Spiegel Im Spiegel
Epilogue: Mirror in Mirror
The college bells were ringing, high in the clock tower. The world was
alive with the sound.
They pealed through the air in rich and resonant gales, as Buffy walked
through the iron gates of Mount Holyoke College, still standing strong in
the nighttime world.
The wind swelled up, and she turned her face to it. It pulled her hair away
from her neck, in long, loose locks. She never braided it anymore. It
fluttered across her cheeks, on the warm current of the breeze that smelled
like moss and water.
The spring trees were clustering with flowers, pale against the blue,
diffuse light that was forever frozen in time-- that eternally promised
morning, hanging just on the cusp of the horizon, hovering just out of
Buffy stepped onto the worn pathways, as she entered the college gates-the
warm, brownstone buildings rising tall and dignified around her. Staid
Harvard ivy riddled over the stones, their leaves as plentiful as beads of
dew on a spiderweb. And in these walls everywhere were the persistent signs
of life. A laundry line tied between two apple trees. The barking of a dog
in the distance. The bells themselves, ringing from a clock, carefully
maintained, that still told the time even after time had ended.
People still lived here. People still learned here. And that is why she
thought he might be in this place.
It was easy, once she'd discovered in which direction he had gone, to
follow his trail. The stories moved like the currents of the running
streams, all around her.
So many stories. She must have been blind that she hadn't seen before.
And the names had grown-- changed. Not just Slayer anymore, but also the
Walker. The Shadow of the Passing.
The Pilgrim of the Green Saint. Who could heal in her name.
It had been easy, at first, to begin to catch his tracks. The stories were
like footprints marked deep in the winter snow, showing his path to her.
But just as the springtime rain washed the snowcover away, the stories
dissolved and reformed themselves anew.
A shadowed, female figure invaded them, leaving the dust of her enemies on
the ground and whispers of hope in her wake. And in the songs-- in the
poetry she was described as a glorious queen of light.
And that was her. It was meant to be her.
The stories were becoming confused. Male or female, dark or light. No one
knew which was which. Things that were once important no longer seemed so,
and things that she had never noticed meant more than life itself. And the
confusion in the tales reflected the paths that they had chosen.
For in the stories, they were the same person.
The Westminster chimes faded in their ringing clarity, leaving echoes in
the air, and she stepped off the walkway, out onto the mossy, grassy
ground. The stalks of soft clover pushed between her toes as she walked
barefoot, her boots tied together, slung over the strap of her traveling
bag, that hung on one shoulder. They rapped against her back gently with
the rhythm of her footfalls. And in her traveling bag, folded there neatly,
was a drawing of the one she sought, and next to this drawing, an
embroidered sampler, starting to yellow with age, that she had gone back to
retrieve. She didn't want to forget-not anymore. She didn't want to forget
She turned towards the college green, where tall oaks spread their branches
wide, and the buds that promised leaves were pale, golden green, and
delicate like flowers. In the predawn light, they glowed with soft, rainy
As she turned the corner into the green expanse, she stopped dead in place.
He was sitting there, under a tall oak, an old leather book resting on his
knee, absorbed and alone.
And when she saw him, she was glad it had been like this. She was sure it
couldn't have been any other way. She wouldn't have been ready. She would
have thrown him back, kicked him away, and never have accepted what she had
seen in that snowy night at the elementary school. She couldn't just find
him. She had needed to want to find him, first.
She didn't know what she would say. But she had been given a chance. A
connection to her old world, in the least likely of places. And that was as
it should have been. The things with the most permanent meaning are often
what we least expect or wish for.
And for the first time in so long, seeing this connection sitting in front
of her on the grass, she felt like she was a person. A person with a name,
and a past, and a sister.
And she made to move forward, when she paused again. She squinted.
Was there something there-- flitting across his shoulder? Something green
and brilliant. It flashed for a second in her mind, and was gone.
But she couldn't be certain. And she moved forward again. A thrill of fear
raced through her as she walked, barefoot and silent on the grass, and
His fingertip trailed against the page, underlining the words in restless
motion against the rough, yellowed paper.
He had saved these old pages, in the late, deep days of the winter, when it
had grown so cold the people had burned their books to survive.
They had been making a bonfire, throwing in the ancient paper that took to
the flames. Tearing the pages away from the tooled bindings, that fell in a
pile in the darkness. One after another, the pages flew through the air
like fluttering snow.
But not this one. Something in him just wouldn't let it go. Another book
just couldn't burn, and he'd nearly met his own death struggling for it.
But as he always seemed to, he had made it out once more. And he always
would-- until that last time, that was waiting for him like a shadow among
Humans. His life revolved around them. He had needed them for blood and
chase-- affection and grief. It always came back to them. He was vulnerable
to them as he was to nothing else. And they would kill him one day, for
But perhaps not for a long time, yet. He found he could fight with words
instead of blades, when the situation called for their need.
And he turned a tired page of his book in the early morning gloom, and from
it fell a pressed and dried flower, fluttering out into the breeze like it
was weightless. He deftly caught it before it fell to the ground, and it
did not crumble in his hand.
The colors were still vibrant, but it was old. It had known sunlight and
grown long before all of this had happened. And he did nothing but watch it
against his dust-covered palm. The veins in the petals, crushed flat, were
tinted a soft yellow, stretching across and to the stalk, that still showed
pale green in the night.
And he suddenly felt Dawn's brilliant light, that flowed still in his veins-
- that rested there even after months had passed since the mountainside,
begin to move again. It still, even now, filled him with uncertainty-- with
a quiet fear. It was unpredictable, and he didn't understand its nature. It
had great power, that he was only beginning to see and know. And as the
small, crushed petals and leaves touched his hands, they began to grow
stronger, unfurl themselves against the spring air. Moisture ran through
the veins of the leaves, suddenly, and the colors became even richer than
they were before. The small, delicate tendrils of its growing leaves
wrapped around his fingertips gently, tracing the movement of the living
light through his hand-- living light that moved where nothing alive should
ever have been again.
And he felt his hand tremble slightly with the emotion that this always
brought him. Fear of her-- not cold or apprehensive terror, but a quiet
amazement that something so remarkable was moving before his eyes.
Certainty that it should burn him to ash with its brilliance, but held this
That it wanted him to live, and knew who he was. That the flower in his
hand was a gift of that light-that this was her language, and she was
speaking to him.
Because of this, somehow, he began to realize something had changed. It
didn't matter, looking at this flower in his hands-- it didn't matter if he
didn't find her. He could look and search. But if Buffy didn't come, if he
never saw her again-- that it was allright. There were other purposes, now,
that by their diversity made the memory of her not less, but more--
infinitely more valuable.
And in the pale, new grass, he heard a sound as a pair of small, bare feet
stepped there. They were covered with roadside dust.
When he looked up, his book slid from his hand to the ground. Its pages
fluttered open, rustling back and forth in the wind.
And above them both, the morning doves scattered from their tower, as the
bells suddenly rang out the half-hour in a violent rush of ringing sound.
And they flew up and out-moving into the updrafts of warm air that hung
over the college. And they spread out over the farmland, newly plowed, and
the rolling, tree-covered mountainsides beyond it.