Author: Dark Star
Summary: The world is falling apart, and she thinks she is falling with it.
Thanks to L.J Gould for the beta.
She’d always thought a vampire couldn’t die unless it was dusted, but ever since he was poisoned by Faith’s arrow, she knows it's not always as simple as that. Right now, he is slowly fading away, and she’s pretty sure that soon he won’t exist at all.
Nobody knows what happened to him. A reconnaissance party found him in some ruins, exactly as he is now. They said it looked like he’d been in a fight, but they had no idea what with. They weren’t sure if he was even dead or alive, but they’d carried his lifeless body back to camp for her to see, just in case.
She’s spent three days by his bedside, waiting for the miracle of vampire healing to take over and allow him to recover, but now she knows that isn’t going to happen. His eyes are closed and he hasn’t moved a muscle. He isn’t even able to feed, and without that to boost his system, his chances of survival are very slim indeed.
She gets up to stretch her cramped muscles and goes to stand by the window. There isn’t much of a view outside, and her eyes are so misted she wouldn’t be able to see it if there was.
She hears voices coming from outside, and she blinks away the tears and looks down. There are children playing in the street below, some kind of tag game, and once upon a time it would have seemed so innocent. There is no innocence any more.
She watches the children’s antics from her vantage point. She can see Ronnie hiding behind the burnt out car, and she watches him step over the remains of what was once somebody’s home. Little Lulu, toddling along behind the bigger children with her vacant expression and her arms full of a one-armed moth-eaten old bear – her only family since the fever took her sister last spring. Hyun and David, both under ten, both survivors of the pandemic that wiped out half the human race and both of whom carry the scars of the disease, plainly visible across the uncovered parts of their bodies. And Maisie – the self-appointed mother hen who loves and takes care of all the orphaned children the best she can, and she herself is barely thirteen.
Watching the children, Buffy thinks the weirdest thing is that they are playing quietly and making as little noise as they can. Noise attracts the monsters, and so these children have learned to live their lives in silence.
Buffy sighs. She misses laughter. Even the children never smile, and she can’t remember the last time she felt happy. She stifles a sob. The world is falling apart, and she thinks she is falling with it.
She goes back to stand beside Angel, and she can’t stop the tears from falling. He looks so old, and he is all she has left. Everyone has gone, scattered to the four corners of the earth or dead, and she can’t bear the thought of being without him again. On impulse, she climbs on the bed and wriggles over to lay her head on his chest. He doesn’t move, of course. He’s so still he could be gone already, and she can’t bear it. Things shouldn’t have happened the way that they did, humanity was supposed to survive against all the odds.
When she sits up, she feels drained. She hasn’t eaten since he came home like this. Julia and Sarah have been in to see her to try and coax her to eat, to leave him, to live. She ignores them both. They have left her no food – if she doesn’t want it, there are plenty that do, and they don’t have enough to let it sit and go to waste.
Buffy doesn’t know what kind of monster or demon it was that took Angel’s strength, and she wishes she’d been there to protect him, or at least to kill the son-of-a-bitch that did this to him. He looks so still. She leans over to kiss him gently on the lips, and a single tear falls and splashes on his cheek. Horrified, she goes to wipe it away but before she does she sees the vaguest of tremors in his lower lip and she realises he’s hanging on by the thinnest of threads. But he is still there, and in that moment, she knows what she has to do.
She slithers off the bed and goes to the table to pick up the knife. As she walks back to him, she makes a small cut on the top of her thumb and squeezes a few drops of blood into his open mouth. He doesn’t swallow. Nor does he move, and there are no more tremors in his body, and she wonders if she imagined the first one. She squeezes more blood into his mouth, and when the cut closes, she opens it again to start the process all over. She knows that the amount of blood is small, but he can’t swallow, and she is afraid that too much at once might make him choke on it. After hours of trying to feed him this way, she’s so tired and sore; she falls against him and lets herself sleep.
She wakes with an ache in her neck, and she pulls herself up into a sitting position. His eyes are open. She gasps, as they were closed yesterday, and it’s kinda freaky, as he isn’t blinking at all. But his eyes follow her, silently pleading, and she knows he is very hungry.
She can’t resist that look in eyes and she scrabbles for the knife she dropped earlier and finds it rucked up in the covers of the bed. She doesn’t pause to think, she just slices it across her palm and quickly holds it over his mouth, watching dispassionately as her life force drips its way inside him. Just as she had with her thumb, she opens the wound every time it closes, and eventually her hand is burning, and her arm’s aching from holding it up so long. His condition looks exactly the same as before.
Frustrated, she lets her hand drop, and she doesn’t care that it leaves red splashes on the faded bedcover. Her hand is throbbing, and she knows that trying to feed him this way isn’t going to be enough. He is watching her expectantly, but she hasn’t the strength, and she lets herself collapse against his firm body. She doesn’t know how long she lays there listlessly before she becomes aware that his arm is moving. It is moving slowly, so painfully slowly, but he is moving on his own, and his cold fingers gently caress her face. She doesn’t know how much that movement must have cost him, but he might as well have just climbed Everest for the pride she has in him. She turns her face into the caress, and his arm finally stills, overcome with exhaustion.
She raises herself on one arm and looks at him. “I don’t think feeding you this way is going to work,” she tells him sadly. “I don’t…. I’ll have to think of another way.”
His lip trembles, and as she watches in astonishment, she sees he is struggling to speak. His voice, when he manages to articulate, is cracked and barely a whisper.
“Come to me, lover.”
His words make her shiver, but she doesn’t hesitate. She pulls herself up into a kneeling position and sweeps her hair over one shoulder, away from him. Then she leans forward to lower her neck down against his mouth and waits. She feels his mouth moving. She knows it hurts him, and she can tell that it is a struggle for him to move, but eventually she feels the pinprick of fangs against her skin, and she swallows nervously. He bites down, making her moan in pain, and then, sluggishly, begins to draw from her, and the pain is washed away by pleasure.
Everything fades away. There is nothing left of her world in this kiss. The suction on her neck increases, and her head is starting to swim. She’s vaguely aware that his arms are moving, sliding into place around her, and she understands that he is growing stronger.
Then, she understands nothing as she finds herself falling, just falling.