After they close the Cleveland hellmouth, a new one opens in Santa Fe. Buffy is tired of cold, wet, dreary winters and immediately volunteers to go there. She opens up a new Slayer school, and baby slayers the world over flock to follow her. They all want to learn from the great general.
“You teach ’em about battle strategy, B,” Faith tells her. “I’ll stick to hand-to-hand combat and lots of uhhh.” It makes Buffy grin. She hasn’t had any uhhh in quite a while.
So when, nearly a year later, she gets a simple business card in the mail, she decides she’s earned a vacation.
The address is Los Angeles, still, but the logo and the phone number are new. The name on the card reads “Angel & Son.”
Buffy likes Connor instantly. He’s hip and funny and makes fun of his dad’s hair, and he actually makes Angel laugh, which is something Buffy hasn’t seen him do since she was in high school and they were kissing in trees.
Connor sits in the reception area, answering the phone and cleaning weapons while Angel shows Buffy into his new office. “You should see him fight,” Angel tells her proudly. “I mean, he was always good, but we’ve been training really hard lately, and now he’s just – scary.” He says the word “scary” with a huge grin on his face, and Buffy giggles. Only Angel would think of scary as a good quality in an offspring.
Although Buffy has to admit, Dawn does have her scary moments. And sometimes, it makes Buffy’s heart swell with pride.
“So, how long can you stay?” Angel asks.
“I took three weeks.”
He smiles, pleased. “Great. So, anything you’d like to do while you’re here?”
Buffy walks around the desk and takes his hand. Smiles up at him, meets his eyes. “I’d like you to show me your bedroom.”
His apartment is a few blocks away, so they have to walk through the sewers to get there. They hold hands along the way. It’s the first sewer talk they’ve had that isn’t awkward or painful.
When they finally get to his place, Buffy can feel the sewer smell lingering on her skin. As soon as they get inside she asks, “Can I use your shower?”
He shows her to the bath and hands her some towels. Their hands brush, but Buffy resists the urge to linger.
She comes out of the shower clean and wet, hair tumbling down her back. She has a towel wrapped around herself.
Angel smiles, takes her hand. Leads her in. Buffy lets the towel tumble to the floor.
It’s so different from the last time they were together. For one thing, it’s just them. No one else in the bed with them. And more importantly, no ghosts.
Angel is content. Happy. Not perfectly, but then Buffy thinks maybe perfect happiness is something you can only feel when there’s no one else crowding in on your heart. When you haven’t been scarred by the loss of friends and lovers or slit the throat of your only child. When you don’t have a thousand young women asking you what death was like or looking for advice on the latest battle gear fashions.
So many other loves, now, but it hasn’t diminished how they love each other.
“I love you,” Angel whispers into her skin, and she strokes his hair as he settles between her legs.
“I know, Angel,” Buffy says. “I’ve always known.”
He brings her off slowly, leisurely. They make love all day and night. And when Buffy curls up in his arms to sleep finally, she thinks, this. This is perfect.
He doesn’t ask her to stay, and she’s grateful for that. Knows that he understands her mission, that she loves what she does now. Loves all the young women she’s suddenly been charged with guiding.
“I’m glad you have someone,” he tells her, as they say goodbye in his office. “To share it with, now. That you’re not the only one anymore.”
She looks at Connor, blue eyes hidden under long bangs, pretending not to watch them. “Me, too,” she says, and kisses him goodbye.
She promises to come visit again, and she does. But it’s never as often as she’d like. Apocalypses and funerals and broken nails get in the way.
Buffy goes to Connor’s wedding, and Angel comes to Dawn’s. When Connor and his wife have their first baby, Angel is over the moon. For the first time in forever, Buffy really worries about him losing his soul.
“Do I need to get Willow to put a curse on your stupid hockey team? Because I’ll do it if that’s what it takes to make you miserable, buster.”
Angel chuckles through the phone line. “I think someone already did. They haven’t won a game all season.” He pauses. “But I would like you to come and visit, when you have the time.”
Usually when she arrives, the first thing they do is make love. This time, though, Angel takes her to see the baby.
“Oh, Angel. He’s perfect,” Buffy says as she holds the tiny bundle in her arms.
