There is a marker without a grave beneath it, somewhere beyond the ruins of what was once a school.
Someone made an attempt at chiselling a name, or at least a date into it, but gave up halfway through.
In the early days, when they still return to old haunts on occasion, the X-Men make a point of visiting that marker.
Logan never goes near it.
“Why would I?” he says, the one time Storm asks about it. “She ain’t dead.”
On Three Mile Island, he doesn’t notice her until someone shouts, “Come on!” and he spins to see her sitting in her cage, cross-legged, blinking too fast – a gesture he has seen so, so many times before.
“Buffy,” he breathes, and her eyes flash open, focused on him with the precision of a sniper. Predator with her head all screwed up. He could never look at Wade without being reminded of her, too much alike, those two.
“I don’t know you yet,” she says, head cocked to one side, standing with that inexplicable grace that allows him to always, always pick her out of any crowd.
Beside him, Kayla is tugging on his arm, urging him to move, goddamnit, but he doesn’t budge, just holds out his free hand to the slight blonde stepping out of her cage.
She takes it, no hesitation, never any hesitation, and adds, “But I will.”
He can feel himself smile, molasses slow, “That you will, sweetheart.”
She smiles back and oh, but she looks young. Not that she ever doesn’t, frozen in her body, in a form barely old enough to be out alone after nightfall, sixteen forever, but. There’s centuries of strain missing from the corners of her mouth, the green of her eyes.
Kayla gives up trying to move him physically, barks instead, “We need to go!”
She’s right. He still wants to pull her lungs out of her ribcage, but she’s right.
He tugs Buffy along, surprised when she stumbles. Right. She’s not used to following him blindly. Not yet.
“It’s almost time,” she told him, a decade ago, kissing him on the cheek, bag slung over one shoulder.
“Time for what?”
“For us to meet.”
He rolled his eyes, long used to her speaking in riddles and demanded, “Explain.”
She gave his cheek a fond little slap, laughed. “You met me for the first time in 1866. I meet you for the first time in 1984. Timelines, Bub.”
And then she blinked herself out of his time, his timeline, his life. In a certain slant of light, Kayla looks just like her, just a little. Oh gods, he missed her.
“Which way?” he asks, not even doubting that she knows the answer, knowing she’s blinking her way through timelines even now, searching for the right outcome. She might be impossibly young, but she’s still herself.
“We have to,” she starts, then suddenly lunges, grabbing Kayla, dragging her down and to the left.
Logan curses as he catches a bullet meant for a little girl in pigtails, tugs her out of sight. One of the kids is shouting over the chaos, show me where to aim, and Logan grabs Kayla. “Get the kids out,” he orders, sharply.
“Logan…,” her eyes are soft and sorry and he can’t take it. He loved her. He loved her as well as he could, and she did… this.
“Get them out. Get your sister out.”
Buffy is humming under her breath, head cocked again. The kid with the bound eyes blows up half the second floor and she doesn’t even twitch, not until Kayla starts herding the kids back, back, back.
“Go left,” Buffy calls after them. “Go left. There’s a plane waiting for you.” She doesn’t check to see if she’s being obeyed, just turns to Logan, wincing.
He looks down her torso, finds a bloody hole in her white shirt. She’s been shot. “Shit,” he curses, as she presses a hand to her wound. He waits for the blood to recede, to disappear in reverse, but it doesn’t.
It’s not until he meets her gaze, confused and scared and hurting, that he realizes she doesn’t know. “Rewind yourself,” he tells her, parroting an explanation he has heard from her very lips a thousand times. “Your own personal timeline, rewind it until the wound is gone.”
She frowns, lips moving soundlessly. Still confused.
“How old are you?” he blurts.
Her frown deepens as her gaze drops to her stomach, hand cupping the wound, not covering. She concentrates hard, and the bloom of blood shrinks, then grows again, then shrinks again. A noise of triumph slips from her mouth as she figures it out.
A moment later she’s healed.
