hellowonderland: (buffy angel // walk in the snow)
[personal profile] hellowonderland
Oops, what happened here?

Apparently, I wrote something. It has been a long, long, long time. But this has been sitting in my brain for at least a year, and I finally, over the last several weeks, actually ... *wrote* it.

Title: It’s What Happened to Them
Author: Trixen
Disclaimer: Joss still owns them and I still don’t.
Rating: R


The snow is falling, much too much, and Buffy looks up at the sky between breaths, between beats and pulses of her heart, such a fragile thing, a snowflake, a drop of blood, a heart. Her face is wet and so are her hands, her wrists and her jeans, soaked through, her breasts with her nipples frozen pink. She is cold. The path ahead is unmarked and unsigned. And the pine trees stretch up and up, darkish arrows, surrounding her but -- he is still running beside her. He’s still beside her.

She realizes she is thinking in frozen sentences, tiny sharp words.

“Oh—“

Angel looks at her briefly. “Almost there, promise.”

“Cheap, promises,” she huffs and puffs. Slayer stamina aside, running for close to two hundred miles is beyond. Just beyond. There is a hot knotty thing lodged between her ribs, a stone where her stomach used to be and the faint sting of vomit beneath her throat. Would be bad to throw up right now, she thinks. Her organs would probably come with the remains of her cereal and milk. Not to mention that in the distance she can hear vague rockety sounds, like hot explosions. She doesn’t break stride. “So cheap.”

“Who says?” he asks.

“Humanity.”

“Touche,” he says, but it sounds funny coming from his mouth and she laughs. “What?”

“You’re French now. In a crisis, you’re French.” Buffy almost trips, almost goes flying, which would be just as inappropriate as her finding this so funny, and she thinks she had better keep her balance. Don’t get them dead – oh, or deader than he is now, of course. “Steady on.”

“That’s my line,” he answers, stops her for a moment. “Get your breath.”

“It s’gone,” she mumbles, and bends belly-down, staring at the frozen river that has been following them since they passed Tintern Abbey; an icy ribbon snaking across the valley floor and winding up the mountainside, an endless spool – once she would have seen it as a skating rink, now it's their path to salvation – or at least, a place to rest. “Ouch.”

“What.”

“Just ouch.”

“Right.” Angel looks out, over the horizon, his mouth a thin white line. He is wearing a thick black jacket that comes down to his ankles, borrowed from Giles before the house burned down. Black sweater, scarf, black pants, a regular Undertaker. Death. The Reaper, but not grim, no. Sexy. Beautiful. So beautiful – and that hurts her too. Ouch. She can't stop remembering, little things she has read to Dawn and the girls, during their classes, all that useless information, because—

I could not stop for Death

so he had kindly stopped for her, wasn’t that how it went?

“We’re almost there,” Angel says.

“I don’t believe you. This is my not-believing-you face.”

He doesn’t look at her. But the corner of his mouth quirks. “It’s there. I remember.”

“So do I,” she quips, and wants to cry, would if she weren't the Slayer. Someday she wants to be not the Slayer, so she can cry all she likes. Blinking, she turns away and stares out across the mountains, hills, the snowy salted fields, thinks of the bloody halls of memory. Those corridors, twisting, turning, like the river up the cliff. “A church, right?”

“It’s just beyond those trees,” he points, as if he is Lucy in Narnia, leading the way from the lamppost. Another story she read to Dawn. Any moment now, the bells of the White Witch’s sleigh. “It’s mostly ruined, but there’s a room in the tower.”

Her breaths still hurt, they feel like insects in her lungs. Fleshy pink secret places. He is still speaking. “I’ve sent people to it before. There’s a fireplace. A bed. Blankets, maybe.”

“It might be gutted.”

“Could be,” Angel agrees.

“Mr. Optimistic.”

“Hey, you said it first.”

“Always do,” she says, “let’s go.”

_

It all started with a call from Willow, of course. Must be Tuesday, with Trouble knocking at her door.

“They're here,” she said. “Happy campers they're not so much. Hellmouth in Phoenix. Guess we didn't know about it.”

“Uh huh,” Buffy said.

