Near You Always
Tegami
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Part One

Dear Buffy,

 

I wrote to you at, but I got a letter back saying you had a new address. Japan seems far away from everything you know. Maybe that’s why you chose it.

 

I know you’ve had a hard time of it since Lance got sick, and I’ve meant to get in touch with you since I heard. I know my word can’t mean much, as I only met him the one time, but you both seemed very happy. I know he was in love with you. He seemed like he was probably the best guy you’ve ever been with, and I’m sorry I didn’t know him. I’m enclosing a drawing I did after your wedding. I hope it eases rather than intensifies your pain.

 

Faith says you’re nearly fluent in Japanese. I guess it’ll come in handy now. She also said your house alone is worth a trip over there to see, and she’s just judging from pictures. Still, you must be lonely. I can’t even picture you not surrounded by people who love you.

 

How are you? How’s retirement treating you? I suppose it’s more of a career change than retirement; sometimes I forget that you’re only twenty eight. You’ve been through a lot more than I had at twenty eight, and I’d been a vampire for two years by then.

 

Dawn must be all grown up now. Where has she settled down? Faith didn’t mention her being in Japan with you, is she? Has she graduated from college? Is she still crazy about Xander, or has she moved on? Do you see her often?

 

I have so many questions, mainly about you, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll get to the point. I miss you, not as a lover or an associate, just as you, Buffy. Being a vampire, I tend to think we have all the time in the world to catch up, or get back in touch, but the truth is, your life is shorter than mine, by an infinite number of years, and I don’t want to miss any more of it. I realize this could be considered grossly inappropriate and insensitive, but I’m not asking to be a romantic part of your life, just a part of it. We went through too much to not know each other anymore.

 

If I’m honest with myself, I’ll always love you. You were the first woman I ever loved (excluding my family), and the only person I’ve ever opened up to. You took me freely into your heart, without judgment. You trusted me. No one ever trusted me before you did. I used to think that you were just being a schoolgirl, that one day your love for me would be overshadowed by what our love caused, what the restrictions were. I now know that wasn’t ever true. I don’t regret leaving you, but I do regret doubting you.

 

A lot of my love for you depended on my now knowing you, after I left. My memories of you painted a flawless picture of a gentle hearted warrior who refused to let the death surrounding her consume her. That type of love has faded, leaving the true love for the true women.


That is why I think we’re both safe in my contacting you. I can’t be let down and you don’t need to worry about my professing undying love. I just want you to be able to turn to me.

 

Always,

Angel’

 

~*~*~*~

 

Buffy had never seen one of his drawings in color before. The sun set behind herself and Lance, as they embraced, laughter rippling through them both. It was a beautiful picture; a mutual happiness was etched into each of their features, and somehow Angel had perfectly captured the expression in Lance’s eyes. She remembered the exact moment Angel had drawn.

 

They’d been married at Giles’ manor, by one of the members of the coven, and by Lance’s childhood minister. The Bronns had been startled by the whole ordeal, although they’d loved it in the end. Buffy had been amazed at how much she’d thought of her mother while planning and celebrating the wedding. Carol Bronn, Lance’s mother, and Joyce would have liked each other very much, and Joyce would have been thrilled with the floral arrangements.

 

She didn’t remember what Lance had said to make them laugh, just a few minutes after the ceremony, on the lawn outside, but she remembered laughing, the first laugh of their married lives. It was a beautiful memory, one of the ones Buffy had clung to since Lance got sick.

 

“How are you holding up?” Buffy looked up from her letter as Xander walked over to her. She was sitting at her dining table, staring out at the lake. Quickly wiping her tears aside, she forced herself to smile up at her friend, grateful that he had decided to visit that month, the month of her anniversary.

 

“I’m holding up,” she answered sadly. “Not in my bestest mood ever, but I think I’ll get through the day.”

 

“You don’t have to, you know,” Xander sat beside her and slipped his arm around her shoulder. “You can pull on some sweats, curl up under your covers with that big screen T.V. of yours and a box of tissues, and I’ll bring you tea, ice cream and chocolate as necessary.”

 

“That’s not me,” Buffy frowned wistfully. “I just need to mourn him in my way.”

 

“The year after I lost Anya, I built the shelves I’d promised to install,” Xander confessed. “Belated, and in the wrong apartment, but I needed to do it.”

 

“Xand?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Would it be wrong of me to write to Angel today?” Buffy tilted her head to gauge his reaction.

 

“Does it feel wrong?”

 

“It feels like it should feel wrong,” she admitted. Silence fell over them, and Buffy shook her head. “I’ll wait. Let’s go out somewhere.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Y’know, Anya loved sushi too,” Xander gurgled drunkenly as they stumbled through the gate to Buffy’s house.

 

“Really?” Buffy giggled. “Angel hated it. He couldn’t even taste it, but he said the smell made him sick.” She frowned. “Sushi doesn’t smell. But Lance loved it… whoops!”

 

“Here let me… ow!” Xander tripped over Buffy’s foot as he went to help her up. Fortunately, he had enough command of his senses to force himself to land on his side. Buffy hadn’t been in that much control and blood spilled onto the gravel pathway. “Buffinator?... Buff?... shit.”

 

Sobering slightly, he managed to get himself upright and roll her over. “Now to clean the wound… Buff, where are your… right. You’re unconscious. Okay, umm…” Quickly, Xander tore his shirt and wrapped her head up, before rushing to check her bathroom for medical supplies. By the time he got back, bandage and antiseptic in hand, her eyes were fluttering open.

 

“These shoes were not made for drunkenness,” she groaned. He removed the shirt and cleaned and bandaged the wound while she made little hiss noises in pain.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked when he’d finished.

 

“Embarrassed mostly,” she stood carefully. “And… I miss him.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

They clung to each other all the way back to the house, although neither really needed the support anymore.

 

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