my heart will go on (or some things never change)


Summary: "Somewhere it must be time for penitence. Gardening at night is never where."
Rating: PG-13
Story Notes: Futurefic, spoilers through AtS 5x16, Shells.
Disclaimer: Not the property of anyone here. Nope.

She never thought she'd take up gardening.

Dawn suggested it; said it was something their mother always wanted to take up, and Buffy's grown up to look and act like Joyce that at times it's uncanny.

It's been two years since Angel died, and there are parts of the house Buffy will not walk into. The doors are closed and the blinds drawn, and she doesn't let anyone go in there to clean or air out the rooms.

She likes to read now, too. She's learning all those things she never needed in high school, the things she deemed unimportant because, really, she could, even though she wasn't mature enough to make that decision. There's a chair beside the front window where she has a stack of books waiting to be read on one side of the chair, and a stack of already-read books on the other. She can watch the children on her block play from there; they don't have to worry about vampires or scary things lurking around every corner, now.

A lot of things happened to get her to now.

They had settled down in an almost disgustingly normal neighborhood, and truth be told she'd loved every minute of it. There were no children; Fate gave them a lot, but not that, and Buffy is happy to be an aunt.

It's an odd word, happy, and she's felt sparks of it in the past two years. But when she remembers happy, she sees Angel, shirtless in the kitchen, trying to make spaghetti and failing. She sees inaugurating their house by having sex everywhere, from the bedroom to the kitchen counter, and laughing the whole time. She sees Giles, Xander, Dawn staying with them and treating Angel like the human he became.

It's hard to see happy from the armchair, sitting in a room without Angel.

When Dawn calls and says Wesley is coming, she isn't surprised. She hasn't seen him since England, four years ago, the Council convention that all Slayers and Watchers and various other interested parties were called to. He looks fair, if not well, and though the dark glint in his eyes has lessened over time, he's still hunched slightly into himself.

He tells her he came because Giles told him to, because he would not leave the Watcher's library, that he came because he had nothing better to do, and because he missed Angel's presence. Buffy had been with him for twelve years; had known him for longer than that. She retained some of him.

There's a guest bedroom made up for him, but he doesn't use it.

They don't speak; she's too tired, and he too self-absorbed. Instead they sit, staring at each other, not seeing each other. It's strange, Buffy thinks, how well your pain defines you. Eats on you, kneads you into a person not resembling who you once were. When they were both younger and their defenses weren't as scarred and sharp-looking, they would have yelled at each other, or made fun of one another. Before, they wouldn't have cared about harsh words and meaningless curses.

Now, of course, they do; but their concern is hardly for each other. That is perhaps why their friends and family orchestrated this—everyone has achieved some sort of resolution but them.

When skin meets skin and even their destructive thoughts cannot be quelled by simple pleasures, Buffy whispers to Wesley's shoulder, "I never wanted to live longer than him. I wanted to die at the same moment as him, or before him, because he could handle this better than me."

When Wesley turns, pulls her back to his chest and enters her again, he mumbles against her neck, "She would say quadratic equations in her sleep, talk about quasars and solar flares and portal variations into her pillow; she never stopped talking, always had something to say...I always wanted to hear it."

They don't sleep as spoons, and Buffy demands the right side, Angel's side, because she can't bear the thought of anyone in his place. Their bodies lie a foot from each other, facing opposite directions, and Wesley probably will not leave in the morning.