Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Angel/Buffy, Xander, mild Xander/Dawn
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog 116: Portrait and comment_fic: Buffyverse, Buffy Summers/Angel, She finds his art in a studio - including a painting of her requested by evil_little_dog
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 822
Date Written: 20 June 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
Buffy stops, gulps, and stares at the portrait that’s dead ahead of her, the old, instinctive feeling that she needs to reach for her stake rising within her. “Dawn!” she squeaks, but her sister ignores her. She doesn’t realize it, but she’s trembling slightly as she steps closer to the image. “Dawn!” she repeats again.
“In a minute,” her sister mutters in reply. Out of the corner of her green eyes, the former Slayer sees she’s wrestling with her youngest kid. He wants to run, and an art museum is nowhere for a small tyke to run.
“Never mind,” Buffy mutters, angry. She steps closer to the portrait and reaches out to the eyes that are so familiar. She raises trembling fingers to her own eyes, her own nose, her own mouth, but pauses for a moment before touching the glass between her and the detailed, hand drawn sketch.
It is her! She swallows hard and feels like the floor beneath her is going to let go and swallow her whole. Even in all her years as a Slayer, she never saw anything this strange. Her mind is racing, her heart pounding, and when a hand touches her shoulder out of nowhere, her old instincts return.
She spins more swiftly than she would have previously thought she could turn at this age, her hands going up to chop her foe. Strong hands catch her wrists and hold her still, something the man before her could have never managed in their younger days. “I saw them too,” he says, bringing her hands down and turning her gently back around. He stares at the images out of his remaining eye.
Only now does she realize that there’s more than one image, but in almost every one, her own face stares back at her. “What creep did this?”
“Your creep,” Xander whispers behind her.
“Huh?” She looks back over her shoulder at him, even more confused. “You can let go now,” she adds, realizing that he’s still holding her wrists.
“Only if you promise not to hit me.”
“Xand -- “ she starts.
“Kidding, kidding!” He holds up his hands in defense. “Did you read the plaque? Of course you didn’t,” he mutters, answering his own, dumb question. His best friend hadn’t moved since she’d set eyes on her own eyes, not that he can blame her, especially not with all the creeps she’s dated over the years. He jerks his thumb to the plaque in question. “They were found in the old mausoleum. Somebody managed to get them out of there before Sunnydale caved in.”
“He made them,” Buffy whispers, awed. This time, when she looks up at the portraits of her, she no longer finds them spooky. Instead she can see, through the details finely sculpted by the hands that drew them, that each image was drawn with care. Her heart beats again, a cold and eerie reminder that his never did. “Wow,” she whispers. “I knew he could draw, but . . . Wow!”
“Yeah,” Xander agrees. He walks back up to her and lays his hands gently on her shoulders again. “You okay?” he whispers against the back of her graying blonde hair which she’s finally let grow out again after all these years.
“Y-Yeah,” she answers. She’s still trembling slightly, and he reaches out and hugs her. In his strong, reassuring arms, she finally stops shaking. “Of all the things I’ve seen -- “
“I know,” he murmurs softly in response. “Nothing that strange has happened before, huh?”
She looks back at her own face. “Nothing that strange,” she echoes, but she’s actually thinking she’s never known another love like that one she felt with the wonderful man who made those images. She wonders if he’s still out there somewhere, still fighting the good fight, still surviving, still thinking of her.
“Wow!” Dawn exclaims in between pants. She’s finally managed to wrestle her two year-old up into her arms.
“Auntie!” the baby cries, reaching his grubby, chubby hands out to the pictures of Buffy.
Buffy turns and catches the baby’s hands before he can risk damaging the portraits. She stares into his tiny eyes that look so much like his mother’s, remembering that he and others like him are the reasons why she no longer fights. She’s been away from the battle for a long time now, but she has several good reasons why. Though she has no children of her own, she loves every one of her sister’s brood.
“Yeah,” Dawn agrees with her child, bouncing him on her hip as he tries to wiggle free. “I wonder what else they have of you here?”
“Probably a lot,” Xander says, turning and draping his arms around his girls. “After all, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for the Buffster.”
And I, she thinks, looking back over her shoulder as they walk away, wouldn’t be here if not for him.