Toward Eternity (1/1)Author:
Vesica (Vesica@metacrawler.com) Rating:
Vague Slash (See pairing)Pairing:
QC Pairing # 184 - (W/Mina) Genre:
BtVS/LXG Crossover Disclaimer:
All hail the actual owners/creators of BtVS and LXG. I suppose Bram Stoker deserves a shout-out for dreaming up Miss Mina.Distribution:
Quick Fics, Twisting the Hellmouth, Witch’s Love – Anyone else, please ask first!Author’s Notes:
This is in response to Jinni’s very first Poetry Challenge. The challenge was to write a fic, 1000-4000 words, of any pairing including the first stanza of Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. What can I say, Jinni? It was a very inspiring challenge to have coaxed a long-time lurker out of the shadows. Well, that and sometimes the Muse whispers softly and sometimes she just grabs you and hits you repeatedly until you start typing. Thanks for the great starting place!
This is my first BtVS fic, crossover or not, and only my second fic overall. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!
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The warm summer breeze swirled languidly through the streets of Sunnydale, rustling through the trees and lifting some of the oppressive mugginess of California in the summer. The gentle fingers of wind freed a few tendrils of hair from the sloppy ponytail she had hastily pulled back as she settled down to read. Intent on the papers in front of her, Willow never even noticed the hair threatening to fall into her eyes until a cool hand swept the strands off her forehead. She jumped, startled by the touch. She looked up just as her companion started to laugh.
“My, my. Aren’t we skittish?” the woman murmured.
“Sorry, Mina. I was just lost in this story. This is…” Willow broke off, searching for the right word. “It’s incredible! Your descriptions of the New Year’s celebrations are so detailed. I feel as if, for a moment, I am there, in Marrakech at the dawn of the twentieth century. How do you make it so real? It’s like you were there!”
The other women shrugged gracefully, a twinkle in her eye. “I’ve done a bit of traveling in my time. That and I have an excellent imagination. I’m glad you like the story. Is there anything that needs work?”
Willow scanned the pages in front of her. It really was an amazing piece of writing. I wish I could write like this – so real the sounds and smells of the marketplace leap off the page. My writing reads like ‘See Spot. See Spot run.’ compared to this.
As if sensing her reluctance to criticize, Mina leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. “Hey, don’t censor yourself. I want your honest opinion. I can’t tell you how much your comments have helped me improve my writing.”
Willow looked up and, seeing her sincerity, turned to the first place where she had scribbled a note in the margin. “Well, this point where Alaina is arguing with her housekeeper? I’m not sure your readers will understand the whole bit about the masala
. Honestly, I’m not sure I
is a spice mixture, right? How does that tip Alaina off that the housekeeper has been stealing from the household funds? Oh, and that description a few paragraphs later of the call to morning prayers felt a little redundant. Perhaps….”
Two auburn heads bent back over the papers, pausing now and then to sip coffee or ponder a particularly tricky passage. After an hour of intense editing, Willow sat back with a sigh.
“I think my brain is fried. I can’t think of what is ‘off’ about Henri’s goodbye speech but there is something…”
“Don’t fret about it!You’ve done so much already. I can’t thank you enough.” Mina began gathering up the papers, clipping them into manageable piles. Taking the stack Willow handed to her, she paused. “You know I never thought I would find such a kindred spirit in this class. Too bad this is the end.”
The women smiled sadly at each other. They had meet at a Writing course offered at Sunnydale Community College. Willow was there to get a jump start on college credits before she started at UC Sunnydale in the fall. Mina was looking to improve her writing and, hopefully, get her fictionalized travel memoirs published. They had been matched up as writing buddies, reading each other’s work and providing feedback. Initially, Willow had been a little intimidated to be paired with someone so poised, who had such an air of experience as well as a few years on her, but Mina had been so pleasant and encouraging, it was hard to feel uncomfortable working with her. By the time the course ended, they had already decided to continue to meet weekly at the Expresso Pump to continue ‘tweaking’ their works-in-progress. Now the summer was practically over, Freshman Orientation was the next week, and this was their last meeting. Mina was going abroad for more ‘research’ and Willow would be back to juggling school work, the Scoobies, whatever new people she would be meeting at college and, of course, her boyfriend, Oz.
