Summary: Six years or so in the future. Angel tells Buffy about his shanshu.
Rating: PG, PG-13.
Spoilers: None here. Or maybe just one or two.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Btvs characters, they belong to Joss. You know they'd still be together if I owned 'em.
Feedback: please. I live for it!
Note: My first for Ba_Fluff. Be gentle. I'm fragile.
His feet didn't make the slightest sound, not even an empty bump on the rocks, nothing, just an eerie silence as if a ghost would be passing by, a lonely shadow looking for comfort in the image of a human life. It surprised him, that after one year from their last encounter she had moved so far away from the world as possible, an isolated house, near a creek, at the beginning of a grandiose forest. It was beautiful, but still he saw her in the comfort of her old home, eating popcorn with her friends while chatting about things less important or watching a movie in a temporary happiness, when all was forgotten, even the world crumbling silently into pieces, all bared on her small body's shoulders.
It always was a burden for her, how many years she had spent as a slayer, it would always be her greatest burden, not even the child she had bared in her fragile form, that exhausted every piece of life she contained alive inside herself, making her become a walking corpse with something so precious and alive buried inside her, not even her heavy labor and excruciating pain, they never matched with her greatest burden, her slaying years.
Yet, she had done it, she was the oldest slayer that lived and when she became 25 her duties where taken by another a youthful girl of 15. Though he knew he should watch the new slayer, he couldn't bring himself to abandon his beloved fighter, mate and companion to his torn soul. Her life had been a struggle, a continuos one, and he had deepened her wound one too many times. He loved her, after nine years knowing her and seven being away from her he still loved her. She on the other hand had moved on to Riley and she had his child, but fate had other plans for her, so Riley died by the hand of a human, she had nearly killed if he hadn't moved in. He was there for her through her pregnancy and her depression, even if he hated to see her crying for the death of another and bear the child of a dead man, one that he wasn't. He hated it and took a lot of control to not walk out on her, just so he wouldn't have to live with that image torturing his every dream. They were as close as two friends could be. And he was there for her when she gave a long birth, heavy birth and laughed and smiled with her at her small creation, the golden girl. He felt as he was the father and then watching her friends surround her and shower her with gifts and balloons for her baby girl, he realized he'd never be what she needed, a father for her child. He had left. No one noticing the absence of the souled vampire.
< The girl must have four years by now > he thought moving on. Though he still saw her in the previous years her child never came as a subject to discuss.
Now he looked with fascination at the clear, blue sky, the sun of a beautiful autumn afternoon shining. How strange it was that after so many years of struggle into darkness, now he could walk into the light with no harm. He was not a human yet, his soul was yet to be permanent, Angelus still stirred up fires and lust for blood, flesh and irrationality inside him, but he knew soon there was a time to come when he'll walk freely with a pure soul and no demons to haunt him. The red leafs felt gently on the moist ground, flying in the cool breeze of autumn, forming a sheet covering the naked soil. The empty silence turned into a mass of child laughter. Her two children. Her daughter and her son. The son of the German watcher that had taken Giles's place after his departure to Asia to study the fascinating chinese culture with his son, Olivia's child, while trying to convince him to accept his commitment to Mei-Mei, one of the foreign student of the UC Sunnydale. The small boy was use to not have a mother, since Olivia died giving birth to him.
The german watcher. The slayer's husband. He was there at their wedding, she had actually sent him an invitation and she had cheerily announced him that she was pregnant again and she was going to some lonely house in Germany with her husband to give birth. She didn't know how her words had cut trough his flesh like a knife, she seemed cruel to him. He spent two months with Riley's daughter, without Buffy's knowing about anything. She was in Germany happy with her son, she couldn't know how he played with the blue eyed girl. Willow was so nice to let him enjoy the small one's company while she was up to her neck in work. Then the german disappeared with his mistress after a month from their return from his home land, only sending the divorce papers in the mail. She had been crushed and beaten into the ground again, but she had her children, so she signed the papers without hesitation, locking everything inside her soul. The last time he had seen her she was so worn out, tired beyond recognition, more then when she was pregnant with her daughter. Not only fiscally, but emotionally too, she was tired of the constant struggle for life and for her attempts to rebuilt her life, all her efforts ending in an unspoken misery.
He caught the image of a small blond girl running trough the trees followed by another brunette girl about the same size. He wondered who she could be, but then he heard the familiar voice of Xander calling his daughter's name.
"Jenny!" the name a tribute to the dead gypsy, Giles's first love in Sunnydale. Then he saw a figure, a brunette catching the two girls and rising them both at one time in her arms. Faith. The mother of Xander's only child. She wasn't an accepted slayer anymore, even if perhaps she lasted as long as Buffy, she wasn't going to be accepted. Anya for some unknown reason had gotten her powers back and left her new life behind to torture the retched men that plagued humanity, leaving Xander utterly alone in his misery with no job or purpose. Faith was released from prison and was working for Angel. She had met his long lost one night stand in a bar and after getting drunk they decided to have sex, just for the good old times.
Their child was a blessing for both, a purpose to exist and nurture for. Even if they didn't love each other, they lived in a small apartment in LA with their 4 and a half years old daughter, still dating others, though he was sure they'd never find some one else who would understand each other like they did.
The birth of his girl determined Xander to get a good job and even if he still disliked the souled vampire, he accepted to work for him after Wesley's turning. Cordelia herself drove a stake trough the former watcher's heart, though that affected her and eventually made her leave Angel Investigations. For Faith her daughter meant making up for the mistakes her mother had made with her. He watched as she kissed the foreheads of the two girls and passing her daughter into Xander's arms. They disappeared in the horizon of the brick house.