“Seventeen,” she says, in the middle of pulling him to his feet again, and he freezes.
“Jesus fucking Christ.” He pulls her into a run.
“Is that a bad thing?”
Is it? He’s known her for so long, has known her happy, sad, loud, quiet, injured and whole, fighting and winning, losing and hoping and screaming and crying and laughing and begging and roaring. He has known her naked and dressed, demure and wicked, wife and lover and friend and confidant.
He has never known her young.
He has never known her seventeen.
“Oh,” she mutters, glimpsing this timeline a minute, thirty seconds from now, knowing what he is going to say before he has to say it. Then, along some timeline he can’t even begin to fathom, she sees, “I like my wedding dress.”
Then, before he can comment – he liked her better out of it – she yanks on his arm with all her might, stopping him, pulling him behind a stack of shipping crates. “Children are out,” she says, like she isn’t one of them.
And she’s not, at least not in his eyes. He can’t think of her as the age her body wears. Never could. “Victor is still recovering, Gambit is coming back, Weapon XI is activated. Project Deadpool. You call him…,” her head cocks, listening. “Wade Wilson.”
“Stryker. Stryker has bullets that can hurt you. Not your head. Don’t let him hit,” one hand rises to touch his temple, a wordless end to her sentence.
Then, suddenly, she smiles, bright and open and young, goddamn. So young. She is one of those children.
Behind him, Logan can hear the hangar doors opening, can hear steps. That’ll be Wade, then. Think of the devil for just a second and he comes in… swinging those goddamn swords. Of course.
“I’ll wait by the plane,” she tells him, firmly, and then pushes him along.
When he meets her, he doesn’t even know that he is immortal yet. Doesn’t know that he will never age, never die.
When he meets her, he’s just Jimmy, not even forty yet, Victor’s little brother. He works in the harbour, loading and unloading. It’s backbreaking work for humans, nothing more than a workout for him. The money is decent enough for what he needs and he gets extra for keeping the other workers in line.
She appears, out of nowhere, beside him, a manic grin on her face, and her parasol dipping into the muck at their feet.
“There you are,” she chides, hand rising to his face, smoothing out the hair above his left ear. “I’ve been looking for you!”
He takes a step back, ducks under her hand. “Who are you, lady?”
Her eyes narrow as she studies him, from head to toe. Then something like apology cross her face. “What’s the date?” she wants to know.
“Today’s the eighteenth.”
Her expression stays questioning.
“April,” he adds and when she still looks at him like that, he tags on, “1866.”
“Oh,” she gasps. “Oh.”
And then the most brilliant of smiles breaks over her face. She holds out her hand.
“Hello,” she says, as bright as the sun. “Hello, James Logan. It’s so nice to meet you.”
Gambit makes her sit next to him on the plane, so he can keep an eye on her. Logan, who is still sore from the adamantium bullets he took in the chest, doesn’t notice until they’re already well in the air, but the kid looks at Buffy like he wants to have her walk the plank out of this airplane. Preferably over hard ground.
She watches him right back, blinking too fast again, flicking through timelines like a book.
For a minute, Logan thinks her powers are freaking the gumbo out, then he realizes it’s probably Victor.
Or rather, the way Victor pressed a kiss to her temple and winked before disappearing into the rubble, sirens at his back.
“How did I get Vicky to like me?” she asks, halfway back to New Orleans.
Logan considers, then answers, “Drank him under the table sometime back in the eightie.”
Gambit’s eyes widen as he realizes Logan means the 1880s.
Good old Victor, didn’t realize that she could control her metabolism by simply fast-forwarding her body along its timeline. Logan certainly never told him.
Buffy snorts. “That’s all?”
“Yeah,” he says out loud, deciding not to mention the decades of slowly, slowly wearing his brother down beforehand, of fighting for every moment of peace, convincing Victor that she was never out to steal his brother. She’ll see for herself. She’ll live it.
