Title: Darkening Of The Light
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: The characters and fictional placings of either of these shows do not belong to me. They belong to Cameron/ Eglee (Dark Angel), Joss Whedon (BtVS) and Whedon/ Greenwalt (AtS). Only the story belongs to me.
Rating: 15 (for a little language)
Genre: Crossover of DA/ BtVS
Time line/ Spoilers: Post Season 5 for Buffy. Up to LAtR for DA. Story set in DA time.
Summary: BtVS/ DA crossover. Life brings about so many changes. Especially when one has just risen from the dead.
Distribution: Is under the discretion of the author, so just ask instead of taking please.
Reviews: While I may not always respond to reviews, they are always welcome!
Darkening Of The Light
June 1st, 2021
Buffy walked slowly, having easily found the park that her cousin had been referring to. After their dinner and then her phone call to Cordelia and Angel, she had retreated to her room to prepare for the evening ahead. Both physically and mentally, as needed it seemed, before every undertaking these days.. She had changed into something that she had deemed appropriate for potential slayage. And then had searched the room for possible weapons. There hadn't been much there and Buffy was quite sure that aside from his chef's knife collection that Logan tried to keep in pristine condition, she wasn't likely to find something suitable to what she would be doing.
And he was likely to notice if she slipped into the kitchen and pulled a carving knife from the block on the counter. She had also thought about how just she would try and explain to any sector cops just why she was carrying an eight inch long, concealed kitchen knife. It was for damn sure that she wouldn't be able to carry it in the open. That wouldn't go over well at any point. And it made her yearn almost for the good bad old days when Sunnydale cops just, for the most part, turned a blind eye to her nocturnal activities. They learned quickly in Sunnydale to let most things be when the lights went down.
She figured that she would have to wait for whatever identification papers that Tara manged to scrounge up for her. At least if it was military, then she'd probably have papers stating her right to carry a concealed weapon. Until then, she was stuck with innocuous items that she could easily explain. Such as the chopsticks in her hair that she had brilliantly hit upon. Wanting to put her hair up, she had looked over the rubber bands sitting with the hair brush and comb on the dresser. Grimacing at the damage they would do to her hair, she had realized that she had a perfect weapon to hand, if only Logan...
She had asked, as innocently as possible, if he had any chopsticks. Citing the desire to put her hair up and the reasons why the rubber bands were not a good idea, Logan had winced and hesitantly mentioned the ivory chopsticks set that had been an heirloom inheritance from his father's side. Obviously he hadn't quite cottoned on to the fact that they could be a fashion accessory and since ivory didn't kill anything that Buffy was aware of, she had just blinked a few times. And then had explained to him that ivory wouldn't work, since the slick substance would just slide through her hair. Plain wooden chopsticks were better. The look of relief on Logan's face as he had turned to a side drawer and opened it to retrieve all of his extras, from take-away packs, he explained, could almost have been laughable.
So now Buffy entered the four foot high, chain link gate that marked one of the openings of the playground. She was as protected as she could be, two chopsticks stuck artfully in her up swept hair and another pack of them in her back pocket, covered by her light weight jacket for “just in case”. She had tried to keep her mind occupied on the walk over and had met with some degree of success.
Logan had been a little agitated as she had put on her coat and shoes. When she had wondered about that, and asked him, he had simply smiled and said he supposed that he was just a little concerned over her first outing in the city on her own. She had simply told him that it was time. He had agreed and told her a few places to avoid, a few stereotypical baddies to watch out for and if things got too rough, his cell phone number so that she could call him at the apartment. He'd then loaded her down with change so she could use a pay phone. And also, if the sector cops gave her a rough time because of her guest pass, to ask to speak to Detective Matt Sung. Then call him. She had smiled as best as she was able, and then slipped out the door.
As she walked, she wondered how much of Logan's worry was conjecture and how much reality based. She was after all, a grown woman and had been more mature than she should be, by circumstance, for many years. But she was also a stranger in a strange city that was operating in ways that was extremely foreign to her. So she would be foolish to ignore what her cousin said of the city he had lived in all his life and seen with his own eyes, the changes that had taken place.
She had in fact seen some shady looking characters, but Buffy realized that she couldn't judge based on what Sunnydale had been like. Or even Los Angeles when she lived there as a child and teen. She had seen what looked like the bulge of concealed weapons on a few men that had been cruising the streets, close to the corner where there had been a checkpoint station. Luckily, when Buffy, walking as she was, had handed over her ID and explained that she was out for a walk to the park for some fresh air, she had been waved through without further question.