Willow sighed, I can’t believe it’s over already. All I wanted from the class was an elective credit and a chance to write down some of the ideas that had been rattling around in my head. Instead I found a mentor…and a friend.
“Don’t look so sad. You’ve come a long way. You’re a beautiful writer, Willow. Such a depth of emotion for one so young.” Mina fixed Willow with a thoughtful look. “It is as if you are an old soul, hidden behind a façade of youth.”
Willow squirmed a little, uncomfortable with such a compliment from someone who had ‘lived’ more than most people twice her age and who wrote with a beautifully old-fashioned style.Picking up her empty coffee cup and reaching across the table for Mina’s, Willow stood. As she threw the cup away, she noticed they were the last patrons still lingering at the tables outside the now dark Expresso Pump. “Wow—Time has really flown. We should head home.”
They gathered their things and headed off into the night. Mina had an apartment in the same complex as Giles and since Willow made it a point to check in with the Scoobies before heading home the two had gotten in the habit of walking home together. Plus, to Willow’s way of thinking, it never hurt to have the Slayer waiting up for you—just in case you ran into some of Sunnydale’s less friendly residents, out for a late night stroll. No more kidnapping for me. This little witch was not available to perform spells under duress. Thanks—but no thanks!
Willow’s internal monologue was interrupted by a soft cough from Mina. “You looked lost in thought.” Mina said quietly, smiling at her. “You know, I meant what I said earlier. You do write beautifully, especially your poems. You remind me a little of Dickinson.”
“Really? I love Dickinson.” Willow gushed, immediately regretting her over-eager tone.
If Mina noticed, she didn’t comment on it, for which Willow was grateful. “Really. That poem you wrote about becoming aware of the beauty all around us? It reminds me of where Dickinson wrote‘Beauty crowds me till I die,
Beauty, mercy have on me!
But if I expire today,
Let it be in the sight of thee.’
Never be afraid to speak what’s in your heart, Willow. You have important things to say, things the world should hear. As I said, you are a beautiful writer.”
Turning to gaze at the nearly full moon hanging just above the trees, she continued, so softly Willow wondered if she had heard correctly, if Mina had really said “And a beautiful woman too.”
Before she could ask, Mina turned to look at her. “This doesn’t have to be goodbye, you know. You could come with me, see the world.”
Part of Willow’s heart screamed “Yes”
even as her lips formed the words. “Oh, I couldn’t. There’s college just starting and all my friends and…”Yeah, and what Willow? Why can’t you do something adventurous and run off to see the world?
her heart asked. Why? Because I’m me. Reliable-Dog-Geyser-Person who doesn’t run off to other countries, or live like a gypsy – or have any fun
her mind finished dismally.
“Think of it. We could see the white cliffs of Dover; visit the pyramids; trek the jungle to reach Angkor Wat. It would be wonderful, just you and me.”
Willow’s thoughts were spinning so fast she almost didn’t feel the hand that grasped her own. She’s holding my hand and I am starting to think she doesn’t mean I could travel with her in that ‘Hey, you wanna share a room ‘cause it will be cheaper’ way. I think she meant it in that ‘Wanna play for the other team’ sort of way. And she did say she thinks I’m beautiful and I think I sort of liked it and—Stop! Stop running around in little panicky mental circles. Say something!
Taking a deep breath, she calmly, slowly pulled her hand away. “I like you, I really do Mina. But, not like that. I mean, I have a boyfriend and all.”
