Five Times Buffy Saw Angel
and One time She Didn't
Summary: Fifteen years is long enough –
Buffy/Angel A/U following Angel Season 5
Word Count: ~ 5300
Disclaimer: Not mine, Whedon's et al, a
work of transformative fiction. Unbetaed.
A/N: Thanks Ares, for your undying support
of my fiction!!
TIMES BUFFY SAW ANGEL AND ONE TIME SHE DIDN'T
/ Ground Zero
“I need more butter,” Buffy whispers to
Dawn grunts back, an annoyed affirmative,
so Buffy slides out of her seat and mutters 'sorry, sorry' as she makes her way
out of the row and into the aisle. The movie had seemed like a good idea, but
she's bored out of her mind. Dawn understands more Italian than she does, she's
tired of subtitles, and Brad Pitt just isn't as hot when he's playing a
goofball. She wishes she were home in Scotland.
She bursts into the light of the grand hall
and right into a massive block of muscle, her stomach cramping and her senses
exploding. Reaching out to fist the guy's shirt front with her left hand, she's
dropped the popcorn and is reaching around to grab her stake with the right,
when the guy begins to crumble. His dust and her popcorn drop and slide across
the tiled floor at the same time. The point of her stake lands on Angel's
His lip quirks up on one side. “Buffy.”
She jerks the stake back. Her tongue is
stuck to the roof of her mouth and her heart jumps in her chest.
His smile dies as he sweeps an assessing
gaze over her.
From the corner of her eye, she catches the
movement of red approaching. An attendant, no doubt in response to their
collision. She knows he will tell himself it was just the two of them, no third
party involved. Civilian brains just seem built that way.
Angel licks his lips and glances the
“Can I buy you more,” he says.
“Oh, my,” the attendant exclaims in near
perfect English upon arrival. “I'll just get this cleaned up. Are you both
“Yes, we're fine,” Angel says for the both
of them. “I'm sorry about the mess.”
“Happens more than you'd think, sir, the
lights are bright out here.” He is already backing away, turning down the hall
again, towards a utility door.
“Thank you,” Angel calls. He raises his
brows at Buffy and she falls in beside him. Just before the lobby, he takes her
hand and shoulders through the Women's room door, taking her with him. He
swings her around and covers her mouth, his tongue darting in to taste her
before she can react. She closes automatically around him, her mouth, her arms.
Lets go and absorbs him.
He walks them backward into a stall,
somehow slams the door shut while turning and lifting and then she's snugged up
against him. Her leggings, with their built-in cotton crotch, are no barrier to
the pleasurable shock of his hard length against her heat. She tilts her hips
to let him caress her clit, hissing when he rolls his own hips in response so
that he slides across her and back again.
Gasping for air, she lets her head tip
back. He kisses across the line of her jaw and and trails his tongue down her
throat to suckle at the hollow above her collarbone. The sensation drives her
hips into him and he pushes back, setting up a steady rhythm that has her
gulping for air, her eyes tearing up. She wants, just wants. In seconds, she's
shuddering, grasping at his jacket, his shoulder, his neck as she tries to draw
“Shhh,” he whispers, his breath a brush of
cool along the heated skin of her neck. “Buffy.”
And then she's crying and he straightens up
to simply hold her, still hard against her as she quivers. He shifts one arm,
reaches up to guide her head down until she's tucked beneath his chin. He
strokes her hair and sways, soothing her for just a moment.
When she relaxes her legs around his waist,
he lets her down, hugs her before he'll let her step back. She wipes her cheeks
with both hands and then peeks up at him. His eyes are closed. She wants to lay
her hand on his face, trace his cheekbone with her thumb, say his name.
Instead, she presses her hand to the center
of his chest. He opens his eyes and stares down at it. Leaning into him, she
eases the stall door open and backs away, grateful no one has come in. There's
also no one in the grand hall. The tile gleams, spotless.
Dawn glances over when Buffy slips back in
beside her. “Dust smudge,” she whispers, pointing at Buffy's cheek. “Just one?”
