Checklist

Checklist

by Cynamin

Disclaimers: Yup, Angel’s mine. He’s my very own vampire and you can’t have him! :P No, really, I don’t own any of them.
Spoilers: IWRY, To Shanshu in L.A. I think that’s it.
Rating: Oh, PG at the worst. Really.
Author’s notes: I was planning to write a new “Warriors” story for the IWRY anniversary, but almost a month has passed and it just isn’t working. But then this idea struck me, and since I so rarely write one part fics I had to go with it. So this is an IWRY anniversary fic almost a month late. Oh, and by the way, it’s after midnight, I’m tired. I have no idea how this is going to turn out.


I no longer count the time that’s passed in days. I did that for the first month or so. Now, I count it in weeks. Months, sometimes. But I still count how much time has passed, especially when I’m alone, just thinking in the predawn hours. I can’t help it, even now…

_To wake up in time to see the sunrise.
_To do any activity that includes the word sunset.
_To not fear the sun.
_To get a suntan.

It has been exactly two years since that amazing day in November, when Buffy visited and a Mohra demon’s blood made me mortal…human once again. Sometimes I’ll stop to think and wonder that she happened to be there on that precise day, to experience those wonderful moments with me. Wonderful moments that never really happened anywhere except in my memories.

_To have midnight be late instead of early in my ‘day.’

I wonder what would have happened if Buffy hadn’t been there. Would I still have had the events reversed, the day erased? What would I have done without her there? Would I even have survived long enough to share the wonderful news of my rebirth?

I have no idea.

_To stop dreaming of death and enjoying it.
_To not have the same nightmares.

I started writing only a few days after it happened…after it didn’t happen. I think I was afraid that if I didn’t start writing it down I’d forget what it was like to be human. What it had felt like. That without an effort to remember, it would all just disappear. It had never happened, after all.

_To not carry around so much guilt.
_To be truly happy, and not fear for my soul.

It has been exactly a year and six months since we found the prophecy…my prophecy. The one that said that when my tasks were done, I would become human again. The one word that made the difference between duty and hope. The prophecy that gave me something to live for.

_To stop fighting internal battles that are harder than the external ones.
_To only have to fight other people’s demons.

I don’t think anyone else realized that we translated the scrolls correctly exactly six months after that wonderful, disastrous day as a human. Why would they? It never happened, after all.

_To not be able to smell blood.

On that day, though, this simple list of things I wanted to hold onto from that day as a human became something else. It be came a checklist of everything that I wanted to experience when I became human again. Everything that I couldn’t be a part of as a vampire. The endless possibilities of humanity, whenever it came. It became a list of the little things I missed and everything I still longed for. The things I wish I could take for granted.

_To appreciate a gourmet meal.
_To taste

I surprised Cordelia when I first cooked breakfast for her and Doyle not long after that missing day. That was just one example of me trying to capture one of those very human moments I couldn’t quite be a part of. I wanted to taste everything like I had with Buffy – to be amazed at new combinations, and have something other than blood calm my appetite. It never worked, of course, but that didn’t mean I didn’t try.

Eggs aren’t that hard to cook. And I may not be a gourmet chef, but at least my eggs were edible. Especially considering that I couldn’t really taste them the same way…

_To be as comfortable in a church as in my own home.
_To wear a cross.
_To believe that my prayers are listened to.

I can easily admit that I hated anything that reminded me that I was a vampire, especially immediately after that day. I had been so close…but of course it couldn’t be. It wasn’t time; there was too much left to do. But still, I hated having to wait for an invitation before entering a home. I hated that I was confined to the shadows. And of course, the blood that still filled most of my fridge. After all, that is what kept me at least appearing to be alive. However false appearances can be…

_To stop having to be aware of mirrors.
_To see my reflection.

Then, after some time had passed, came the acceptance of my situation once again. I could help people as a vampire; I was strong, I was fast, I was hard to kill. I was needed by whoever or whatever the Powers That Be are to fight against evil. Strange, isn’t it, a vampire being needed to kill his own kind. To save souls when my own was in a constant precarious state. But I could do it; I did it. And if I made any enemies along the way, that could just be considered that my good work was being noticed. By the wrong people perhaps, but…

_To not heal so quickly.
_To hurt.
_To feel.

