Summary: Buffy on the beach.
Disclaimer: All rights reserved for Joss Whedon, the WB, Mutant Enemy, etc. I used the characters for my own personal enjoyment and that of others, not for profit. None of these characters belong to me. I have nothing, so don't expect much if you decide to sue. This story is my own creation, so rights to it belong to me. No copyright infringement intended.
I found the Slayer huddled on a beach about forty miles from Sunnydale. A beach the locals call "Loco". The reason being: rocks ranging from the size of baseballs to the size of boulders litter it's expanse of sand, leaving little room for anything else.
The Slayer was sitting only steps from the waves, staring vacantly out to the horizon. We shared the beach with one other family. The parents tossed a football around with tier two sons. A picnic was spread on a blanket nearby. The setting sun was casting a nice pink glow on everything. It gave the Slayer's pallid face some color. When she finally looked up and acknowledged me, her blue eyes were dull and pained. Her hair hung limply around her shoulders.
"What do you want now?" she asked in a monotone, averting her eyes. I cautiously lowered myself onto the sand next to her. When I rested beside her, she cast me a disparaging look with her tired eyes.
"You know why I'm here," I told her, not quite meeting her gaze.
She hugged her knees to her torso, and didn't reply.
"You have to go back," I went on.
"I don't HAVE to-"
"They need you."
"Yeah, well, so did Angel-"
"But you still did it. Sent him to hell. Fulfilled your duty. Because you're strong." I paused. "You CAN go on with your life."
"Maybe I don't want to!" The Slayer's voice cracked. She stood up swiftly and walked away, down to he water's edge. Buffy bent down and unlaced her boots, then kicked them off. Her socks followed them a few paces from the lapping waves. Buffy waded in up to her ankles. I rose and brushed at the moist sand that clung to my clothes. Buffy turned and glanced at me.
I could clearly see the tears tracing paths down her cheeks. She stood between me and the sun and it cast a gold glow around her silhouette. My eyes strayed from the Slayer to and object bobbing hysterically up and down in the water about two hundred yards from shore.
It was one of the children. His mom shrieked and lunged forward into the oncoming surf. I knew she would never reach him in time to save him.
Meanwhile, Buffy had whirled around and caught sight of the boy. Without pausing, she leapt into action. She ran as far out as her legs would take her, then dove under a wave and began her version of the 'lifeguard swimstroke'. I watched in awe as Buffy drew closer and closer to the flailing boy. She reached him and he threw his arms around her neck, putting her in a chokehold. She said something to him and he shifted until she was giving him a piggyback ride. I could tell when she hit the strong part of the undertow; she sank a little bit and changed her course.
In minutes, the Slayer had reached dry ground. She carried the small boy to his parents, who thanked her profusely. Buffy trudged back over toward me. She was dripping wet.
Buffy allowed me to drape a towel over her shoulders. She shivered in the twilight air.
"I see you still have the rescue gene," I commented softly, not expecting the Slayer's smile when it appeared.
I set about building a fire from driftwood. The family that we had previously shared the beach with had piled into a green minivan and left. Driftwood wasn't hard to come by, an amazing amount of it was caught between the rocks on the beach. I used a Bic lighter to set my pile of wood on fire. Buffy seemed drawn to the flames like a moth to a bright window. She sat close to it, Indian-style. I promptly sat down across from her. The flames licked up the salty wood, reflecting off of the Slayer's face, making it glow. I simply watched her, willing her to make the right decision. She looked up into my eyes.
"I do miss them," she said. I tried my best not to see the pain in her eyes. And I knew she wasn't only talking about her friends.
I sighed heavily. I closed my world-weary eyes and concentrated on focusing all of my mental powers on the one thing that would comfort the Slayer: Angel. I momentarily lost my sense of time. I felt like I was falling. Drifting on a pitch black sea of nothingness. Intense heat waves battered my body.
I came into contact with a presence I would know anywhere.
"What in-" the Demon with the face of an Angel began to berate me.
"Buffy." The moment I said her name, he stopped speaking. "She needs to see you. Trust me, one last time." He did, I could sense it, and I stepped back from my body and watched from a distance of a few feet.
The Slayer was staring at my body, now on her knees next to me. She shook my shoulder, but my eyes remained closed. They slowly opened. She sat back on her heels, then fell over backwards when my face changed into that of the one person who could heal all of her troubles with a smile. And he did smile, a little.
"Angel? What-" Buffy broke off without finishing her thought. Angel's form glimmered a little as he reached out and touched her face.
Buffy tried again to speak. "How?" she whispered. A wind kicked up and began playing with her hair, tossing it about.
"Whistler," Angel said with a half-smile. He brushed at Buffy's hair. He couldn't seem to resist. He tugged her into his arms.
Buffy turned her face into his shoulder. Her tears began to flow. "Angel, I'm sor-" He cut her off with a kiss. She broke away from the kiss trying to speak: "I had no choice-" but again he interrupted her with a kiss. "I didn't mean it-"
"Buffy!" Angel's hands at her shoulders cut off her monologue, midsentence. "I KNOW." She looked up into his face and saw only love and sadness. She choked on a sob.
"I KNOW." His soft words started healing the hole in her heart. It would never mend completely, she knew, but this would help immensely. Buffy leaned into Angel's chest and let all the tears and frustrations and pain flow out of her system.
"You DO have to go back," Angel said into the top of her head. He placed a tiny kiss on her scalp, then rested his chin on the same spot.
"I know," Buffy mumbled.
"And so do I."
Buffy nodded, her tears drying up.
"When?" she asked, not wanting to know the answer.
"I love you." Buffy looked up and found Angel's gaze resting soberly on her. "I love you." Angel began to shimmer, and Buffy knew their time was short. She pulled Angel's head down to hers for one last kiss. When they broke apart, he smiled until his body faded away, leaving only me slumped on the sand.
Buffy wiped away all traces of her tears. I opened my eyes, blinking at the pain.
"How was it?" I asked, with a teasing smile.
Buffy grinned at me, helped me sit up. "I'm ready," she told me with a proud smile.
I nodded and looked past her to the ocean, where I caught one last glimpse of a shimmering figure. "We'll miss you," I whispered into the night.
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