If she'd had any sort of weapon that threw up red flags, she realized, it would have gone much differently. Not that she was the type to carry a gun, unless it was imperative to the job. While she knew that bullets could slow down Vampires and perhaps some other demons, it was always in the back of her mind that any weapon she had, she could lose. And if the bad guy got a hold of it, then she had to be aware of what could happen to her. It had happened... the time she'd been skewered with her own stake.
She winced slightly, rubbing at her stomach where the stake had gone in, the first time in her experience, of a penetrating wound rather than a scrape or cut. It hadn't been pleasant at all and she had learned from that time. She had learned much more than she had wanted in those days. Scanning the area, the park, where about four children of various ages were playing a game of tag, while another watched from atop some monkey bars, Buffy looked for a bench away from them. One was already occupied by what seemed to be attentive parents. There were some well away from the play apparatus', but still in view of the entrance to the park. She supposed that she better wait there for Angel.
Unfortunately, the longer she sat, the worse the trepidation grew at actually seeing him again. She couldn't rightly ascribe why that was. Perhaps because it had been so long? Because he was human now? And wondering how that had happened. She knew she could get answers tonight if she wanted. She was sure Angel would tell her. And married! He had married Cordelia of all people. She had to constantly tell herself that twenty years had passed. Twenty years of feelings and circumstances changing and she hadn't been there...
Look at how much could change in her life in a day. Her old life that was. Just moment to moment and things swirled around her, changing, mutating, taking on new meaning and life as she acted and reacted. And it was brought home to her that things changed just as much, just as easily when she stood by and did nothing. And there were things in her, these emotions and urges, not just from Slaying, things that fought back against that apathy. She couldn't sit by and do nothing.
Especially the realization that she had truly been pulled from...
There was not going to be a surcease from the pain any time soon. Alec had seen to that when he had taken her down from that tower, back in Sunnydale. When he had carried her back to her home and to her cousin. Led her away from that place. There was a question, one of the millions that swirled her brain that she couldn't ask. She was afraid of the answer. The same reason she wasn't sure she could talk at any length with Angel on this night, or any other. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear the answers. Therefore, if she didn't ask the questions, she wouldn't have to hear, to know...
“Buffy?” his voice was soft, his approach even stealthier, which startled her more than being startled and she whirled around from where she sat on the park bench. Angel was standing about ten feet back, having circled some part of the park to be able to come at her from behind and she wondered briefly, insanely, if it was a habit that had held over from his days as a Vampire. If not, what predilections had he developed that might be as worrisome.
Swallowing, finding her voice suspiciously missing, or under extreme duress that second, she pushed off of the bench, standing to turn and face him. Her hands strayed to the hem of her shirt and tugged at it slightly. The clothes still didn't feel right. Wearing them and there was the fact that this one had belonged to Max. Their shapes weren't the same and she could feel how it was loose in all the wrong areas and not where it was meant to be. Much like how she felt in opposite measures in her own skin.
Now that she was on her feet and aware of him, Angel seemed to deem it all right to move forward, which he did now, slowly, like he was coming at a wild animal. And perhaps in some measure she was one, Buffy thought. Her breaths started to come a little quicker as her pulse ratcheted up a notch. That feeling was familiar. The reason why, was not.
It was the other thing about Angel that scared her. Before, she had always known, had sensed when he was near. Something about his being a Vampire, of course, had touched on her Slayer senses. But she had liked to think that it was the coming together of souls destined for one another. Obviously that wasn't true. Unless he had lost his soul during the transformation from demon to human and she didn't think that happened. After all, Anya had had her soul when she had become human. And she also didn't think that Tara and Cordelia would have been as... comfortable with him if he had lost it.
“You look wonderful,” he complimented, and she saw that his smile was much the same as she remembered, with the addition of several crinkles around his eyes. It was so strange to see Angel, older, gaining the physical symptoms as well as the years and wisdom under his belt. And speaking of which... Buffy shook her head a little. “What is it?” Angel asked gently as he moved in the last few feet into her vicinity.
“I-!” she began, but quickly realized that diplomacy was not her strongest suit and her mother's method when she and Dawn were bickering as youngsters, might the best way to go. “You look good too,” she returned and meant it. In the way that she was glad he was still around and had at least achieved something meaningful for his life. At least she assumed that being human was meaningful. Perhaps he hated his existence.
