The Twenty-Second Flavor
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, just the story.
Years later, the many flavors of loss still surprise her.
This one is sweet and sad and fond and funny, when she finally realizes why, that one time, Spike had sneeringly called Riley "Appleby."
She picked up the battered paperback after Dawn had left on the table at breakfast, curious about the book that had made her sister snort with laughter, only to finally realize --
Everything Appleby did, he did well. Appleby was a fair-headed boy from Iowa who believed in God, Motherhood and the American Way of Life, without ever thinking about any of them, and everybody who knew him liked him.
"I hate that son of a bitch," Yossarian growled.
-- that Spike hadn't been making some obscure reference to the aggressively mediocre purveyor of deep-fried appetizers, but an obscure reference to some old book. A book which, so far, seems to be about a rebel for whom imposed loyalties and abstract ideals would never be good enough reasons to give up his life.
She wants to read on, to find out what happens to that rebel, but it's time to go. "Life is for the living," Xander had told her after he'd pulled himself out of his funk over losing Anya, not past it, but determined and sober. She has work; the book, unlike the vampire, will be there when she's ready to take it on.
He probably dies in the end -- isn't that the way these things go?
"I miss you, Yossarian," she murmurs wryly to the sunlit window above the sink as she sets her mug in the drainer. Then Dawn's calling her, and she's grabbing her jacket on the way out the door.
Author's note: The "old book" in question is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.