Buffy nods, rubbing her cheek. Dawn watches
her a second longer before she focuses on the movie again, her shoulders
dropping. She scoots down in her seat and relaxes. After a moment, Buffy does
She's on the Buriganga River in Dhaka. The
city isn't what she expected from Bangladesh. It's massive and modern and
there's a huge number of people on the streets. A lot of them have fled the rising
sea and their own flooded villages. Many of them seem as out of place as she
This morning, she and Nora and Kat followed
the river out to Lalbagh Fort in pursuit of a Brytlannet demon that's been
punching holes into other dimensions these last three months, in search of
something. Andrew and Giles have yet to ascertain what that something is, but
considering the body count the demon's stacking up, Buffy's not waiting for
She slips in from the south, coming up from
the river through the rising fog to cross an uneven veranda into an underground
room below the remains of the central bastion. Easing her way to the left, she
climbs the stairs and crosses another patch of leftover veranda, following her
instinct and her nose. The demon exudes a distinct odor. It's bitter, but not
unpleasant. Xander said it smelled like fermented chestnuts mixed in coffee,
which made Buffy rethink the places they'd been sending him.
The ruined stables are dark, the stone
damp. Shards of near petrified wood, which is all that is left of the interior,
stab every which way. She feels her way in. After a few minutes, she
understands they have been purposely placed and the spaces between them shorten
the further in she goes. She's entering a nest.
Reaching over her shoulder, she draws the
short sword at her back. It's been blessed by a local priest and dipped in
goat's blood before dawn. The shuuush of the blade sliding free seems loud. The
Brytlannet is not. She registers the explosion of sharp pain in her ribs just
before her face scrapes wood, she bounces off the stone floor, and skids, the
shaky nest collapsing onto her as she goes, until she fetches up hard against
the outside wall. The demon's roar fills her ears. Her face stings and her ribs
scream. Shoving the sharp fragments of wood aside, she scrambles up, and heaves
in a deep breath, relieved to find her ribs unbroken and her sword still in her
hand. Muscle damage she can deal with. She swaps the sword to her other hand,
tucking her right arm around her ribcage. The pressure helps.
The demon swings down from above. She
slashes upward, twisting her wrist. It falls at her feet in the tangle of wood
and looks upward, baring its neck for the eighth of a second she needs to drive
the sword home. Its distinctive, odd, warbling shout, the sound of a thousand
sparrows wheeling overhead, dies in its throat.
“Okay, then,” Buffy says out loud.
The damp absorbs her words so fast, she can
barely hear them. Frowning, she pulls her sword, wipes it on the demon's red
cotton shirt, and picks her way back out into the fort. The fog is thicker than
when she entered, though the light is rising, too, so that everything is white.
Nora is running towards her, but something else captures her attention. A dark
shape shifts atop the central bastion and disappears.
“Buffy!” Nora says, slowing to a trot and
then a walk.
“Got it,” Buffy tells her. “Where's Kat?”
Nora points to the east. “Main building.”
“Get her. Meet me at the river.”
Wary, Buffy is careful crossing back into
the underground room. He lets her see him, stands for just long enough that he
is silhouetted in the archway. His scent lingers in the room.
“Angel,” she calls, but he's gone, his name
only an echo in her ears.
/ Year Seven
Walking across the Pont del Diable in
Catalonia, in Catalonia, she feels him. It's near three am and she's done for
the night, bar de-briefing the slayers that remain. The draft off the river
Llobregat below is chilly, despite the fleece coat she's wearing. She can't
help but think of cold Sunnydale nights, heating up under his touch. She stops
at the bridge's highest point and waits, but he doesn't show himself.
At the far end, she glances back. The full
moon gilds him in silver.
She breaks first, walks back towards him.
And then he's moving forward. They meet at the bridge's highest point.
“Buffy,” he whispers.
She doesn't know what it is she does that
tangles them up between heartbeats, but he's under her hands, her lips, her
thighs. He sinks under their weight, lays her down upon him, her hands between
them, freeing them, and then he's thrusting up against her, growing warmer by
the second. He only shifts, the smallest rock of his hips against her frantic
pelvic roll, and they both moan as he slides inside.
She freezes. The river roars in her ears.
He rolls them over, his arms keeping her back and head clear of the worn stone,
but the grit scratches and scrapes her lower back and bared cheeks. She slides
her legs up, spreading her thighs, welcoming the bite of the stone as Angel
settles further into her, his weight pressing her to the ancient footprints the
ghosts of millions have left behind.
