By Carmilla

AUTHOR: Carmilla
E-MAIL: carmilla99@hotmail.com
DISTRIBUTION: You want it? It’s yours. Just tell me where it’s got to.
SPOILERS: Basically everything.
FEEDBACK: Oh please oh please oh please! (Bounce, bounce) You’ll make my day, and probably my week and month as well.
SUMMARY: Set many years in the future, someone very close to Buffy and Giles comes to say farewell
DISCLAIMER: Joss owns them, not me. Boo-hoo.
DEDICATION: For Saphira, in the vain hope that she’ll buck up and get that story finished……
NOTES: Muses. What are they like? One minute you haven’t a care in the world, then they spring on you and give you no peace until you write for them. Here it is guys. Now leave me alone, I need my sleep!

PS I’m working mainly on spoilers and my own tortured imagination here, because we’re two seasons behind in England. Forgive me any technical inaccuracies, and chalk it up to poetic license.

AND ONE LAST THING: I’m thinking of doing a companion to this from a different perspective. If you’d like to see it, please let me know. (Witness me begging for feedback.)

Yours was the greatest love story I have ever known. Forget Romeo and Juliet, forget Antony and Cleopatra, forget Pyramus and Thisbe, Ram and Sita, Savatri and Satyavan, Shiva and Parvati, Lancelot and Guinivere, Tristram and Iseult, Odysseus and Penelope, Orpheus and Euridice, Ares and Aphrodite; none of the classical lovers could hold a candle to you. You loved each other long and truly, and not even death could break you apart. Yet for all that, you still had space in your hearts to love me too.

I know you both told me this story many times, but maybe you never heard each others’ versions. I doubt it; you seemed to tell each other everything, and often without words. Even so, I’d like to relate the tale again- without it, I wouldn’t be here. It is a story which seems half a classical ballad, half a paperback romance. I suppose that, in truth, it is both; a strange mix of the ancient and modern- like you.

It started over twenty years ago, when a teenage American girl walked into a library, and met a forty-something Englishman with a lovely smile. I miss that smile. But the Englishman told her something she knew and didn’t want to know, so she ran away. Later she said that for three years, she never really stopped running. For three years, she never fully accepted the destiny he offered to her when she first saw his smile. But she did do what he asked her to do; she walked the path she was born to walk, and became a Slayer. One born to rid the world of darkness. One born to fight, so that others might live without danger. Like me.

When did it happen? They never said, so I won’t either. Truth is, I don’t know. Maybe the first time they saw each other, or the first time they talked. Maybe the first time they discovered a threat to humankind, or averted an apocalypse. Maybe when he gave his strength to save her life, the first of the many times he proved he would give everything for her. Maybe when they cried in each others’ arms, on a day filled with tragedy. Maybe it happened little by little, each time they trained, each little touch, each word of comfort, each companionable silence, bringing them a little closer to the edge. Maybe it happened all in a rush, in one glance, one word, one gesture of affection, one tiny brush of a hand. Did you ever truly know? I think not. All I know is, once it did happen, it was unstoppable.

For three years though, whenever it may have happened, they did nothing about it. He watched over her, keeping her safe from harm, but tried to control her more than she liked; she did grow to like, respect and trust him, but often lied to him and took advantage of his devotion to her, though not on purpose. For all that, they were an effective couple, and saved the world and each other on countless occasions. His knowledge directed her strength, and her realism kept his more outdated ideas about the role of the Slayer in check. She made more friends than she realised, and her closest friends were told about her identity and helped her in her fight. I know they’re all here too, at a distance, watching me and keeping me from harm. Carrying on that fight which you had to give up at last.

Twice, he almost lost her. Once, when she was just sixteen, it was prophesied that she would die. He was willing to go in her place, but she stopped him. Quite forcibly, or so I’m told. Die she did, but one of her friends brought her back, and she destroyed the monster who had killed her. Again, on her eighteenth birthday, they were nearly parted, this time through his own fault. He put her through a test designed to judge a Slayer’s ability to think. A terrible, barbaric test, which should never have been invented. To prove himself to the Council, he betrayed her. However, once again he couldn’t just abandon her to her fate, but went out to rescue her. For this one action, he was sacked as her Watcher, and ordered to keep away from her. He refused. And it was an ignorant, selfish, corrupt member of the Council who at last used the right word to describe their relationship: love. Ignorant as he was, he thought that love was fatherly, but he did do one good thing in his otherwise worthless life; he opened the Englishman’s eyes to how he really felt for his charge. His like won’t ever sit in the Council again- you made sure of that. When you spoke out to them, you made sure that I will never have to go through what you went through. Did I ever thank you for that? I hope so.

Eyes opened or not, still nothing happened. Or maybe it did. In all of those three years, something was growing between them. Something stronger than friendship, deeper than a working partnership. Something which endured and endured, through everything that happened which might have torn them apart, or maybe because of it. Fate seems a fickle mistress. She drew them together, but then she seemed to use every resource she had to rend them apart again. But she couldn’t do it. Nothing, nothing and nobody, could ever have parted you. Not even death.

