Collateral Damage


Author: Ares
Word count: 2273
Rating: NC15 for sex scene
Pairing: B/A
Written for Writer’s Toybox the Four Horsemen Challenge.
A special shout out for Jo. She’s an amazing beta. Thank you, sweetie.


Summary: Buffy and Angel pick up the pieces after the apocalypse.

*


Collateral Damage


“No! I won’t let it. Angel! Angel?” Buffy turned her tear-streaked face and looked up at her lover. “This isn’t happening. It isn’t happening! I won’t let it! We won’t let it. No. Nooooooo! Take it back!” She beat her fists against his chest, her cries escalating until her whole body was convulsing, the sobs wracking her slight frame. Buffy collapsed into the arms he held out ready to catch her.


It was all he could do: catch her. His mind had ground to a halt. He was in shock, they both were. He felt like he was on auto pilot, his limbs doing what they needed to do, his mind far away, detached, looking on, aghast. His tears mingled with hers, tepid where hers were hot, as they both slid to the ground, his legs and hers losing what strength they had had to keep them standing.


An eternity passed in the seconds and minutes that dragged by. All of a sudden Buffy was turning in his arms. Her lips found his in a fierce kiss. She devoured his mouth, her tongue forcing its way in and finding his.


He pulled away. His mind did work, after a fashion, it seemed. “Buffy…”


“No, Angel. Let’s have this. It doesn’t matter any more. I want this. Give me this.” And she was on him, attacking his mouth once again. Buffy pushed him down until he was on his back. She shucked off her jeans and pulled down her panties. The pink lace flew away with the flick of her wrist. Angel lay there, mind having faltered in the face of what was to come. Would it really be that bad? he thought, to lose himself to the devil?


Buffy’s fingers found another use. They tugged down the zipper of his jeans. She pulled him free, he was hard and aching, and she straddled him, taking him inside her. This was what she had been longing for, all these years. She groaned: despair fighting the sensation of bliss. She was desperate for Angel to feel the joy of it. Buffy yanked off her shirt and undid her bra. Reaching for his hands, she placed them on her breasts. In one fluid movement he was leaning upward and kissing her, using his hands in a way that made her want to scream. Buffy began to move, slowly at first, teasing him. But her need overcame her and she picked up her pace. She wanted him so badly, she…


Angel spun them around: he was on top, her legs wrapped about his waist, and he was pounding into her. Buffy bit her lips and kissed him hard. It was the undoing of him. The taste of her blood brought him to the brink and, they both spun away into the abyss.


+++


Standing in the doorway, Angel watched the clouds racing across the sky in a dark blanket of howling wind.


“Are you going out?” a voice behind him asked.


It was day, or what passed for day today. The sky only appeared marginally lighter with the sun shining. The layers of dust in the air prevented the rays of the sun fully breaking through. He could see the wind, heavy with the ashes of the dead. Sunlight bounced away, in loathing, one could think, leaving behind a residual glow. It was not always so dull and dark. Some days the sun did break through - the ash and dust swept away - warming the earth with its wonderful gift. If not for that small miracle, all life on earth would have long perished. As it was, most of it had. Perished, that is. Armageddon had come on the backs of man and missiles. Whole populations were decimated. Demon and human, animal and plant, vaporised in the blink of an eye. Angel had no doubt that man had been pushed, steered to the brink of the precipice and allowed to topple over.


Without turning around, he said, “I’ll do a sweep. You stay here and look after the little ones.”


“Be careful.”


“Always,” he replied, and then he stepped out and into the wind.


Without the building as a shield, the gale tore at him, at his clothes, threatening to rip them off his back. He stalked against the pull, and made it across what was left of the street. The town had been a small one, a main street with a bank, a motel, a bar, a restaurant and a few stores. The empty shells stood testament to a town that had died along with its citizens. A couple of side roads led off to homes and housing and that was where he was headed. None of the houses were intact. Fire had destroyed most: others had been pillaged and ransacked, barely standing skeletons of what had once been home and shelter to ordinary folk. Angel knew there was little hope of coming across anything useful but he had to try. Besides, that wasn’t his primary concern.


The stink of death pervaded the first house he stepped into. His nose, sensitive to death’s odour, led him to two desiccated and entwined bodies laid out on a bed in a small room. Between them lay something wrapped in a shawl. Angel averted his eyes. Many hadn’t been able to face up to the fact that their world had been ripped apart and had chosen to end it rather than face the hardship ahead. He foraged about in the bathroom and the kitchen, and he searched about down in the cellar. The place had been cleaned out. He moved onto the next house, and the next, tiptoeing past the husks of corpses, human and animal. There was little reward to be found. He continued on, as he must, until he found himself inside a small, almost intact shack. Inside were the remains of a vehicle, useless, now, stripped and discarded, anything useful already scavenged. He cast his eye around the shed and noticed there was something odd about the oil stain on the floor. There was a footprint, partially smudged and, when he bent down to touch it, still wet. Listening intently and using his other senses he discovered there were two people, one small, a child most likely, hidden nearby. Angel crept away and returned to where he had left Buffy and the children.


One look at his face had Buffy scrambling for her bag of weapons.


“Where?”


He gave her the route to follow.


The slayer trod warily down the path Angel had told her to go. Excitement was building inside her. If Angel was right, there were two more people who needed rescuing. Fortunately, the wind had died to a light breeze, the gale spent, leaving dust-laden air. Buffy found the shack without any trouble and, after taking a look inside, set up just beyond the door, out in the open. She laid down her weapons bag and rummaged inside for the tools she needed.