“I was supposed to be a superhero, have I ever told you?” she asks, flat on her back on a cheap motel bed, smiling at the ceiling in pink panties and a teddy bear t-shirt three sizes too small. She looks every bit the jailbait she is.
Logan blinks against the memories trying to overlay her teenage self.
“Yeah,” he tells her, knowing she’ll talk anyway. It’s how she combats the mess in her head.
“One girl in all the world. But Stryker found me, he found me and there was that part of me, so small, that was supposed to dream, to see the future and the past, and he cracked it wide open, broke it right down the middle and now everything flows through.”
She rolls onto her side to face the other twin bed, where he’s sitting, back against the headboard. “I think,” she whispers, like a little girl sharing a secret, “that he made me into a mutant. I don’t think I was, before he came.
“But that’s okay, because it’s over now, and I’m here and this is better than the other version. I die in that one, at sixteen, at twenty, at twenty-one and twenty-five and then I even stay dead and it’s awful. I lose everyone.”
She rolls to her feet, that grace again, and climbs into his lap, thighs on either side of his, his face in her hands. He lets her. He shouldn’t, but even if she’s only seventeen, she’s still his wife – will be his wife – and he could never tell her no.
“But here,” she tells him, her breath on his face, “I get you and we never, ever have to die. And you’re going to make me better, make me focus, keep me in one line, keep me whole, and I can make it so you’re not alone, and we’ll keep Victor sane and there’s children, Logan, there’s so many children, so many lost children and I can –“
Her voice rises and rises, faster and faster, until he reaches up, cupping the base of her skull, squeezing. Not hard, not much, just a little. A pressure to anchor her, the way he has for over a century whenever time threatens to rip her away with possibilities.
She slows down, head dropping forward onto his shoulder. She breathes.
“I am so glad I’m here,” she whispers into his skin and he hauls her closer, close enough to inhale her scent.
“Me, too, sweetheart. Me, too.”
It’s 1986 and she’s stolen his sunglasses for the third time that day. He finally lets her have them with a grunt, watching as she spins in the sunlight, making herself dizzy.
Eventually she stumbles and lists sideways. He catches her, just barely, rolling his eyes as she laughs, manic pixie that she is, living half a dozen lives at once.
He opens his mouth to comment, but she gets there ahead of time, pressing a finger to his lips. “You like me that way,” she scolds, “And besides, I’d be much worse without you. You’re my anchor, you know?”
Of course he does. His timeline is the one she has oriented herself by for centuries, leaving it, skirting it, dancing around it, but always, always returning to it.
He kisses her. Because he can, he kisses her.
She disappears in 1988 and shows up in the same shorts and t-shirt in 2005, shortly before he finds a girl at a truck stop in Canada.
In 1994, she turns up in a dress he buys – bought, will have had bought – for her three days before a crown prince’s death sets Europe aflame.
She goes to sleep in his arms in ’74 and wakes the same way in ’58 and he cups his hand to the base of her skull and squeezes. “Good morning,” she says and kisses him, sweetly.
The first time her meets her, his Buffy, the one that he has married, the one he has spent a century living besides, after Three Mile Island, he bares his claws to her, sheathed in metal and pain.
Holding them up for inspection, he asks, “Why?”
She leaves him, he knows that, has known that, always, and she returns to him as well, missing days, weeks, months in between. Sometimes, years.
But never a whole decade and never when he needed her. Never when something bad is going to happen.
Until now. Until Stryker. Until this, metal and nightmares and so. Much. Pain.
She’s wearing leather pants, circa 1999 and her nails are painted an incandescent pink. “All possible timelines. Every single one of them…,” she starts, trails off. “You are so important.”
“So you had to leave me?”
She doesn’t apologize. She never does.
There is a little girl in Boston, with belief for a name and five dollars in her pocket. Her hair is dark, her eyes bitter and she kills vampires with her bare hands.
“She took my place,” Buffy tells him, voice covered by the sound of rain. “I changed my fate and she took my place.”
The brunette spins low, kicks at a demon coming at her from behind, grabs a fallen sword and beheads another enemy in the same movement.
