Los Angeles, 2004
Angel ran through the corridors of Wolfram and Hart, taking little notice of the destruction as it blurred by. There was no time to dwell on it, let alone pause to take it all in. He could only look ahead for the next obstruction that needed leaping over, the next turn to circumvent, or the next steel door to burst threw.
Within minutes, he was on his way down flights of stairs, leading him closer to his destination. He was in a hurry to get to the alley. He had to meet up with Illyria, Gunn, Wesley and Spike. But he had a stop to make first.
Then he was in front of his office door. Too easy. This entire business with the Black Thorn was too easy, too. He stood for an instant, thinking. The last time he'd been in the office, they'd all been there. Spike, Wesley, Gunn and Lorne.
Leaping over the maze of debris and broken furniture, strewn papers and files, Angel worked fast. He’d kept it for so many years; he prayed he hadn’t forgotten where he’d hidden it. But he had a perfect memory. The curse of being a vampire, he hadn’t forgotten a thing.
When he found the small time piece, he raced from the building, shoving it into this pocket and hoping he’d have a chance to use it. One day.
Nairobi, Kenya, July 2021
The morning that Buffy made up her mind couldn’t have been less ordinary.
Shortly before dawn, she slipped out of bed, grabbed her gear and dashed across the compound and through the iron gates. She ran the six miles from the complex to the edge of the high grass and then jogged to the foothills. Breathing hard, hands squeezing at the fabric of her sweatpants, she stopped to listen to the wild dogs in the distance as they brayed at the fading moon. It reminded her of the stories Xander used to tell about his first trip to Africa. How he’d come up against a demon cult with a fetish for turning civilized men into hyenas. Willow had been standing behind him, eyes rolling, a big grin on her face, as Xander elaborated on the evils of spells where he ended up a four-legged beast or a bug. Then absently, he lifted the patch from his eye and rubbed at his scar. In those early days, he did that a lot when he was telling tales of Africa.
Buffy released her pant legs and straightened her spine as she let out a small laugh. Thinking about Xander usually made her smile. She didn’t cry when she thought about him or any of the others anymore. Too many dead loved ones since the Sunnydale Hellmouth for her to keep crying over all of them. First there had been Spike, Anya and the Potentials she couldn’t name, and a year later Angel, his crew, and of course Spike again. Then Xander was killed during a demon outbreak in Mexico in 2007. A month later, Willow had teleported into a dimension where her power transcended all power, according to Giles. She didn’t want to leave, even if she could. It was a perfect world for her.
Of those first Potentials, only Kennedy was still alive. Next to Buffy, she was the oldest Slayer on Earth. Like Buffy, she lived in isolation, hidden in plain sight as Giles used to say. Dawn had disappeared in a cloud of green mist in 2010. The past catches up to all of us sooner or later—Giles said that, too, with tears in his eyes.
Buffy wiped her hand over her mouth. Something was rustling in the tall grass a hundred yards ahead. Her eyes stayed sharply focused. They carefully swept the trees, and the blades of grass that came up to her knees. Then she studied the rocks. It could be a lion or some other wild animal making its way home after foraging through the lowlands all night. They passed this way all the time. She squinted into the sunlight rising over the hills. There was another noise in the bushes and she spun around, pulling her crossbow from its holster.
“Buffy!” Her Watcher’s voice cried out at her from across the plains.
“Andrew.” She half-turned toward him, her fingers to her lips. “Shoosh.” His footsteps weren’t the sound she’d heard. Her bow was cocked and aimed at the thickets to her right.
“I’m fine.” She mouthed the words and steadied the crossbow. “There’s something in the grass. Over there.” She pointed with the arrow.
“My goodness, Buffy.” He was trying to catch his breath. “You’ve got to be more mindful.”
“I don’t have to be mindful.” She tugged at the leather strap across her chest. “No animal is quicker than my crossbow. Besides, I have nothing to worry about from creatures who thrive in the daylight.”
Andrew’s nervous fingers gripped the cinched waistband of his linen pants. “It’s barely daylight, Buffy.” He pulled on the drawstring of his pants. “I don’t know why you do this. Risking your life every morning for a six-mile run. Makes no sense.” He rubbed his hand over his baldhead and sweaty brow.
“You shouldn’t worry about me.” Buffy tore her eyes away from the grass still moving in the distance.
“I can’t help worrying about you.” He reached an arm around her shoulder and hugged her to him. “It’s what I do.”
