Buffy sat huddled in an alleyway not too far from where she had left Angel. She clutched a stake over her knees afraid Angelus would come to finish their fight. For the briefest of moments she had forgotten he was not Angel, had never been Angel, and had allowed herself to get caught in that moment. For a moment she was tempted to lean in and give herself to him, and she had sensed that he would have taken what she gave without killing her. She realized at that moment if she staked him, if she dusted him she would lose him for good.
"You little bitch," she heard him hiss. "Who the hell do you think you are?" She clutched her knees to her chest and rocked her petite body. She was vaguely aware of the wooden stake being held painfully against her upper calf but she paid no attention to it.
"I'm sorry," she muttered not sure who she was talking to. "If you sent me back here to kill him I can't do it. I can't," she said. Knowing the years he had left to hurt people, knowing that she would end up sending him to a hell dimension in a future time and place where he would suffer immensely with his soul intact she still could not do it.
There were things at work that Buffy could not change, could not take away with one swift poke of her stake. Taking Angelus out of the picture would change everything. There would be no Angel to help her when she first came to Sunnydale, no Angel for her to fall in love with, no Angel to teach her that perhaps everything was not as right and wrong or black and white as the Council would like their slayers to believe. And without Angel she would never trust Spike, would never believe a vampire had the ability to be good.
"Buffy," she heard him call out, taunting her. He could smell her if he really wanted to, her scent was all over him now. What disturbed her was even though she was nothing to him and he had no idea who she was she still loved him. It had been that love that had stopped her from driving the stake home. She had no conscious thought about wanting him to be there for her years from now, it was simply love that had stopped her.
"No," she murmured under her breath still rocking.
"You're a slayer, aren't you? That's why Dru sent me to stop you. Slayer," he taunted further. "Come out and finish what you started. Come out here and try to stake me."
She just sat and rocked, he was not coming any closer which made Buffy wonder if he did not really want to find her.
"I've never known a slayer to not see a job through. So come out come out where ever you are, Slayer, and let's finish this once and for all."
Buffy needed to get to Drusilla and stop her from finding and turning William. She needed to save William. Yet as she sat there still visibly shaken from her encounter with Angelus almost one hundred years before she had even been born she was not so sure that saving William was what she was here to do.
Perhaps this trip through time, however it was being done, was for her benefit not William's at all. Had she staked Angelus a few minutes ago everything would have been different. The world she would have gone back to would have been skewed and there was no telling how drastically. Dru still would have turned William, but who knew if they would have ever left England without Angelus. Who knew if without Angelus being cursed with his soul Darla would have sought out the Master leaving Drusilla and Spike on their own, which led them to Prague and then to Sunnydale seeking out a cure for Drusilla.
Buffy knew for a fact her life without Angel would be drastically different, but it was not merely her life. It would affect everything she knew, everything she was, everything around her. There would be no Spike, no one to watch over Dawn while she was gone. There would have been no one for Buffy to talk to the past year. She and Angel had grown apart enough since he left Sunnydale and after Riley to make it difficult for her to confide in him anymore. She doubted he would understand her relationship with Spike.
She noticed the stake and brought it up to look at it, touching the tip with her index finger affectionately. This piece of pointed wood was what she knew, it was what she did and who she was. She was the Slayer. She had an unfair advantage over Angelus in that she had the knowledge of his strengths and weaknesses where he knew nothing of hers. It would be somewhat easy to finish the job, stake him, turn him to dust, she had gained the upper hand moments ago.
"Giles," she whispered. "What am I supposed to do?" She knew Giles would tell her to kill Angelus. With Angelus gone Jenny Calendar would be alive. Or would she? She might be alive but might never have come to Sunnydale. She had come to keep Buffy and Angel apart. Without a souled Angel for her to keep a watchful eye on she would never have come and Giles would never have met and fallen in love with Jenny.
