ANNE IN A DREAM...
"T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Buffy spoke the words out loud to the empty house below; she was sitting on the stair steps leading to the second floor of the home she grew up in, back in L.A..
"Then what are you doing here?" Buffy looked over and saw she wasn't alone after all, another girl was sitting next to her.
"A.J., hi!" Buffy's smile soon faded though.
"You're feeling down, aren't you?" A.J. asked.
"Just a little, yeah." She admitted.
"'cause I'm gone'a die soon I think." Buffy confessed.
"Is that all?"
"You cheated on me." She said, it was the obvious thing to say after all. "I really was in love with you, you know?"
"Hm, lucky me then." A.J. smiled, seeming to look of into nothing.
"You didn't seem to think so." She was starting to feel even more bummed talking about this.
"How do you know?" A.J. asked. "That's pretty presumptuous, don't you think?"
"Oh, and you're one to talk about being presumptuous now?"
A.J. smiled. "Well, I never said that."
"Among other things you didn't happen to mention." Buffy added. "What are you doing here A.J.? Because, got'a say, while I might call you a rat, you're no mouse, are you?"
"Got that right." A.J. smiled. "And can't a girl just drop by to say 'hi'? We did have it pretty good together for a while after all. You remember that time at Christy's party?"
"I have no idea of what you speak." Buffy firmly denied, unable to help herself from smiling a little though. It really had been a party she wouldn't forget.
"Oh, you remember." A.J. said. "And if you don't, I have witnesses. Lots of'm."
"It was a good kiss." Buffy was forced to admit, resting her chin on her folded arms and looking off into the darkened down stairs of her childhood home.
"Now, see? Aren't you glad I stopped by?"
"A.J...." Buffy felt A.J.'s fingers trailing through her hair, the other girl was close to her now, she could feel her breath. "You need to stop doing that and back off, now."
"Maybe I need something else more?" A.J. whispered.
"Yeah, what? What do you need, Ashley? What?" Buffy jerked her head around to stare into A.J.'s eyes.
"You, maybe?" A.J. ventured with innocent inquisitive eyes. "Maybe I'm not over you."
"I'm over you." Buffy got up to her feet and walked down the stairs.
"Liar." She heard A.J.'s voice call after her.
Buffy whirled around to confront her first love and former best friend, but A.J. wasn't there anymore. Instead, there was a vase of flowers sitting atop the stairs. "A.J.?" She called out. "What's going on here." She wondered, climbing the stairs again and squatting down next to the familiar bouquet, brushing some of the flowers with the side of her hand in memory. A.J. had given her these once, hadn't she? And there had been a love note too... Buffy's hands automatically went to the place she knew it would be and took it up to open and read.
"To the best friend I ever had. Yours forever. ~ Love, A.J." She read the words aloud and felt like crying. She realized she was crying actually, and she wiped the tears away with her sleeve, taking the flowers in her hands and standing up. "Oh, A.J." She spoke aloud, smelling the remembered scent of those flowers again.
"Buffy, what are you doing up so late? You should be in bed." Her mother's voice called.
"Yeah, kid. Isn't there what I believe is called 'school' tomorrow? Sort of important, or so I keep hearing." Her father's voice spoke, coming up behind her mother and holding her loosely by the waist the way he used to, her mother sinking back just a little into him in another familiar action.
Buffy looked at them like that, her eyes narrowing a little. "Didn't you move to Santa Monica?" Buffy asked her dad.
"Santa Monica? Buffy what are you talking about?" Her mother asked. "Did you have some kind of dream or something?"
"She could be sleep walking, do you think that's it?" Her dad asked.
"You never were very funny, you know." Buffy said to him. "I just liked you because you made me feel safe and listened to me when I wanted to talk. I'm fine without you, I just wish you'd stayed... for mom."
"Buffy, really, what is it? Is something wrong?" Joyce asked.
Her mother had come down the stairs and was standing right in front of her, laying her hands on her daughter's shoulders, Buffy's father crowded in behind her mother in the stairwell. "Mom..." Buffy started. "Dad..."
"Don't keep things locked up inside you, Dodger. You really need to talk things out sometimes. We'll always be here for you, you know you can tell us anything..." Her dad pledged.
Buffy laughed under her breath. "Boy are you a liar." She smiled a little.
"Oh, Hank, what's happening to our little girl? The things she's saying..."