“And your point would be?” Mina replied with a teasing smile. “Willow, I’ve had a husband and more lovers than I care to recall, many of them male. I’ve seen how you look at me.”What was my point? ‘No, I haven’t been staring at you?’ I mean, I have but I wasn’t thinking ‘Hey Baby’ thoughts, more like ‘Why isn’t my hair more auburn like that’ and ‘Will I be as beautiful as you when I get older’ and ‘how is your skin so pale and luminescent and your lips are so dark and full’ and-I guess those are kind of ‘Hey Baby’ thoughts there. But I didn’t mean them that way, at least I don’t think I did, and besides-
They had reached the apartment complex and the point where they usually went their separate ways. Putting a hand to her head, Mina held out the other to stop Willow. “Willow, calm down for a second and stop thinking so loud. You broadcast in a mental scream when you’re upset. Just let me finish. How do I put this? You know the poem where Dickinson starts ‘Because I could not stop for Death’?”
“Yeah. ‘Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves and Immortality’. ” And what on earth did you mean ‘stop thinking so loud’?
“This is it. This is that moment for you. Death—she’s stopping for you, and Immortality, as well. You see, I’m not just asking you to travel with me,” Mina paused and grasped Willow’s shoulders, looking her straight in the eye. “I’m asking you to be with me…forever
.” Her lips parted just enough for Willow to see the wicked points, gleaming white in the moonlight, against the dark lips.
Willow jumped back, pushing Mina’s hands off her shoulders. “Stupid! I. Am. SO. Stupid! You’re a vampire! How did I miss it? I mean, ‘I’ve traveled a lot’, please! You were there, weren’t you? And the ‘Stop thinking so loud’?” After her initial accusatory outburst, Willow looked at her friend more closely. “Wait a minute—Why isn’t your forehead all ridgy? And why did you wait this long? You could have bitten me ages ago, there were plenty of opportunities.”
Mina looked a little surprised at how well Willow was taking the revelation that she was a vampire. “I’m not looking for a snack, though all that coffee is making me a little queasy. I want a companion—Not a meal. I want you-” she hesitated, waiting for Willow to give some sign.
“Really, I don’t think you want to make me a vampire. Trust me—I’ve met vampire me. She’s kinda scary and not at all fun. She’s all pouty, Mistress of the Pain with the leather and the sadism and I think she’s kinda gay and, on second thought, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that part-”
Willow’s alarmed ramble was abruptly cut off by a familiar voice. “Willow? Is that you? We were starting to worry.”
It took all Willow’s strength not run over and hug Buffy, as she came around the corner of the nearest apartments. Of course, that won’t exactly help my ‘not gay’argument, would it?
As Buffy drew closer, Mina cringed, hissing ‘Slayer’
. Quickly regaining her composure, Mina turned to Willow, speaking quickly, before the Slayer could reach them.
“So it’s ‘No’ then? I meant what I said—all of it; about your writing and your beauty, inner and outer. You are going to be a remarkable, powerful woman, Willow Rosenberg. You already are, in here,” Mina continued, lightly tapping Willow’s chest. “Let her out to play more often. She should get used to the freedom, to spreading her wings. I am afraid she will need all the strength and experience she can get—Sunnydale is a dark place and those who walk with the Slayer will not have an easy path. Goodbye, Willow, and good luck.” She turned and walked away just as Buffy reached them. She paused, turning to look thoughtfully at the two young women. “As for your other question,” she called, “I don’t know why but perhaps it is a matter of bloodline. You should ask my sire—when you meet him.”
Catching the pertinent word, Buffy pulled a stake out from where she had been hiding it behind her back. “Sire?” She looked to her friend for an answer. “Is she a-“
Willow shook her head and started towards Giles’. “Let her go, Buffy. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing her again.”
Casting a final wary glance at the retreating figure, Buffy shrugged. She hurried to catch up with Willow. “So…you’re done with your writing class then?”
Willow smiled warmly at her best friend and linked her arm through Buffy’s. “Oh yeah. I think I am done with writing, period. Our real lives routinely defy even my imagination and are chock-full of drama and angst. Why spend free time like that,” Willow grinned somewhat wickedly, “especially on a night when AMC is doing a salute ‘Bali-wood’?”
Buffy groaned as she opened Giles’ front door. “Bali-wood? I still don’t understand the last Indian movie we watched. You never told me—how did
the water buffalo fit in with all the singing and the maypole-fish thing?” ~ FINIS ~