She had never stopped to think how intricately her life was intertwined with the lives of her friends. Who was she to deprive Giles of love even if it was cut short by the vampire out in the street calling to her now? She knew what the Council would want her to do, they would want her to dust Darla, Angelus and Dru but she just could not do it knowing what she knew about her life, about the future. She suspected it was not the Council responsible for this glitch in time she was experiencing.
She had no doubt now this was not a dream. Somehow she was here and had been brought back to the night Drusilla had made William Spike. She had been brought here for a reason and she did not think that slaying was the reason. She had been brought back to see things she had not been able to see in her own time because she refused to think about them. She liked to deny she cared for Spike, it was easy to say she did not need him in her life or care if he was there. So she had been given a chance to alter the outcome of this night. She could not do it, and it was not just because of Angel. She would miss Spike if he weren't there and had no idea what her life would be like if he wasn't in it. Not to mention that without Spike she would not have been able to get to Angelus in time to stop him from bringing Acathla forth.
Angel had a place in her life, back when she was sixteen and seventeen. Spike had a place in her life now and she had been stupid to try and claim his lack of a soul was her reason for pushing him away. Spike had helped her with Acathla and Angelus pre-chip, he had his reasons and agenda for helping her but he had still come to her. He had made sure her Watcher had not been killed.
She wished she had paid more attention at the dinner to catch a glimpse of who William was, but perhaps she was not supposed to know what he was like. She knew that he had loved someone who had thrown that love back in his face, very much the same way Drusilla and Buffy had done in his unlife. She realized, too, that she and Spike were not all that different. Both wanted someone to love. The only problem was that Buffy buried her heart because of past hurts where Spike kept pressing on. Maybe it was because he lacked a soul to care about getting hurt. Why else would he have let her treat him the way she had?
"Because he loves you, you idiot," she muttered to herself. "And knew that you loved him too even if you denied it and fought it tooth and nail."
"Slayer," she heard Angelus calling to her, his voice maniacal and menacing. If she let him find her now it would be a fight to the death. She knew that tone in his voice well enough, he would be out for blood this time, looking for the kill. "I'm going to enjoy draining you and feeding off your marrow long after you're gone. Tell me who your watcher is and I'll send him a present."
"I don't want to change it. I don't want to change the way anything is or was. I'm not God," she whispered. Just as she said those words her coach came to a stop right in front of the alleyway she was hiding in.
"You can't fight this, Slayer. You felt it just like I did. You want to see this out. You want to know if you can do it, drive that stake home. And I want to watch your eyes while you do it."
"Get in," her driver said quickly, without any hint of formality or propriety in his voice.
"Slayer," Angelus called again. "I know you're here. I know you're waiting for me. Come to me, Slayer, and maybe just maybe I'll go easy on you."
Buffy did not need to be told twice, she scurried into the coach slamming the door closed. The driver barely waited until the door was closed to leave the area. Buffy took a deep sigh feeling safe from Angelus' wrath. She laid her head back against the coach's wall knowing she should change into her gown but was too exhausted and excited from the evening to.
"I'm sorry," she said again. "I can't do it. If this was some sort of test again I failed. I know I just allowed hundreds of people to die in the future, but Angel will still be there, Spike will still be there, Angel will have his son. I can't take that away from him, I can't take them away from me."
"I want to go home," she murmured as Angelus' last "Slayer" was bellowed in the distance. She wished she was home in her bed with Dawn in the next room and Mr. Gordo keeping her company. She wished she could talk to Spike. Would he believe her if she told him about this? Would he be angry with her for not being able to stop Dru? Somehow she did not think so, but she would like to know. She needed to know.
"I'm sorry, but please let me go home now," she said her eyes closed. "I can't do it. I won't be able to do it tomorrow night or the next night. I just can't. I love them both too much to remove them from my life."
She was lulled to sleep by the rattling of the coach along the rough London streets. "He looked dopey," she said sleepily with a slight smile of the old photograph of William. She remembered the picture she had fallen asleep to back in Sunnydale in her time. A lone tear fell along her cheek as sleep drew near with the realization that she would never see William. "I can't do it," she murmured.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com