"Mom, don't freak, I think I've figured this out now. It's just one of those dreams I have sometimes. The ones full of hints and stuff - about the future. You don't have to worry, you're... you're not really here after all."
"Not really here? Buffy, that's nonsense." Joyce shook her a little. "Are you on drugs? Is that it?"
Buffy's eyes widened a little. "O'kay, not helping. And like that would ever happen." The doorbell chimed. "Oh, my date's here." Buffy found herself smiling and rushing down the stairway to the front door, her parents forgotten.
Butterflies in her stomach, she nervously ran a hand through her hair once and smoothed her dress. Had she been wearing a dress before? Did she even own one anymore? No, probably not. That dream thing again. It was convent, she considered. The doorbell rang again, and she felt like smacking herself in the head for not answering it sooner. She opened the door a little and peaked out from around the side. "Gwen? You're really here." She opened the door all the way, a bright smile on her face as she rushed into the other girl's arms without even thinking about it.
Gwen held her close and touched her hair, it felt just like she always imagined it would. Warm, safe, right... perfect. "Hi, Ann... Ready to go?" She asked.
"With you? Anywhere." Buffy just held herself close, she felt so happy she thought she might cry again.
"I always wanted... I always thought, if I could have just one dance with you Anne, I could be happy with that." Gwen spoke. "Now... we can."
"Silly, I dance with you all the time. Don't you remember?" Buffy was worried for some reason and pulled back a little, still in the other girl's arms, to look in her date's eyes.
"I remember." Gwen gave her that quiet sort of smile that a girl could just tell came right from the heart.
Buffy felt Gwen touching her hair again and she couldn't help return the smile. "I want to dance with you."
"Then why waste time?" Gwen asked, stepping back from her and only keeping hold of one of her hands. She stepped to Buffy's side and revealed the lights and the dance floor before them. Low lights, a romantic mood, it was that club they used to go to back in the city but never got to dance like this in, just watch as other couples did. And there were other couples there still, all women, they were dancing around the dance floor just like Buffy remembered. It was like a dream. Gwen caught her eyes and led Buffy out to the dance floor.
"Why waste time?" Buffy whispered in wonder as Gwen's hand rested on her waist and Buffy stepped into the embrace, taking up the traditional slow dance pose with her and beginning to sway to the music.
Gwen's eyes were so expressive and warm, calling to her like they always seemed to be able to do. The songs changed and Buffy found herself resting her head on Gwen's shoulder as they continued to sway to the music. [Perfect.] Buffy sighed to her self.
"Um I don't mean to pry, but shouldn't you have a bracelet on or something?" Cordelia asked.
Buffy looked over and saw her new friend from Sunnydale dancing with boyfriend Owen next to her and Gwen. "Why would I need a bracelet?" Buffy asked curiously.
"So you won't die." Owen provided.
"Yeah, obvious much?" Cordilia pointed out. "Seriously Buffy, I love you, but you need to keep up."
"I can cut in, if you want?"
Buffy looked over and saw Amy standing there, hands clasped behind her back, wearing a dress made for dancing. "Oh, um, sure. Go ahead." Buffy stepped back and let go of her dance partner.
Gwen looked at her questioningly, but none the less went along with it and switched dance partners to Amy.
Cordelia scrunched her nose just a little and said. "It's probably all for the best anyway. I don't think you were really meant to be with her anyway. No bracelet. Sad really."
"But... that's not very fair, is it? We love each other." Buffy complained.
"You can love someone, and still hurt them very badly." An eerily familiar voice spoke. "But then, that always makes me happy, not sad, doesn't it? Can I have this dance?" Darla asked.
Buffy just stared at her, and Darla moved forward to take her up in her arms. "Oh, yeah, I guess..." Buffy found herself returning the gesture automatically and swaying with her new dance partner to the music as they looked into each others' eyes. "There's something about you I'm not seeing, isn't there?" Buffy asked. "Something I need to know."
"Yes, more than one thing... but I won't tell you, I'll just... kill. Hurt you, kill you, maybe we can even be friends? We have so much in common after all, I feel like... we should be closer."
"Oh!" Buffy's eyes widened in shock as she felt sharp vampire teeth penetrate her neck, her body going weak, her strength failing. Disjointedly, Buffy saw the room start to fade.
"Hey, I know that girl." Buffy heard Amy say. "What's she doing to Buffy anyway? Shouldn't someone help her?"
