Buffy checked her phone as the text message from Dawn came through at the right time. Finally she could breathe, finally she could feel a little bit of that stiffness disappear from her shoulders.
The waitress perked up at the reappearance of Buffy’s smile, a definite improvement from the increasingly surly looks she had been throwing in Buffy’s direction- fearful and wary, like she knew, almost instinctively to stay away from the blonde sitting alone in the corner booth.
“D’you want anything else?” she sidled up to Buffy’s table, clutching the coffee pot to her a little tighter- the slayer noted with amusement, like she was seriously considering using it as a self-defense option.
“Two more coffees,” Buffy stretched and glanced at the outside, the sun was just setting down. “A cherry and blueberry pie and a burger,” she thought about it and then added, “and can you bring more sugar?”
The waitress was staring at her, mouth open in amazement.
Buffy grinned back at her and shrugged, “I’ve got a friend coming. He’s a,” she paused to think of the best description, “he’s fond
of anything sweet.”
“Yeah,” the waitress shook her head in reproach, “you just better make sure that your friend isn’t diabetic. I don’t want to be calling an ambulance, I’m off in an hour.”
As she moved away, Buffy felt it- that familiar itch between her shoulder blades, almost a burning
and she heard it too- a faint flutter of wings and then he was there, smirking and tall and blonde and British
“Balthazar,” she grinned as she took him in. Even in this form, even in this day and age- Heaven’s old war commander was still just as regal as she remembered him. Just as stately. “It’s good to see you.”
He said nothing, still staring at her as if he couldn’t believe that he was actually here. Sitting in a dive café in the middle of South Dakota, in the middle of the apocalypse.
“Remiel,” he finally swallowed and this time, there was no smirk, no laughter in his voice, “it’s you
,” he whispered and the naked longing
and reverence in his voice was almost painful for Buffy to hear.
Balthazar had been one of Gabriel’s biggest fans, he was always following the archangel’s plans for jokes, trying to lighten up situations even in their darkest times- when Michael and Lucifer had seemed to forget that they were still part of each other and not two opposing factions.
It was strange, seeing him so serious.
“I’m back,” Buffy reached across and opened her palm, waiting for Balthazar’s reaction.
He looked at her open hand with confusion, like he couldn’t figure out what she wanted from him. Like this request for physical connection was strange and foreign to him. And it probably was, if he had just taken this vessel- then he still hadn’t figured out the body’s instinctual reactions to hurt, to pain.
“Hold my hand Bal,” Buffy rolled her eyes, “just hold my freaking hand.”
When he finally placed his fingers in hers, it felt like another puzzle piece had slipped home. Like a piece of her was there, real and attached and breathing the same air as her.
“Oh,” Balthazar murmured, staring at their joined hands with something akin to wonder, “I’ve missed
It hurt so badly, feeling these emotions in her body, knowing the thousands of years of history that they had shared before she had left- the eternity that they had spent, side by side, fighting for a cause that they now had turned their backs on.
“Enough to help me?” Buffy joked weakly and jolted in place as Balthazar’s eyes narrowed and his hand squeezed, tight and angry in the space of a second. “Ow Bal,” she hissed, “you’re hurting me.”
He stopped squeezing immediately, but didn’t let go and in that second Buffy was very grateful that Gabriel transported their own bodies across dimensions, slayer endurance and all. He would have broken her hand otherwise.
“I know what you’re doing,” Balthazar finally said, not meeting her eyes, still staring at their joined hands. “It’s madness.”
It was actually a better reaction than what she had been hoping for, knowing Balthazar as well as she did. He was selfish, haughty, easily angered, violent and he was also one of the most loyal angels she had ever fought with. It was a miracle that he hadn't told her to go to hell even with all the recent implications.
“You know it’s the only chance we have,” Buffy murmured and willed him to look up, to meet her gaze. She wanted to see her brother again, she had missed him so and until she saw him- she hadn’t fully realized just how much, and if there was more time- then they would have sat here, just the two of them and talked about everything and nothing.
They would have talked about how much the earth had changed since they last walked it, they would have talked humanity and maybe Buffy would have dared Balthazar to hit on their surly waitress that still hadn’t noticed that an extra person had popped out of thin air across from the confusingly scary blonde.
But there was no time.
“We have the Winchesters,” Balthazar sneered and inwardly Buffy laughed at his utter contempt for the two humans that she was basically currently living with. “They’ll give in just like they were always meant to…”
They stopped talking while the waitress brought Buffy’s earlier order and it was just like she had predicted, the look of interest on the woman’s face was immediate and almost hungry
as she eyed Balthazar up and down.
He wasn’t the best looking man that Buffy had ever seen, but he projected a certain air, a charisma
if you will and even humans could feel the aura of power
rolling off him in thick and heady waves.
“Thanks love,” he purred and Buffy swore that he deliberately ratcheted up the accent, giving the waitress a very blatant smirk.
