And The Gods Wept
Title: And The Gods Wept
Series Title: Ten FFAs Each
FFA: Willow/Six (Battlestar Galactica)
Spoilers: S7 for BTVS, S2 for BSG.
Summary: They just up and left, which wasn’t supposed to happen. But they did it anyway, and in that moment she realized her folly. Nothing but tragedy could follow . . .
~And the Gods Wept~
“Are you all right?”
Soft, feminine hands reached for hers, cupping them gently as their owner bent over and gazed at her in concern. “Can you hear me?” Not one grey hair.
For someone who was pushing forty-five years, that lack of grey hair usually meant a stress-free forty-five years, or generous amounts of hair-dye. Neither of which applied to her.
Not one wrinkle.
Forty-five years of age and not one wrinkle. Not even around the eyes. She used to have a few wrinkles around her eyes when she was younger. They weren’t age lines; they had been laugh lines. But now, even those had faded away. She had the smooth, perfect skin that all women her age wanted, but couldn’t come by even with surgery.
There was something wrong with her, but what?
“I’m sorry. I thought it was Buffy-maybe I wanted it to be her . . .”
“I think you need a doctor.” Strands of white-blonde hair fell into worried blue eyes. She blinked and looked hard into those eyes. Had she seen them before?
“Come on,” urged the voice, not so gentle now. The tone was faster, laced with tension. Her companion’s concern was increasing. “Let’s get you some help.” The years flew by. Her friends aged, the world changed many times over, and yet she remained the same. She felt like an island, cut off from the rest of the world, frozen in her own antiquity. She didn’t feel real; she felt preserved. Years slipped by, and she felt less like a person and more like a thing. Ageless, flawless, and useless.
“It’s always hard the first time around. You’re seeing all you know fade away into dust. It’s hard, because you’re starting to understand what eternity means. And I know that it seems almost impossible right now, but you can survive it. You will adapt, you will change, and then life will go on. There’s a reason why we exist. We may not know what it is just yet, but there is a reason. One day, it’ll all be clear . . .”
“Come on,” pleaded her companion, adding a gentle tug in the hopes of dislodging her. “I don’t think you should stay here. We need to get you to a doctor.”
A doctor? Why did she need to get to a doctor? She hadn’t need of a doctor for so long. When she was a child, she had had a family doctor. His name escaped her, as did many things from long ago. Her mind wouldn’t let some of the memories come forward, for fear that the sadness would come once more and she would be lost again.
Again? When had she been lost before?
Where was she? Eternity stretched out before her, and it seemed so utterly desolate. What did she have to look forward to? The people she knew all passed away. They were but fleeting moments in her endless existence. There were others like her, but they couldn’t stay together forever. Whether or not she was desperately lonely, she could only abide the presence of another for a century or two at a time. She tired of them over time.
It was the mortals that were truly mesmerizing, if only because their lives were so short. The people she had once identified with had come to be something exotic to her eyes. They were so fragile, and they didn’t even know it. But they passed by her so quickly that it felt as if she barely knew them at all. He had said it would pass, that she wouldn’t feel so isolated in the future. But the centuries slipped by and she felt the same way. She was an island unto herself, and the loneliness threatened to swallow her whole.
And then he revealed to her their purpose. Their glorious purpose . . .
She allowed herself to be led through the maze of trees, one hand in the grip of her companion. The strange blonde blabbered on and on, voice taught with worry.
But why didn’t it feel real? Humans are, by nature, fanatics. It doesn’t really matter what they decide to dedicate their obsessive faith, they always fall prey to that underlying insanity within themselves. It was their one fatal flaw.
How to harness that fanaticism and turn it to something constructive?
“We can do that for them. Their readiness to believe is evident. They only need to find something to believe that won’t make them want to kill each other. They have the ability to make something beautiful. We’ve seen their potential, were once a part of it. We just have to help them realize it. We can be that rock from which they build a new way, a new world-a new faith . . .”
“Just a little further.”
What was it about this woman? She was beautiful. She was trying to be helpful. She was . . . not real. There was something off about her. Something foreign lay deep at the bottom of those blue eyes.
How had she come to be here, with this woman? Where were the others?
Where were her children? It had seemed so right at the time. Give the mortals something to believe in, something that wouldn’t lead them to kill each other. They could do that. It could be their gift to the entire human race. Believe in us and we will lead you to a perfect world.
