Keepsake

Keepsake

I know my past, you were there- everything I’ve done, you are the one.
-from Five Days in May by Blue Rodeo

Buffy startles awake with a gasp. The room around her is dark, unfamiliar and cold; her skin prickles uncomfortably. She blinks, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness; she brings her hands up to rub at her arms.

She doesn’t remember anything. Her mouth is dry and she scrapes her tongue against the roof of it, hoping to manufacture some saliva. She is so thirsty. And so tired.

She rolls over and feels a sharp pain in her side. Her hand moves to the spot and comes away sticky. She’s bleeding. She pushes herself up. Her head aches. She aches all over.

She looks around, trying to make out some of the shapes in the gloomy room. She’s on a bed- this much is obvious- there is a mound of blankets pushed to the bottom, tangling with her feet. She presses her palm into the wound in her side and twists, sliding forward until her bare feet hit the ground.

Her head spins a little as she stands up. She reaches out to the bed post and holds on, gathering her strength for the walk across the room to what looks like the door. When she is feeling steadier she starts the journey, each step pulsing blood through her fingers.

The door opens easily and Buffy finds herself in a hall running endlessly in either direction.

“I’m dreaming,” she says.

She looks left and then right and decides that it makes no difference in which direction she heads; she doesn’t have a clue where she is or where she’s going. Then she hears voices. Definitely voices. She trails her free hand along the wall and follows the sound.

“I don’t know the girl, but, man, from what I’ve heard.”

Then.

“I mean clearly you had no choice in the matter, Angel, but is it wise to let her stay?”

“I guess my days of being the princess are over with.”

Those were voices she recognized: Wesley, Cordelia.

“I’m in hell,” Buffy thinks.

Suddenly the hall empties into a landing at the top of a sweeping set of stairs leading down to a beautiful marble foyer.

“Hello,” Buffy says. Her voice sounds far away, even to her own ears. And then she is falling.

*

Angel is sitting beside her, his hands clasped and hanging between his knees, when she wakes up.

“Can I have a drink of water?” she asks.

“Of course,” Angel says. He stands and walks over to a water cooler in the corner. He pulls a little paper cup from the dispenser and fills it. His fingers brush hers when he hands her the cup and Buffy’s hand shakes as she receives it, sloshing a little water onto her blanket.

“Am I dreaming?” Buffy asks.

“I don’t know. Are you?”

“Since Cordy’s in my dream it’s less dream, more nightmare.” She smiles a little to soften the comment.

“She means well,” Angel says.

Buffy tries to sit up and winces.

“What happened?” she asks.

“What do you remember?”

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

Angel’s mouth straightens into a narrow line; his eyes darken. He doesn’t know how to tell her that he’d found her, curled up on his bed, when they’d returned from Pylea. She looked so peaceful, even with the splotch of red on her sweater, that he’d just let her sleep.

“I remember that look, though,” Buffy says. “It’s never good when you make that face.”

“It’s just that I don’t know. We just got back. And you were here.” Angel stands up and moves away from her.

“Narrative wasn’t ever really your strength,” Buffy says. “Just got back from where?”

“Long story,” Angel says. “I should look at that.” He points at her side.

“If you like.”

Buffy lifts the hem of her sweater and bends her head to examine the cut.

“It looks okay.”

“It’s not bleeding anymore,” she says.

Angel brushes his fingers along the cut, a touch he feels down in his gut.

“Do you want me to call someone?” he asks.

“I don’t know. I should, I guess, they’ll be worried.”

Angel twists and reaches back to the desk for the phone. “I’ll call Giles,” he says and starts to punch in the numbers.

Buffy waits.

Angel listens and then hits the button to disconnect. “No answer. Should I try Willow?”

Buffy considers and then says: “I’d like to rest.”

*

Angel tucks her back into the bed she’d abandoned.

“Will you stay with me?” she asks.

“Of course,” he says. “I’ll be right here.” He points to the chair in the corner.

Buffy nods and closes her eyes.

And sleeps.

*

the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it

As a child, Buffy dreamed of flying. Buoyed by air and magic, she floated over the world in a state of euphoria. This is a little bit like that. As her feet leave the edge of the platform, despite the sounds of Dawn crying in the background, Buffy experiences a moment of grace so profound she regrets what she knows is to come.