“Oh,” she tittered in return and almost spilled Buffy’s coffee on her brand new shirt, “you’re British
,” she giggled, honest to Father giggled, “that’s so interesting
.” She cocked her hip against the edge of the table and gazed earnestly into Balthazar’s laughing blue eyes, looking like she had settled in for the long haul.
“Listen,” Buffy interrupted the waitress before the rhapsodizing could go much further and how long
had Balthazar been down here? He was schmoozing it up like a pro while Castiel still had trouble blinking like a normal person. “Linda,” she continued, briefly glancing at the woman’s name tag, “he’s British, you’re American and so am I. And speaking of me? I actually have something private
to talk about with him, so if you could leave us?”
If looks could kill then Buffy would have felt very
uncomfortable in that moment, feeling the full glare of the waitress’s glare. Linda looked like a scalded cat, straightening up with almost painful rigidity and stalking away towards the counter.
Buffy’s enhanced hearing could hear the faint “Bitch” uttered under the woman’s tone and she smiled a little, glad that their order had already come and that she wouldn’t be receiving any spit-laden pie.
“After living with the humans, I know now what the proper term for you is,” Balthazar informed her gleefully, leaning across the table conspiratorially with a boyish grin on his face.
Buffy sighed and rubbed her hand across her face, knowing full well that he wouldn’t leave it be until she gave in.
It reminded her a little bit of the moment when Balthazar had first seen the human cities, excitement and wonder bubbling over in him as he returned home, eager to disclose the fascinating
news that the humans were evolving.
“What is it?” she smiled.
“Bitch!” Balthazar exclaimed with child-like glee and Buffy probably would have gotten offended if she hadn’t put this being back together thousands of times after wars so long they stretched into eternity, like black chasms in the clean line of time.
“Alright,” Buffy rolled her eyes and leaned closer, “now that you’ve had your fun, let’s go back to my point.”
All the excitement flew off Balthazar’s face in an instant and Buffy felt guilty that she had broken their first moment of camaraderie in almost three thousand years.
“You can’t do it,” Balthazar shook his head, crossing his arms in a gesture so human that Uriel, had he been here, would have instantly started muttering about mud-monkeys and corrupting influences, “it’s impossible.”
“Listen,” Buffy insisted and scooped three spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee, inwardly snorting at the rapt attention Balthazar was paying to the little white granules, “you know
what’ll happen if the Winchesters say yes.”
Balthazar stared at her with almost resignation on his face. “It’ll be over.”
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded and he frowned when he didn’t see her disagreeing with him, “it’d be over. But you know what else would be gone with them?”
Balthazar raised an eyebrow and seriously
, how long had he been hanging around, learning facial expressions and getting all unnervingly human
“All of this,” Buffy spread her arms wide, and saw his brief flicker towards Linda who was still gazing worshipfully at this beautifully exotic specimen of a man who was being kept away from her by the capriciousness of fate, “all of what we worked so hard for, what we bled
for, killed for, what our family’s died for- it would all
She saw, the moment when something inside Balthazar cracked, the first edges of doubt creeping in.
“Everything that He
wanted, everything that He
built-“ Buffy continued, unrepentant and unstopping, “it would all be gone. Because our family couldn’t get out shit together long enough to stop two of our brothers from taking their pissing contest into the streets.”
“You remember how it was,” Buffy smiled at the thought, “how they used to be, before everything, before they forgot that they were family?”
“Yes,” Balthazar whispered and closed his eyes.
It was always the two of them, Lucifer and Michael- Heaven’s favorite sons, that had ruled the place. Michael, the dutiful son, the one that led their whole family in lieu of their largely absentee Father. And Lucifer, the brightly shining Morning Star. The one that blew them all away with his sheer brilliance.
It was probably inevitable that the two of them fall, that they collapsed under the weight of their combined greatness. One always had to lead and it was a matter of time before the other one stopped following. But, where they usually stopped all conflict from escaping their immediate family- now they had taken it to their Father’s last creation.
And that couldn’t stand.
They wouldn’t allowed to destroy the very last gift that their Father had given for all of them.
“You know he’s not going to give up,” Balthazar finally said and opened his eyes and the smile of her old friend
was familiar enough to bring tears, furious and sharp to Buffy’s eyes. “He’s never given up, he’s too stubborn to admit that he’s in the wrong.”
Buffy nodded, “I know.”
Balthazar exhaled, letting a loose chuckle escape from his lips. “This is insane, you realize? You’re planning to go to the other one? The one who killed over a third of our brothers? The one who’s been on a permanent time-out downstairs? The psychopath
The words were out in the air now, hanging between the two of them, like birds that had finally been given their freedom to fly and Buffy relaxed. Balthazar was hooked, she knew it, he knew it and Gabriel- lurking in the edges of time as her emergency backup probably knew it too.
“Yeah,” Buffy shrugged and grinned, bright and trigger happy and so very tired of this bullshit that had been dragging on for thousands of years.
“Alright,” Balthazar shook his head and shrugged, “and how are you planning to convince him?”
“Don’t worry,” Buffy let a little bit of her real self slip through, death and destruction and violence absolute dancing on the edges of her smile, “we’ve got faith.”