They had other loves, of course. The brooding, mysterious stranger who captured her heart. The beautiful gypsy woman who intrigued him, flirted with him, gave him confidence. God knows why he lacked it. I’m not sure I want to. But their other lovers never worked out. That stranger was trouble, and the gypsy was a traitor. The man of the dark was a vampire who became their worst enemy. This only happened because the gypsy wouldn’t tell the group the truth, about either herself or the vampire. He killed her, tormented the group, tortured the Englishman. And yet, when he was redeemed and his soul returned, he was welcomed back. This caused the girl pain, however hard she tried to hide it behind a false veil of happiness. Eventually, he had to leave them, to stop hurting her. It was the best thing he ever did for her. He was here the other day, you know. I think he did love you, somewhere within his brooding soul. He mourns you now. As do I.

And they grew up, and grew closer. Threat after threat, hurt after hurt, they faced them together. But things began to change between them. One day, she caught him with a lover, an old friend who had come to stay. Although she couldn’t explain it, the girl, (who was in fact a woman grown by then), was hurt by this. Hurt, and, for the first time, conscious of being jealous. The Englishman was hers. He wasn’t just her Watcher, or her friend, he was her partner. The one she should always be with. And somehow, the thought that he could be with another woman, even in a superficial way, felt almost like betrayal. She had admirers by the score, of course. One particular boy seemed almost perfect for her. But he was part of an organisation called the Initiative. They seemed to be fighting on the side of good. But when they tried to control her, and snatch her away from him, then she knew it was over. Both her association with the Initiative, and her relationship with the guy. Even he came to pay his respects, and half the Initiative with him. He runs it now, apparently. Maybe they’re doing better than they were in your day. Who knows, one day they may help me, too.

It was in her second year of college that things came to a head. Strangely enough, it happened through the doing of a cruel and soulless monster. Maybe Lady Fate had finally decided to make them choose, one way or the other, to be together or to be apart. I’m glad you made the right decision.

The demon had been on a killing spree; five dead within a week. People hid behind their newspapers and muttered about the state of the world and the lunatics it produced; and the Slayer tried to prepare herself for her hardest fight yet- with moderate success. She asked him, time and time again, not to endanger himself, to let her fight her own battles. In truth, she couldn’t have borne to see him hurt. There was no way, however, that he could abandon her, and so they faced the thing together. The struggle was an epic one; they saved each other’s lives more times in that one day than in their whole previous adventures, which was little short of incredible. And at the end of it, when the monster was dead, the Englishman was dying as well. His Slayer could have left him there, got help, and he might have been fine, physically, but mentally he would have been lost. Because the demon was a gateway, creeping slowly open, which would lead them on to a new life, for better or worse. For it to truly die, someone had to go with it, to make sure it was sealed into the plains of Hell. Such a journey was always costly. The Englishman knew it, too. He hadn’t told his Slayer, for fear of endangering her still further. But when she was determined to stay with him, he had no choice, for the same reason. What must you have gone through? What must the journey have done to you? I can’t tell, for you never spoke of it, except maybe between yourselves. But whatever you did, you did it together, and it forced you both to see what had been in front of your eyes for so long. After that day, things were never the same again. But then, you didn’t want them to be.

When they finally faced up to their feelings, and to each other, they were brought closer together than they had ever been before. This new, amazing level of intimacy was heaven for them both. They could hardly bear to be parted. Much to their surprise, they found that their friends had long suspected their true feelings, and offered no resistance to their new relationship. The Slayer’s mother and father were harder to convince. For a long while they were hostile towards the Englishman and hurtful to their daughter. But they could not deny the depth of love which ran between the two, and so eventually they gave their blessing. The couple married a month later, surrounded by those they loved. Most of them were here today, you know. Even those you might hardly remember yourselves. Old friends and old lovers, they all came to remember you and cry over you one last time.

Their marriage was a very happy one, by all accounts. They hardly argued, were rarely at cross-purposes, and maintained an even balance of power and a highly successful working partnership. At thirty-five, the Slayer became the first of her kind to retire, although she still helped out whenever she saw fit. I was your third successor, I think. Though I lived my life somewhat in your shadow, I count it an honour and a privilege to have worked by your side.

That’s how they died; saving my life. The hordes of demons were far too strong for me to face alone, but I tried anyway. I would have perished there, and I knew it, when I saw them both approaching from the side. They charged the monsters with a ferocity I didn’t think they were capable of. I don’t know how many they killed; I lost count after the first twenty, and had more than enough to deal with where I was. When the last of the masses finally fell, I made my way over to them. They lay where they had fallen, covered in wounds. The piles of bodies around them testified to the glory of their last fight. They died as they had lived, bravely, side by side. I didn’t know what to do. I felt torn. I felt empty. I knelt down beside you, and clasped your still, cold hands, and cried.

The funeral was beautiful, it really was. I wish you could have seen it. All those people, from every stage of your lives, coming to remember you and love you all over again. Your instructions were obeyed; you were cremated, and your ashes mixed and buried in a single grave. Together. Always together. Wherever you are now, I’m sure it’s the same. Hell brought you together; I doubt that Heaven would part you. I think of you often, and I know that you still watch over me, the way you did my whole life. Goodbye Mom. Goodbye Daddy. I miss you.