She tightens around him and then she's
bucking, bucking, bucking, and he pulses down there, deep, so deep inside her,
breathing a strangled cry into her neck. She shudders and jerks and jerks and
jerks again, slamming her head against his hand against the stone. The scrape
of his teeth makes her grab his hair, bring him closer, but he only opens his
mouth, closes it again, opens it with a needy groan, lets his teeth and tongue
brand her without taking as he rocks into her, her legs wrapped around him.
Eventually, he kisses her, long and deep,
until her head is spinning and she's lost, so lost. He draws himself back,
traces her lips with his tongue. He's hard again and rolls his hips. Her body
speaks for her, and he ignites her again with a slow flame, until she gasping.
He leans to the side until she takes them over and sits up as he lands on his
back. He grasps her hips and holds her as he gives her everything, demands she
meet him thrust for thrust until they're both shaking and she's collapsed
against him, the leather of his jacket soft on her cheek, sharp in her nose.
The wind off the river is brisk and cold
when she lifts herself off him, planting her feet on either side of him to
stand. She pulls her simple black cotton panties and leather slacks back up.
He's still turgid and slick, the moon gleaming off the slick coating him,
spread across his belly.
When she starts to step away, he wraps a
hand around her calf, licks his swollen lips when she looks down. Her heart
flips over, her stomach churns.
“Stay safe,” he says.
She feels his gaze like a stone between her
shoulders all the way to the end of the bridge, but when she looks back, he's
/ Year Ten
The storm creeps in from the south, distant
rumbling and sheet lightning, just before midnight. Angel hates Boston. Hates
the stink of the harbor, the constant harsh wind. Everybody tastes like fish.
Since the economy failed and the charities dried up, the Red Cross and the
occasional hospital still in operation are the only sources of bagged blood. He
went back to drinking criminals and dogs a long time ago, but he might give it
up here. Just starve until Buffy blows town.
He has no idea why Buffy's here, which
means he's got a hole in his sources that he needs to shore up. She's far from
the the home she made of Europe and he wonders if she'll go back. He follows
her by scent, not willing to explain himself if she catches sight of him. His
plan for redemption and revenge is far from settled. He's maybe three years
from starting his initial distractive assault, fifteen years from gaining real
power, maybe twenty until the slippery slope of actual takeover.
Globalization and the resulting economic
fall of every major nation drastically affected mankind, but the silver lining
is that he can do this now, save the rest of them, end the constant threat of
human annihilation or universal enslavement by the Senior Partners and all
their incarnations. He supposes there's no way to rid the world of the
occasional dimensional tear, but hell spawn should be out of the picture. And
it'll take centuries for Evil, Inc. to reform under some other leadership.
Buffy got him into this, encouraged him to
fight the good fight instead of slinking in the sewers, staying out of the way
of anything that might engage him. And then showed up on his doorstep that day
that isn't anymore and forced him to face the fact that his very long life and
its unique circumstances put him squarely in position to champion mankind. He
didn't really concentrate on the matter, though, until he had revenge to drive
him. It helped that Willow made matters worse between them, though he's still
unfathomably thankful she was stupid enough to bring Buffy back. It helped that
Giles drove them even further apart, that his former friends and support
believed the worst of him.
After Spike dusted, no other like him
exists. He can draw on the wealth of his experience, his personal knowledge of
human development and culture and emotion, the desire of demons to rob them of
it, in a way no other human or demon leader possibly can. Being both, he has a
deep, long-term understanding of them both. It puts him on top of the dog pile,
no matter how wrong or insane various humans and demons have accused him of
He's not going to let Buffy off the hook
for putting him into this position. He's just biding his time until he needs
her. He wouldn't deny the fact that he still loves her, still wants her, if
anyone were to ask. But no one has. There's no one left who knows to ask.
The cemetery is wedged in a square plot of
land in the middle of a residential block built two centuries ago. The area hasn't
fared well. There are few humans in the crumbling row houses they pass. Angel
scrunches his nose at the strong odor of decay and eases close enough to hear
the click of Buffy's boot heels bouncing off the brick and the thick, humid air
just before the rain starts. She hops the rusted gate and slows, picking her
way through the high grass and raindrops. Angel lingers around the edge of a
feral oak. She stops once and peers around, throwing her senses out hard enough
that Angel feels the ripple like a buzz along his damp skin. It's proof of his
theory that she's aging like cognac, her power condensing and strengthening.
