Thanks: To John, who thought up the title, and to Jai, Rob, and Joel, who offered encouragement.
Timetable: This is very close to the events of Becoming, but still before them. Just a little exploration into what Buffy was feeling on some of those lonely patrols.
I wonder if tonight is the night. Walking around the graveyard at 2 in the morning gives you a lot of time to think, and I almost wish that I had asked Xander to come with me, or Willow, or Giles, or even Cordelia. But they need their sleep, and even though I love them I know that they often do more harm than good on the hunt. They can't walk quietly, and I'm always afraid for their safety. But they do offer comfort among all of this death, and they can keep my mind from travelling the dark paths that it tends to wander down.
Like tonight. And at least when they are with me, I know that I can't let go, that I have to keep going.
But I'm just so tired.
And that is what's going to kill me. I've survived the Master, the Judge, Spike, and even Angelus. And I haven't broken yet, just gotten stronger. That happened to other Slayers too, they faced every major challenge that was thrown at them, and then one lonely night at the height of their power they were taken down by some fledgling vampire.
Carelessness, Giles calls it. He says that they had gotten so powerful and confident that they just lost focus for one moment and a vampire got lucky. In some cases, that's probably what happened. But not in all.
The great secret of the Slayers. Not even the Watchers know about it. Hell, not even Kendra knows about it yet. But I know. The dreams warn me about danger sometimes, and sometimes they show me what I need to know. And I can see what killed many of the most powerful. They didn't get clumsy, they didn't space for one moment. They saw death coming and they let it come. They welcomed it.
They committed suicide as only we can. They made certain that the wound they recieved was mortal, then they took down the vamp that was killing them. And it often worked out that taking down the vamp had the side-effect of aggravating the wound further.
In the beginning, we see death as the enemy. It's only after the utter despair and pain of being a Slayer sets in that we see death as a friend. In the dance that is our life, we just let death take the lead.
I've almost let go a few times. I've seen that death coming, and everything in me wants to take it. To turn just ever-so-slightly so that the punch hits a vital area. To ignore that talon for that one moment that it takes to slash deeply. To let those fangs pierce my throat.
But for now, I have to go on. Now I realize another reason that Slayers don't make friends or stay close to their families. So that when they die, they won't hurt anyone. After I came back from my summer in LA, after killing the Master, I wanted to do that. I tried to push everyone away, so that I could let someone end the pain, the nightmares, and the fear. But they wouldn't. They stuck by me. They're *still* with me. And they're the only reason that I'm still here.
But even with them, even knowing the pain that my death would cause them, I still long for it.
It might not be tonight, but one of these lonely nights I'll turn into that punch, I'll ignore those talons, I'll welcome those fangs.
Only then can I rest.