He sighed before passing beyond the brick walls into the yard, still careful to not be seen. He watched the former slayer moved to hug her daughter from the arms of the brunette. His body shivered at her slightest move trough the material of her long white dress.
She sensed him the moment he set eyes on her. It was a presence her body could not ignore, her slayer senses either. The stink of the undead, and still it wasn't the undead who ruined her life, but humans. She thought it was ironic, a big joke of the gods at her expense. Angel was there. He didn't see him in a year. He was still as young and beautiful as always, she knew that, while she was going to fade away into a wrinkled mass, a shell of her former self.
She chased away the thoughts of a lonely old woman and whispered into Faith's ear that she was going to take a walk.
She walked silently trough the trees making no sound, knowing that a familiar figure would be following her, the same figure that had haunted her trough the streets of Sunnydale, until that shadow revealed itself as Angel, her love, one she'd never forget. When she knew they were far enough from the house she turned.
"Angel," she said more of a whisper then the shout that was suppose to come out. Still he stepped out of the shadows. She knew he could walk trough the light of day, but she didn't knew why. It was one of the little things Faith would drop out on the forbidden subject, Angel. He looked even more beautiful and handsome then in the dark. The light soothed him. God, how much she had wished that Michelle was his daughter, but she knew better, she hadn't seen him for a year when she found out she was pregnant, but the way he had stayed by her side in her heavy labor made her eyes water even now.
She looked breath taking, sitting only a few feet away from him in that white long dress, the purity of a virgin goddess. He knew better then to think that. His demon squirmed inside him at the thought of some one else touching what was his, though his souled self bowed his head at his own decision to let her go so many years ago, Angelus even now screamed 'mine'. She walked closer, taking a big breath before talking.
"Hi," she said simply leaving an empty space for another word she didn't let out.
"Hi," a silent reply to her words. They just stared at each other, not finding the words to start with.
"I...," they both started at the same time. They smiled. "You first," Angel said.
"I'm happy to see you," she told him, hiding her right arm behind her dress. She didn't want him to see she was wearing his ring again. The Claddagh ring he had given her before Riley died, before Franz left and Michelle and Danni were born, before she had stopped being a slayer.
"Me too. I...I just wanted to see you, to know you're okay," he said smiling. "I... wanted... to tell you something, he continued. This was going to be very hard for him. I... "
"Is this about your... walking around daytime? Cause Faith told me that some great power gave that to you or something."
"Yes, but no power gave that to me, it's part of a prophecy, it was told that... that... I'll become... human," her eyes went wide in shock and her hands began to trace nervously trough her hair. His eyes caught the shine of the silver on her hands. A blind fury made its way in her heart.
"How could you not tell me!" she yelled at him. "I only wanted that for more then 9 years! Jesus, Angel! You could of told me and spared me a lot of misery!"
"You were married, Buffy! I always loved you, you know that and you hurt me, but I took it in! I took care of anothers' child for you! I held it all in and never said a word cause I did it with my own hand. I drove you in the arms of others and held back my pain," he yelled back.
"Your pain?!" she seemed irritated because he was complaining.
She closed her eyes and tears began falling from his eyes as she sobbed. Angel bit his lip and gathered her body in his arms.
"Shhh. Don't cry," he rocked her body in his arms. He wiped her teary face and saw all the pain and regret inside them. I love you, he said kissing her forehead.
"I love you too," she said between sobs. "God, I love you," she hugged him closer. He kissed her and nothing in the world seemed important anymore, not her long empty nights, not even her years of war with what she was, a slayer, nothing more, nothing less, she was always going to be the slayer that loved a vampire. < And had two children > she thought.
As they continued to kiss, he felt a release, something evaporating from his body, something that was beating him down every time he had been near her. Angelus. His curse was lifted or ratter his demon. He was free, free to love the woman he adored for years. He lowered her down on to the blanket of leafs. And that after noon, in that beautiful autumn afternoon, making love to the woman he loved most in the world, the gentle breeze chilling their heated naked bodies as they mated, he realized his dreams had come true.
* * *
He stood up from her sweet embrace, leaving her breathing hard and long between the leafs. He gathered his clothes. When he was fully dressed he looked behind at her naked body, still, between the red and yellow leafs of the mighty oaks surrounding them. She hadn't moved one inch from where he had left her. Her eyes now closed. She didn't want to see him walk away. He took one last look at her, a shiver going trough his body at the sight. He moved slowly. She moved to stop him, her hands went from his back to his front pressing her upper body to his back.
"Don't go," she whispered but then let him free to walk. She put on a sad smile and began dressing as she watched him disappear trough the trees.
He walked silently, not one sound coming from him, he was lost in thoughts. Empty thoughts, he was human. He heard a familiar giggle coming from behind the trees. It was the golden girl, Riley's daughter. She watched him walk silently, following his every move. She appeared in front of him.
"Hi," she said shyly.
"Hi, "he kneeled in front of the little girl.
"Could you get my ball?" she asked, pointing towards the round sphere stuck up on the branch of a tree. He reached up easily giving her the ball. "Thank you," she smiled and ran towards the house. He looked at the small figure disappearing into the trees and then looked back where he had left the slayer alone.
With one move he turned and began walking between the trees, towards his dream, his forgotten and dusty dream, one he had hidden and buried away for years. His autumn dream.