“Stryker changed your fate,” Logan corrects, wincing in sympathy as the girl takes a hit to the stomach that doubles her over.
An elderly woman calls her name, throws her another weapon. She catches it, takes another head.
Buffy shakes her head, kicking up an empty can of coke at her feet and rolling it, gently, into the battle. It trips a vampire and costs it the slayer’s blood.
“I let him.” Buffy puts a hand to her temple, makes a whirring noise, like a dentist’s instrument. “I let him pull me open and put time into me, the same way I let him put metal into you.” She turns to face him fully, drops her arm back to her side. “I would have saved the world, as the slayer. You would have saved the world, too, but it wouldn’t have been enough.”
Under the light of the street lamps, the slayer wins her battle and loses the war.
“Can I die?”
It’s a half-asleep question, asked late at night, naked and sated and warm, the nightmares, for once, kept at bay.
“Have you…?” he doesn’t finish the question, just lets it hang there. She knows.
He was born in 1837 and in 2008 he has yet to grow grey hairs.
She rolls into him, chest to chest. “Does it matter?” she asks. This is an older version of her, with the decades painted into the corners of her eyes and her mouth more tight than smiling. Older than him, he thinks. She usually is, moving around him in loops and whirls while he is stuck in a straight line, start to finish.
If there is such a thing.
“I can always find you. Even if one of us dies, we’ll still be alive.”
“Not the question, sweetheart.”
She laughs. “Guess not.”
When Kitty tells them she can send someone back in time, Logan bends in half, he’s laughing so hard.
Because it has to be him, doesn’t it? It has to be him and it was always going to be him and she had to know, had to know. He wonders if he’ll find her there, in 1973, and already knows the answer.
“Logan?” Kitty asks, and he remembers her at fifteen, at eighteen, and now, at almost thirty, so young and already so old and he realizes that his perception of time is completely screwed.
How old is he, now? How old is Buffy? How old will she be, when she died?
“How does it work?” he hears someone ask and the little girl woman purses her lips.
“Not like,” her gaze flicks toward him, away. They don’t say her name around him. Not if they can help it. “I can’t send bodies back, or objects. Only minds. Energy. So I’d be putting someone back into their younger bodies. Ergo, it should be someone who was alive back then? And not a child? Also? It’s going to hurt. A lot. ”
He snorts, wishes for a cigar. “Come on, kid, we all know it’s going to be me.”
It was always going to be him and Buffy always knew.
“Do you ever consider changing things?” he asks, standing in the gutted carcass of Dachau Konzentrationslager, staring at the barracks that held so many horrors until it was cleared out, only days ago.
She appeared a few hours ago by his side, wearing a dress straight from the twenties, holding him tightly until he was ready to let her go. Now, dwarfed by his uniform jacket slung around her shoulders, she answers, “I change things all the time.”
“So why didn’t you kill Hitler before this happened?” he asks, without heat. He’s too exhausted to be angry. Even Victor is rubbed raw by the end of this war, too tired to pick fights.
She leans into his side, slips a hand into his. “I’m not a god, Jimmy.” A sigh. “And time… has a weight. I can shift small parts of it around, but I can’t move mountains.”
Footsteps behind them and then a gruff voice, asking, “Where the hell did you come from, darling?”
“Madrid,” she answers, raising her free arm to hug Victor briefly before hooking it through his and hauling him in to sandwich herself between them. “1923.”
Victor leans into both of them, because he’s a dick, and Logan braces to counter and then just stops, staying there. “Anything good?”
“The wine was fantastic,” she informs them before turning her gaze back toward the horror around them, death and barren earth. “There’ll be trees. Just a few decades, and there’ll be trees growing here.”
Logan wonders, somewhere between a grave with a half-finished marker and the end of the world, hiding in the middle of a city laid to waste, if there’ll be trees, here, too.
If, in a few decades, after humanity is gone, all this will be covered in greenery.
Buffy would have liked to see that, he thinks. So would he.
