He carefully laid the last shovelful of dirt over the grave, patting it down gently. Sitting on the ground, he blinked back tears as he stared at the headstone. Beloved was all it said and for him it spoke more than anything. His little love had been beloved, had been the center of his universe, but he knew it wouldn’t last. It never lasted. Everyone was always stolen from him.
“Is there a reason you’re sitting here, mister?” asked the cracking voice of a boy hitting that stage in life.
“Saying goodnight to a friend,” he answered, leaning forward to brush his lips against the marble. He looked at the youth standing beside him. A typical small planet young man, tall and thin with a shock of startling red hair. But everything else about him was the same worlds over.
“Goodnight, mister? Don’t you mean goodbye?”
“I never say goodbye,” he replied truthfully, rising to his feet. “I believe that we will see people again, some day.”
“Mama believes that too,” the young man nodded sagely. He looked over intently. “Are you done now? I don’t mean to rush you but grandpapa died a few days back and it’s time to bury him now.”
“I’m done,” he sighed, grabbing the shovel. “Do you need any help?”
“No,” the youth shook his head. “We’ve got it covered. You can stay if you want. The preacher can say a few words for your friend too.”
He smiled sadly. “No, but thank you anyway. I think I need to head on my way.”
“Okay, mister. But if you need anything, you stop by, okay?”
A small laugh escaped him. “My friend would have liked you. I’ll remember than. Goodnight.”
“Goodb-night to you too, mister.”
“You know your crime?”
“And you do not object?”
“There is nothing to object to.”
“Are you certain?”
“You understand we will punish you to the further extent of our power? It will be like nothing you have faced before.”
“I am sorry to have to do this. I, Helian, Master of the House Aureli, find Alexander Lavelle Harris, Consort of Angelus, Master of the House Aurelius, Childe of the House Aureli, guilty of the death of his Mate and Master. Consort, your prison is to walk through this world all alone.”
“To what exactly, Childe William?”
“Yeah his crime is horrible, but you’re sentencing him to an eternity of pain! Even the PTB gave Angel a reprieve.”
“Yes, you are correct. Thank you for pointing that out. The sentence is laid and I cannot change it now, but I can amend it. Therefore, you will walk this world, this lifetime alone until you re-find the other half of your bond.”
“Thank you, Master Helian.”
“Do not thank me, young one. You may never find him again.”
“I know, but at least I’ll have the chance to try.”
Xander watched the stars slip by sadly. It had been just over two thousand years since that night. Two thousand years watching friends and family die as he drifted. First Giles and Dawn to a car crash, then Willow while she was saving a bunch of junior slayers. Faith died in a berserker rage after seeing Robin fall during a battle. Surprisingly, Buffy was the only one of the mortals to live to old age, dying surrounded by child, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When human finally made it to space travel, Spike and Dru had gone with him to the stars, the pain of Earth too much for any of them to bear. It had been exactly nine hundred and seventy two days when they decided to watch the sun rise on an Earth like planet, the brilliant and deadly rays killing them almost instantly. They never told him why, just gone wrapped in each other’s arms. Since their death, Xander had made friends and gathered family, descendants of those he once loved, and since then he had watched each leave him.
He wasn’t giving up hope. He would find Angel, even if he had to travel to the final moment of the universe to do so. He would find his love, his heart, his soul and maybe, just maybe, he’d also find some peace.
Tai looked up from his school books as the overwhelming feeling of grief hit him again. Since he had turned sixteen he had been feeling like something was missing, distant from him but reaching out. Each time he almost touched that something, someone, he would feel a complete sense of loss and pain. It wouldn’t be long before he could apply for a Cruiser to search to whatever was waiting out there for him. And maybe he’d help that someone find peace.