“After all of these years Andrew, you shouldn’t.” Buffy patted his heaving chest and stepped away, still holding her crossbow, but smiling at him.
Andrew was no longer a clumsy, self-aware boy. Although not much older than her, he’d aged in his years on the Council. The lean, tow-headed boy had adopted the vices of the Council’s scholars over the years. He ate too much rich food and drank too many full glasses of red wine and he worried too much. That’s what claimed his hair, Buffy said to him once. Worry.
She smiled fondly into his warm, sad eyes and gave him a quick squeeze around his middle. “After ten years, I know these acres of Africa better than I know any other place in the world.” She patted him on the arm.
His pensive expression lingered and she gave him a playful nudge. “Stop worrying. I order it.”
He turned her around to face him, his fingers squeezing her shoulders hard. Buffy started to pull away. But his eyes froze her.
“Please don’t worry,” repeated Buffy.
“But it’s your birthday,” said Andrew. “Nothing good happens on your birthday.”
“It’s been ages since I’ve had a bad birthday, or thought that much about my age.” She holstered her weapon. “I’m going into Nairobi today,” she said, changing the subject. “I will be back by night fall.”
“What do you have to do in Nairobi?” Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped his cheeks and baldhead again.
“I want to pick up a few things in the market.”
“We’ve got servants to do that.”
“I haven’t been away from this compound in months, Andrew.” She sighed. “I just want to get away for a little while.”
“That’s not a good enough reason. Tell me the truth.”
“It’s my fortieth birthday and that means demons are looking for me.” She broke eye contact, glancing down at her feet. “I feel like a fight. That’s all.”
“What if you find more than demons, Buffy?” Andrew pulled at the collar around his throat. “Why do you think we’ve been here for so long? It’s important for the survival of the Slayers that you…”
“That I live until I’m fifty years old?” said Buffy. “We both know nothing can hurt me here. It’s perfectly safe for me to go into the village.”
“You’re not that old,” he smiled. “You just ran six miles as fast as an elk.”
“So did you.”
“No, I rode my horse,” he gestured to a few trees clustered together in the distance.
“Andrew, I promise you, I won’t die.” She pouted playfully. “I am the most powerful Slayer on Earth. I can fight off a few misguided demons.”
He was shaking his head and grumbling. “I don’t understand why after all these years here, you are willing to risk your safety, and the future of all Slayers because you feel like a fight on your fortieth birthday.”
He was marching toward his horse. He’d get to the compound before her, in time to pray for her soul, she imagined. It really didn’t matter, though. Buffy had made up her mind and nothing Andrew could say or pray was going to change it.
He trudged into the village near daybreak and spotted it immediately. Ignoring the men standing vigil, he rushed forward and rested his body against the tall carved, wooden monument. In his dreams, he’d seen the solemn faces, mostly young men, etched on top of one another, decorating the behemoth with their forlorn expressions and drooping eyes. Now the robed men standing nearby, worshipping it, were scurrying away. Their mouths wide and eyes bulging, he could smell their fear. He remained against the pole, not taking care to watch his back. Theses men didn’t have the courage to attack.
“Sir.” A man stepped from the shadows like a ghost. He shuffled closer, away from the group that had slithered into the corners. Incredibly thin and short, he was no taller than a young child, except his face was withered and his head bald. “What is it that you have in your hand?” He asked, turning his back to the pole.
“Food, sir. A plate for you.” The old man stretched his arms forward and bowed his head, his fingers looked like mangled branches. He was holding a wooden plate filled with dirt-covered roots and bananas, sugarcane, yams and maize.
“I’m not here to eat your food,” he replied. “I’m looking for a girl. A white girl.”
“No white girls here, sir. Just us Ambui.”
“I know she’s near,” he moved closer to the man, who didn’t flinch. There was no smell of fear on him. “What are you?”
“Hoodoo man, sir.”
“Then you can help me find her.” He leaned forward, nearly touching the man. “I’ve searched for her through hell. She’s here. I know it.”
“Take this food, sir.” The Hoodoo man’s hands shook as he stretched his arms toward him again. “The roots may be dirty, but they hold powerful magic. Chew on these and you will find the answers to your question.”
“Are you trying to poison me?”
“We can’t poison the dead, sir.”
“Then you know what I am?”
“You are a messenger from Ngai.”
“Would your creator send his message to you in the hands of a dead man?” He furrowed his brow at the Hoodoo man.