Xander, Kennedy, Dawn, they were all dead, disappeared, gone. Entire cities vanished over night, much like Los Angeles had, all those moons ago. And yet Buffy didn’t cry. She holed up in Giles’ house, where he lived in the meat of Gloucestershire, and they tried to plan, they tried to map it out, they tried to pretend they had a shot.

“The veils were opened here,” Giles said, pointing to the badlands of Arizona. The map crinkled at its edges, curling in on itself. “It caused a topple effect, and as the worlds bled into each other, the demons took over.”

“But how didn't we know about this Hellmouth? And who opened it?” she asked, and he shrugged. “Was it Glory?”

A week went by, and Angel showed up. He tripped as Giles let him in, and almost sprawled across the tiled floor. She remembered how he had stumbled across the doorway after they broke up that time, and smiled.

“Stealthy,” Buffy said.

He grimaced. “You’re hard to track down.”

“I try to be.” She paused and thought for a moment. “You were supposed to be earth food.”

He nodded. “I clawed my way out.”

Her throat felt tight and hot, and so she turned away. “Lousy timing.”

“Usually,” Angel said, and touched the back of her shoulder, where her bones met. It was cliché, but she felt it, all the way through her.

“What do you want?” she whispered.

“To marry you.”

Buffy laughed, really laughed. “Attainably speaking. The world is ending.”

“I know.” He drew her back against him and she fitted, just so, beneath his arm. “It gives you perspective, doesn't it.”

“I’ll say,” she murmured, and felt the years between them drop away, just like that, that easy and simple, like a breath. She supposed it always been that close to the surface and suddenly she couldn't remember why she had ever let him leave. Reasons for this and that seemed to vanish – why they couldn't, shouldn't – how ridiculous it all seemed now.

They were married. Not by clergy, but by their hearts, with Giles as a witness and she supposed God as well, though she suspected Him of fleeing Dodge long ago.

They had packed up and were ready to go, standing outside in the wind, bags on their backs, waiting for Giles, when the house exploded and sent them flying.

Oh, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Perhaps she should have been ready, but she had not been, and the bonebreak of it shook her to the ground.

She could have cried to fill a pale ocean, but there was just no moment to do it. They had to go. Their time, evidently, was up. She couldn’t protect her people. Xander, Willow, Dawn, Giles. But she could protect him. That, she could do and that, she understood like she had never understood anything before, that – she must do.

+

The church appears ahead of them, snow dusting it's roof like diamonds.

The tower is still there, caught between the trees and the sky. It is made of stone and stained glass, stark and serious in the waning light. Balanced on the edge of the mountain, it has tiny wooden doors and an old, rotten cemetery. She stares at it for a moment, just resting and flexing her toes to keep them awake.

Angel gathers wood in his arms, and soon Buffy does the same, inhaling the beautiful smells of winter, the pine, frozen sky and the woodsmoke from some faraway cabin or chalet. Maybe another couple, hiding out, huddled together, frightened, tear-ridden. Just a bit more, she can’t help but think. I just want a bit more.

“Up here,” Angel says, leading her through the pews, to the back, up a poky set of steps, through another door, up another set of steps, winding and winding up, until they reach the tower room. It is as he described, small and spare. There is a bed in the corner and a fireplace, a spinning wheel, a table without any chairs.

“Challenged in the cavewoman thing”, she says.

So he lights a fire. He uses the damp wood, balled-up bits of paper from their bags, and the matches they brought. Soon it is spitting and crackling. A bright, heatless blaze.

Buffy explores the church. She opens rooms up, lets the light in on them for the first time in what she thinks – romantically – must be many years. There isn’t much but she finds a cooking pot, a sponge, a few blankets, and two bottles of wine, probably meant for communion or maybe an alcoholic Priest. They are a thick dark red and the labels are spidery with age.

Angel takes the pot and walks down the stairs, heading for the darkening outdoors. Arranging the blankets in front of the fire, Buffy makes them a bed and then opens her bag, taking out the few things they brought with them. One jar of peanut butter. A box of crackers. Cheese. Bread. Teabags. Extra socks. Defrosting bags of blood. A few plastic cups. Maps. A bottle of good whiskey. The whiskey was for Giles, and for a moment she cannot even look at it, remembering too much – his dry voice, soft touch of the back of his hand, his aging veins, his body in little pieces on the snow outside of his house.