A flash of red and blue was the rug she pulled clear of her bag. A couple of cans followed: tuna, and sweet corn. A packet of crackers was next, and then three cans of Pepsi. Buffy sat cross-legged and opened one of the sodas, the hiss of escaping gas loud in the silence. She took a sip, savouring the drink. It was one of the luxuries they could no longer afford, but today it was a tool in her armoury. The cracker gave a satisfying crunching sound as Buffy chewed on it. She sat and waited.


As she knew would happen, a couple of dirty forms appeared as if from nowhere, their hiding place abandoned when faced with the prospect of a meal. They were children; one older, a teenage boy, the other a little girl.


Buffy put down her drink and opened the cans of food. She set them down, close to the edge of the cloth, and placed the packet of crackers next to them.


“They're yours. Help yourselves. I’m Buffy by the way.”


The boy and girl stared at her. They were frightened, she could see, but hunger was a strong motivator, and in a sudden movement the boy had snatched up the cans and crackers and, dragging the girl away with him, they disappeared into the background.


Buffy waited quietly. She knew the children would be back. Sipping her drink, she reflected on how the world had changed and with it, her life. Buffy gave a guilty start. Hers wasn’t the only life changed. Entire populations had perished. Families were a rare thing. Buffy was no longer just an executioner, a slayer. She was out there rescuing people more often than not. She had her guardian angel with her, and together they scoured the land looking for survivors, searching for remnants of humanity. Society had to be rebuilt, and hopefully, for the better. There were pockets of civilization hidden here and there, in areas distant enough from the nightmare of nuclear war. These pockets were where they brought the rescued. There were also enclaves of people that had no resemblance to anything human in their demeanour. Those people, those feral humans, they stayed away from. But it wasn’t always possible and Buffy and Angel had had to confront and kill a few, sometimes in self defence, and not a few times it had been to rescue a child from their evil clutches. Cannibalism was rife. Buffy shivered. No matter how hungry, she swore she would never resort to eating human flesh, especially human flesh that had been killed, like cattle, for that purpose.


Buffy’s keen ears detected movement in the yard. She stretched and stood. Folding up the rug, she prepared to leave.


“I’m leaving now and you’re quite welcome to join us. We have food and water. I know you don’t believe me but I promise that we’re not going to hurt you. We have other children like you with us and we’re on our way to a better place. Come if you want. It’s up to you. Oh, and my boyfriend’s name is Angel. He was here before. He’s one of the good guys. He won’t hurt you.”


Buffy turned about and headed back the way she came. Her senses told her she was being followed. She took it slowly. The town was quiet, and any trouble Buffy expected failed to show. She was grateful. The kids behind her would have bolted.


She saw his tall lean form waiting for her outside the building when she and the children arrived back. She never tired of looking at him. Even filthy with dirt, he was beautiful. He was a link to her past. He was the one thing that kept her going, and she had tried to throw it away. She blushed furiously with shame at what had transpired all those months ago. In the process of rescuing a girl from a ritual sacrifice, she and Angel had fallen foul of the Brethren of Talos. The demons, dying at the ends of Buffy and Angel’s swords, cast one last desperate spell, which sent both slayer and vampire spinning away into another dimension. It had taken them days to find the way back home. And when they had, they had fallen through the portal only to find that the world was no longer as they left it. The apocalypse had come knocking and somebody had opened the door.


Time moved differently in some dimensions and the one that they had been trapped in had moved at a much slower rate. Months on Earth had passed by in a matter of days. They were safe from radiation: apparently her slayer’s body now had an inbuilt safeguard – courtesy of the Powers That Be - and a vampire’s, well, it was dead and couldn’t be harmed further that way. Their mission had become one of salvage and rescue. The odd bit of slaying, a bonus, she felt.


Angel watched her cross the street, a dusty streak of slayerness followed by two waifs, a boy and a girl. He had given in to his desires that day, months ago. He knew Buffy was thinking about it too: he sensed her body warming in a blush. He wished she would rid herself of the shame of what she had tried to do. The shock of their world burnt to cinders had Buffy, and Angel, too, if he admitted it, wanting to die, neither of them wishing to be the ones picking up the pieces of the world. Buffy had turned to him, hoping that in the act of sex he would lose his soul. His demon would out and kill her, giving her peace at last. She knew that Angel’s soul would find peace too, having left the body to Angelus. But it seemed the Powers That Be had other plans for them. They had given Angel the gift of his soul, his to keep. A miracle, Angel thought. He had to believe that one day, perfect happiness may again be a possibility, for them both. And Buffy was impervious to the rays of mass destruction, a necessity travelling the places they were needed.


Angel’s once-only vision had become the real deal. The visions, plural, were his to guide them. The Powers had deemed it so. Angel had a sneaking suspicion that he and Buffy had been deliberately led to that alternate dimension, trapped there, safe, while the world burned.


Angel’s lips lifted and greeted Buffy with a smile. Her own mirrored his. Buffy gave him a kiss as she passed him by. He moved away, giving the new-founds space to follow Buffy inside. The world wasn’t perfect, but the love he felt for Buffy was. And he liked to think she felt the same way. In fact, he knew she did. It was in her eyes. The world had not ended. It was just the beginning.


The end.
August 2011.