“Your body is dead, but your soul lives.” The old man’s arms were still outstretched as his hands gripped the plate. “You are Ngai’s angel.” He lowered himself to his knees.
“Stand up,” said Angel. “I am not Ngai’s messenger, but my name is Angel and I will take your food.”
Angel reached out and picked a piece of twisted root from the plate. Brushing off the dirt, he lifted it to the fading moonlight and examined it. “What root is this?”
“If you’ve searched for her all these years, what difference does it make?”
Angel moistened his lips and took a bite.
Buffy sat very still. She wanted to enjoy the ride, but she wasn't in control. Andrew had insisted she have a driver. So she’d obliged him. It was the least she could do.
The car lurched sideways, the wheels falling and springing in and out of ditches on the dirt road. Buffy braced herself. She’d felt nauseous since she’d awoken that morning. The weight of her decision was screwing with her metabolism. Too late, though. She’d made up her mind.
She was on her way to Nairobi to see the Hoodoo man. He had a spell that gave a woman her wish on her fortieth birthday. Xander had told her about it, one of his stories of Africa. The reason she’d agreed to disappear in plain sight when the Scourge conquered the world.
Inexplicitly, Giles had said on his deathbed, they’d left this part of the universe alone. Nothing for them here, the Council of Watchers had repeated. They believed that the purity of the demon race was to be preserved in places like Europe and Canada and the United States of America first. After securing these places, they’d take off for the tribes of Africa. Until then, let the heathens practice their voodoo and tame their wild beasts.
That’s why Africa was a perfect place for Buffy.
She gripped the armrest as the car rose high and landed hard. Andrew had understood her better than most, even back when they lived together in Rome, he’d known what she was looking for. What she’d needed to do with her life—what normal met to the world’s first Slayer. He’d be angry at first, even mournful. But eventually, he’d understand.
Somewhere in Time
Angel swallowed, and then he chewed it.
Swirling stars and clouds of gas and dust mingling with galaxies of light raced past him as he spun down into the depths of magic. His body felt weightless, like it was floating. Yet something was pushing him through space so densely filled with light and sound that he gasped. But he wasn't afraid.
Sheer fascination prompted his startled breath.
He was still alive, or at least he was still Angel. Whether his body remained attached to his mind or not was another issue. Clearly, he could think, definitely, a good omen. If he could keep that up, maybe he’d figure out a way to get back to her.
Within the whirling noise, he made out voices, speaking from far away lands. Were they saying something about a city in the sun? No, he chastised himself. Don't try to figure out what's being said. Concentrate on listening.
“In the darkness, you are a hero, journeying through time. Brilliance and magic are your guides. Avoid the unbelievable and understand your purpose and wait for her. She is your spirit. She will help you find beauty, which leads to truth, your only true love.
Could this mean he had found his way back to her?
Buffy had the driver drop her off near the Hoodoo man’s campfire, about a half a mile outside of Nairobi. She wanted to take in the smells of the grass and the water and the fruit ripening on the branches. But she found herself at the edge of the camp in a second.
There were only men in his village, the elders of the tribe. They stayed close to each other, using their powers to keep the Scourge from learning their secrets. One of the smallest men stepped forward and out of the shadows.
She jumped. “You scared the shit out of me.”
“Sorry, miss.” The small man bowed. “You are here for the messenger?”
“No,” said Buffy. “I’m here to have the Hoodoo man grant me my wish.” She stepped close to the small man. “You see it’s my birthday. I’m forty.”
“You are the Chosen One.”
“Um…yeah?” She should have figured he’d know who she was. That meant this little man had to be the Hoodoo man. “Are you…?”
“Yes,” he said and turning, started walking away from her. “Follow me.”
Buffy wasn't dumb. She knew the spell wasn't going well. Sure, the Hoodoo man was doing his magic talky thing. The fire was burning too bright and not singeing the tent’s fabric or giving off any heat she could feel. He was chanting and dancing and chanting. It was just that she’d been there at least two hours and nothing was happening.
“What is that you want?” said the Hoodoo man, his voice booming from his tiny body.
He’d ask her the question before.
“I want my wish.” She said, her eyes roaming the room. “Remember, I wish…”
“You do not have to tell me what you wish for…I already know.”
He’d said that before, too.
“Okay, then let’s get on with it.”
Angel was lying on the dirt floor, thinking about the things that had gone wrong in his un-life while trying to hang on to the memory of the one thing that had gone right.
He could hear the chanting of the elders in the distance and water running somewhere in the dark cave. He closed his eyes and waited for sleep and the end of an endless day. Tonight, they’d promised he’s see her.