“Would you like to sit?” he asked solicitously of her and Buffy realized in that moment that Angel was just as nervous this night as she. She nodded and returned to the spot she had chosen, knowing that there was enough room for Angel as well. One thing that she hadn't forgotten was how large he was overall. Tall, broad shoulders, muscles definitely defined. But upon taking a seat, even looking down at the ground around her feet, she saw that he had left as many inches as possible between them. That was good.
Silence reigned for several minutes around them, even as the muted shrieks of laughter and taunts floated on the air from the children playing. It was like they were in two separate worlds in this small park. Even so, Buffy could not bring herself to raise her eyes.
“I'm glad you called,” Angel finally started. Buffy nodded her head once. Given that he had barged into Logan's, demanding to see her, she was certain he was glad of that. Maybe he even assumed that he was forgiven. But perhaps he wouldn't be so sure when he heard the reason behind the call.
It took her several minutes of swallowing and focusing on the minute debris under her feet before she was able to speak. “I... I know what I might have said to you, if it were... before,” she began, noting that as he usually did or had in past times, Angel stilled, waiting to hear what might pass her lips. “But so much time has passed, and so many things are different now.”
“I know,” he murmured, shifting slightly. Buffy wondered if the movement was because he was uncomfortable with her or if it were just a normal by-product of now being human. Maybe it was both.
“I don't,” she began again, but what she wanted to say, that she didn't know how to relate to him any more, or to anything else around her, caught in her throat. With a nervous twitch of her shoulders, she turned her head slightly, still not quite looking at him. “You said before, we don't live in each others worlds anymore. Remember?” she prompted softly, but there was no reply. “And I think that's truer than ever.”
“Well, not really Buffy,” he edged in, leaning towards her. She could feel him moving closer and stiffened. Obviously it was enough to make him stop. That or he was as hyper aware of her as she was of him. “Things are different. I can't argue that. But in some things, it's still the same.”
“Things like what?” she asked immediately. “Being human?” was the first thought on her mind. She heard him sigh.
“A major change, yes,” he agreed. “And all the baggage that goes with it.” She noted that he had his hands together, wringing them slightly and she could just imagine the angsty look on his broody face. And then part of the truth whispered out before she could stop it.
“It hurts to look at you,” she admitted and then wished she could take it back as it was Angel's turn to wince. “Not because you're with Cordy,” she hurried to assure him. “Though I'm still trying to understand the allure. But she's part of the problem too.”
“How do you mean?” he asked, gently, curiously.
“To see you,” she began and the words welling up that wouldn't come, were choking again and her head tilted back of it's own accord, her gaze moving from ground to sky. “All of you. The differences, obvious and not so much. Your lives went on. Mine didn't. And knowing that I can't share that. Where I...” she couldn't finish and once again Angel sighed.
“Is that all...?” he began to ask but Buffy shook her head.
“There's so many things,” she admitted. “Things I don't understand. Things I understand all too well and there's nothing I can do to change them.”
“Being the Slayer,” Angel agreed. And Buffy nodded once, shortly.
“I was going to quit,” she told him and the startling news, even decades after the fact brought him up short.
“You were?” his voice was flat.
“If Glory, I assume you know the situation?” she paused to question, hedging her glance to a further peripheral, even if she still wouldn't look fully at him. Once again, she sensed more than saw him nod. “If she had her way and Dawn was hurt, if anything had happened to her, I was quitting. Slaying...”
“Was a tremendous burden,” Angel supplied. “I remember, Faith... when you were gone, she started to feel it. Not the power, or the freedom she thought it gave her. But the responsibility of being the only one.”
“Tara told me a little about that,” Buffy murmured. There was silence a few more minutes as the sun continued its descent in the sky. Finally Angel cleared his throat.
“Tara told us that you're still a slayer,” he offered. “Or The Slayer, however the line works. So I can only imagine...”
“I don't think you can,” Buffy protested immediately and held her hand up just slightly. “Being human and becoming a demon, then human again. I can see the correlation you're trying to draw Angel. But you don't actually have to bear any burdens unwillingly, other than the physical ones that everyone on this earth shares.” She noticed him stiffen, offended apparently at her trivializing his transformation. She spoke before he could argue with her. “Yeah, you did some bad stuff as a demon. And you have the choice to make to bear responsibility for that. You don't have to now. You decide what to do with what your conscience tells you. I don't have that luxury.”
“Buffy-!” he protested.
“No Angel!” she snapped. “You choose to do good in the world. Or ill. But if you don't, if you turn your back on that, you only have yourself to answer to. I don't have that!”
