One Last Day
Disclaimer: These are Joss Whedon's toys.
I'm just playing with them.
“If today was your last day, how would you spend it?”
The announcement began as Buffy was spooning cereal into her mouth.
“Turn it off, Dawn!”
Dawn yelled back, “It’s not me!”
Buffy frowned and stood up. She peeked around the edge of the kitchen into the living room where the television lived. The television that was currently off.
“Would you try out all the crazy stunts you’ve been too scared to do? Wreck havoc on your enemies? Get high? Curl up in the arms of your lover?” The voice continued, coming from nowhere and yet everywhere. It was as if the very air was speaking to her.
“Now is your chance to find out! Yes, folks, this is indeed the last day of the world. So what are you going to do?”
“What’s with the big voice talking about Doomsday?” Dawn came out of the bathroom, still working at a tangle in her hair. “Can’t you turn it off?”
“No. It’s not coming from the TV… It’s not coming from anywhere.”
“So this isn’t just another lame hoax?”
“No, it’s just another lame apocalypse.”
“Good day and remember: this is your final chance at doing anything you want. Take it!”
The instant the voice faded out, the telephone rang. It was Giles with the invitation to a research party.
There were three hours left until the end of the world and they still had no clue what to do about it or how to stop it. Willow had tried tracking the source, but it was futile. Eventually everyone but Giles and Buffy had dispersed to spend the remaining time enjoying life. As the minutes ticked by, Buffy found her thoughts drifting from finding a solution to thinking about what her ‘ideal’ final day would have been like.
Brown eyes came to mind immediately followed by strong arms around her waist, soft lips on hers, passion and love and everything in a single embrace.
Tears stung at the corners of her eyes. Because she had to continue searching, because she couldn’t let this apocalypse go by without doing her best to stop it even after hours of research that yielded nothing even to Giles. Because of all that, she couldn’t find Angel, spend a final, bittersweet day with him. She shook the thought off; this wasn’t going to be the final day of anything except whatever demon was plotting the world’s end.
Giles glanced up at her, smiling that pitying smile of his as if he knew what was going through her mind. “Buffy.”
She looked up from the book, which she hadn’t been reading anyway. “Found something?”
“No. I just… Maybe you should go out.”
“Going out isn’t going to help more than this. Our mystery threat didn’t exactly leave an address behind.”
“No, I mean, you should go out and do something.” Buffy blinked at him and he added, “Something fun. Something to…”
“Make my final moment not leafing through dusty pages?”
Buffy looked back down at the book. She wanted to agree with Giles; she wanted to go out and look for Angel and find him and pour out her heart and kiss him until the world imploded or whatever it was going to do to end. But…
“I can’t. I’m the Slayer. It’s my job to save the world.”
“You dismissed the others.”
She shrugged. “They’re young.” They still know how to contact their loved ones.
Then she smiled at him. “Anyway, I wouldn’t want to leave you alone to pour over books.”
Giles looked down, cheeks reddening. “Well, I was planning to call some old friends. Say some farewells and the like.”
“Oh.” Buffy’s shoulders slumped. “Then you go do that and I’ll stay here.” The last thing she wanted to do was force Giles to do research – even if he was the best at it – when he could call friends instead.
“Go.” She made a shooing gesture. “I’ll hold down the fort here. Someone needs to.”
“Buffy.” Giles repeated, this time more forcefully. “Either this is just a big joke by someone enhancing their voice or this really is the final day. In any case, the books aren’t being especially helpful at this moment and the little time we have left, if the world really does end, shouldn’t be spent rooting through them. Now I want you to go and be happy for the little time we have left.”
“Giles urging me to have a social life – that’d be a first.” Buffy smiled genially at him. “And I’m not seizing the opportunity, another first. Giles, you go and make your calls. I’m going to sit here, happily reading up.” She turned her attention back to the text.
He reached over and pulled the book away.
“Giles! Give it back!” She wasn’t above using her strength to get it back, but asking seemed like the nicer first step.
“We have less than three hours to go and I will not have you spend those hours reading. Willow’s with Kennedy and Xander’s with Dawn and I know you have someone you want to spend these last few moments with. Don’t let them go to waste on a book.”
Buffy sighed. She stared at the table, anywhere but Giles’ face which would be full of pity, and muttered, “I don’t know how to contact him. I don’t know where to find him or even if he’s close enough to reach in three hours.”
Yep, there was that pity.
“Can I have the book back?” She held out a hand, still not looking at him.
“There’s no one else you’d want to spend that time with?”
“No one who’d matter.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Giles put the book in Buffy’s hand. “I’ll be right back once I’m done.” They both got out of their seats as Giles neared the door.
Buffy shook her head. Forced a smile. “Giles, be happy.” The smile turned genuine as she added, “Helen won’t be happy if you decide books are more fun than her and I don’t want you hating me later for denying your happiness.”
“I could never hate you.”
She pulled him into a tight hug, this man who was more her father than her biological one, this man who was also a dear friend and a trusted colleague. He hugged her back.
“Buffy, you’re a remarkable Slayer and woman.”
