Buffy threw the thin sheet from her over heated body. She felt a trickle of sweat make its way down her spine. She stroked the growing curve of her belly and sighed. It was just too hot to sleep.
She turned to the man next to her. She ran a hand down the darkened skin of his exposed back, feeling his warmth under her fingertips. He didn’t move, his breathing deep and regular. She gently patted her belly, wondering how like his father her son would be.
Buffy swung her legs out of bed and planted her feet on the tiled floor, the coolness a relief to her. With another sigh, she drifted out to the balcony, the night air refreshing on her skin. She looked back to the man in the over large bed and thought of their first meeting. He was dark and handsome, greying a little, laughter lines around his eyes, an easy smile. He recognised her, he’d said, and felt he must introduce himself. He seemed a little self-conscious saying he was known as The Immortal.
Buffy had laughed. She really couldn’t help herself. To call yourself The Immortal just seemed utterly ridiculous. But he’d surprised her by his lack of offence, instead he too laughed. He surprised her further by saying that The Immortal was what he was, not who he was. Buffy had looked into his dark eyes and was suddenly beguiled.
‘Oh baby,’ she whispered to her child. ‘Your father captured me in that moment.’
Buffy had said she couldn’t possibly call him The Immortal and he’d replied ‘You name me. I am born anew. Who shall I be for you Miss Summers?’ he’d laughed again, flirting with her. Buffy played along, enjoying the attention. Hands on hips, she had narrowed her eyes, stepped back a little, looked him up and down and pronounced ‘I shall call you John.’
He had been true to his word, he was John for her. He was always exactly what she wanted when she wanted it. He made loving him incredibly easy. Who he was when he was not with her, well she didn’t know that, and she didn’t really care. He was who he needed to be and she came to understand that it wasn’t power or sorcery that were John’s strengths but his willingness to constantly remodel himself.
She had no fear telling him of the pregnancy. She needed him to be calm and loving and that’s exactly what he was. His reaction was measured but happy. He’d taken her to bed and after making love he’d lain with his head on her stomach, planting feathered kisses across her body while she stroked his hair. She had never asked about his past. It felt like an unspoken pact, they were Buffy and John and what happened before they met didn’t matter. But for reasons she didn’t understand herself, she asked ‘Do you have children?’
‘Thousands,’ he answered in that measured tone, with that slight accent Buffy found so romantic but couldn’t place. ‘Thousands,’ he repeated.
She had been happy, she felt sure of that, but right now, on this overly warm Roman night, she couldn’t remember the things that had made her happy. These last three years felt as if she had been wandering through an endless garden, ornate and sunny, calming and restful, charmed by the allure of the scents and scenes. Nothing had disturbed her.
John hadn’t known he’d broken the spell of course, but Buffy had felt it begin to crack. She had slowly come to think of him as make-believe, a part played by someone who could be anything they wanted to be. She found herself searching for him, asking what music he liked, what books, what made him happy, what angered him, if anything ever did.
Once she had believed that to be immortal was to be full, to feel more deeply and have a perfect understanding of the world, but now she knew the opposite could be true. To live forever means to be empty, to lose yourself over a thousand, thousand years, have each little part of yourself chipped away and remade by the movement of time, till there was nothing left of the original, so you fill yourself up with the expectations of others.
Buffy now believed she had loved someone who didn’t really exist. Another impossible lover. But she knew that no matter who her son became, he couldn’t become anything here.