'd let down by letting things get that bad.
The night she'd been held, comforted; strengthened to finish the fight by a stroppy, bitchy, poetic undead...
Whatever, wherever they were, they gathered at dawn for a breakfast of the contents of the packages; always as fresh as any guest of a five star Mayfair hotel could expect.
Nothing changed until the Slayers on the Council finally outnumbered the Watchers; when Buffy got Dawn installed as Council Head; together with Kennedy installed as Operations Chief of the newly-unified Intelligence Division.
Which, of course, meant she rarely saw either anymore; or their wives... especially Willow, because whither Kennedy etc...
Soon they had linked into the fact that it had always been the same woman; female usually; one of only two unconfirmed survivors of the Great Los Angeles Holocaust of '04, which had left the majority of southern California a blasted wasteland; LA itself a virtual no-man's land for Humans.
Once they knew for certain who She was, tracking down the identity of the sender, and his whereabouts was a cinch.
It had just turned dark on the evening of the twenty-fifth of June; two thousand and twenty-one of the Common Era, when Buffy sat down to review the daily reports from Senior Slayers across the globe.
She was on her fifth cup of very strong, and very bad – ironic, given they were based not too distant from the capital of one of the world's largest coffee producers – when a knock on the door announced the unexpected arrival of her kid sister, who entered the room with a very sober expression on her face.
Buffy saw past Dawn and saw others behind her, especially Satsu. A brief smile crossed her lips; she and the Head of Asian Operations always had a good time whenever she was at HQ; meals; walks, a fuck; as Satsu was wont to put it, despite she being a married woman, to an Iranian Ironwoman Buffy had ironically introduced her to, though her boss always countered she was as equally married to her destiny.
Then she saw Kennedy grasping Will's hand, which she rarely ever did; Dawn's wife standing behind them; Faith with Xander's arm around her shoulders; even rarer.
Her eyes travelled back to the wet glow to her sister's eyes; the bleakness of her expression, then back to the door as Vi and Rona, currently her senior Slayers based at, their always mobile, HQ; then Riley and Sam entered, holding the door wide as Angel pushed Giles in his wheelchair into the room.
Buffy felt a chill run through her; heart turning to a heavy lump forcing unwanted life through her veins; forcing her eyes down she stared blankly at the sheet of paper she'd been about to sign off on.
Insensibly she placed the black pen down, and pulled a victorian-era eagle feather quill pen that had been a reverse wedding gift.
Carefully, hiding the turmoil of her emotions, she dipped the nib into an inkwell.
Carefully she tapped off the excess, and inscribed a red number one in one of the columns; where she had been about to mark a zero in black. Laying down the pen she looked up as Dawn; hand stroking Buffy's hair placed the transcribed message in front of her sister.
Carefully She leant into Dawn's comforting arms as her eyes; brain took in the message that Chao-Ahn had sent from the West of Ireland.
Chao-Ahn's English was much better written, than spoken, but a smile threatened as she recalled the jokes that passed around the commissary at her exaggeration of her accent whenever she'd been regaling newbies with tales of slaying.
“Having spoken to the inhabitants of Clonteach, I regret to report the death of William Pratt; known as Spike, this last seventh day of May, in the two thousand and twenty-first year of the Common Era. The Anglican Pastor; Reverend Jean Renfield, and Catholic Priest; Father William Donachie, of the parish, both reported how he seemed to appear from nowhere to defend the Combined Children's Pipe Band from Demons who attacked during practice in the Community Hall. He fell before a female of a blue demonic visage could reach him; she killed the demons who took his life.”
Before she could take note of something erased from the message Angel was suddenly standing in front of her; Nina brushing his cheek with a kiss as he leant in and brushed tears from Buffy's face.
“We thought we'd have breakfast in the courtyard at daybreak. The Chaplain will lead us in a prayer before we sing a hymn that he liked... if that's okay with you?”
Numb, and simply grateful not to have to do too much thinking, she grasped his hand; feeling strange still over the unaccustomed heat it held, and squeezed it as everyone gathered around her; sharing an communal grief at a fallen comrade; at her loss, and the sense of their common mortality it all awakened.
They'd all known he was out there somewhere; somehow managing to make the Scarlet Pimpernel look as hard to find as Clem when there was a Cat Show in town. Known, but nobody had ever spoken, about the newly-assigned Slayers who reported being rescued by an indescribable stranger, and his companion, who never spoke to them.
As dawn broke the next morning; eighteen years and eighty days after that night he'd held her; given her the faith; strength, and courage to go out and enter the valley once more, the Chaplain raised her lone voice and led them all in singing Abide With Me, his favourite Hymn; the only Hymn they knew he knew if she was honest.
Buffy broke the seal of the tin box containing, as always, several dozen home-made victorian recipe ginger cook... biscuits, and several boxes of old-fashioned; as in loose, no bags for him, English Blend Indian Tea.
She watched as the now well-practiced rituals of this, their very own tea ceremony were played out; noting with tearful pleasure the greater than usual attendance then, when everybody had their cups of tea to hand, she got up to speak.
“This poem was one of his favourites. It was written, he believed, to commemorate the pilots who defended his birthplace from the German Luftwaffe bombers during the Battle of Britain. It goes something like this...
Remember those not here today,
and those unwell, or far away.
And those who never lived to see
the end of War, and Victory.
And every friend who passed our way.
Remembered as of yesterday.
It's absent friends
We miss the most.
To all, let's drink a loving toast.”
To some muted sounds of china cups touching; softly spoken, “To absent friends,” they all toasted ALL those who'd been lost; even if they were all focussed on different people.
She heard Rona, from somewhere to her left, and behind, say (in a bad cockney accent), “Goodbye, you wankers!”
Bittersweet smile on her face she sought out Angel and, catching his eye, they shared a nod of acknowledgement, of their shared love of their lost friend, and of each other.
Mind full of the last time she'd seen him; her lover, she raised her cup to Angel and mouthed a silent, “Thanks.”
May the Goddess watch over us all,