SUMMARY: Set post-Chosen. Eulogies for the fallen.
DICLAIMER: Joss owns all.
FEEDBACK: Sure, for better or for worse!
Of hell or heaven
Decreed this agony, this penury
Denying our love its destiny
Before Atlantis fell.”
-- G.L. Bailey
The hour has come to remember the dead.
They gather around the edge of the crater, standing in a silent circle. More than a month has passed, and still it appears the same. There are two small urns filled with dark earth taken from the rubble, courtesy of Buffy’s careful descent into the monstrous pit. She emerged with dust in her hair and two handfuls of dirt clutched in her hands, but there was a certain air of stoical dignity as she poured them into the vases. She hands one of them to a quiet, somber Xander. They stand beside one another.
Giles has a book open in his hands, and he reads the text in a voice thick with solemnity. He reads from the Bible. A specific spot bookmarked with a think red ribbon. It is from Luke 7:47, but he has modified the excerpt to match the departed.
"Their many sins have been forgiven– for they have loved much."
And then they stand in silence to take a moment and remember.
Xander married Anya before the Apocalypse.
Not officially, of course. There was no minister present. Besides, the only preacher in town was a misogynistic minion working for an ancient archaic evil threatening to devour them all who had already gouged out one of the groom’s eyes, so hey, probably better off that they didn’t have him come.
They ran off in the middle of the night, only hours before they would be preparing to go to the final showdown, when everyone else was catching a few hours of sleep. Stepping over dozing teenage girls and sneaking out of the house, they’d made their way to an abandoned church nearby. It had been next to the somewhat comforting familiarity of the local cemetery, looking picturesque hidden behind the trees swaying gently in the breeze. Together they went inside and walked down the aisle, striding slowly between broken pews, so they could exchange their vows at the altar in front. When he slid the wedding ring he’d never been able to give her before onto her finger, she began to weep.
“I never thought it’d be like this,” she had explained, her doe-like eyes glittering with tears.
He squeezed her hand with his. “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more.”
“No.” She shook her head firmly, soft blonde curls swaying from side to side. “No, this is enough. It is.”
“I love you,” he said thickly, cradling her face between his hands and kissing the tears from her cheeks. “I’ll never leave you again, Anya. I promise. There’ll never be anybody else. And I’m gonna do it right this time. I swear it.”
Anya had reached up and kissed him then, sealing their promises of always with a sacred touch of lips. In that binding kiss he had tasted forever, tasted a powerful, painful love for her that could not be broken by time nor death. She’d given him a second chance, even when he wasn’t sure he really deserved it. And even though he hadn’t been certain they would both make it through the impending battle, he had suddenly been overcome by a calm certainty that no matter what the outcome, it would all be okay. Because he had had something with her. Something that nothing could ever take away.
Now he wears his wedding band on a chain around his neck. Doesn’t like to take it off, not even in the shower. Having it makes him feel like maybe he still carries a piece of her heart with him.
He knows she still has a piece of his.
It has been thirty-two days.
Every night the dreams wrap around her, swathing her in constant splendor, like soft velveteen satin being laid across her skin. She always replays the same moment over and over. Visions of a man, whose soul is laid bare before her, a glorious golden glow. She looks at him and sees the resolution written in the sharp clarity of his brilliant blue eyes, and she knows that he has found what he’s been searching for for so long-- his meaning, his purpose. She briefly wonders if that is how she looked to Dawn those years ago, before she jumped from the tower. They stand together with intertwined fingers, and suddenly she can feel it, feel the energy flowing into her veins. And she knows.
His soul. She is touching his soul.
The warmth, the power, the light, all spreading through her body, and she gasps breathlessly at the sheer beauty of it. Because this is what he fought for, what he earned, for her. She had never been able to see it before, but now she can feel it inside of her through the connection they share. His candle in the dark, his star in the night sky.
But in her dreams, she is there with him in the end, and a choir of angels glorify the greatest hour, the heavens melting into flames along with him. He found his redemption in the shape of her heart, and she found hers in the open palm of his hand. A love unlike any she would ever know, deep and painful and true.
With Angel it was different. He was the first man she ever gave her heart to, and he had held the pure essence of her innocence in his fist, ready to be nutured, and just as ready to be shattered. She had given him everything she was, a purity that would soon be tainted by circumstance, by a calling she had not asked for. But they had never been meant to be-- the fates would not allow it, and their stars would forever be crossed. The weight of his curse and the burden of her destiny drove them apart. Angel left so that she could walk in the sunlight, but he hadn’t understood. The Slayer was intended for darkness, created for brutality. Born for living in the moment of death. His acting as a martyr and making sacrifices on her behalf would not be able to push her into the sunlight. He would not be able to change what she was.
Spike had always understood that. He knew the profundity of her nature better than she, having slayed two of her own kind before. Buffy was his downfall. Or, maybe, it was the other way around; maybe she had been his salvation. Spike had always known her from the inside out, and she thinks it isn’t just because he’d killed Slayers before. But he knew. He knew she was destined to walk alone.
She is not alone anymore.
Now she peels the lid back and tilts the urn to one side, and the ashes spill onto her hand. The crystals of dark earth shimmer like diamonds beneath the illumination of the moon above. A summer breeze billows her long skirt around her legs, sweeping her hair off of her shoulders. She is full of tears, many for joy. There is no bitterness in this parting-- their last, to be sealed in her words and eternally etched into her heart. She will count the days in remembrance, and she will never forget.
Buffy raises her flattened palm to her lips and gently blows the rubbled remains from her hand. A passing gust of wind catches the ashes and they flutter into the air, swirling away into the fastly fading twilight. She stands and watches, alone. But then, she is not alone, because she can once again feel the warmth of him surrounding her. This is his gift to her. She gets to live. And she will never be alone again.
She turns and follows the others away from the empty crater. She remembers. She loved him. She still does. She regrets how long it took to realize that, but still, she did love him. And she will always remember. She knows there will be further grief ahead. The mourning is not done yet.
But hope still sings forever in the distance.