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by Lisa Pike

Disclaimer: all characters of a Buffy nature belong to Joss Wheadon and Warner Brothers, etc.

Setting: after Becommong II

      The road seemed to stretch on interminably, miles and miles, until she reached bus station at some nameless airport in California. Her mom's bank card, a hasty stop at a snack outlet, and a flight, booked for tomorrow.
      She had to get away. An overwhelming sense of despair flooded her heart and soul, impairing even the most simple functioning, she couldn't breath, see, hear. Soundless rushing, and a silent scream in her mind.
      It lasted only a moment. So much, so little. The woman with her small child sitting across from her saw no more than a sharp intake of breath, a near faint, but gone so fast it might never have happened.
      "You all right, honey?" Definitely a mother. The little child grasped her mommy's hand. She had seen more.
      "Yeah, I-I'm fine." she managed, her heart racing faster than the planes out of the window.
      The little girl looked at her intently. Six or seven, maybe, with bouncing red curls. Distress on her face, as though she had felt the same pain. "Mommy . . ." she whispered, looking into her parents eyes. "that girls sad." And with that, she pulled herself free from her mothers grasp, to dash the two feet to embrace a stranger, her mother looking, mildly upset at her daughters behavior.
      She couldn't stop the tears. Her cheeks burned, burned for her loss, and burned for this child who could see straight to her heart.
      "What's your name?" she asked, reaching up with little hands to wipe the tears away.
      "Buffy." she choked, taking the child's hand in her own.
      She felt arms around her, larger. "Oh, honey" the child's mother asked. "What ever's the matter?". She felt so warm, her closeness providing the comfort her own mother was unable to give.
      "I, I lost someone." she began, sniffling as her nose began to run, wiping away tears with the backs of her hands. "S-someone I loved, v-very much." The mother cooed gently, holding her close. The tears slowed somewhat, though she continued to be racked by sobs of grief, and of at last being able to cry, albeit in a large waiting room. People were staring. So many eyes, all focused on her.
      "Where are you headed, hon?"
      "Boston. I need to get as far away as possible, from here." Buffy looked up, into the eyes of this woman. She was young, with vibrant blue eyes and soft features. Comforting.
      "Does your mother know where you are?" At last, the question.
      "No." and then, "I don't want her to know."
      "Hmm. Do you want me to call her for you? Maybe leaving isn't such a good. . ."
      "N-No!" she stammered, a bit louder. "I, I can't go back now, not yet. No."
      "OK, then. I hope you'll be all right. Come to me any time, during the flight." The concern in her eyes was so sincere, she almost started crying again.
      "Thank you."
      The little girl held her hands once more. "I'm Amy. I'll help you, too."
      "And you? What's your name?"
      "Diana Korin."
      "ATTENTION ATTENTION FLIGHT 467 to Boston, please begin boarding. Zones 1 and 2 now."
      Buffy looked at her ticket. "That's me. Thank you so much, Diana. Amy."
      They just smiled.

      A night flight, a few hours to sleep. Amy and Diana were up near the front of the plain; Diana had searched her out after boarding, to make sure she was still all right.
      Amy had drawn a picture for her.
      There were three figures in the drawing. On was bright red, another was a dusky mauve, and the third looked a lot like a black vortex. Most of the drawing was red.
      How could she know?

      She was standing in Spike's and Dru's mansion.
      Everything was different, but she knew it was the mansion. Nowhere else felt so dark and heavy. Every window was open, the sky was black, wind was howling and shrieking, lightening cracked, and a pale-white figure, humanoid, though far from human, illuminated in the glare. Acathla.
      Blood drips from its chest. It is not its blood.
      And at its feet, a single rose, almost crimson.
      Buffy stoops down to pick up the rose, crying out when a thorn pricks the tip of her finger. A drop of blood wells as the rose flutters to the floor, the petals falling away and forming a pattern before her, of a heart, pointed towards her.
      From the darkness steps a new figure. He is carrying with him an orb of Thesulah in his hands, his soul contained within it's crystal walls. Angel sees the petals as he walks towards her, his face a twisted grin. He knows what she wants, what she feels.
      The petals scatter as Angel takes their place, their spell broken.
      "Hello, Lover" he says as he takes her wounded hand and raises her bleeding finger to his lips.
      Something happens, when his lips close over her fingertips and he tasted her blood. The world seems to shift, out of balance. The orb of Thesulah falls from his grasp, shattering on the stone floor.
      "Hello, Lover." Buffy replies, looking into his eyes, seeing the warmth of life returned to it's cold encasement of flesh. Her hand falls from his lips, and they embrace, as shards of glass and petals swirl around them, a dangerous and unresolveable dance.
      Together again, his warm embrace, his lips against hers, always, even as the shadows begin to swirl around them.

      "Angel" Buffy murmurs, shifting position slightly. She opens her eyes, and cannot see him anywhere. There are no shadows here, no petals. Only Boston.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer