A/N: Spoilers for the end of season three and a warning for weirdness. i didn't mean to put Buffy in the middle of the whole thing like that but I wanted Anne's thoughts on the whole thing and this is what happened. I'll probably revamp the whole thing as soon as I figure out how to make it smoother. Until then, don't throw tomatoes. Please.
When Duncan asks if there is anything else he can do she hesitates, stutters, and then says, “Can you call Buffy? I’d like to say goodbye.”
She stumbles over the last word and it comes out harsher than intended. Goodbye. This is what this is. Goodbye. She’s leaving the man she wanted to be the father of her child because he beheads people and then they live in his head and there’s so much death around him. Anne became a doctor to stop the dying. Duncan is dying personified. They all are. Richie and Buffy and whoever else is out there.
She saw it in Richie’s eyes when he told her that he died. Just like that. I died. Like it didn’t matter. Death doesn’t matter to them because it’s all around them and she can’t. She won’t…but Buffy is her friend. And she wants to say goodbye. Because they won’t see each other again. Anne has to think for two now. And she doesn’t want her baby girl to grow up with death. Besides, the blonde might take a bit of the gut wrenching ache out of Duncan’s gaze.
She comes an hour later, throwing her coat over the back of the sofa as if she’s at home here and maybe she is. More than Anne ever was. Duncan leans against the wall, arms crossed defensively in front of him, biting back on words Anne knows he wants to say.
Buffy’s eyes land on the packed bags before she looks up at Anne. “So you’re really leaving, huh?”
Anne opens her mouth to say, I can’t do this. This is too hard. People die around you all the time and I’m not dead. I’m a doctor. I save lives. I’m going to be a mother. But Duncan will never be a father. And he kills. He kills and he looks beautiful while he does it but he’s wrong and I’m scared. I think I’m scared of myself.
But before any of those wordsfears
leave her mouth, the other woman’s eyes drop to her flat belly and she whispers, “A child.”
Anne’s eyes fly to meet Duncan’s but he looks as surprised as she feels and then Buffy drops to her knees and gently reaches out a hand, almost touching Anne’s belly, but not quite. For a moment her tiny hand hovers, then it drops.
“Yes,” she tells the standing woman’s midriff, “I can see why Mommy’s leaving.”
Mommy. No-one’s called her that before. Ever. She wants to say that no, the baby is not the reason she’s leaving, at least not the only one, but something in the tiny blonde’s expression says she already knows.
“A baby.” There’s such wonder in her voice. “You’re a miracle, you know that? Well, you might have been. A bit of life for all of us. We don’t have that much life of our own, you know? You would have had a dozen uncles and aunties with crazy stories. And a Daddy who skewers all potential dates until you’re forty five. Adam and me, Duncan and Richie and Amanda and Darius. We would have loved you.”
She trails off, meeting Anne’s startles gaze. How does she do it? How does she always understand the things that people can’t say because they don’t know themselves? Old, Anne thinks. She’s just that old. People don’t surprise her anymore. But now…There are tears in her eyes. Tears for an unborn baby that she might have gotten to see growing up. Perhaps. Somehow. Tears for something that might have been.
Suddenly she shakes her head and turns back to the baby. “But that would have been selfish of us. We wouldn’t have been good for you so it’s alright that you and Mommy are leaving. But if you ever get into trouble, you come and find Duncan, or any of us. You hear me?” She waits for a moment, then nods. “Good.”
Then she’s back on her feet as if nothing strange just happened and to her it didn’t because she’s beyond such thing as strange and normal and ordinary. She hugs Anne tight, like a friend. They’ve only known each other for a year. She’s never really moved past the friend-of-my-lover-category. But she’s…she’s… she understands things. Anne will miss that. Will miss the whole bunch of them, all those people Duncan calls family.
Anne is not just leaving Duncan. She’s leaving all of them and what they bring. She’s leaving a life that belongs in a fairy tale in favour of being a mid thirty single mother.
“Buffy, I - ”
“No,” she interrupts. “You don’t have to explain anything to me. You don’t owe me anything. We all know what we are. Duncan can tell you that as well as I. You have someone else to think of now. I know what that feels like.”
“You do?” Surprised, Duncan takes a step forward. They can’t have children.
Buffy smiles oddly and nods. “Her name was Dawn. I think. She was…everything.”
Then she turns, garbs her coat and makes her way to the door. Door knob in hand she stops and offers, “Thank you for saying goodbye in person. Look after the little one, for all of us. There’s not enough light in this world anymore.“
Anne nods and for the first time she realizes just what she is taking away from these people. To them, her child is not just a child, it’s a miracle. A dream come true. Something they don’t dare hope for. Oh, and how they would have loved her.
Then Buffy is gone and it’s just Anne and Duncan and a ride to the airport again. He doesn’t look so sad anymore, just resigned. It’s not fair of her, to give him this dream and then take it away. He deserves better. But so does she. Both of them.
Unconsciously, her hand goes to her belly, rubbing small circles. She’ll name her baby Hope.
That way, she won’t forget what she gave up and what she took from these people who know nothing but an eternity of battles and death.