Disclaimer: I own my computer. That's it.
A/N1: I hope this story isn't too confusing, but I just had to write it. There might be more to it, depending on how you guys like it. So review...
A/N2: This is entirely for Anneliese
who has to be the sweetest, funniest, most patient beta reader on this planet. Thank you so much for working through all my crap and putting up with my mistakes. Also thank you for making me like JC. *g*. Thank you, thank you, thank you.Enough
The silence was perfect.
There was nothing to penetrate it from the outside, not this deep inside the castle and those that treaded close to the hidden room knew not to make any noise. Disturbing the two creatures lying in the giant bed inside the chamber was deadly.
Light and dark, golden hair like spun sunlight in the deepest of nights and the other black like a crow, perfect, spotless, impenetrable.
They didn’t move, didn’t breathe and their hearts did not beat. They were like sculptures of ice, frozen in the artificial darkness of the windowless room, beautiful.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the golden one opened her eyes, bright green even in the dark, immediately searching out her lover’s face. A smile softened her features as her gaze fell on his sleeping form.
There were few who ever saw that smile, full of warmth in a cold place and love in a world where blood was god. But here, inside their room, their sanctuary, she knew that it was alright.
The only sound came from the soft sheets as she propped herself up on one elbow, careful not to move her other hand, which lay motionless on her lover’s chest, right on top his heart. It was either her or a coffin. He was so scared still, so afraid of the world he lived in. He didn’t understand that he would not be hurt anymore.
Or maybe he didn’t dare hoping.
But whenever they were forced to leave the other’s side he would hide himself away in a coffin. It was something she had never understood. Hiding from the daylight in a coffin, was like hiding from the monsters in a closet. Useless.
If the monster wanted you, it would get you. She had learned that the hard way.
Closing her eyes once more she took a deep breath, filling her lungs with oxygen her body did not need and the smells of the world around her.
The sun was going down, she could tell. Dusk was coming, softly forcing the sun’s light onto its knees. She could smell it, shades of red and orange and angry pink chased by a myriad of grays and blues, swirling like the ocean.
She smiled. It was a sad smile, loaded with emotions and hidden secrets. It had been forever, but she still remembered her last sunrise like it had been yesterday.
Standing on the top of that tower, holding Dawn, her sweet baby, her heart, her soul, her sister, the only thing in the world that had ever been truly hers, close. Oh, how she missed her baby, even after all these years. She remembered her sister’s tears, wet on her own face and pleas she had had to ignore.
She had not wanted to die. All she had wanted was for the fight to end. Death had been her only option. She remembered each and every word she had whispered harshly, so Dawn would listen through her grief and pain. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.
And then she had run into a sun as blood red as the one sinking into the ground outside of their little world this very moment.
There had been pain and a myriad of bright lights flashing in front of her eyes as every bone in her body broke and the intensity of it all tore her apart. No life flashing in front of her eyes. No loved ones. No thoughts or last regrets. Nothing. She had died the second she had let go of her sister for the last time.
And then there had been peace.
At least for a moment.
Her smile turned sour as she remembered it now, the surprise upon finding herself in that giant empty space, floating in an ocean of white nothing. And then that voice.“Hi kid.”
“What do you want, Whistler. I just died. Can’t you annoy someone else now?”
Bowler hat, badly colored suit, a tie that didn’t match and that east coast accent that made him sound like a teenager when he was probably as old as time. She crossed her arms in front of her.
“No can do kid. Got a job to do here.”
“And that would be?”
“Breaking the news to you.”
“What news, Whistler? Can’t you just let me be dead. I did enough for you now. I’m done.”
“The news that you aren’t done after all, sorry kid.”
For a second she just stared at him, waiting for him to start laughing and yelling ‘gotcha’. He didn’t. He was serious. It hurt. Actually it felt a lot like dying. She didn’t want to not be finished, to get sent back with a new mission. She was done. Done. Donedonedone.
“See, that portal. It killed you a little, but it also transported you to a different universe. One where vampires are a lot more like Anne Rice wanted them to be. You’re stuck in that dimension.”
“Well, then un-stuck me and kill me somehow.”
He shook his head, “Sorry, kid, can’t do.”
“Why not? I thought you worked for the Powers. I thought they could do everything. Why can’t they kill me?”