Death is your gift.

As the portal opens its greedy mouth to receive her, Buffy prepares herself for the pain.

And screams.

*

“Buffy.”

“Buffy.”

It is Angel’s voice that pulls her back. She opens her eyes to find him beside her on the bed, his arms wrapped around her tightly.

“You were dreaming,” he says. His hand reaches up to stroke the damp hair from her face.

“I was falling out of the sky,” she says.

“Just a dream,” he murmurs.

“It felt so real.”

“You’re safe.”

She lifts her head to look at him at the exact moment he shifts to look down at her.

There is a pause while she considers the consequences of what she knows will happen next. And then he kisses her.

Buffy remembers his kiss. It is impossible not to: the quiet authority of his mouth against hers, his possessive tongue, his fingers clutching her arm. If Buffy was the sort to swoon, she’d be as languid as a virgin beneath him now.

Instead, she lifts her hands to touch his face, to pull at the hair on his head, opening her lips to invite him in.

“Buffy,” he whispers.

“It’s a gift,” she says. “Don’t refuse it.”

Angel groans against her mouth and cradles the back of her head, holding her as he rolls them over so she’s on top, pelvis to pelvis. He’s hard against her.

She keeps kissing him, his mouth alternately pliant and aggressive against hers. And then, suddenly, she finds herself on her back, staring up at him. His fingers are sliding up under her sweater, cool against the soft upward swell of her breast. She feels her nipples pucker, the race of blood burning in her veins.

I don’t know how to live in this world if these are the choices.

She can’t wait any longer to feel his skin against hers and so she tugs at his shirt. He sits up and pulls it off, exposing his pale chest. He reaches down and helps her sit up, pulls off her sweater and sighs a little at the sight of her. She looks down at herself, at her peach-pale breasts and her nipples, only slightly darker. She aches all over with the need to be touched and she looks up at Angel, tries to convey that desire with her eyes.

He kisses her again and then his hands swallow her breasts whole. She arches into him and feels the electrical crackle run from her abdomen to her crotch.

“Oh, God,” she says.

How they come to be naked, she can’t say. All she can register now is the intimate touch of his tongue against her hipbone, inner thigh, the swell of her sex. It’s been so long since she’s felt him like this that it’s work to keep her memories of him separate from her memories of the other men who have been where he is now, shoulders snug under her thighs, hands holding her down, tongue french-kissing her cunt.

When she comes, it feels like falling from a great height.

But she’s already done that.

Be brave. Live

She opens her eyes and Angel is above her.

“Are you okay?” he asks. His eyes are cautious, sad.

“I think so,” she says.

“Buffy, I---”

“Whatever you have to say, it can wait,” she says drawing his head down to hers. “We have time.”

“Do we?”

She doesn’t know for sure, actually, but what she does know is that she wants Angel so badly, wants to feel him inside her, to feel the pulse of his cock, feel the way his biceps lock and harden as he bears his weight over her. She wants him: his strength and mercy, his support and love, his forgiveness.

“Please, Angel,” she says.

Then he is in her, deep, and she feels weightless and filled with light.

*

He should know better, but the realization comes too late. He is already inside her, his body taut with desire and the need to fuck her hard, to lay claim to what has been lost and now, miraculously, returned to him.

Even as the current of desire passes between them, he knows something is wrong. It’s not the desperate way her cunt clutches at him; it’s not her eyes, luminous in the dark, it’s not the mossy smell of her. He remembers everything about her, despite his limited experience; he has to- it’s all he has.

But even as her legs lock around the small of his back, as she tips her pelvis up to receive him, as her arms clutch at his arms and neck, he knows. He stills himself inside her and gathers her close.

If this is his keepsake, he must make it last.

*

He is awake when they come to his door. There is a tentative knock and Wesley says his name. If he doesn’t answer the door, though, he can put off knowing what he already knows, for just a little while longer.

“Angel,” Wesley says.

Wesley’s tenacious. He won’t go away and sooner rather than later, Cordy will show up.

Angel stands up and pulls on his pants, heads for the door.

Wesley’s face is carefully neutral.

“Willow’s here,” he says.

Angel looks back at the bed, the small smear of blood all that’s left of her now.

“It’s Buffy."

THE END

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