Buffys Lost Summer
IV Buffy Summers Day Off
His voice caressed her name like his gentle hands had often caressed the smooth line of her jaw. Before she had met Angel, she had never considered a man could look beautiful, but he was, and for that short time, she had kept him all to herself. Until she plunged the sword into his midsection. The sword she was holding in her hands right now. She nearly jumped in surprise. The vortex was just barely visible behind his weakened and vulnerable body, but it was growing hungrily. The sword had not yet been driven into her lovers belly.
Angels eyes caught her own, and her heart felt an invisible hand squeeze. She lowered the sword, and took him in her arms. Im going to keep him this time, forget this world, I want my Angel. Her free hand came up and stroked his hair. His body was shaking slightly, and it took a moment for her to realize he was crying. It took another to realize she was, too. The vortex was as big as his head. He tried to get some words out between the sobs, and Buffy soothed him with quiet, loving murmurs.
Its okay, lover, I wont let you go this time. She pressed her cheek into his shoulder, sighing. Her tears drifted lazily down her face. Angel was saying something, but she couldnt hear the words. She found herself transfixed by his lips, moving silently, and she had to kiss him. It was a wonderful, sweet kiss, and she didnt dare open her eyes because she knew what she would see. But the dream had rules, and against her will, her eyes opened, and she could see the vortex was twice as big as before. She could feel a gentle pull forward.
I love you, Angel, oh God, do I love you, but Im sorry. The sword. It hummed. It begged to be used. She pulled herself away from his delicious lips, and the effort that took was nearly enough to destroy her. His eyes asked the question she dared not answer. His eyes asked for forgiveness. His eyes asked for mercy. The point of the blade swung up, and as she drove it forward, into his torso, she felt cold steel plunge into her own heart. She backed away, doubling over with the pain, crying, wailing. Angel fell backwards into the vortex, and
Her eyes sprung open, wet with tears, and found Whistler sitting beside her, whispering her name into her ear, trying to wake her up. Buffy blinked, remembered where she was. A movie theater. Near the front. Where Whistler came from, she didnt know. She didnt care, either, not right then. She grabbed him by the lapels and shoved him to the floor between the seats.
Is this my punishment? she growled, vibrating with anger. I get to kill him again and again? She shook Whistler a couple of times. Answer me, you little weasel! Whats up with this nightmare torture deal?
She stared at his sympathetic face, the fury draining slowly from her body. Then she collapsed on top of him, crying. He wiggled a hand free from under their bodies and tried to comfort her. Her voice was unsteady. It isnt fair.
Im not the guy to talk to about that, Im afraid. I am sorry. But right now, weve got other things to worry about.
Buffys gaze sharpened. Like?
Whistler shifted underneath her. A half-filled box of chocolate candies was lodged between his shoulder blades. The FBI agents currently surrounding this building would be a good start.
Her eyes widened. For me?
He nodded. Fraid so.
She pushed herself up and crouched on her heels, peering up at the side exits. The theater was nearly empty, except for a few couples near the back who seemed more interested in themselves than the movie. Oh, this cant be good.
Whistler grabbed the back of a seat and pulled himself up to a sitting position. Were lucky, theres only five or six of them.
He shrugged. I dont want them to catch me either. Feds have got this smell that makes me gag.
Buffy thought for a second. If there were more than a couple, then theyd also be guarding the emergency exits. But if they didnt know that she knew they were out there She pointed towards the exit door on the right side of the screen. Out that door, I lead, you follow, and if I have to fight, try not to get in the way.
They made their way down the aisle quickly. On the screen, Matthew Broderick was telling the audience that Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive. No one was listening.
Buffy opened the exit door to find a man wearing a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses with his gun held loosely at his side. Before he could react, she rushed towards him, thrust him towards the building on the other side of the alley, and pinned his gun against the wall.
Hi, there. Im really sorry.
The FBI agent blinked. For what?
For your obvious use of a gun as a way to make up for your other inadequacies. As she said the last word, she grabbed his gun hand, pushing it upwards. She twisted her torso and kneed him in the crotch. The agent groaned. Myself, Ive never been impressed with the size of the weapon. She wrenched the gun from his hand, spun around and flipped him over her shoulder, judo-style. His head hit the pavement hard, and he became very still.
Whistler emerged from the theater, eyeing the prone agent, stepping carefully around him towards Buffy.
The Slayer stood there, somewhat puzzled. That was way too easy. Im more alert in algebra class. She looked at him sharply. Did you have anything to do with this?
Do we want to talk about it, or do we want to get out of here before this guys buddies find us?
Buffy placed the gun carefully in the agents holster and then began running down the alley, Whistler close behind.
At the other end of the alley, Jameson was yelling frantically into his cell phone.
The chase was on.
* * *
Why do they call it the Windy City, anyway? Oz looked up and down Monument Avenue. I mean, check it out. Decided lack of breeze action here.
Maybe were standing in the wrong place, suggested Willow helpfully.
Well, you know how when you run, you feel the wind in your face? asked Xander. Oz and Willow nodded. Maybe theres been a lot of running going on in this town. Running to and fro, more to and less fro, but you get the idea.