As she turns back to her search, he
relaxes, widening his own net to protect her while she's distracted. She stops
in the northwest corner. The rain is coming down a little heavier, less mist
and more drizzle. Kneeling she plucks at the weeds in front of her. There's no
headstone, but there must be a plaque. Her hands still and she just sits there,
staring into the gloom that surrounds her.
The boom of thunder moves closer, louder.
The lightning strikes make it all the way down to the ground. The cold rain
comes down in earnest. Angel is zoned, and almost misses Buffy's movement as
she stands. She walks away from him and disappears over the back wall in a blur
of black coat and blond hair.
Striding across the cemetery, Angel pauses
to check the plaque. Faith's. A surge of regret catches him up and slams into
his chest. But back then, he had no sources, no resources, no people. He couldn't
be there to save her. He takes a knee on the soaked ground, crosses himself and
mutters the Hail Mary of his youth. “I remember you, Faith,” he says out loud. Rainwater runs into his mouth,
tasting of dirt and the harbor. “I'll still remember you for a hundred years
and for a hundred more.”
He scrambles up as static electricity wraps
around him. A brilliant flash of light blinds him as thunder cracks overhead
and the bitter scent of ozone and burnt wood fills the air. He shakes off his
shock at the close hit and moves in the direction Buffy took at high speed,
catching her up in seconds, in time to see the cloud of dust explode around
her, close enough to hear the steady drum of her heart. He drops into a shadow
and watches her circle a second vamp. The vamp shakes water from his head and
Buffy takes the opportunity to step in close and stake him.
She twirls the stake in her hand and tucks
it back into the thigh holster she's taken to wearing before adjusting her
backpack on her shoulders. As far as Angel knows, the small pack and its
contents, the clothes on her back, the shoes on her feet, her stake and her
sword, make up all of Buffy's earthly possessions. Lightning silhouettes her,
followed by another resounding rip of thunder and she's halfway down the next
block before he moves to follow.
As she disappears around the corner of the
next building, some sixth sense has Angel lunging after her. He slams into the
wide back of a man in a slick yellow raincoat and bounces back, falling to the
cracked, uprooted sidewalk. The man spins, Buffy in his arms, a forearm across
her chest, a knife to her throat. Her eyes go wide. The rush of her blood makes
him dizzy before it appears, a curtain of red down her neck, over the man's
arm. He drops her, lifting his lips in a snarl. Angel snaps his neck and still
gets his hand under Buffy's head before she hits the concrete.
He wraps his hand across the wound,
spanning both jugulars, feels that only one is sliced through. There's no
bright, scent rich, arterial blood that he can tell through the haze of his
blood lust. Lightning flashes. She is staring up at him, but seeing nothing.
The thunder is three seconds late. The storm is passing. He lifts her, letting
her balance on the hand around her neck a single second, before he cradles her
against him in one arm, and hitches her up until he's got her.
He runs, more than runs, carries her at
vamp speed down Charter to Henchman and into the grungy clinic that supports
what's left of the Coast Guard Station. There's so much blood covering them as
he bangs through the swinging glass doors that the staff leaps into action the
second he's cleared them.
Swallowing convulsively against the need,
the want, the take, take, take, coursing through him, he roots back into the
shadows as if his life depends on it.
Maybe it does. He knows hers does.
/ Year Twelve
It took sixteen months for her to work her
way here, to what the rest of the world whispers about, a near paradise.
There's no one left on the coast. The typhoons of 2014 took care of that, but
New Auckland is thriving. It has electric power and cell towers.
She has no one to call, so she doesn't
purchase a phone, but the internet here is not limited to the elite, so she
does buy an hour to surf in a little cafe on Lake Taupo. It's limited, and
non-commercial, mostly news and weather, currency exchanges, barter sites meant
for local traffic. The forums are out of New Vegas, Philadelphia, Berlin,
Paris, Devon, Shanghai, New Sydney, New Delhi, Petah Tikva and New Cairo.
Her new slaying-free life lasts eight days.
She beheads a creepy, scaly, red-eyed,
four-armed thing to save a young girl who then turns on her. Blocking her blow
for blow, Buffy waits for an opening. The girl tires before Buffy's even winded.