“Buffy,” he cajoled, reaching for her hand, but she snatched it away before he could make contact. “You wanted to turn away from Slaying all the time, and if you still do, then... then there are ways-!”
“No!” her ire broke and she finally turned to face him, wondering if he would see it in her eyes. Rearing back slightly, she knew that he must. “There's something coming Angel. Something huge. I can feel it with every breath. With every beat of this damn heart. Something calling me. And if I don't answer, if I ignore what my instinct, what my calling, Slaying or whatever the hell it is tearing at me... If I don't answer?” She paused, her throat swelling as she gasped suddenly, tears welling in her eyes.
“Angel, it's going to drive me insane.”
She found, when all was said and done, that Seattle was quite light on the vampire population. That of course, was because she was consciously comparing it to Sunnydale. The mathematics of the problem, in her mind, were much easier to deal with than to think on what had happened earlier.
As she had expected, Angel had exploded with concern and sympathy masked as empathy, but she hadn't been fooled.
Angel had pulled out all the stops with her, even if he hadn't meant to and Buffy really hoped that he hadn't meant it. The guilt, the psychobabble, it all boiled down to the same thing in her mind. Angel wasn't in control of things, and being that he had been grown, vamped for over two hundred and fifty years, plus another few years of human life, figured that he had seen it and dealt with it all. But he hadn't. No one but another Slayer could understand the burden that came with it. And no one Slayer that had had the additional burden's that she'd had piled on her shoulders, mainly in the form of protecting Dawn, who was more than a mystical glowy key thing... well there was no other Slayer like that. That Buffy knew of. She certainly couldn't imagine that one had been ressurrected after two decades to take up the burden once more.
And she had no way of finding that out. Not, if she wanted to protect herself from more interference and guilt and controlling manuevers, that was. The fight with Angel tonight had just escalated, with her talking, him not hearing her and finally she had had enough. She had told him flat out that she had only used talking to him as an excuse to her cousin to go out an patrol.
She had seen in his eyes, the instant protest. That she was too fragile, too raw, to be back in the fight so soon. When he had begun to voice that, couched in more delicate terms of course, she had rounded on him and demanded to know who would, if she didn't. She was the only Slayer now, that they knew of. Tania, the Russian slayer had died, clearing the way for her resurrection and resumption of the line. He tried to tell her that she wasn't alone, but she knew, Buffy just knew, in her heart and her soul that she was destined to be alone in this.
It was only recalling, by the slight sheen of sweat that trickled down from his hairline, that Angel was now human, that had her checking her strength before shoving him away and running off. It was the only out she had, because if she hadn't, if she had stayed, she probably would have popped him in the mouth for his condescending attitude. It reminded her of the major problem that she had had with Angel, in a relationship and out of it.
He liked control. To take it, to own it, to make the decisions based on his experience alone.
She needed control. To exist within the darkness she saved others from. If there had been times when it had gone to her head, then at least, she tried to console herself, that she had learned from those times and had taken an important lesson with her.
'You are full of love...'
The words of the First Slater rang in her mind and she chuckled ruefully as she continued down the alley that she had turned to check out. So maybe she was. It hadn't been enough to save Dawn when it counted. It had been enough to sacrifice herself. But it certainly wasn't a love that would buy her the American dream.
And it certainly wasn't love that had her tearing up the very first Vampires she encountered not far from the park that she had met Angel in. She was glad to see that she had retained something from her old life. It wasn't always welcome, basing her decisions on a warrior's way of life. Looking at routes in the city as battle lines instead of choosing them for their speed to her destination. Looking at clothing for ease of fighting instead of fashion sense alone. Looking at each item around her with it's potential as a weapon in her hand, rather than the aesthetically pleasing nature or not of said item. Looking at people and seeing a herd in need of protection instead of...
It wasn't always welcome, but it would keep her alive. At least until she found Dawn. That was all she could hope to hang on for, right now. And as she deliberately paced her walk to a stroll through the alley, sure that the pulling on her senses denoted another Vampire or two, she was very startled at what she did find.
She made it all the way through the alley without finding any disturbance or sign that screamed 'Vamp hiding here!' Or 'vamp nest through here!' What she did get was a sporadically working street light, a deserted road way and two figures trudging together along the road, until the skinnier of the two called his farewells and turned aside. His friend's head came up and Buffy sucked in her breath, telling herself that it was just good luck that it was he.
Unconscious of the soft smile that graced her face, she took another step, raised her hand and called out, “Alec?”