The question is, started Giles with a hint of frustration evident in his voice, where did Buffy run to?
Or fro, added Willow.
We can probably rule out the fashion district, said Cordelia. And any place with books in it.
Giles sighed. It had been Xander who noticed that their FBI tail had disappeared suddenly while driving through the center of the downtown core, and then it had been blind luck, pulling up behind their own tail, which was speeding down the lakeshore, and following them to a theater on the south side. Luckily for Buffy, not so luckily for them, she had escaped the FBIs clutches just before they arrived. How many government agents were on the case now? Were they going to pull in the local police force to assist in the search? Giles was surprised at how ardent the FBI agents desire was to catch the Slayer, and worried that perhaps they knew more than one would expect.
How are we gonna find her this time? asked Xander, looking at Giles.
She may want to try to lose herself in crowds of people, so she will not stand out as much.
At least until dark, continued Willow. Then she could be on her way to anywhere.
So crowds of people. Cordelia wrinkled her nose. That means
Tourist attractions, finished Xander. The scourge of mankind. They havent been the same since that first travel brochure detailing the seven wonders of the world.
God, to have to mingle with tourists. We better find Buffy soon, or as Calvin Klein is my witness, Ill make her pay. Cordelia shuddered.
* * *
Oh, good, a museum, I was hoping to have a chance to look at old stuff and breathe in carcinogenic dust. Buffy did a quick look-around, scanning the street and sidewalks, before pulling Whistler through the main doors.
It was your idea to hide with tourists.
I am a tourist, just passing through, no time for anything but the next sight-seeing opportunity and maybe a few over-priced souvenirs made in a third world country by teenage girls like me.
They entered the lobby and joined the tail end of a tour group, which turned left into the Animal Biology exhibit. The tour guide was excitedly discussing the various mammals of Africa, and the group was successfully ignoring him, stopping to stare at the various static displays and kiosks. Buffy and Whistler found themselves in front of a display that showed a stuffed lion menacing a stuffed zebra. Behind the lion were several zebras about to trample the unwary predator.
Memo to lion, whispered Whistler, check your rearview.
Buffy glanced quickly at her companion, but he was pretending innocence.
So explain to me why youre here. Are you one of those stalking demons?
He shrugged. Im a good demon, really. No Darth Vader tattoos or anything.
Buffy arched an eyebrow. A good demon. Isnt that an oxymoron, like quality television?
Whistler sighed and adjusted his hat. Its complicated. Like life, but with a sense of style. When we do bad things, really bad things, Im talkin stuff that would make the NSA gasp in shock, to get back into the Big Guys good graces, we have to pay the dues. Penance. Your mother ever tell you that good deeds get you into heaven? She was right. But the little stuff, it doesnt really count for much. He likes big-time, fate-altering stuff, like saving the world.
Basically youre a Boy Scout demon, then.
Pretty much, but I got to keep my old hat.
Now they were in the World of Birds exhibit, and dozens of stuffed birds were hanging from the ceiling. The sight was oddly disconcerting. All these birds, hung in space in forever flight, she thought. Forever flight.
You didnt answer my question, Mr. Hat. Why are you here?
He left her side to approach an ostrich display. He pointed at the ostrichs head. Dont you think hed be happier with a decent hat?
She grabbed him and turned him around to face her. That was the most pathetic attempt at avoiding a question Ive ever heard. Does the lameness come from the hat?
He didnt struggle. Well, I have a few more good deeds to get done before I can get gone
Buffy winced. Oh, no.
And one of them is to help you with a problem.
The last time you helped me, I ended up killing my boyfriend. Not a great track record, Whistler.
What if I told you Angel isnt dead?
* * *
Remind me again how this is helping us find Buffy? Willow asked, her forehead pressed against the glass window. Beside her, Oz was in a similar position, their bodies angled forward over the railing, so that they were looking straight down a hundred floors to the street below.
When people get lost in a forest, they climb a tree to find their way, right?
So, this is the biggest tree in a forest of skyscrapers.
The Sears Tower.
Oz, Im curious; do you expect to spot her on the streets from up here?
Would you think less of me if I said yes?
They looked at each other and giggled.
Willows gaze switched back to the street below. Look how small everything is from up here. Like how ants must feel when theyre on top of a picnic table looking down on other ants.
Oz tried to nod, then realized the window was in the way. Everythings slower from up here, too. Peaceful.
Yeah, you cant even hear that police cars siren.
They stood there for a few moments, silent, enjoying the quiet. One hand came out to meet the other, and fingers entwined themselves in a comfortable position.
You know, Oz began, being up here, looking down at it all, makes you think about the big questions of life.
Oh, like why are we here, and where are we going?
Actually, I was thinking more like, who thought Mr. Potato Head was a good idea, and why are so many people afraid of love?
Well, uh, love is scary, replied Willow. Like what were doing now. If this window broke, wed fall a hundred floors to our deaths. But while its holding, we have a really great time, even if the view can be scary.
So the window represents trust.