Seeing her chance, she sweeps the girl's legs out from under her with a low
kick, and twirls away, bouncing upright, ready for retaliation. The girl just
lays on the dirty pavement of the alley long enough for Buffy to wish New
Auckland had done away with alleys so that she wouldn't be here with demon gore
on her shirt and blood on her shoes with a new slayer staring up at her.
“You're not a lurker, then?” the girl says.
“A lurker, y'know.”
The girl rolls her eyes. “A vampire,” she
“No. I'm the vampire slayer.”
Buffy shakes her head. “What are you?”
“Just a girl.”
“Who taught you about vampires?”
Buffy lowers her fists. The girl sits up,
her eyes trained on Buffy's.
“The vampires,” she adds.
Raising her brows, Buffy spreads her hands.
“They started finding me. I just fought
back, and you know, I was good at it. I looked stuff up on the net. Then my
brother got bit and I killed him.” She tucks her chin down, but only for a
second before she squares her jaw and meets Buffy's eyes. “I started hunting
them,” she spits. “Found other things to kill.”
“You're stronger and faster than you used
to be? Your belly cramps when they're near?”
The girl nods.
“You're chosen. You're a slayer, like me.”
“Yeah,” Buffy says.
She offers the girl a hand and pulls her up
when she takes it.
“Keep fighting,” she says, and drops the
girl's calloused hand. She turns and stalks away.
“Hey, Buffy,” the girl calls.
Buffy's head turns before she can stop
herself, but she keeps on walking.
“You're really Buffy Summers?” she yells.
“You're dead, you know. You're a legend, a myth the demons tell their kids
about to make them sit down and shut up.”
No one passing by on the sidewalk seems to
notice the commotion. Maybe they're just ignoring yet another argument in an
alley, another damaged voice in the endless wilderness their lives have become.
So what if the world believes her dead? It makes her life easier, makes the
things she kills complacent.
“Hey,” the girl screams. “Hey, blondie, I
don't believe you. You hear me? I don't believe you're her! She cares! I pray
to her every night and Buffy Summers keeps me safe!”
Out on the street, Buffy walks east through
the light crowd still prowling the bars until she walks right out of the
district. In the pitch black, she hears an engine growling up behind her and
sticks out her thumb.
It takes her two days to get to Hawke's
Bay, but at dusk on the third day, she finds a cargo ship heading out that will
take her as far as New Caledonia. She stands at the railing, watching the
scurry of the busy port under the brightest lights she's seen in two years, as
a tug begins the laborious process of moving the ship out to the channel. A
spot of utter stillness draws her eye and she catches her breath.
She stares at Angel, and then the port,
when she loses sight of him, and then the glow of lights above the horizon
until it fades away in the lap of the water against the hull, the salt on her
tongue, the tears in eyes.
2019 / Year Fifteen
The note comes by courier. The handwriting
is not his. It is three weeks old. Still, Buffy is curious, Leeds is not
terribly out of her way, and there's no one to tell her duty's calling.
The church doors are solid and locked, but
the brick walls are tumbling down. She walks along the massive north wall, all
crumbling arches and shattered stained glass, the last of the sun warm on her
shoulders and neck, until she finds a hole large enough to let her pass.
Pigeons squabble and fuss in the vestry. They dart out in front of her as she
enters the church proper. She's two hours early, but he's there, sitting in the
last remaining section of the third pew, and looks up just as she finds him.
It's as if no time has passed. She doesn't
think she's ever hit bottom since she first fell into his dark gaze in that
alley in Sunnydale. She's still falling.
The difference between her teenaged self
and the woman she's become is time and experience. If she ever lands, it'll be
on her feet and she can think in the air these days. She holds his stark gaze
until it shifts, wanders to her chopped off hair, the ridged scar that
traverses her neck, her muscled shoulders, small breasts, gaunt belly, cocked
hips, the left knee brace that hugs her thigh, and down to the scuffed toes of
her battered black boots.
She lifts her chin, lets him look, even as
she registers his unchanging beauty, the familiar slump of his wide shoulders,
the standard dark coat, his unmarked, sturdy limbs, the long fingers and wide
hands upon his thighs.
“There's a hellmouth opening in Rouen. I'm
raising an army,” he says.
She feels nothing. He's delusional. The
courier, a village boy of eight, arrived on foot. The note had passed from hand
to hand to hand over a distance of some sixty miles. None of those hands would
have been more than fifteen years old. Anyone older is in positions of whatever
limited authority they can manage in order to keep the devastated population
fed and sheltered.
