by Sheila Marie Lane
Copyright 1997

Dedication: This one is Lizbet's fault.

If you listen carefully, you can hear the first few chords begin...hesitant, or at least quiet, but with a strength that comes from their darkness. They catch you, mesmerize you, draw you...

Listen as the wind blows from across the Great Divide
Voices trapped in yearning
Memories trapped in time
The night is my companion
And solitude my guide
Would I spend forever here and not be satisfied

The song isn't playing on stage at the Bronze, or outside in the sharp fall night, or in the moody darkness of the graveyard paths. It plays in my head and what I still, presumptuously, like to call my heart, as I travel from place to place following Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. My probable destruction.

My soul's love.

She's safe tonight; maybe too safe. Too much quiet worries me as much as vampires surrounding her. It means something's coming. I'll bet you dollars to donuts Giles is that cell he calls an office right now, poring over prophecies and muttering.

It's almost dawn. I need to go home. I need to sleep. I need to dream of her. But I don't.

And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after I wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear

I hear it even now, in my sleep. "Close your eyes, dear..."

Her name was Elizabeth. Most people called her Lisa, but I preferred "Slayer." Or "girl," in a very insulting tone. Feminism didn't exist then, and I could get away with it.

She had the most beautiful eyes. Even when I can remember little else, I remember that. They were half a size bigger than you would expect, and the complete focus of her tiny face. Sometimes in my dreams Buffy looks at me with those eyes.

I met her shortly after I moved to America, to San Francisco. Her father owned a shipyard, and in that age of the Panama Canal a man whose fortunes lay with the sea could write his own ticket in California. Lisa used to say that she could stake a vampire in broad daylight, and as long as her father was still building boats, no one dared object. But all the same, she wasn't invited to many grand balls.

Through this world I stumbled
So many times betrayed
Tryin' to find an honest word to hide
The truth enslaved

She saved my life the night we met. I was new to this business of being the good guy, and newer still to fighting other vampires. Humans are much easier to kill, no matter who you are.

I remember--or I dream--that I was fighting a particularly ugly fool. Dumb, but strong. He was pounding my head against his knee for probably the fortieth time when the knee turned to dust under my nose, along with the rest of him. My nose hit the ground instead.

Do you know how often I wish she had just staked me that night? But Slayers never kill me, damn my luck. They always figure me out. And the next thing you know, I'm their sidekick. (Willow called me a "Slayerette" once. Good thing it was her and not Xander. I would have developed some sudden hunger pains.)

Oh, you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath
Your words keep me alive

We were together a year, fighting vampires. For the first six months, we were friends, nothing more. I hung on her every word, stood closer to her than I should have, and took an amazing number of stupid risks to help her, but we were only friends.

In eighty years, apparently the only thing I've learned is to stop lying to myself.

Into this night I wander
It's morning that I dread
Another day of no way out, the path I fear to tread
Oh, into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride
'Cause nothing stands between us here
And I won't be denied

I dream of the dusk I woke in her wine cellar, where I usually slept--how she explained me away, I still do not know--with her lips on mine. "There's no point in fighting me, Angel," she said when I tried to argue with her. "I'll just keep kissing you until you give in."

She did, and it was wonderful.

I dream of the one time she was invited to a grand ball, and passed me off as distant British nobility, and we waltzed to every song. Even the ones that weren't waltzes.

I dream of the dawn we watched from behind her front door. Long after the sun was too strong for me, I lay out of its path and watched her face in the light.

But I will not dream of her death. I will not.

"It's morning that I dread..." Of course I will. The music pounds in my head, and brings the dream with it.

And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away

She told me once she wanted to die in my arms. She died in another vampire's arms, with his teeth buried in her neck. I can say that it was an ambush, and that's true; I can say there were too many of them, and I know that; I can say she was distracted, and it's then I wish she had killed me when we first met. She was trying to reach me, of course; I was trapped with a stake to my chest. She forgot, for one moment, that she was a Slayer and reached for me; then...

And after I wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes....

She lay facedown on the floor for a long time while I killed the ones who had killed her. Not that it did her any good, but I suppose it made me feel better. Now, I just regret that I let her lie there, alone, for even a moment.

I refuse to believe in reincarnation, even though you could probably make a case for me living another life. Vampires don't count. Even when Xander reminds me so much of a boy in my village that I fought with in childhood, and Willow giggles just like the first girl I kissed, and Giles scolds exactly like my father, I just say I'm old. Everyone starts to blend together when you're old.

And I love Buffy because she's Buffy, not because she's the Slayer or anyone else. I love her because she can put you smack in your place and make you feel good about it at the same time, because when she's scared she just fights harder, because she protects everyone from her mother to a stray kitten with the same fierce love. Add in the body of a goddess and lips that bring all the hormones I never had back into my body, and...I love her. I truly do.

But tonight I dream of a first tentative kiss and I don't know who it belongs to. I dream of a motionless body and I don't know who it is.

Just close your eyes...

the end

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