“Oh”, she says, out loud, testing her voice, trying not to give in, to howl.

“Buffy,” Angel says from the doorway. He is holding the cooking pot, snow spilling over the edges.

“I'm ok.”

“Ok,” he says, hooking the pot over the fire.

“Not really.”

“I know.”

“Wine?”

He grimaces. “Blood?”

“Why not.”

She pours them both glasses of red, as the snow melts and he lowers himself onto the bed of blankets, beside her, his long strong body wet with weather and the grime of escape. Each aching point of her body resounds, clanging like bells, offering up grief after grief. Angel takes a long deep drink of blood, his fangs coming out, and her tears finally come too, wet and noisy.

“Here,” he whispers, taking off her clothes slowly, carefully.

She helps him by lifting her arms, wriggling her hips. Her nose is running, her eyes are poinsettia red, her hair is in knots. Angel dips the sponge into the pot, the hot water steaming, almost unbearably pleasurable.

“Oh,” Buffy gasps, gasps out a sob and a moan at once, curling onto her side as he runs the sponge along her back, over the bell curve of her, thighs, knees, pussy. She feels herself gasping for air, crying so hard she cannot breathe with it, crying selfishly. It is her friends, Dawn, Sunnydale. Not the world, not her duty, just – they were parts of her, like livers and lungs and stomachs, and she honestly can't conceive of it, their absence, like a hole carved straight into the earth, the earth of her body. And. Her Mom. “Oh, oh I can't--”

“You don't have to,” Angel says, and his meaning is clear. She doesn't have to live through this, for they are both going to die, forever this time, the most forever of all forevers.

That, more than anything, calms her. “You're right.”

“I know,” he teases quietly, still washing her, gentle with his movements. He soaks her nipples with the heated water, her neck, wrists, ankles, up between her legs, the indents of her waist, each rib, her armpits, elbows, the swoop of her shoulders, the curls of her ears. “Shhhh.”

“It's not even that the world is ending,” Buffy says.

His eyes are dark, almost impossibly so. “I know.”

“I mean.” She pauses. “That's all that ever kept us apart. Trying to save it.”

“Is it?”

“I had to-- put it before anything.”

“Me too.”

She opens her legs and her arms. He hooks his hands beneath her knees, spreading them wider still. It is a relief, really, that someone can still hurt her, but the surprise of it, how close he can come to breaking her body, it makes her orgasm almost immediately.

Oh oh OH as his pelvic bone rubs her pussy and the earth outside begins to dissolve away from itself, into madness. Madness, to do this, when Angelus might soon whisper a lullaby against her ear, but maybe oh maybe that would not be the worst thing. Maybe it would never have been the worst thing. She wonders, as she sweats and moves against him, on top of him now, her breasts against his face, his teeth against her nipples, would this have been worth killing him for or perhaps wrenching him back from the brink, over and over again.

The fact that she can feel his cock, his palms on her hips, holding her down as he fucks upwards, the fact that he is there and that his fangs are nicking her nipple, and that there is blood on her belly, that he is flipping her over, touching her clit and finally, finally sinking into her throat, that half-remembered moment, with red leather and a crushed vase, hot buttery blood and the rise and fall of his voice, guttural with desire –

Buffy feels her knees give out, as it starts from her toes and snaps her up with one bite, the orgasm as perfect as it can be, the one she has been chasing since she was seventeen, the one she would never allow herself to have. She forgets herself and that is key, just for one moment, she forgets where she is, who she is, she forgets all, dipping her head back, sweat on her forehead, her skin and she feels it everywhere, like that touch when he came back, she feels it in every part of her body.

“I'm spent,” she murmurs, sometime later.

He laughs. “You said that once before.”

“Did I? I can't remember.”

“I can.”

She smiles, not sure what he means. Her skin is still, her heart is beating, independent of her body, a harsh, pulsating thing, baying in the corner of the room. She asks him, “What is your biggest regret?” because it seems that it's time to talk honestly, if there ever has been a time.