She’s fiddling with the radio with her feet propped up on the dashboard and ignoring his grunts of protest whenever she finds something extra terrible.
“So, how old am I when you meet me?”
He looks at her out of the corner of his eye, gauges her face. “Older,” he judges.
She stops on the Rolling Stones and pouts. “I want to meet you already!”
A snort. “How does that go anyway? Do I, like, tell you how it is, or is there actual, you know, wooing involved?”
He turns up the volume and pretends to enjoy Mick Jagger’s caterwauling.
It’s 1973 and he wakes with a warm, soft body in his arms, miles of tanned skin under his fingertips and golden hair tickling his nose.
“Hello, gorgeous,” his wife says for the first time since Sentinels tore her apart and he can barely breathe.
Kayla won’t take her eyes off of Buffy. Neither will Gambit, still. It’s getting annoying.
It’s been five days since Three Mile Island and Logan isn’t even sure why they’re still here, instead of far, far away. Lie. The children. Some of them had homes left to go to, most don’t and they’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them. Somehow, getting them on that plane, saving them, has made them his responsibility.
Yesterday, Gambit came back from a day out and about New Orleans with a phone number. Tomorrow, the man on the other end said, a jet will come to pick up the children and take them to a mutant school.
Until then, Logan isn’t really willing to leave the children. Not with Kayla around. So he stayed, Buffy stayed, Gambit stayed.
And they keep staring at her, keep opening their mouths as if they’re going to comment. How she’s being included, despite the fact that she’s a kid, too, how Logan lets her steal his beer and interrogate him about his brother. How he lets her wear his shirts and calls her sweetheart.
She just keeps smiling at them, sunny and blonde and antagonizing to the bone and just when it looks like Kayla is going to explode, there is a blip in time, a small shiver down their spines and suddenly, where there was a girl a second ago, is now a woman.
Buffy is wearing leather pants and high heels, her lips red as blood and she smirks at Gambit, kisses Logan hello and then, without preamble, punches Kayla in the face.
“That’s for macking on my man,” she tells her.
Then, without a look back, she plops herself on Logan’s lap and informs him, “I’m investigating something. 1973 feels weird. What do you know about it?”
She hums. “Is Vicky around?”
“No. We’re not talking.” Because the next time Logan sees Victor, he is going to stab him. Repeatedly. Next time he sees a Buffy that lines up with him, he’s going to yell at her, too. But this one is before-around-not-now. He’s learned to tell.
She shrugs. “Oh, well. You definitely get over it by the new century. I saw it. When’s Charles coming to pick up the kids?” she stops. Blinks. “Oh, never mind. Now, be patient with the kid me, okay? And don’t even try to keep me at arm’s length, I win anyway.”
Another kiss and she’s gone. The teenage version of her pops back into existence, gapes at a bleeding Kayla and asks, “What happened?”
“So you’re stealing my gimmick now? Really?”
He should answer, he’s aware, but he can’t take his eyes off of her.
“Logan? Jimmy? Hey, you still in there?”
She’s sitting naked in the middle of the waterbed they woke up on, watching him with a worried frown. “Are you okay?”
Without his permission, his hand rises, traces her cheekbone, her jaw, the shape of her nose.
“You’re scaring me, Jimmy.”
You said we’d never die, he doesn’t say. Shakes it off.
“Nothing. You with me?”
Her grin is blinding. “Where else would I be?”
After her death, he only sees her one more time.
She appears in the middle of the night, wearing the clothes she wore… that day, the same tired expression and fizzy braid. Not even immortals wear the end of the world well.
And she isn’t really, is she? Immortal.
“Hey there, soldier,” she teases as she sinks down next to him by the campfire, snuggling into his side, like she always does.
He’s too stiff with grief to even move.
Everyone else is asleep.
“How long has it been, since?”
Two weeks, three days, a handful of hours. She died screaming.
Fast tracking their conversation, she nods before he speaks, presses a kiss to his cheek. “I am so sorry.”