[Yeah, shouldn't someone...] Buffy's thoughts tried to agree, but the darkness seemed to be too fast.
"Maybe it's not you?" The girl across from her asked.
Buffy blinked. She was in a cemetery? "Maybe what's not me?" She asked. She was in a cemetery, at night, sitting on the ground against a tombstone talking to another girl who was sitting across from her, also in a cemetery at night, also sitting on the ground against a tombstone. She looked familiar.
"The one who dies. Did you ever think of that? Maybe you have a choice. Maybe it's not even what you think it is at all. Maybe you need to save her." She put forward.
"The girl who kills you. Have you ever thought about saving her life? You could you know. It would be one way to go." The girl said.
"I know you , don't I?"
"You saved my life recently. My name's Lily by the way... though I'm thinking of changing it again. What would you think of Anne?" She asked.
"Gwen calls me that." Buffy offered, finding herself looking down at the grass by her own feet.
"Oh, yeah. She was there too, wasn't she? Totally hot. Not that I go for other girls of course, but still. I can see why you fell so hard for her. Total crush material."
Buffy looked up at her and smiled. "She is, huh?" She had to admit it was true.
"Totally. You didn't do too bad for a rebound chick either though. I wish I had your love life. Or, you know, the male equivalent anyway. Instead what do I get?"
"Vampires I had to kill." Buffy provided.
"Yeah. Thanks for that by the way."
"No problem. It's sort of my job after all." Buffy deferred, none the less smiling at the thanks. She loved getting thanked... she didn't want to admit she did, but she did.
"Well, you do it well." Lily said. "Do you think we could be friends one day?" She asked.
"I don't see why not." Buffy considered.
"Come see me then. At the hospital? You should come see me." She suggested. "I... I don't really have anyone else after all. I think, yeah, I think I could really use a friend, to be honest. Also, I think I might be able to help you somehow one day, to repay you."
"O'kay... I'll remember." Buffy promised.
"Good." Lily smiled.
"I think I have to go somewhere now." Buffy told her, a little regretful.
"I figured you would." Lily said.
"Are you just going to stay here?" Buffy asked as she was getting to her feet.
"...Yeah, I think I just need to sit a while and listen to the wind." She explained. "You'll remember what I said though, right? The save your killer thing? I really think it could work."
Buffy smiled. "I'll remember." She promised.
"I'm sure you will." Lily smiled back.
"See you at the hospital." Buffy said, waving over her shoulder as she walked away into the night.
"See you there." Buffy heard Lily's voice from behind her, though she didn't turn around to look. Something was calling her, and she needed to go there.
"Buffy, you're here!" Amy came running up out of the night, out of breath.
"Amy?" Buffy moved forward to meet her girlfriend, holding her softly by the shoulders. "What's wrong? How can I help?"
"Help?" Amy looked to her.
"Yeah, isn't something wrong?"
"Well, yeah, of course. Something's always wrong. Right?" Amy pointed out.
"Which sucks." Buffy interjected.
"So do vampires." Amy counted.
"It's a theme." Buffy smiled. "I always hated those."
"Me too!" Amy smiled. "So, I was thinking, we're sleeping together now, right? How long until we have sex?" She asked.
"This is what you wanted to ask me?" Buffy asked, not being able to help from smiling a little.
"I thought it was important." Amy explained. "That, and some Irish boy needs your help."
"Well, yeah, but... don't you think we should talk about this when I'm awake?" She pointed out. "What Irish boy?"
Amy studied her face. "I can never tell for sure when you're joking." She told her.
"Oh, come on Amy, do you really think I'd hit your mom?" Buffy complained.
"You wouldn't?" Amy tilted her head a little.
"...Not unless I had to." Buffy said.
Buffy laughed. "You might just have a point about that."
"Of course I do. Now come on, we're going to be late for the beach." Amy took her hand and proceeded to tug her along in what looked like to be the direction of a particularly dark and foreboding path into the woods.
"We're going to the beach now?" Buffy asked, perplexed. [This does not look like the direction the beach should be in.] Her internal voice noticed.
"Yeah, of course!" Amy turned to her. "Cordelia's right you know, you really do need to keep up better. It could get you in trouble one day."
"Promises, promises." Buffy waved it off. "Beach?" She asked, getting to the important part.
"Oh, right! The door's over here."
