SUMMARY: Nature’s law is no more inviolate than man’s.
POSTED: 4 Jun 2007
CATEGORY: None Listed
WARNINGS: None Listed
1) A sequel of sorts, to ‘A Promise’.
It rained the day he buried her, and no more after. Angel pauses in front of his windows, and gazes at the empty sky above.
A crow perches on a flagpole, and stares at him through the glass.
don’t do this, vampire. these are not your laws.
He blinks and turns away.
He’s through with laws, man’s or nature’s.
There is a murder of crows over her ravenstone, perched high in the trees. Their squawks are a warning he ignores, and one leaps away from the others, gliding down and grasping the top of her stone with its claws.
A feather drifts down and tangles in the flowers at the base, a spray of roses and orchids. Beauty sacrificed in her honor.
Whatever he can give, he will.
She’s been gone thirty days, sleeping in the cold ground where he can’t see her, can’t feel her, where he can’t tell her what he’s learned.
Nature’s law is no more inviolate than man’s.
I’m lost without you.
Her name carved in the granite offers no solace.
He dresses the way she knew him, in black, his coat billowing around his knees.
He drives to a sacred spot ten miles outside LA’s city limits, where a stone waits under the desert moon. He brings nothing but his love, and a feather from her ravenstone.
He climbs out of his car to find the crow waiting in a nearby tree. It squawks and shuffles its claws before taking flight, gliding up the small hill where the flat stone waits.
When Angel gets to the top, the bird is perched on the granite.
It squawks again.
Reaching into his coat he brings out the precious feather, and sets it gently on the stone, stepping back. The crow cries and the wind picks up.
Above the hill the clouds close in, blotting out the moon and stars.
The first of the demons crawl out of the ground just as the lightning begins to strike and Angel flips his coat off in preparation.
Everything has a price.
The storm is like a living thing, like birth.
The clouds are thick and dark, parting just enough to let a sliver of moonlight through.
It shines down on the stone Angel defends with his life, demon after demon.
They come from hell, he remembers their names. Their appetites. They remind him with pain that everything comes with a price. He knows this, and pays it with his fists, driven by a love that becomes its own madness as the night wears on.
He is held, burned and bitten. Hung and cut. One red giant tries to disembowel him with a claw, but eventually its own entrails are the only thing keeping it upright against a cactus.
The wind rages and the lightning strikes the stone, over and over, like the wrath of some god he’s offended by not dying.
He can’t die, though. Not when he’s close to having everything to live for.
He’s been so lost without her, her absence like a black hole that roots in his chest and grows with every breath she isn’t drawing. It drives him forward when exhaustion and thirst nearly overtake his will, pulls him to his feet when his knees give.
A cry sounds in the air around him, and he glances at the stone, seeing blue fire rise from the scorched granite. It burns and ripples and glows, and slowly, inch by inch, it takes shape.
Something tackles him from behind and he lands hard on the desert floor, rocks and dirt spraying his face. He spits dry dust and turns, driving the claw of another demon, long dead, into the throat of the thing on top of him.
It jerks and gurgles out a low sound, and he pushes it off.
The sky roars with light and sound, and he pushes himself up, slowly, painfully, putting his feet under him.
The crow squawks, the noise echoing across the distance, and he glances up at the stone.
There is a shape up there, crouched over the slab. A low cry erupts from his battered throat and he launches himself up the hill and over the altar, taking the demon down the other side.
It is a brief, brutal fight, and it ends with Angel ripping out the demon’s throat, tearing until he reaches bone, finishing it.
After that, there are no more demons, no more fights, nothing but the silence before –
The heavens open and rain pours down, drenching everything.
It feels cool, a balm to his aching, burning flesh.
Exhaustion presses him to fall over, give in and he nearly does, on the verge of collapsing.
Then he hears something, an altogether different sound from the pattering of rain.
A hitch of breath, so soft he could have been imagining it.
Then another sound.
The gentle thump thump of a heart beating in cadence with life.
Slowly, painfully, Angel climbs to his knees, closing his eyes, barely able to move.
Finally, he puts his legs under him, and turns to face the stone.
A pale figure lies where the feather was, the familiar shape tugging at his heart like nothing has since his newborn boy lay squalling in the rain.
He expected something else, something more, the image of her grown in his mind until she resembled a goddess in silk and cashmere.
But she’s naked, and small, and shivering.
A girl. Just a girl. No more than twenty-two.
He climbs the hill, hands at his sides, afraid to reach for her, afraid something will snatch her back.
Her hair is massed around her face, shielding her from him, and her body is wet from the rain. It runs over her skin, rivulets in the hollows and grooves of her exposed shoulder.
He stands over her, watching her breathe.
Her skin pebbles from the cold wetness.
She is alive.
He reaches, not afraid anymore, and touches her arm.
There is a moment’s pause, and then she moves. Her arm first, where he touches her, and then her shoulder. He helps, both hands scooping under her shoulders as she rolls over.
Her hair falls away, and, after a month staring at her grave, he’s looking into her face again.
Her eyes flicker and blinks open, focusing on him slowly, the lids half closed.
He holds a breath he doesn’t need, water dripping down from his face to hers, waiting.
“Angel.” A soft sound, as soft as a whisper, but her voice all the same.
He smiles again, for the first time, a happiness filling him that feels like falling, like dying. For a moment he thinks his soul will tear free, but the fear of that grounds him just as quickly.
He bends over and cries into her soft hair, feeling her arms reach up around him.
“I got you back.” He whispers against her shoulder. A promise made the day they put her in the ground, a promise kept, thirty days later.
Her hand curls against his hair, scrunching into the stiff strands at the base of his neck.
“Dumbass.” She whispers into his ear. He smiles though she can’t see it.
He pulls his shirt off and wraps it around her, picking her up into his arms and straightening.
He turns and walks back down the hill with his fought-for burden, the cry of the crow growing distant.
In another part of the state, a boy puts his homework away.
“Okay, mom, I’m coming.”
He leaves his room, never seeing the crow outside his window, perched on the ledge.
Everything has a price.