“You knew,” he finally manages, unfreezing, his arms winding around her tight enough to hurt.
“Of course I knew. It’s a few more hours, for me. I don’t want other you to catch on to what’s going on, but I also want my snuggles, so here I am.”
Her joke falls flat and he remembers her absence, that last night, shortly before dawn, those five minutes he could have held her longer.
“Why didn’t you...?” he trails off. She knows anyway.
“Remember that time I told you how important you are? You are so, so important.”
“Not without you.”
“But I’m still here. I died. So what?” she smiles, kicks a stray ember back toward the fire pit.
“You’re not,” he counters. Because she isn’t here. Not when he wakes up, not when he goes to sleep, not at any moment in between.
“It’ll be alright,” she promises, ignoring him.
She turns to face the fire, a clear dismissal. Conversation over. He holds her for as long as he can, until dawn creeps dirty orange over the horizon and she presses one last kiss to his jaw. “Forgive me,” she whispers, and then she’s gone.
Sometimes he hates her.
She waits patiently for the door to open.
“Hello, Mister Giles.”
The man in the doorway squints at her. “Do I know you?”
Buffy cocks her head, smiles at him. “I was supposed to be your slayer,” she tells him, point blank. “But someone ripped me out of time, or time out of me.” She mulls it over for a moment. Logan rolls his eyes. She’s ten pounds of crazy in a tiny packaging, sure, but he can tell when she intentionally plays it up. “Something like that, anyway. So now Faith is the one and she’ll be here, soon. So I put together something for her. And you. And the friends she’ll have.”
“I… what?” The poor man is utterly confused.
Logan takes a long drag from his cigar and nudges his wife into offering the book she was holding in both hands. More startled than anything, the watcher takes it. “What is it?”
“It’s everything I could figure out about your timelines in the next few years. Anything that could help.”
Giles leafs through it, stops at a page marked with a sticky note. Logan has looked at it earlier, knows it contains a perfect transcript of this conversation.
“Are you,” the Brit finally asks after a minute of silence, “are you a seer?”
Buffy scrunches up her nose. “Well, in a way, yeah. Use it to keep her alive, okay?”
“Why do you care?”
She shrugs. “It was supposed to be me. I dodged a bullet and it hit her.” Another shrug. Her eyes lose focus for a moment. “Oh, we should go. Your friend is going to arrive in a minute.”
She waves briefly, grabs Logan’s hand and drags him out of the courtyard. The last thing they hear is Rupert Giles clearing his throat and calling after them, “Thank you!”
He likes Rogue. Old soul, young body, he has a type, but he’s been in love with a teenager before and he’s still married to her, so he just… doesn’t.
Lets her hug him and linger too long, lets her look at him like he hung the moon and speaks to her kindly, but doesn’t do anything more.
He knows she understands the day she finds him by the pool, sits next to him and says, “Your wife just got here. She made the professor yelp, scandalized Scott and then asked for you.”
He smiles around his cigar, says nothing.
“You never said you were married.”
He fiddles his thumb against a finger that never held a wedding band, shrugs. “A century and a half, by now. You stop thinking about it.”
Then he slings an arm around her shoulders and pulls her close. Lets her get over it. She deserves more than an old dog like him anyway. Buffy says she’ll hook up with Gambit, eventually, and they’ll be a terror together.
“It’ll be fantastic. Can you imagine the illegal shenanigans those two will get up to?”
“Is this the thing I need to do?” he asks, while she’s flinging their things into a bag, willy-nilly, muttering under her breath.
He stops in pulling on his jeans to catch the car keys she chucks at his head, then repeats the question. She blinks a few times, forwards, backwards, realization dawning. “The important thing?”
The thing you died for without having the fucking decency to even tell me, he thinks. Nods.
“One of them,” she allows. Frowns. “Does Hank shrink as he gets older? I don’t remember him being that tall.”
With a sigh, he rubs at his forehead. Sometimes, he has no idea why he listens to her.