“Don’t. Farewell speeches are only going to make me cry.” She was crying anyway, the tears flowing down her cheeks in rivulets. This could be the final time she would ever see the man, alive at least. They separated though he kept a hand on her shoulder.
“Very well. If you’re still researching, call before the end comes and I’ll finish my speech. Promise?”
She nodded her head though she had no intentions of keeping it. Giles deserved undisturbed happiness with his girlfriend.
With that, Giles left and Buffy was alone with a pile of musty, unhelpful books. She sighed before returning to her duty.
A knock on the door jolted Buffy from her semi-reading, semi-staring-at-text-as-it-blurred-together state. She blinked a few times, clearing the cramped text from her vision, as she looked towards the door. Who the hell would be calling in? Giles had a key and everyone else she knew was out enjoying life for what little was left of it.
The knock came again, prompting Buffy out of her reverie and into motion. She walked across and opened the door. Across the door was the person she had least expected and most wanted to be there.
He didn’t even have time to greet her before she embraced him, pulling his body as close to hers as possible. His scent, fresh and Angel, filled her as she pressed her face against his shirt. Please let this not be a dream. Please let it be him.
His arms went around her as he whispered in her ear, “Buffy.”
“I can’t believe you’re here.” She muttered against his shirt. “I can’t believe you found me and that you came and that I don’t have to sit here alone with a bunch of old books puzzling out useless information while the world falls apart and everyone else has their lovely last moments...”
“Shh…” His hands ran across her back, stopping the stream of babble.
She mentally kicked herself for the ramble, but didn’t let it bother her much. Angel was here and that was what mattered. Until now, she hadn’t realized how much she’d been afraid to die alone.
Buffy drew back, just enough to gaze up at his handsome face. Brown eyes stared back, drinking in each detail of her face. She traced his features with her eyes before leaning in and pressing her lips to his. When she pulled away for air, she sighed and cast a look through the doorway.
“Come on in. We should keep looking.”
“There’s no way to stop it.”
“And how do you know, Mr. Fatalist?”
“Lorne.” Buffy lifted her eyebrows in question. “An empath demon. He can read people, tell their futures, and what he saw was the end for every single person. Me included.”
Just as Buffy got ready to protest, the earth shook. Her hands tightened on his arms, gripping the material of his jacket. He held her just as tightly until the earth quieted.
“We have time.”
“Buffy… Lorne said it was the Powers That Be. They’re the ones bringing the end, not some demon.”
“Then we’ll fight the damn Powers.”
“It’s not something we can fight. They don’t exist in a dimension we can reach.”
“We’ll find a way.” Her voice was less certain now, the fire in her eyes diminished. She didn’t know where to look or how to fight extra-dimensional, intangible deities or whatever the hell the Powers were. The books were useless and every contact she had was too busy enjoying their last day to pick up the phone. There was only Angel and her in a room of useless books and even more useless weapons.
“If we contact them…”
Angel shook his head at the suggestion. “They want it to end, so they can rebuild a new world.”
Before she could shape a response, the same voice spoke, “Hello, folks. I trust you’ve been enjoying your final day.” Buffy’s eyes narrowed. She wished the creature, Power, whatever was beside her, so she could smash its face in. “I’m here with a friendly reminder – the final hour begins… now! Don’t waste it.”
The voice disappeared and they were none the wiser to its location.
“We have an hour.” Angel’s hand brushed across her cheek, breezing lightly over her soft skin. She leaned into his touch.
We have an hour. The words reverberated through her head, lighting up possibilities and regrets, the hopes and despairs of the past years. And now they had this lovely, final hour to do with what they could. They could continue leafing through pages, ever the faithful champions, or let things go as they were. Be Buffy and Angel for once, not Slayer and Vampire, not Champions with a duty, just themselves.
She made her choice the instant she looked back into Angel’s eyes. Their lips pressed together lightly at first and then the pressure increased and she was opening for him or else he was opening to her and there was heat and tongues and love and home and despair and pleasure all in a heady mixture. His hands skimmed across her body, lifting her shirt over her head. Her own hands were busy with his buttons and when she was finally done with them, she ran her hands across the cool flesh of his chest.
Angel backed them up against the wall, his mouth moving away from her lips to nip at her neck. When he reached his bitemark, he laved it, grinning at the moans his actions elicited.
“Bed.” Buffy breathed out. “It’s… right dooooor...” Some of her words got lost when Angel bit with blunt teeth, but he understood.
He carried her through the door and then deposited her on the bed. Removing his belt and pants, he followed after. The rest of their clothing was quickly discarded and then they were pressed together, skin to skin.
A great tremble from deep within the earth broke through the blissful haze of their love-making. The room shook; glass shattered and cracks split the walls. Buffy pressed closer to Angel as if that was possible. Her eyes stayed on his, drinking them in, memorizing every minute detail of his face and wishing he could’ve come sooner. A million regrets and wishes lay on her tongue, but she kept them inside. There were only three words she wanted to say to him in this moment.
“I love you.” They whispered the words at the same time, clutching each other closely.
The world exploded then, leaving nothing but debris and the murmured echoes of forever and always.