This is not Angel's fault. The decimation
of eastern Los Angeles can be laid at his feet, but it mostly recovered before
the country fell. The world's condition is the fault of nations. Of man. Of
economics and climate change. She knows this logically, but it doesn't feel
that way. Since LA, the festering antipathy of Earth's non-human denizens has
erupted again and again, driven to frothing hate, along with half the human
population, by the world-wide rhetoric of Wolfram and Hart, interpreter of
global law, major media conglomerate and political innovator.
“There's no one left,” she says, her voice
louder than she intended. It echoes off the remaining walls. The pigeons take
wing, whirring across the sanctuary.
Angel stands, spreading his hands in a 'I
have no weapons' gesture.
As if he could harm her.
“Come outside with me,” he says.
She remains rooted to her spot, even as her
heart yearns to touch him, feel the reality of him standing there in front of
She nods. Waits for him to turn and lead
the way. He leads her to the front of the church. A wooden side door leads onto
a tree canopied side porch. He holds the wild thicket of vines hanging from the
trees aside, but she waits until his lips flatten, his eyes unreadable, and he
steps through first.
Under the foreboding light of a quarter
moon, he is just a still and silent shadow. She stops even with him. Her heart
stutters, not letting her feet take her sideways, although that old magnetic
energy tugs at her. They are a foot apart and yet she can feel his shoulder
snug against hers.
He whistles, low and sharp.
Darker than the night wisps drift from the
woods all along the boundary of the church. Buffy steps back, finding her ready
stance. She glances at Angel. He's watching her, a faint smile quirking his
lips. She frowns at him and than focuses her attention back on whatever is
approaching. They materialize under the moonlight as girls, young girls and
women, the curves of young adulthood. Thirty, forty, maybe more. Some carry
scars, already. All but the youngest settle into various defense-stances as
they halt in two staggered battle lines a few yards away from Angel and Buffy.
A second wave of movement reveals itself as boys, men. One keeps coming, steps
through and between the girls in a graceful prowl, long dark hair fluttering in
the light breeze.
Buffy's hands falter.
He halts in front of her with no
acknowledgment of Angel.
“Xander,” she breathes. She grabs him as he
reaches out for her, snugs him tight to her. He's hot against her. Solid muscle.
She can feel his heart thudding. “You're dead.”
“A rumor,” he says, his breath warming her
scalp, her neck, sending goosebumps down her back. “I couldn't find you.” He
squeezes extra tight and then releases her, tilts his head towards Angel.
“Until he found us.”
She steps back, glancing past him at the
silent lines of girls, before searching his face, again, noting the worn
leather patch, the lines of wear: the divot between his brows, the deep smile
lines, the new-to-her faded scar that traverses both lips, before meeting his
patient gaze. “Us?”
“You sent me out to find slayers.”
“That was twelve years ago, Xander.”
He grins at her, his good eye sparkling
with amusement at her instant exasperation. “Well, I'm here now. And Angel says
there's a job for us in Rouen. We're pretty good at what we do, but we'd be
better with you.”
She looks at Angel, really looks at him. He
stares at his feet. Turning back to Xander, she asks,“How did Angel find me?”
Because it's true, maybe, that she's roamed hard and wide, putting down what
demons she came across, but never establishing a base, restless after watching
Giles die, Willow burn, Dawn succumb to fever. She lost her slayers one by one,
each death ripping her further away from whatever it was she used to be, until
she didn't look anymore, didn't see, didn't collect more lives to lose.
“They'll only die,” she says into the
“It's their purpose, Buffy. Glory or
“Wolfram and Hart.”
“Angel has people on the inside. Ten years,
maybe fifteen, we'll be in charge. We're talking Senior Partners. We can shut
“How did you find me?” she asks, still
looking at Xander, still earnest, still fighting.
Angel clears his throat. “I never lost
Buffy fingers the long scar that curves around
her neck from ear to ear, remembering the jostle of being carried, pelting rain
filling her eyes, the unbearable crack of thunder as lightning lit the crazy
jumble of overhead lines, angled lines of roofs, square jaw, the electric
tingle wrapped around her throat, asking a question without words.
Angel holds his hand out in clear
Breathing in the wind of fate cushioning
her fall, Buffy reaches out and takes it.