“Charles first,” he decides, mostly just so he doesn’t feel like he’s letting her lead him around like a blind duckling, even though he is. “Then Erik.”
“White is not his colour,” she comments as she zips the bag shut and shoulders it. “Why aren’t you going to tell Petey we’re saving his father?”
“Why can’t we ever just have one conversation at a time?” he mocks.
She stops, doorknob in hand. “You don’t have to pretend to be angry. It’s okay to be happy.” Her expression falls into something more complicated, something older. For a moment, he isn’t sure he guessed her age correctly at all. Maybe – “I am. Being dead sucks.”
“Fuck you,” he grinds out and stalks past her to find the damn car.
“What happens to you, if we fix this?” he asks and sometimes it feels like that’s all he ever does, ask her questions he knows she won’t answer.
They have a walking, non-bald Charles asleep in the backseat, Hank pretending not to be listening next to him and he just… He remembers waking up without her in his arms and it shouldn’t have been different, because he woke alone often, even when she was alive, but it was. It always was and he hated it.
She shrugs, fiddles with the radio, ancient habit, and says, “What do you mean?”
“In theory, that other timeline will still exist somewhere, right?” At least, that’s how she’s been explaining it to him, forever. Endless possibilities, all happening at once, and her dancing in the space between them.
“Yeah. Oh, you mean, will I still die there if you fix things here?” She considers, head cocked, eyes fluttering. “Well, yeah. Sort of. But I’ll also be in this timeline, and I’ll be fine. Dead, but alive. Like Schrödinger’s Cat. Hey, I’m Schrödinger’s Wife! That makes you - ”
“You’ll be fine,” he takes from her babble, clings to it. “You’re sure you’ll be fine.”
“Logan,” she sighs –
She drops onto the couch next to him, passes him a beer and wedges her freezing cold toes under his thigh with a groan of relief.
When he hisses in protest, she laughs. “Baby!”
He smacks at her ankle, and then drags the heated blanket he keeps around for this express purpose over the back of the couch and over her. She groans again, borderline obscene this time, as she settles in for hibernation.
“I love the twenty-first century,” she crows, as she snuggles into his side, wiggling until she’s pressed against his ribs, close enough to feel his heartbeat, blanket over both of them.
Outside the door, the Canadian winter rages with five feet of snow and it’s barely December. Logan slings his arm around her, closes his eyes and hums his agreement, quietly.
“Logan,” she sighs, “does it really matter, when I die? If I die? Born 1968, died 2014, but in between I still live forever. You and me, we’re never gonna be dead, even if we die.”
Hank makes a sound in the backseat, like he can’t help himself and Charles groans in his sleep, palm pressing against his temple. He’s never dealt well with the weight of them, Buffy and Logan together too much for him, too much for even his mind to engulf.
She’s right. Of course she is. He’s married to a time traveller, he knows that endings don’t mean shit, but he lost her. He lost her and he buried nothing, watched the kids try and put up a marker and he can’t – she’s as much his anchor as he is hers.
“We fix this,” he growls, hands tight around the wheel. “We fix all of it.”
“See,” she whispers, crouching low over his chest, knees on either side of his hips, digging into the mattress, “I told you. Schrödinger’s Wife.”
She beams and kisses him and beams into the kiss and downstairs, a hundred hundred ghosts are laughing and living and learning and Charles is in his head, warm and content and unbroken. He shifts and the bed doesn’t groan because this time, this time she stayed and Stryker never got him, no metal inside his body, no pain.
Stryker never got her, either, but she’s still here, still his. Still Buffy, impossibly. Remembering, just like him. There is no half-finished marker out by the treeline anymore. He checked. No empty grave, no weeping children. Only her.
He reels her in by her neck, presses his nose into her collarbone, breaths her in.
She’s a two-hundred-year-habit that he never intends to break, dead and alive and his.
Logan smiles. And when she makes a greedy noise into his temple and tries to kiss him again, he drawls, “Slow down, sweetheart. We have all the time in the world.”