“He is, isn’t he?”
“Here, I wanna take a picture,” Connor says. He photographs them together, Buffy and Angel, holding Angel’s grandson.
Angel has it framed and hangs it on his office wall.
Buffy dates, sometimes, in the long droughts between not-seeing Angel. She thinks Angel might, too. She never asks, and he doesn’t ask her. It’s one of the few things they never talk about with each other.
The baby slayers get hurt a lot, and sometimes Buffy takes them the ER. One day, while she’s stammering out the standard cover story about animal attacks and things with horns, the handsome young doctor pulls her aside and says, “It’s alright. I know a demon attack when I see one.”
He comes from a family of watchers but he’s been living in the US since before the council blew up. He’s Welsh and has the sexiest accent and is a dead ringer for David Beckham. Buffy is instantly smitten.
After four months of dating, they move in together.
His name is Haul and Buffy can never get the pronunciation right. Instead she makes endless puns that simultaneously make him laugh and drive him crazy. U-haul, long haul, and whenever he gets on her nerves she threatens to have him keel-hauled. He, in turn, calls her Stuffy, Puffy and her personal favorite, Muffy. But he only uses that one in private.
They are blissfully happy for a few years. But eventually, things start to wobble. He wants children; she feels like she already has more kids than she can handle. His parents are aging and he wants to move back to the UK; she doesn’t want to leave her girls in New Mexico.
They decide to give the long-distance thing a try. Haul goes back to Wales and for a while it works out great. But then he meets someone else. And just like that, it’s over.
Buffy cries for longer than she let herself cry over Angel. She has that luxury, these days.
Angel comes to visit and offers to have him killed. Buffy smiles and sniffles into a tissue. “It’s okay,” she says. “We wanted different things in life. It would have fizzled out eventually.”
Angel holds her and kisses her, and gives her time to recover. When he comes to visit a few months later, they’re on again.
The other slayers talk about them. Epic romance, doomed relationship, yada yada, stuff of legends and pajama-party whispers. But Buffy never thinks of them that way. Doesn't like the idea of them as star-crossed lovers, pawns to fate and forces beyond their control.
They’re more like the stars themselves, crossing in and out of each others’ lives. How does that line go? “The star to every wandr’ing bark.” Or maybe it’s a wandering boat? There’s a definite wandering theme. Navigating their way through this lingering love story. Guiding new slayers, new generations. Guides to each other.
Like a global positioning system, only brighter and sparklier.
“Do you miss them?” Buffy asks. They’re in the alley where Angel fought the Black Thorn. Where he was the only survivor.
“Every day,” he says quietly. His hands are in his pockets. Buffy wants to hold his hand, but doesn’t.
“Even Spike?” Her voice catches a little on the sound of his name. It’s still hard for her to say, even now. Hard for Angel to hear.
For a long time, Angel doesn’t answer. “I thought he’d always be here,” he murmurs finally. “Being a pain in my ass. Keeping me…”
Alive, Buffy thinks. Fighting.
“Company,” Angel finishes.
Buffy nods. “Eternity’s a long time, I guess.”
It pains her, that he has no one to share it with. She’s grateful that she doesn’t have to. That he would never want that for her.
“I have Connor," he says. "And his children, and someday their children.” He takes her hand, then. “I’ll never be alone, Buffy.”
She smiles back, comforted. They stand in the alley and stare at the sky.
Buffy dies with lines on her face and grey in her hair, the first hints of arthritis seeping into her bones. She goes down fighting in one of the never-ending apocalypses. No one can remember how many of them she faced, not even Angel. They’ve all lost count.
She is given a hero’s funeral. A general’s, with an honour guard of slayers. They bury her at night, in a flower-covered cemetary that smells of red roses.
When the last of the mourners have gone, Angel sits by her graveside and looks at the stars. And imagines he can see her there, shining down on him.
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Author's Notes: Rating: PG Summary: It is the star to every wand’ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116 Author’s Notes: Written for the 2009 I Will Remember You Ficathon. This is a sequel to my fic Sense Memory, but you don’t need to read that fic in order for this one to make sense. Unbeta'd, so all mistakes are mine. Dedicated to chrislee.