By Yavi Asad
Story notes: This came to me a couple of weeks after "Chosen", when I was on a hike. No, there weren't a lot of wildflowers around. This is a revised version, which is why it's different from the version posted at the Buffy Fiction Archive.
Author's Notes: This is my thank you to Joss, and my elegy to the show. [Also! Thanks to D.L.G. who pointed out that Buffy would think of Joyce, because well, Joyce is her mother. I really really need a beta. ]
Disclaimer: I really own nothing. Well, except for a computer. And some clothes. And possibly myself.
"I like wildflowers. All kinds, but golden poppies the best. You know, the kind that grows all over California .”
“Because they’re yellow.”
“You like yellow?”
”That’s a dumb answer then.”
” ‘Sa dumb question, Buffy, you either like something or you don’t. There are no reasons.”
Everyone keeps looking over at me, a little worried, like I’m going to jump into the gaping hole that used to be Sunnydale. Instead, I’m just perched on side of the crater listening with one ear to the mindless chatter of the potentials...that is, the other Slayers. Xander’s standing a little farther back, also gazing into the pit, but his thoughts don’t show on his face, like they usually do.
“B? You doin’ okay?”
Looks like Faith got the short straw and now has to brave the potential wrath of Buffy. She’s used to it.
“Um, no one’s critical anymore, but we might wanna head out and get people to a hospital anyway.”
“Right. Yeah. Hospital. How’s Robin?”
“He’s okay, but he’ll be better if we can get a move on.”
Fatih almost seems to know what I'm thinking about, because she drops the issue, but begins to quietly herd people back into the bus. Let Buffy mourn for her dead lover. But I'm not mourning, and he wasn't my lover. But he deserves a place in my thoughts as I survey what used to be Sunnydale.
May is his month for being noble. It's May now. It was May even when he first came to me to help me save the world. The first time. May was when he helped us out of the Initiative, but perhaps it would be safer to call that one as even. May when he fought to protect Dawn. It must have been May when he got his soul back. It doesn't really matter how much he screws up the rest of the year, because in May, he'd make it all up.
Well, if you're going to die saving the world, it might as well be in May.
I get up and turn around, but as I’m walking to the bus, I look at the pit one more time, and deep in the center, I think I see a flash of bright yellow.
Five years later (it's May again, and Dawn just got out of college for the summer), I’m in San Francisco, with Willow (she just loves this city), and Xander walks in, heading straight for the little kitchen radio that Will’s mounted on the wall of her apartment. The newscaster’s voice invades the little room.
“They’re calling it the ‘Miracle Bowl’: Hundreds of different flowers and plants filling up a large dirt pit the size of a small town. A lot of these plants don’t even belong in same climate, and, botanists say, not many of them should be able to survive in a part of California that seems to be just desert.”
I tune out the rest, because Willow's looking at me with wide eyes. I remember my little glimpse of yellow five years earlier, and I’m reaching for my coat. Willow grabs my arm before I’m out the door.
“White lilies. Tara ...she liked white lilies.”
And I wonder if it’s true. If my suspicion is correct. So does Willow, and for her, I’ll look for white lilies.
“Daisies,” Xander pipes up. “For Anya, it was always daisies.”
Dawn almost follows me out the door, but then she stops. "I talk to her all the time. Buffy, when was the last time you said hello to mom? Find the jasmine."
In four hours, I’m at the edge of the crater, but I’m not alone. At least three hundred people have gathered at the perimeter, some of the braver ones heading down into the pit, looking for certain flowers. No one’s gone too far in yet though, so I begin to pick my way through.
I find the daisies. Then, closer to the center, I find the white lilies. I also see scarlet roses – Ms. Calendar. The birds of paradise are for Cordelia, who died younger than any of us and older then we'll ever be, which, all things considered, is really saying something.
I sit down heavily in a little patch of dirt that's next to the jasmine. "Hi, mom." What else can I say? She knows everything by now. "I love you. I miss you. I'm sorry. Your grave's gone, so it was hard to really talk to anything else. But, you probably like this better, huh?"
I pull out a tiny clump of the jasmine by the root, taking care to pick up enough soil with it so that it wouldn't kill it. "You know what a brown thumb I am, but Dawn can look after this plant, and you'll still be with us." I paused for a long time. "I guess you know there's something else I've gotta do right now. I'll be back, though. I promise."
I unfold myself and get up carefully, still holding the jasmine. Before I move, though, I add, "If you see him, don't forget the little marshmallows in his hot chocolate."
I pick my way through some more plants, almost falling from the balancing act of trying not to step on anything.
At this point I know what I’ll find in the center, but I have to keep going, just to make sure they’re there.
Crowded on all sides by other plants, but still alive and healthy, all the way at the bottom of the pit, is a small but vibrant clump of golden poppies.
”How did you know?”
”There are some things, pet, that just follow. All I had to do was tell the earth what I wanted.”
I don’t know if I really heard him or not, but just in case it was him, I tilted my head back and yelled to the sky as loudly as I could:
All around me, the people visiting their dead looked up, smiled and nodded their assent.
We all thank you. For everything.