And there was a door, big, huge door, like a castle or a keep or something. All black and foreboding looking.
"What's de password?" A girl with an accent asked. "You ca'n pass without de password, e'm afraid."
"That's easy, it's a willow tree." Amy said, turning to Buffy. "She used to be my friend." She explained to her girlfriend.
"That is de correct password. You mey pass." The girl said as the gates started to swing inward, bright sunlight and the sound of waves, laughter, and fun issuing forth from the other side.
"What was your name again?" Buffy asked the gate guard girl.
"E'm not allowed to tell you dat yet, sir..." She looked down at the ground as if embarrassed. "But..." She looked back up to Buffy's eyes. "E'm sure we'll meet one ana'der vera soon. Ma Watcher tells me, we are vera moch alike."
"Watcher? Wait..." Buffy protested.
"Buffy, come on, the gate's closing." Amy tugged on her hand. "Talk to your sister later."
"My sister?" Buffy looked at Amy.
"Well, she might as well be, right?" She pointed out impatiently.
"Um, I guess..."
"Right. So, beach?" Amy insisted.
"Is that Hawaii?" Buffy asked curiously, suddenly even more interested.
"Only if we go there before the gate closes."
"Right, see ya later sis." Buffy waved to the girl at the gate and, smiling, followed Amy to Hawaii. [This is so cool.] Buffy thought to herself. [I was just thinking about doing this!]
It seemed like hours later and Buffy was laying on her stomach, on a blanket in a swimsuit, feeling thoroughly relaxed and pampered. She'd just rubbed some more sun block on Amy and now it was her turn to have Amy rub sun block on her. Qut pro quo was a lovely thing sometimes. The sun block smelled like flowers, her skin was blissfully warm and Amy's hands felt like magic sliding over her. She'd closed her eyes and was just enjoying the peace.
"What do you think we'll be doing a year from now?" Amy asked.
"Assuming I live that long?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah, assuming that." Amy allowed.
"...We could move here?" Buffy ventured.
Amy laughed. "That would be awesome. What would that be like? Early retirement?"
"I guess." Buffy agreed. "Whatever you call it, I think I could be happy here. If you came with me."
"What about Gwen?" Amy asked.
"She can come too. If she wants." Buffy said without thinking much of it.
"That would be o'kay." Amy agreed thoughtfully. "You know, I really should be jealous of her, shouldn't I?" She considered.
"I don't know. Maybe." Buffy pondered it.
"Haven't you ever been jealous?" Amy asked.
Buffy pondered that too. "I wanted a dog." She said finally.
"Oh, cute." Amy said. "What kind of dog did you want?"
"One of A.J.'s friends, Kate, she had a dog. A Labrador I think. She always liked me... the dog, not Kate. Kate always thought I was a freak."
"You're not a freak. I think I hate this Kate person." Amy muttered.
"Well, technically, I am a freak; only one of me in the world after all. So I guess she wasn't wrong." Buffy reasoned. "But yeah, I hated her too. A.J. liked her though."
"How come?" Amy asked.
"She had a car." Buffy explained. "That's why I put up with her too by the way."
"But you weren't jealous of the car?" Amy asked, now perplexed.
"I suck at driving." Buffy admitted. "I'm much better at being a passenger."
"Does that mean I'm going to have to drive you places?" Amy asked.
"You don't have a car." Buffy pointed out.
"I might get one some day." Amy pointed out in return.
"...O'kay, then yes, you might have to drive me places some day. You know, if we work out together and I don't die and everything. Is that a problem?"
"Nah." Amy smiled. "I think it would be kind of cool. Like I'd be your sidekick or something. I could drive you places, you could kill vampires, then we could break speed limits and go home and get naked more quickly. It could save us a lot of time is what I'm thinking."
"I don't know. We already seem to have gotten the hang of moving fast in our relationship, don't you think?" Buffy asked.
"Well, yeah, but we had chemistry and we clicked."
"That and we were desperate for someone to be close to. Don't think I don't know that Amy. Probably why we clicked so well." She was a little sullen. "I might even have taken advantage of you a little, because I might die soon." She admitted in a lower, quieter tone.
"Yeah, maybe." Amy had to admit that could be partly true. "But I still think we love each other. It'll work out." She said positively.
"Assuming I don't die soon." Buffy pointed out again.
"Assuming that, yes." Amy agreed.