He answers roughly, against the blanket, so that she can't really hear him. Something about “family” and that is all makes out, but it seems crass to ask him to repeat it. He echoes the question to her.

“I don't know,” she says honestly. “But the fact that there's nothing that I can do. I feel like I've failed. I just wish there was something I could do.”

“There isn't,” he says, calmly, flatly.

“Maybe it's time,” she says, dreamily, remembering. “I was so ready when I died for Dawn. I was done. I felt that.”

“And now?”

“No.”

And it does not flash before her eyes like it did with Glory. No, but she still sees herself, on that first night, balanced above him, ready to strike. The bright blue of her top – she never wore it again – the smirk in his voice. She does not want to hold that girl back, even now. She doesn't want any do-overs.

“Angel, were you happy?”

“Not completely,” he says wryly. “But-- yes. I was. I didn't know it, but with what I had, yes.”

“At least we had the chance to get married.”

He sounds surprised. “You're right. We did.”

She laughs. “Memorable, clearly.”

“I always pictured it differently.”

Somehow, that makes her throat catch. “When did you picture it?”

“Less and less – as the years passed. But yeah, I still did. White dress. Altar. Flowers. You looking at me.” He is embarrassed, naked against her. “It used to get me through.”

The fire is hot, the blankets itch, he is cold and tastes of snow. She gathers him, ever so close. Maybe – she thinks this so clearly – maybe this is the gift she can give.

She says what she has wanted to say for many, many years, but felt unable. “I love you, Angel.”

And it is so.

Love, in the final everlasting darkness. Love through madness. Maybe this is always what was meant to happen to them.

Though Buffy can see through the tower window that the sky is exploding, really, actually exploding and that they are here, she still stares, eyes-wide-open. She can't bear him seeing, that this would be his final sight on earth.

She speaks, for these are the truest, kindest words she can speak and they hold as much love as the world can ever offer. Close your eyes and she means it as a goodbye, a declaration, one last cry into the night, letting her heart speak the truth, finally, finally the truth.

It is her lullaby across the years, echoing, bringing them here. He presses his face to her neck, cradles her, she cradles him. Like a song, like it has always been, her song for him, to him, always. Close your eyes. No sword, no gaping entryway into Hell. Just her, a girl, holding him, a boy, until the very end.


Finis.

Date: 2010-12-21 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kita0610.livejournal.com
Jesus.

I don't even.

Poetry. Perfect.

*hands*

Date: 2010-12-21 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank you!

It was scary to write them after so long, but this story was pretty much eating my brain. Buffy and Angel won't be denied when they want to spend their final night in a Welsh cabin. They just won't.

Date: 2010-12-21 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stars-inthe-sky.livejournal.com
I am ignoring the comics and accepting this as worst-case-scenario-happens canon. Thank you.

Date: 2010-12-21 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
I haven't read the comics, but you've scared me enough that I think this is probably a good thing?

Date: 2010-12-21 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stars-inthe-sky.livejournal.com
They just ruin everything and all ships to boot. Ugh. Faith gets a good arc, though.

Date: 2010-12-21 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tenar.livejournal.com
here via kita. this is so gorgeous and sad. i love that you just brought the sad, in a full-course sad meal with wine pairings of beautiful woe.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
haha, thanks!

Date: 2010-12-21 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a2zmom.livejournal.com
This is simply the most beautiful story I've read this year.

For me, this is a story about grace and the deepest, truest kind of love.

would this have been worth killing him for or perhaps wrenching him back from the brink, over and over again.


I love that she wonder whether it would have been.
Edited Date: 2010-12-21 05:09 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-12-22 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank you! It means a lot.

I liked that too - it just came to me, what if Buffy wondered if it would have been worth it?

Date: 2010-12-21 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] annegables.livejournal.com
Geez.....starts breathing again. Wow.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Breathe!!! :-) Thanks a bunch.

Date: 2010-12-21 04:46 am (UTC)
ext_2333: "That's right,  people, I am a constant surprise." (BtVS logo)
From: [identity profile] makd.livejournal.com
here on a rec from [livejournal.com profile] a2zmom.