Angel took off his leather jacket and propped it behind his head for a pillow. Then he relaxed the muscles in his legs and let his head sink into the makeshift headrest. He stretched his arms wide and then placed them beneath his head. It felt good languishing in the dirt.
Angel was almost asleep when she knelt before him. He hadn't heard her walk in, but even though his eyes were closed, he sensed her.
She knelt between his legs and began to unbutton his shirt. She moved her hands quickly and skillfully unhooking each button one after another. She opened the shirt and placed her hands on his bare chest. Her touch was warm, very warm. Her fingers lingered over the muscles of his chest, and then she rubbed her thumbs over his nipples. First tentatively, then firmly and then fast, and then slowly, she moved her hands from his chest to his stomach.
Finally, her hands reached the top of his pants and she unzipped them. He was hard, and when she freed his cock, Angel's breathing became harsh, needless and necessary all at once.
Caressing him with her hands, she held his cock gently before covering him with her mouth. She was licking, kissing, and sucking him feverishly. Angel felt hot and wet all over as she teased him with her lips and soaked his pulsing erection with her tongue. Groaning, he tried to control the urge to pull her closer. He didn't want to orgasm. Not yet. He needed this to last forever.
Then she sucked him deeply into her throat. His balls tightened as she moved her mouth from the base of his cock to its tip, lapping his pre-cum with her hot tongue. He had to open his eyes then as she lifted her head. With her eyes fixed on his face, she swallowed his spunk and licked her lips slowly.
Angel nearly lost control. But then she was standing and had placed her mouth on his. The kiss began slowly. His tongue responded to hers, eagerly entering her mouth, devouring it. He could kiss her for an eternity. All too soon, though, she stopped kissing him, tearing away from his lips as she reached to pull his pants down to his ankles. He helped her by lifting himself, hungry to feel her drenched body surrounding him. She must have felt the same, he thought, as she quickly positioned her knees on either side of his hips.
When she slid onto him, he pushed into her deeply, as the growling noise in his throat threatened to turn into a scream. He was holding her hips firmly against him as he thrust into her, increasing the force with every stroke.
She returned his intensity with a strength and need of her own, meeting his upward thrust with the same urgency.
They both shuddered as a wild and hungry rhythm took over their bodies.
Angel pulled her to his mouth and whispered into her lips, “Oh god, Buffy, I've missed you so much."
When he said Buffy's name, Angel opened his eyes and saw…nothing.
He could hear the men chanting in the village, and smell Buffy's scent filling the empty room.
Had he traveled through hell for this?
Yes, and he would do it again. And again.
Buffy moaned, a strangled whimper and then a string of breathless ohmygods. The sounds of ecstasy filled the dark cave. She opened her eyes.
She remembered her hands on his strong, hard body beneath her. She’d looked into his dark eyes. She’d shivered as his body convulsed and exploded into her, but he wasn’t there. She was alone.
Damn. This can’t be happening.
I won’t let it happen. Not again.
“What do you mean, miss? Not again.”
She recognized the voice of the old man as she searched the dirt floor for her clothes. Then she realized she was already dressed and scampered to her feet. “Was this my wish? A memory?”
“No, it wasn’t a memory,” said the Hoodoo man, taking her by the hand. “It happened. But do you remember your wish?”
“On my fortieth birthday, I wanted to go back to my happiest day.”
“Being with Angel always made you feel like a girl in love.”
“Yes,” she smiled. “Because we loved each other.”
He was leading her out of the cave and into the daylight.
“Your car is waiting.”
“Sir, I wish to have this wish again.” she paused. “But my friend told me that the wish could only be granted on my fortieth birthday.”
“He wasn’t a good story teller,” the small man smiled. “You can have two wishes on your fortieth birthday.”
“So I don’t have to leave now?”
“No, just remember your wishes.” He squeezed her hand and then released it. “You can’t repeat a wish.”
“I’ll have to remember the best day of my life and relive it.”
“Then that’s your wish,” said the old man.
“Sounds like a good birthday.” Buffy waved to the driver. “Take this man back to his village.”
She turned and walked toward the cave. Then she stumbled as the memory of the day she’d forgotten returned to her.
“Oh, God,” she whispered, running into the cave. “Angel.”
Feed Denny Visit Denny
Rating: NC 17
Summary: Post-Chosen, Post-NFA. Buffy celebrates a special day by remembering a good day.