by Francis

She was bruised and so was I, we were all bruised. You can't really fend off the apocalypse without any damage, without any losses.

Xander seemed to be in high spirits despite everything else, which made me wonder whether he knew something we didn't. But I didn't ask him. I didn't need to. Somehow, I could feel that everything was going to be alright. Everything was going to be fine from now on.

Willow sank against Kennedy, who though bruised like all of us, already healed up fast. I watched them and couldn't help but feel glad that they survived, that they would have the chance to live their lives, to get to know each other better, even grow old together.

Watching them I couldn't help but feel a sense of sadness. A sadness that comes from accepting the loss of someone. A sadness like a scar.

I looked at her direction, and there she was, talking enthusiastically with Dawn and the other Slayers. She seemed happy, but I knew that somewhere deep inside, that little heart of hers was broken. I knew that for all the things that would change for the better, she would miss the old life and the possibilities it seemed to offer. Buffy was as lost as I was.

And then she turned to me and smiled and I smiled back because I can't help not smiling back at Buffy. There was the old life and all the possibilities there and it was all gone, it was all in Buffy's smile. Weak, tired, small and frail. I watched her excuse herself from the group and head to where I was.

She asked if I was alright and I told her I was. I was there wasn't I? How could I not be? I made space and Buffy took a seat beside me. It was there that I saw her again, the saw the girl I once loved beyond all reason. The girl I loved in the town that was no longer there. The love was no longer there, it was long gone.

I tried to imagine being with Buffy, but I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't picture the house we would live in because it was destroyed, like the school where we would send our children to. All of this time I was fighting to go back there and now here I was leaving it all behind. A hole in the ground.

Buffy opened her mouth to say something to me, then stopped herself. "What?" I asked her.

"Nothing," she answered. I had lost her, she had lost me.

Then she took my hand in hers and she looked at me the way I looked at her all those years. And I could see it in her eyes; the girl I once loved, loving me back and the old life, being left for a better one.

Giles was on the driver's seat humming an old song about roads, and there were roads ahead of us, a thousand roads. Sooner or later we would have to take separate ones. Right then and there, I prayed that I could go down the same road she was, at the end of it there would be the new life, a house and with it all, the possibilities I thought was lost forever.


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