“They can’t. There are rules. Destinies that need to be followed. You can’t die now. But you can find some happiness there.”
That got through to her. Happiness. She had wanted to have some of that so badly. Had wanted to laugh without a care in the world just one more time. But she hadn’t seen a way to get there. She was hesitant, filled with the doubt of one who had been let down too many times, but still she asked, almost whispered, “That world. What’s it like there?”
He had told her. About the Council and all the creatures descended from it and the Mother. He had explained the world to her, explained it as best as he could. There was nothing there for her to slay. No destiny. No prophesies.
He had known that he had her from the moment he had told her that she could be happy there. It was the crumb she had been looking for, for five years. Happiness. Peace. Her own decisions.
Of course he had failed to mention that her powers would be translated into the form that was most common in that new world, until the last second. She had woken with a hunger for blood and a pair of fangs in her mouth only moments later.
The Vampire Slayer had become a vampire herself. And the only one without a sire at that. She had landed in a heap in the middle of a meeting of most of the European masters.
They had threatened her after she had appeared out of thin air. She had fought one of them, accepting his challenge. Before she had known what was going on she had been the new master of a nice piece of the French Mediterranean coast.
Afterwards things had gone by in a blur, almost a decade spent learning about her new world, her new status and her new job. Master vampire.
She was respected and she was at peace. After she had unknowingly taken out one of the strongest masters during her first hour in this world there had been no further challenges. ”By the mother, who are you?”
For a second she hesitated. What name to give herself? If this was all new, then could she be someone new? Could she be someone else, but Buffy Summers?
“What year is it?”
“The 1503rd of the Christian years, my lady.”
That made her answer a lot easier. She took a deep breath. Elisabeth Anne Summers. Nicknamed Buffy by her parents. Called Lissbeth by her beloved grandmother.
“A good name. The name for a princess,” Her Nana used to say.
“Lissbeth. My name is Lissbeth.”
There had been a lot of awed talk and questions that she had listened to with amusement. Far over a thousand, that was what they had thought she was, because of her power. She hadn’t corrected them. Ever.”My lady? Who made you?”
Lissbeth bit her lower lips for a second. Nobody. Nobody had made her. She should have thought of this. She didn’t belong. She had barely been here an hour and already she didn’t belong anymore.
“I can’t remember.”
And elderly vampire, a mockery of everybody’s grandmother petted her hand, smiling broadly, showing off her fangs in a proud gesture.
“Do not worry, my sweet. It is normal to forget things. It happens with age.”
Lissbeth could feel the first stirrings of life in her lover and shifted closer to him. She loved to have his heart start beating under her ear and hands, like she was giving him life. Taking another deep breath she took in his scent, so unique, so beautiful, like the purest of flowers, with only a hint of eternity beneath it. It was a scent she had never forgotten since she had first met him.Lissbeth sat on her throne, styled and dressed carefully, like a doll. Visitors were flooding her court and they demanded protocol. Usually she just did things her own way, but there were times when it was better to follow the rules.
She was bored out of her mind.
Not even Asher was there to keep her company with his small remarks and subtle jokes.
Suddenly a new face appeared in the crowd before her. He was tall, black-haired with blue eyes like the deepest ocean and so beautiful it made her sad.
Sad, because she could see what his beauty cost him. He was standing beside Serephina, holding her hand, smiling pleasantly for her benefit. He was a toy. Something to pass time with and then pass on to the next master who wanted him. A catamite.
He had the story of his life written in his face. A hard childhood, a beautiful vampire offering a way out and in the end, a torment worse than the one he had endured in his mortal life. He was young and he was weak.
Lissbeth knew without a doubt that living like this, a whipping boy for everybody who wanted him, a toy to please and an object to vent one’s anger on, would kill him. Slowly, painfully, surely.
He caught her eyes across a sea of vampires and she couldn’t help but smile. He smiled back, tightly, like it cost him. He was afraid of her. Afraid that she would be the next in line, the next to take and try to break him.
She had taken him from Serephina and made him hers.
Piece by piece she had given him back his life, his strength and then showed him how beautiful their world could be.
And she had learned to love him.
She never told him, in the decade they had spent together now, she had never said the words, because she knew that he would not believe them. The day he learned to believe in himself again was the day she wanted to tell him.