"Just so you know what you're getting yourself into." Buffy said, sighing and closing her eyes again. "I really should tell you soon, about the dying I mean?"
"Probably. But I think I'm betting on a winner." Amy said. "I have a good feeling about it."
"My feelings are confusing." Buffy complained.
She heard a cat meow, a familiar cat. She opened her eyes and tilted her head. "Oh, hey you. You're still a cat. When are you going to not be a cat again?" She asked Aslan. "I really think it would be best, even if you won't be able to purr and look cute without even trying anymore."
Aslan meowed again and looked meaningfully into her eyes.
"You make me sad sometimes, you know that?" Buffy told her cat. "But I'm glad you're with me again. I missed you when I was away. I missed mom too. I'm glad you stayed with her. Kept her safe."
"Buffy, why are you talking to your cat?" Amy asked.
"Hm? Oh, she's not a real cat Amy. She's magic. My teacher. She saved me. Now she's a cat though." Buffy sounded a little depressed by it. "She says it's not that bad though, being a cat."
"Your life is weird." Amy told her.
"Duh." Buffy laughed. "You're just figuring this out?"
"No, I just thought I should point it out again. For the record."
"Let the record reflect..." Buffy sighed. "This is turning out to be a really cool dream though. I usually don't get to go to Hawaii."
"See? I'm a good influence." Amy smiled, kissing her on the neck from behind.
"Also good at kissing." Buffy mused, feeling like she might fall asleep any second now.
Thursday, September 16th, 1997;
Sunnydale, California, U.S.A.
It's 4:05 AM; Deep under the ground,
there's (an) Angel in chains...
He strained at his bindings, gripping one of the chains with both hands and pulling again for all he was worth. The other chain had given way an hour ago, but the second one was proving to be stubborn. He grunted again with the strain and pulled harder, losing his footing on the loose packed dirt floor and falling on his tail bone. He cursed in frustration and hit the ground he fell on with his hand. He knew it was only a matter of time before he wore the chain down, it was only a question of...
"You shouldn't bother with that, boy." He heard the voice, full of a twisted amusement, before he heard them approach. Too distracted had he been trying to pull himself free apparently. He turned and got to his feet, readying for a fight. "Did you really think you could get away?" The voice asked.
"From you? Now why would I want to do that, 'boy'?" He bit back scornfully, taking note of the other familiar face among the group of nine vampires who were filing into the cavern.
Luke just laughed and walked towards him slowly. Angel braced for a fight, backing up to gain more slack on the chains. If he was lucky, he could get a chain around the big vampire's neck and use his strength to decapitate him with it. He knew it wouldn't save him, but if he was screwed either way, at least that way he would get the satisfaction of knowing that he'd at last wiped that smug grin of Luke's ugly face.
When Luke was in striking distance, Angel wasted no time in shooting a right cross at the hulking vampire's jaw. Luke shifted his body back and caught Angel's arm in an iron grip, a creeping laugh on his lips that was wiped away very quickly when Angel's knee impacted his groin. Luke growled in fury and moved forward, knocking Angel to the floor with a powerful backhand. Angel rallied with the motion though, spinning around and using a sweeping forceful momentum to crack the length of loose chain attached to his free arm right onto Luke's neck, the chain's momentum causing it to circle around and around Luke's neck, holding him solid with a choking tightness that would have easily killed him had he had need of air.
Angel tugged the chain as hard as he could, forcing Luke off his feet and pulling him into a perfect position for him to deliver a full force kick right to the center of his face. The souled vampire wasted no time getting on top of Luke, pinning him to the floor of the cavern and cementing his positioning to deliver the planned decapitation. Before he could execute it though, a rusted iron pike impacted his face and sent him reeling against the cavern wall. He struggled to his feet, the pain making it hard for him to focus his sight.
"Now, now, boys. Play nice." He heard a familiar lilting voice say. Looking up he saw his sire standing before him, the length of rusted iron he could now taste in the blood on his lips resting on her shoulder.
"Darla?" He asked blearily. He didn't have much time for continued thought or speech however, as the towering form on an enraged vampire named Luke, roaring with pain and anger, soon filled his frame of vision. All that remained then was pain and the memories of better times held dear to his heart that he hoped would see him through the night.
to be continued in part twelve...
MORNING'S LIGHT RIGHT FROM THE HEART
see you next time!