Lovely, lyrical, and gee whiz- still innocent, still them.

this is a great fic.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! I really appreciate the comment.

Date: 2010-12-21 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] landrews.livejournal.com
Here via a2zmom- this is simply gorgeous and heartbreaking.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! :-) I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2010-12-21 06:10 am (UTC)
luminosity: (ATS-Luminosity)
From: [personal profile] luminosity
Oh my God. Kill me now. Perfect. Just perfect.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
I will not kill you, but I will thank you! Haha, really I appreciate the comment so much!

Date: 2010-12-21 07:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightsjane.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] a2zmom
This is beautiful. You made me cry.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
I'm sorry! But I'm thrilled it moved you :-)

Date: 2010-12-21 11:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ares132006.livejournal.com
Angel looks out, over the horizon, his mouth a thin white line. He is wearing a thick black jacket that comes down to his ankles, borrowed from Giles before the house burned down. Black sweater, scarf, black pants, a regular Undertaker. Death. The Reaper, but not grim, no. Sexy. Beautiful. So beautiful – and that hurts her too.

Oh yes. Perfect!

Close your eyes. No sword, no gaping entryway into Hell. Just her, a girl, holding him, a boy, until the very end.

So sad, and yet so glorious. A girl holding a boy. This is what Buffy, and Angel have ever wanted to be. Sad, that this is the end of everything.

Wonderfully written.



Date: 2010-12-22 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
I thought it was sweet, how in the end, even death strips them off their mantles they've worn. Just a girl and a boy.

Thanks so much for the lovely comment!

Date: 2010-12-21 12:40 pm (UTC)
ext_3629: blue wallpaper, leafy pattern (btvs- Angel coming home)
From: [identity profile] elizaria.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] kita0610

I should know better than to read fic in the mornings, you made me tear up :'(

But it was so very beautiful, and thank you for writing this and sharing it.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank YOU for commenting! I appreciate it so much.

Date: 2010-12-21 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honoria.livejournal.com
Oh, that was so beautiful.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank you!!!

Date: 2010-12-21 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bre2004.livejournal.com
*gah*

I am speechless and I am in love. Beautifully written, very raw. Loved it.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thanks, I appreciate it so much!

Date: 2010-12-21 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kean-herself.livejournal.com
Here via pretty much my entire flist lol

If ever there was a tonic for S8 this is it.

That last paragraph is arguably the most beautiful words I have ever seen written on B/A.

Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Date: 2010-12-22 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Is there a S8? I must have been sleeping this past year. :-)

That last paragraph is arguably the most beautiful words I have ever seen written on B/A.

Wow. I'm speechless. That is really one of the nicest things anyone's ever said about one of my stories. Thank you so, so much.

Date: 2010-12-21 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fauxmaven.livejournal.com
Beautiful. Thank you.

And thank you a2zmom for the pointer here.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the comment so much.

Date: 2010-12-21 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spankulert.livejournal.com
Wow. Such a lovely, jagged feel to this story. Your words flow beautifully <3

Date: 2010-12-22 03:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-12-22 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mayfever-86.livejournal.com
What everyone else said. You made me cry! I never cry! That last sentence is utter perfection, essential B/A... darn woman, you rock.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixiefirecra.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2010-12-22 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rivestra.livejournal.com
::aches::

Absolutely, painfully, gorgeous. And you just about killed me with "And. Her Mom."

thank you. Really.

Date: 2010-12-23 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evil-little-dog.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] a2zmom and am delighted that you did write this and shared it with the rest of us.

Date: 2010-12-23 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stephanierb.livejournal.com

Breathtaking. Truly. So thrilled you felt the urge to write them again.

Date: 2010-12-24 04:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-12-24 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eleniangel.livejournal.com
Love this!

Date: 2011-01-05 05:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tigerpetals.livejournal.com
This was so beautiful I wanted to die.

Favorite parts: The last three paragraphs, the callback to Becoming. How her people are her organs. Buffy wondering if it would have been worth killing him for.

Plus, general love for the imagery, the snow and the world blowing up so lyrically.

Date: 2011-01-05 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tigerpetals.livejournal.com
Here via kita0610 by the way.

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