Then came the prophecy. Once we had translated it correctly, it was like a promise of new life. Actually, that’s exactly what it was. I hadn’t allowed myself hope in a long time. But now…to know for sure that all I had to do was survive what was coming, avert an apocalypse or two, keep fighting…I could do it. I could live again. It was like there was nothing in my way.

_To catch a cold.
_To have a running nose.
_A cough.

Of course, it’s never that easy. There were obstacles, hard times, tears and terrors… but I made it. I survived. And was surprised after all, because sometimes it’s the most personal of battles that really make all of the difference without us even realizing it. Sometimes it’s the ones we fight inside that are more important than the ones for the fate of the world. After all, how can one save the world when one can’t live with oneself within it?

_To have a sore back.
_A stomach ache.

It was a dream. I’m not kidding – that’s what it finally came down to: a dream. It had been a very long night, but one filled with lots of small battles instead of some major war. Not that there hadn’t been major wars, just not that particular night. That particular night I arrived back at my room and collapsed from sheer exhaustion.

_To be short of breath.
_To breathe.

I was in a cavern, a cavern of my own mind. He was waiting for me – my demon, my shadow self. I was seeing him totally as the other, as an intruder that did not belong in my body. I’d never really been separate from the demon like that before. It was right though, I saw quickly – he didn’t belong in this body. We’d long been fighting a war inside and constantly ending at a stalemate. All these battles against other people’s demons had done one clear thing for me, though – it had strengthened my soul.

He said he knew that some day it was going to come down to a battle like this. I’ll admit I never expected the battle against my own demon to turn out so literal. But then, I guess the dreaming mind interprets such things however it knows best. With me, a Warrior to the soul, that would of course be violence. A battle to the death, I suppose.

_To feel my heart beat.
_To feel it race in anticipation.

I awoke after sunrise to find one very human thing that I’d never thought to include on my list: to sigh upon waking because you actually need air. I awoke breathing. I awoke with a heartbeat. I awoke alive.

_To have gray hair.
_To no longer look young.
_To count my age not by how many years I’ve seen, but by how many years I’ve lived.

The very first thing I did was run down the stairs and out the front door into the morning sunlight. Come to think of it, I nearly gave Cordelia and Wesley a heart attack when I did that. Maybe I should have told them what was going on before I bolted out the door; they probably thought I’d gone suicidal. But I was human. I had a drastically shorter lifespan now, and I wasn’t about to wait another minute. Not if I could help it.

_To love, and risk being loved…without fear.

The second thing I did, before I even bothered to eat breakfast, was pick up the phone and dial the number I knew by heart but had not actually called in two years. Not since those first couple of lonely months in L.A. where I almost spoke to her but could say nothing once she answered.

This time, I was going to speak.

The 7 seconds I waited before she answered the phone were the longest in my life. (My life!) Yes, I counted them.

_To be a father.
_To raise a family.
_To pass on my family name.

I don’t want to know the traffic laws she broke getting from Sunnydale to L.A. so fast. To be honest, I don’t really care. What mattered is that she was there, standing in the sunlight, looking at me waiting for her outside the building. Her face broke into a grin and to my pleasant surprise greeted me with a warm hug. It was her words that truly warmed my heart, though.

“I dreamed of this.”

So did I, my love, so did I.

_To die, and not be dust.
_To be remembered as a man instead of a monster.

That was two days ago, and she hasn’t left. She has spent every moment she can rejoicing in my new found humanity with me. I’m falling in love with her all over again, renewing feelings that never went away. I can see the same feelings in her every time I look into her eyes.

And so I can’t help but smile as I check off a couple of the entries on my list of human things. My ‘to do’ list for life. Right now, there is a beautiful woman waiting for me to accompany her to the beach, to cherish the sight of us together in the sunlight. And tonight I will do my best to show her what it was like to live and love on a day that never happened but has remained close to my heart.

I can’t help but hope that, even though she doesn’t remember it, the dream of that day has remained close to her heart as well. But now is the time to replace it with brand new memories. To start a brand new list…

_To live – check.


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