Pairing: (implied) Buffy/Angel/Spike
Summary: Somehow the world fell away.
Author's Notes: Yeah, so the question is: what happens after the End of Days?
Somehow the world fell away.
No one quite remembers how it happened; only that it did. There's a girl with a soul that flames brighter than any, but her skin is stained red, so red. She can speak spotty Italian if you ask her to.
But you don't talk to her yet. She's still trying to make the world come back together, stitching it back in hurried pieces. Her quilting is terrible and she's jammed the needle through an ocean fragment. She'll never recover it now.
Something wet falls down her face.
The word for that hasn't been recovered yet, to be clumsily stitched into her terrible venture.
Some people speak around her, but never to her. There are two men in particular, and they are real men, real boys, and though they never directly speak to her, you can hear her call them Pinocchio sometimes, but she never looks at them.
She is consumed in her task, as she tries to pull the needle out of the thick mass of ocean.
They look down at her, and sometimes, they hand her fragments they've found; sometimes, they hold the pieces and simply stare at her, waiting for her to talk to them.
But she only calls them her Pinocchios.
They may bow their heads, waiting for it to change, for her to acknowledge them in another way, but nothing else happens. Their souls are tarnished, but as they stay by her side, traces of brilliance shine along with hers. But her soul drowns theirs.
The one with hair dyed white-blonde sometimes leaves her side, but you never see where he goes. You don't want to leave her either, but you'd warn her to stop bleeding on her attempts, because it wouldn't solve anything. The ocean is turing as red as her skin.
No one remembers the point of bleeding, only that it happens.
The two men act as her guards, but it is the darker of the two that never leaves her side. Though, in truth, others are around - a swarm of many faces speaking in broken languages, a multitude of girls that stand as if waiting for orders, and a core group of weary people, their wounds remaining as if the stains are marks of importance - he is the only one that never speaks to any others beside the other man, who sometimes leaves.
The other man returns with a fragment that has a name this time, a rare piece. Its name is pain.
He doesn't hand it to the girl at first. The darker one takes it, and for a second, you can see his soul burst, in a new emotion, violence. A look is exchanged between the two and they nod, but it is bitter. The other emotion they feel for one another, for the girl, has been found, but it has been poorly etched into the surface of the quilted work, not as deep and bottomless as it truly should be.
The dark one stoops down to hand it to her, and there is a pause, infinite, before she hastily adds it as a border.
There was a crackle of black energy steeping from his hands to her red ones during the silent transfer. There is a reason for this, but it has either been lost or badly mangled by the girl's efforts.
Someone talks into your ear, about how even if she manages it, the world's fallen away because they've been defeated. Someone else asks who *they* are.
Demons, of course, you answer. They crumbled into nothingness and can never be mended back into the fragments of the world.
Suddenly, the girl looks up, directly at you. She had eyes once that were of pretty colors. You are sure of it. Her eyes are fragments of the world, torn into reds, blue, greens, terrible to behold.
No, that is not true - that is what she will say, but her men hold her back, each holding onto an arm.
You realize that the darker one had etched a cross deeply into his chest, he had tried to kill himself, but death serves no purpose in the beyond. And that the blonder one has retained the sharp brightness in his eyes, that he remains as he was before the world fell away.
They had names once, all of them. You remember that.
Sometimes, their chests rise and fall, their breathing is irregular, but true.
She holds out her free hand, the other hand still holds her quilting effort, and demands.
So you open your hands, to reveal what you have selfishly kept. A piece of dreams, a string of sensation, a thread called sorrow, and a taste called pure.
She grabs them out of your hands and you ask her a question, but do not expect her to answer in Italian. She is not native in that tongue, she speaks with the pieces of her heart.
"I have to save the world."
You look back towards her men. One shrugs (he moves a hand holding a piece once called cigarette to his mouth, a thing he never bothered to hand to the girl), the other simply stares back, his eyes fathomless, as though that answer was good enough to justify her actions.
She begins to thread sorrow through her needle, more wetness streaking down her face, falling onto the cobbled fragments of the world.
The other thing you've kept, tucked somewhere on your person, without a name but ending, is not handed to her. It is yours alone.
And if she succeeds, you will use it again.