Thats right. But most people are too afraid to believe the window can be strong enough, so they never try. Willows brow furrowed prettily. I think maybe thats part of the reason Buffy ran away. I think she feels she broke the window with Angel, and that hurts too much to deal with.
Oz squeezed her hand. This window seems pretty fine to me.
Willow smiled. Me, too.
Is it just me, or does this remind you of a scene in a movie?
* * *
The wire-frame velociraptor seemed ready to pounce on our heroes, hungry for fresh meat. The young blonde girl had a hunted, adrenalin-charged look to her, and her hands were gripping her companion with a white-knuckled intensity.
Dont play with me, Whistler. Ive had a hard summer, and I dont see you making it any easier.
Hey, hey, youre cracking the leather. Ease off, Slayer. Im the Boy Scout demon, remember? Im not playing around here.
Buffy let him go, but kept her eyes on him. He shook his shoulders, releasing built-up tension. Behind them, the tour group was listening to the guide talk about the Jurassic period, and how the movie was totally wrong about this, that, and the other thing. A security guard stopped watching the tour group long enough to give Buffy and Whistler a curious glance.
Great, now weve got the guards attention. Why dont I just give up right now? End this ridiculousness so I can get some sleep. Buffy took a step towards the guard, and Whistler caught her arm.
Now whos playing around? Angel needs you, Buffy. You can save him. Youre the only one who can.
Ive noticed that my life lately has taken on a Days of Our Lives flavour. It leaves a bad taste, Whistler. So do you. The Slayer leaned back against the railing and closed her eyes. It would really be Mother Teresa of you to be not there when I open my eyes.
Whistler waited patiently. Buffy waited just as patiently. Finally, the demon cleared his throat. You dont know, do you?
Whistler chuckled. Think your friends are having a good summer? Sun-tanning at the beach, playing frisbee in the park, eating ice cream and telling stories that only friends can tell. All the while, wondering where you are?
Your choice of conversation topics is seriously endangering your life.
Im a demon, remember? I dont have a life. He paused, scanning the crowd of people in a deliberate fashion. What if your friends were in that crowd, Buffy? What if they were right around the corner? What would you do?
Buffy glared at Whistler, growled softly, spun and began walking quickly away.
You think they stayed home? Whistler called out to her. He made a vexed sound, and ran after her.
* * *
Somehow, Cordelias arm had entwined itself with Xanders arm, and he wondered if she was feeling all right. The last time she had shown this much comfortable affection in public Okay, this was the first time. She was even pressed tightly against him, and the contact of her body warmth was creating an embarrassing situation down below. Thats probably why shes all huggy she wants to humiliate me yet again, he thought. Well, maybe not. Half the time he spent with her, Xander didnt know what she was thinking or feeling about him, and the other half was usually a healthy mix of smoochies and sarcasm. It was all very confusing. Willow and Oz didnt seem to have this problem, and, oh, lets not go there, kids, thats a can of worms that needs to be sealed up tight and buried deep in a lead-lined cavern. Xander shuddered.
Are you cold? Cordy asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
See, now what was he supposed to do with that? Concern? Cordelia? Was this some new tactic of hers to put him off guard? Whatever it was, it was working.
No, I, uh, just didnt realize how small we were when compared to the whole galaxy. Makes you think. Oh, look, there was a set-up for a sarcastic comment if he ever heard one. He began to flinch automatically
Mmm, she said in an agreeable tone. It really does. She looked around the Milky Way Galaxy exhibit of the Adler Planetarium and said, Im glad we came here.
Yeah, well The defensiveness trailed off as he realized there wasnt anything mean or sarcastic in her words. Xander stopped in front of an interactive display for black holes and faced his girlfriend. He looked into her eyes for so long that Cordelia cocked her head to the side and said, Is everything okay?
Where are you? Are you here? With me? Maybe youre possessed or something. It was probably that super-mocha cappucino deal at Starbucks, wasnt it? Too much caffeine, and your brain got scrambled. Or, or, uh He glanced at the display and he brightened. Its a ray from space. Thats it. Whatever it is, Im sure Giles and Willow can figure out a cure for it.
Cordy put her hand up to his mouth to stop his babbling. Xander, what are you talking about?
He shifted his weight on his feet. Uh, well, ever since we all split up to look for Buffy, youve been nice. To me. He brought his hands up in a defensive posture. Not that Im saying this is a bad thing, its great, I love it, but its like youre the Stepford Cordelia, and Ive never met this you before.
To his surprise, she smiled. Xander, let me tell you something. It takes a lot of energy to maintain the Jerry Springer confrontational personality, and sometimes I want to have a relaxing afternoon, okay? By suppertime, Ill be all critical and sarcastic again, but right now, Im having a good time with a guy I like very much. So enjoy it while it lasts, Xander, and if youre good, you may see this side of me again. She pulled him close and kissed him vigorously, then took his hand in hers, leading him down the rest of the exhibit.
He shook his head in disbelief. Cordy, you wouldnt happen to have a remote control, would you? Because Id be all over the pause button like Swiss on cheese.
PREVIOUS STORY Next Part