But she would never get the chance.
She watched as his eyes fluttered open, so blue, so warm, so human. Young. It was the right word to explain him. She had been a vampire for barely a century, but she had seen and done things that others never would. She had fought gods and demons. She had lived and died and lived again and again.
She had been thrown into a strange world one hundred and six years ago and she had made it hers. She had taken her chance and used it. And now she was running out of time.
She could feel it, deep down in her bones, that her time was ending. A part of her, she guessed, had always known that this day would come. The day she was ripped out of this piece of heaven she had made for herself in a world as imperfect as the next.
But suddenly it was too soon. She could barely remember the faces of her friends, except for Dawn’s, but there were so many things she still needed to show Jean-Claude. She needed to take him to America and tell him how much she loved him. She needed to hold him close during the day, so he would not crawl back into his coffin, hiding form the world. She needed to tell Asher that she wasn’t angry with him after all for leaving for nearly two years with his beloved Julianna.
She needed to do so many things, but she would never get the chance now. Smiling down at him, she bent over and captured his lips in a sweet kiss. Feeling his hands move over her back she laughed softly into his mouth and allowed him to pull her closer, hugging her to him like he would never let her go.
She wished he wouldn’t.
“How did you sleep, my love?”
She smiled, “Like the dead.”
His laughter poured over her like warm summer rain, making her skin tingle. And it had nothing to do with his powers.
She could feel something tugging at the very center of her soul, pulling, ripping her to pieces.
She pulled back and he let her, a look of worry on his face. So afraid that he had done something wrong. He was like broken glass, the pieces were all over the place, glittering in the dark. Each beautiful on its own but not whole. She had wanted to put him back together so badly.
The tugging grew stronger and she could no longer hide the pain she felt from him. He gasped and opened his mouth to say something. She stopped him with a finger on his delicate lips, shaking her head.
“Not now. Please, we don’t have much time.”
“What? I do not understand? What is happening?”
“Hush. Hush and listen. There is so much I wanted to tell you before my time ended. There isn’t enough left now, but let me try, please?”
He nodded, confused, scared. She could feel the pull stretch, including her body now.
“Don’t let others bring you down. You are beautiful and smart and a good man and one day you will be your own master. You will have whatever you want and you will forget that you ever met me. You will forget that you were hurt. You will be great. I just know it.”
He breaths came fast, short and cost her a lot of energy, but she did not dare stopping, afraid that she would never get another chance. Knowing
that there would never be another chance. He was silent too, understanding nothing but her need to talk. He could give her that, even if he did not like her words. He would never forget her. How could he? And he would never let her go either, not if he could.
“Asher will look after you once I’m gone.”
“But you won’t....” She was breathing too fast, too hard, like her lungs were on fire. But she did not even have to breathe.
“I will, Jean-Claude. Just listen, please. Asher will take care of you. I saw the way he looks at you. He won’t let you down. Give him my love. Tell him that I will miss his strange humor.”
Finally the magic wrapped around her body, pulling her under and rolling her over at the same time. Jean-Claude could see it too now, red like blood, spilling from her chest, wrapping around her like ropes.
She smiled, through the pain.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry we didn’t get more time. I love you. I know you don’t believe me, but I do. With all my heart. I love you Jean-Claude. I won’t see you again, but please, please believe me. I need you to believe it, for me, one day.”
There were tears running down her face as she ran her fingers over his lips one last time, the kiss of a phantom lover, a ghost.
For all the pain she felt, she had known peace. Not nearly long enough, and all too short with Jean-Claude, but she had known it. She would not allow this memory to be stained by tears and sadness.
Jean-Claude did not understand what was going on. He saw her tears and her pain and the magic but he did not understand. He reached out to her, trying to hold her to him, like he always did, but his hand went through her.
He saw her last words more than he heard them, she was so far gone already.
“I love you.”
And then he was alone in the dark with the fading whisper of magic and a love he had never gotten the chance to learn.
Buffy’s eyes shot open and she drew a deep, shuddering breath. It was the first in over a century that she really needed, but there was no air to fill her lungs.
She gasped soundlessly as realization dawned and started to claw at the hard wood above her while the tears kept running down her face.
It had not been enough.