The other two stories are almost done, but they’ll have to wait until the free-for-all day. I'll also polish this one up and post it to my LJ at a later date.
In the meantime, many thanks to all involved. I’m soooo ready to check out all the great offerings!
Title: None So Blind
Timeline: Post-NFA but AU in relation to the Season 8 comics
Genre: Future; reunion
She dusts the vamp, then whirls and spots him, eyes widening comically a second before her face turns flat and cold. “Well isn’t this just peachy keen? I wondered how long it would take you to crawl out from under that rock.”
He has a nice speech all planned out. About where’s he’s been and how he got there and why he’s here now. But he stops and blinks, thinking he should probably regroup. It’s hardly what he’d call an auspicious start.
“Sorry,” he finally ventures. “Would have been here sooner. Been a bit busy, is all.”
Liar. Truth is, he’d hoped to outwait her wrath. Knew Andrew would cave and tell her. If not before, then certainly after the big showdown in the alley and the whole LA Goes to Hell shtick. He’d imagined she’d be happy at first, then pissed off, then happy again. Or at least cooled down enough to have a reasonable conversation.
“Really? Busy doing what? Hiding? Licking your wounds? Pondering how majorly impotent you are in the grand scheme of things?”
“Tell you what.” Arms crossed, she cocks her head. Studies him like he’s less than nothing. “You take a hike, and I’ll forget I saw you. I won’t have to embarrass you in front of all your little demon friends.”
He stands there a minute, mouth open. Then tries again. “Slayer…Bu—“
“Don’t.” The sharp edge to her voice slices and dices him. “Don’t you say my name. There is nothing you can tell me that would possibly matter. Didn’t you get the memo? You’re old news.”
At first, he’s stunned. Then he’s angry. His hands curl into fists as he feels the muscle ticking in his jaw. Even then, he gazes into her eyes. Searching. Looking for a spark of feeling. That intangible something that tells him she’s simply hurt. That she doesn’t really mean it. That she could never really mean it.
But cold, hard hate is all he finds.
He gathers up the pieces of his long-dead heart, wondering how anything short of a sword could stab so deep. Takes in a long, slow breath. “Well. Guess that’s it then. Give my…tell the Bit…” He stares down at his boots. Huffs softly. Swallows the rest. “Never mind. Best leave it as is.”
Then he’s turning away, charging down the sidewalk and across the street. Careening into a passing pedestrian, almost knocking him over. Instinctively he reaches out, steadies the bloke, mutters something. Takes a step. Then a second. Away from her. Leaving everything he’d hoped to find.
He keeps going.
It isn’t his name that stops him. It’s the panic in her voice. And underlying that are other things—fear and loss and longing…and something else. Something he’s never heard from her.
He turns, and she’s already there beside him, reaching up to brush his cheek with the tips of her fingers.
“Oh god. It’s you.”
That’s when it hits him, and he thinks about bashing his head against the nearest wall because he’s such a half-arsed berk.
“You thought it was him. It. The First.”
She nods. And looks. He looks back. Then…
“I don’t understand. How?” Her brow crinkles. “Did…did Willow do it? Did she bring you back?” Even as she asks, he can see her dismiss the idea. They both know the Witch has her faults, but it was a hard lesson learned and one mistake she won’t repeat.
Even if she’d wanted to, which he knows very well is not the case.
“Andrew didn’t explain?” He knows he should just tell her. Burned up. Amulet. All go-throughy till the blinding light. Then it got complicated.
But he doesn’t, because he desperately wants to hear what she’ll say.
He thinks about what he told Harmony—why he chose not to go after Buffy. It may have been true, but he knows it’s only half the story. Part of him hoped she would seek him out. Ditch her slayerly duties for a quick hop across the ocean and a schmoopy reunion. Emphasis on the schmoop.
But most of him knows he took the easy way out, certain she wouldn’t come—secure in his cowardice, embracing the roles of Unrequited Lover and Tragic Hero. It never occurred to him Andrew would actually keep his confidence.
Buffy’s face proves that he did.
“What does Andrew have to do with this?”
She doesn’t know—any of it. So now he has to tell her.
She takes it like the slayer she is. Steely, stoic…and more than a little brassed off. But he imagines the light in her eyes shines a bit less brightly. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking on his part.
“You really didn’t believe me,” she observes, once he’s done. “I told myself you were just pretending. That you had your reasons. But all along you just thought I didn’t love you.”
What can he say to that? He’d taunted Angel with the prospect often enough, but ever since he’d got his soul back, he’s never considered it anything more than a distant hope.
So he stands, and he stares, and he doesn’t dare speak.
“You’re such an idiot!” She spits it out. “Why is it the whole time we’re trying to kill each other, you can read me inside and out? But the second I finally open up my heart to you, you don’t have a clue! Stupid, vampire.”
She punctuates her words with a half-hearted push, and he stumbles back a step or two. She follows, shoving him again. “Stupid, stupid vampire!”
Straightening, he keeps his hands by his side. Gazes down into her upturned face as she moves in for the theoretical kill. She glares up at him, tears glistening in impossibly huge eyes.
“Maybe our last night on earth? I chose you. I chose you.”
Then she takes his hand and lifts it. Holds her own up, palm outward, so he can see the scar—tangible testimony to the fire that has always burned between them. At first, white-hot and virulent, searing with deadly intent. Then scorching in a self-destructive conflagration of power and passion. Finally, with a steady warmth that forged a bond stronger than steel and even more enduring.
“I chose you,” she repeats a third time. Softly. Firmly.
She presses her hand to his, matching one to the other, despite the smallness of her own. Fingers twine, bend, lock. Holding tight.
She smiles. He forgets to breathe.
His face lowers to hers, and as their lips meet, somewhere in that cold, dark night a flame flashes up, burning with a bright intensity as it kindles, combusts, illuminates and warms.