Some mortals came running, some abstained, but in the end, there were enough believers. It felt so right to give them hope, to give them guidance. She stood by her new brethren and led her new children off to paradise.
But it went wrong . . .
They came to a sudden stop. The blonde stranger turned around and became someone entirely different. Gone was the concern, the urgency-the humanity. Something cold and calculating was in its place. How had she not seen it before? Or had she? Her mind was muddled. It seemed odd, considering how much stock she had always put into it. Her mind had been what defined her, what made her stand out from the rest. So why was it failing her now?
Her voice was dry and hoarse from disuse. She cringed when she heard it. She had once spoken to her children and see from their eyes that her voice was the most beautiful thing they had ever heard. They had loved her; they had adored her . . . They had left her.
She stood on the cliff and watched them leave. Hundreds of thousands of little ships lifting off into the sky. Her children were on those ships. They were leaving her. She had given them everything. She had given them something to believe in, given them all her vast knowledge, given them her love. And they were leaving her.
Tears flowed down her cheeks. Her grief knew no bounds. They were leaving her.
A hand laid itself upon her shoulder. Fingers ran through her hair. Touches rained down on her body, wholly intimate and wholly unwelcome. Not that he knew. After all, she had let him touch her that way for near a thousand years now. But things had been different then. She had trusted him then.
“You lied to me,” she accused angrily. “You said we were giving them paradise.”
The touches increased in frequency. She swatted at those hands, slapping until they stopped. He heaved a great sigh from behind her. “We gave them paradise. They have chosen to leave.”
Her eyes swept over their paradise. It was perfect, it was exactly what they had promised all those years ago. So why were they leaving?
“You know why,” he whispered to her. She growled at him; she hated his voice. She had been listening to his voice for so long that she could bear it no longer. She couldn’t tolerate him any longer. Not his voice, not his touch, not his comfort-because he was right. She did know why.
She knew why they left . . .
“Why did it go wrong?” Why, why, why . . .
“You’re not real,” was her answer.
A cruel smile curved ruby red lips. The beauty was gone; how had she not seen this? The stranger was so sinister. She should have seen it.
“I’m of God,” was the reply. “You’re not. That’s why you’re stuck here, forever. Kobol is a prison of your own making. You didn’t even notice when your children returned to you. You didn’t help them as they died on your ‘paradise’, and there’s no salvation for them now. You’ll never have them again.”
“I know,” she murmured, the venom behind the words failing to wound her. “I knew that the day they left. I don’t deserve to have them back.”
A hungry look entered those inhuman blue eyes. “And why is that?” it demanded, its desire obvious. “Tell me! Why is that?”
There was triumph in those eyes that she didn’t understand. What was to be gained by all this?
“Tell me why!”Why . . .
“Because . . .” She turned around and looked at him, her anger draining from her body. When she looked at him, it was with dead eyes. He gasped and took a step back.
“That isn’t my name,” she interrupted. “It was never my name. I never should have said it was. It was just what you wanted me to be. But now they’re gone, and we both know why . . .”
“Because we were false idols.” ”Athena . . .”
She looked at him and saw his sorrow. It was genuine. She believed it, but it was too late. She took a step back.
She took a step back . . .
“. . . and I fell.”
Her confession had given the thing real satisfaction. It was practically preening. She cocked her head to the side and frowned.
“But that doesn’t mean you’ll win.”
The smile vanished. “We’ve already won. Their time is over.”
She laughed bitterly. “You haven’t won-“
“I’m of God-“
The fire seemed to start at her abdomen. It spread to cover the rest of her body so fast that she didn’t even have time to scream. A light breeze blew the scent of burnt flesh her way and she shuddered. Why, why, why . . .
A hand appeared on her shoulder.
“Were they here?” she asked of him.
“Yes, and they followed our clues. We’ve set them on their way back home.”
He sounded proud. She turned and glared at him. “We never should have taken them from home in the first place.”
His face fell. “Athena-“
“Don’t call me that!” Her temper flared red-hot for one second and she contemplated doing to him what he had done to the blonde thing. She should be dead. But she never will die. All she will have is an eternity in stone.
No more than what she deserved . . .”
He looked at her and knew he was defeated. “Willow.”
“You can call me Apollo.”
He heaved a great sigh and took her by the hand. “I think it’s time for you to go back now. You’ve been awake long enough.”
She turned wordlessly and followed him back to her tomb. Why, why, why . . .