Epilogue: Flashbacks Are Just Memories -- The Past Is Already Gone
For Disclaimer and Notes see first chapter.
Epilogue: Flashbacks Are Just Memories -- The Past Is Already Gone
Location: The former United States of America
I opened my eyes after the flashback ran its course through my mind. I suddenly felt tired and realized it was almost sundown. I had been standing here for fourteen hours next to the gravestone at my feet. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. It was such a crucial part of my life; it was the beginning of my life. I had never had better friends then I did then. I looked up and noticed the rain had stopped as the night encompassed the barren plain I stood on.
Over the past centuries I had watched my friends die, some be born and die, and some stay by my side. Lindsay had died a year after the attempted Apocalypse in the line of duty at Angel Investigations. He was out on a routine sweep with Oz when they were attacked by a huge group of vampires, who were looking for Angel and me. They were surrounded and overpowered and even with Oz turning into a werewolf he was no match for all of them. Lindsay died the next morning in the hospital from severe blood loss and other physical injuries. Gunn and Cordelia didn't work out after she became Immortal. They tried to keep their relationship together, but the fact that she would live forever bothered Gunn and they drifted apart. He left L.A. and never returned. Giles died at the age of ninety-eight in Sunnydale. Cassandra was there at his funeral, mourning the loss of her lover. His death impacted me greatly because I lost a great friend, a mentor, and a true father figure. Oz lived for about five hundred years because of his case of lycanthropy. A werewolf hunter took his life. I avenged his death shortly afterwards. We buried Willow about one hundred seventy-five years after Oz. She wasn't a very strong Immortal and no amount of magic could save her when she needed it. She ventured out on her own one day and we buried her body the next. Cassandra, after the loss of Willow, was never the same. I never expected to see her go but she just lost all desire to fight. She was buried next to Willow roughly a year after her death. Richie died a few months later by a freak accident that left him mortally dead and an Immortal cut off his head before he could return to life. Cordelia's ability to survive did not surprise me. She, like Amanda, is still around today. The two of them are still great friends. MacLeod is a difficult story to tell. He stayed with us for a long time. When we lost Oz things within our group changed. I killed a human man out of vengeance and Duncan was pissed. He chose to leave with Amanda, Richie and Dawn and head back to Scotland. That was all it took for Methos and Cordelia to hook up. They have been together for nine plus centuries and love each dearly. We have added a few more to our group over the years and lost too many to count. Those who fight our fight are hard to find and even harder to keep.
My lover wrapped their arms around my waist bringing me back into reality from reliving my past. I leaned back into the embrace immediately feeling a sense of calm and home wash over me.
"Are you through here?" The voice of my lover whispered in my ear.
"I could be. I just…god…I hate this…I hate not having any of them around anymore," I honestly said. Tears forming in my eyes yet again and I tensed up in my lover's arms.
"You get all depressed every year Faith. Nothing changes. They are dead and buried…you can't bring them back. You just need to accept the fact that they are dead. They have been dead for almost two millennia now."
"I know. But flesh and blood, you can't escape that. They gave me life from their own blood. I have them in me. I am them in a sense."
"I am them," I quietly repeated.
"All right then what do you think they would be doing if they were here? Would they be in mourning over their dead friends after one thousand seven hundred odd years?"
"I don't know. I don't remember."
"You are mourning what you don't remember?" Confusion was evident in the voice behind me.
"I remember their faces, I remember their smiles and their tears. And I remember how they died. I remember the fight that changed my life forever. I don't remember most of the details but I remember the battle. I come here every year to mourn the loss of my friends and myself. I lost my life forever in that battle. I lost everything that night. My lover became human and mortal of all things. Human!" I gently whispered.
"It's ok Faith. I'm here still aren't I?"
"Yes, you are Angel. But I mourn that too. I am your grandchild and your Sire. I turned you back after you were granted mortality to die like a normal human. I took that away from you because I was not strong enough…I was too weak to survive without you. I took your mortality, crushed it, and gave you immortality again," I cried, tears rolling down my still damp face.
"You never told me you were sorry about changing me back. Do you regret it?"
"Yes and no. I am sorry you didn't get your full reward of being human. I took that reward and damned you again. I took away your reward!"
"No Faith. You returned it. It was a punishment to live without you forever. I had planned already to change you but Spike beat me to it. I told Willow and Cassandra their duty at that fight was to save you, to hold off your death till I could change you. Little did I know that Spike had told them the same thing. I don't want to see forever without you. I am not mad that you changed me back Faith. I wouldn't have allowed you to if I didn't want it. I wouldn't have asked for immortality if I didn't want it," Angel confessed to me honestly.
"I don't care if you aren't. I shouldn’t have done it. I didn't…I shouldn't have done it. I didn't do it right at all. I robbed a warrior of his honorable death."
"I'll die someday Faith. I only hope I die when you do because I can't live without you and you can't live without me. But that day is far, far away Faith. You and I are happy and safe. We need to go, however, and meet up with the others. The sunrise will be here before we know it. They will be worried if we do not return before then. Come now Faith," Angel told me. I dropped to my knees in the mud and looked at the gravestone in front of me. It was weather worn and deteriorating. I kissed the stone gently and whispered: "Forgive me for not being able to save you all. I hope you are happy wherever you all are. We'll meet again someday. This is the last time I will come. You are forever in my heart and soul…you will always be remembered. I love you," I whispered, kissed the stone again one last time, and stood. Angel held out his hands from atop our horse. I grabbed his hands and he pulled me up in front of him. He wrapped one arm around my waist and with the other took the reins. He nudged Red into a moderate gait and we headed back several hours to our camp.
I realized then that I was free. Free of guilt of not saving Buffy and her friends. Free of the guilt over turning Angel. But the memories and emotions of my old friends till stayed in my mind. A star shot across the sky, forever falling, and I smiled. I was going to be ok with Angel. I knew I would meet up with all my old friends later in my life. Buffy and Spike were happy together wherever they ended up and they were watching over Angel and me. I wouldn't meet up with them for some time though, not until my mission in life was over. I still had bigger battles to fight and even after all this time people to save. It all made sense to me then, after all this time, everything including my existence and the existence of those around me made complete sense. A dear, dear friend of mine had once argued that "someone has to fight the good fight". To me in that moment I knew without any sense of doubt that my crew and I were those 'someones'.