Buffy had come to love life on Serenity. She easily fitted in with the group, especially after everyone found out about her and Kaylee. She had been worried at first that it would freak them out, but they didn’t even blink. That is, they had one by one come by to tell her that if she hurt Kaylee, they would tear her apart limb by limb, but for the rest it didn’t matter to them. It even made them accept her more, as if by winning over Kaylees heart, she had won over everyone’s heart.
She had spent almost twenty weeks on Serenity, when River repeated the rhyme she had uttered on the first day.
“Just a ghost, just a ghost, twirling round and round until she floats back to the ground.”
Throughout the months Buffy had learned to trust River, to try and decipher what she was saying, because it always made sense in some way. She hoped to come to another conclusion then the one she had come to on the first day, when she thought that River was predicting her return to Earth. But no matter how she puzzled with the words and the meanings, she came to the same conclusion: her time on Serenity was limited and probably almost over.
River sat beside her, trying to communicate the things she had in her head. “The stars love you, but the ground is coming near. You’re just a ghost, you’re not supposed to be here.”
River shook her head, as if she was trying to scramble the words, so she could get them out in a way that Buffy would understand. “They think fire’s burning you, so they’re trying to free you. They don’t know that you’re in the stars and that the stars are good for you.”
River looked at her, her eyes pleading with Buffy to understand. Buffy hugged River and whispered: “Thanks for warning me.”
“Kaylee, baby,” Buffy called, still not speaking Chinese herself. “We need to talk.”
Kaylee looked at her with big eyes, almost instantly in tears. “You’re not dumping me, are you? Because I can be better if I’m not good enough. Am I not pretty enough?”
Buffy pulled her close and hugged her. “Silly, I’m not breaking up with you.”
Kaylee calmed down, until Buffy said: “At least, not voluntarily.”
Before Kaylee could erupt in another flood of words, Buffy kissed her. “Do you remember what River said to me, on the first day?”
Kaylee shook her head. “It didn’t make sense to me, that’s what I remember. Why?”
Buffy sighed unhappily. “She talked about me being a ghost, who would get her feet back on the ground eventually. This morning she came to me, to try and explain it more. I’m leaving Kay. I don’t know when, but I know that it’ll be sudden.”
Kaylee looked confused. “What are you talking about?”
“You know how I told you that parts of my life are not easily understood?”
“I have friends who can do magic. They probably think I’m in some sort of hell and they’re trying to get me out of it. According to River, it won’t take them much longer to figure it out and then I’ll be whisked away.”
Buffy was crying now. She didn’t want to leave Kaylee behind, she didn’t want to leave anything behind. Life wasn’t perfect here on Serenity, but it was a life where she didn’t have to risk her life every day. Where she wasn’t responsible for the whole world, where she didn’t have to fight demons and where she had real friends. Her friends in Sunnydale had become so different lately; they were each leading their own lives. It was like they weren’t really a group anymore.
“I don’t want to go back, I really don’t, but they’re not giving me a choice, Kay.”
Kaylee nodded and smiled through her tears. “Let’s make the best of the time we have left then, bao bei.”
They had just landed on Persephone and that night they went back to the place where they had first met. They whirled round and round and round, until they were so dizzy they couldn’t stand anymore and fell down. They crept in each other’s arms and made love until the sun rose.
And then, suddenly, just when they were kissing, Buffy felt herself being pulled away. “I love you Kay, always remember that.”
She awoke in a coffin with tears on her face. Disoriented, she used her anger to crawl out of the tiny space she woke up in and tried to put the pieces together. She walked around Sunnydale in a daze, only partly recognizing her friends, feeling lost and lonely. Then, like a whisper on the wind, she could swear she heard Kaylee.
“I love you too, bao bei. I love you too.”