||[Jul. 4th, 2005|10:27 pm]
The Nancy Tribe
I sit at my desk in the Council, the same desk I have occupied for years, and watch the slate grey sky yield a soft flurry of snowflakes. In the distance I can hear the hum of cars on busy London streets. Soon it will be dark, and my lamp will pool orange onto my desk as I work. Not so long into the night as I once would have done, though. A lot of things have changed in the eight years since my coma.|
I swam through strange seas in my dreams. My memories of that time are liquid, green, hard to picture; I heard echoes sounding in the deep, voices calling to me from outside my sick bed, but I could not reach them. I was lost, trapped in my own body, my consciousness plunged deep down inside me. Only Tara’s magic kept my alive. Tara’s magic that nearly killed her. I was held by a thread, a glimmer of light that stopped me drowning in the dark, but I could not tug too hard on it and escape my prison without hurting her. I knew this, dimly. She and I were tied by magic, and it would take great risk to separate us.
Willow did it eventually. Of course she did – she’s the most powerful witch who has ever lived, although I would still hesitate to say “the greatest”. She doesn’t yet have wisdom enough for that. But she worked out how to bring us both out of the darkness without killing us, and for that I will always be grateful.
I surfaced in late January, my first thought, absurdly, being that I had wasted the deposit on the hotel for Christmas. I gasped and blinked, adjusting to this new-old world above the surface, and Lynn leaned in. Her tears made her kiss watery, taste like the sea. I put my dry hand to her wet cheek and felt all at once how short life was, how little I should take for granted, I who had now cheated death for the second time.
Three months later I asked Lynn to be my wife. Somewhat to my surprise, she accepted. Considering we’d been together for less than a year, you could say we rushed. But I was 36. How much longer did I have to have the family I wanted? I’d always wanted to be married, and I hoped to have children. If I left it any later, I might end up as one of the Council’s scores of sad old bachelors. Maybe Lynn felt the same way; we didn’t really talk about it. But we married soon afterwards. No big do, just a quiet day. It drizzled. My new shoes pinched. And Lynn looked as beautiful as I’ve ever seen her.
Is she my true love? Probably not. Am I hers? I don’t think so. We’ve never had the wild passion I had with Asha, or that I suspect she had with Scott. But those loves ended, and not well. What we have is deep, and strong, and quiet. I rely on her and she, my independent Lynn, on me. I find comfort in her beauty and her mind, and that is enough. That is more than enough.
Lynn stopped using contraception a few months after the wedding. Nothing happened, however. I got used to waiting with gritted teeth for the disappointing moment when Lynn would appear from the bathroom, saying tersely that her period had started. After a while we thought we should forget about it. Maybe we’d missed our chance. And then, when I was 40, it happened. The thin blue line. Now we have a daughter. We’d called her Linda. A funny choice, perhaps, as Linda put Lynn in hospital, but it reminds us of our sins, and of our duty to make sure little girls like ours never face the horrors that older Linda did. Our daughter is four now, and very beautiful, and clever, and all those clichés that parents spout. She will start school soon, and will succeed at everything, I’m sure. Already she has her mother’s steely will.
After my accident, I downsized my work. Lynn became the co-head of the Council, not my deputy. She took on all the business aspects and I focused entirely on supervising the training of the slayers. We had some drama with the vampire Raven du Coeur, who turned out to be even more evil than I might have suspected, but that was all resolved in the end, though not, sadly, without some deaths.
We have lost a number of slayers, though not all to death. Some have chosen to leave the Council. Many, however, have stayed with us and flourished. Now we have official Council offices all over the world again, training hundreds of girls. Only 10 bases so far, but in the next decade I expect that to increase to 30. Sean Donovan, for instance, once a rather unstable young man, is now a good watcher, leading the China branch. I pretend not to know about his relationship with the fiery slayer Sam, probably one of the most on-off romances of the decade. Ieuan, of course, is in charge of the Welsh office.
Ah, Ieuan. I do not see so much of him these days, but he’s often in my thoughts. Impossibly handsome, impossibly clever, and of course just impossible, who could forget him? He spends plenty of time in London too, of course, as I can’t see Ethan ever settling down as a boyo in the Welsh countryside. To be frank, despite his nationalism, I can’t see Ieuan doing it either. He saunters in and out of the office on occasion. I would, I think, call him a friend, though never to his face. That’s not how we work.
There are a few others still in London, too. When Violet hit 30 she took advantage of the slayer retirement plan that I set up, although I’m sure she still slays on the quiet. Still bubbly and energetic, she finally found herself a nice man. They live a rather unconventional life in South London, but she’s often here to see Tara.
Tara. My lovely Tara. I don’t love her romantically anymore, of course, but I will always care for her. How could I not? After the spell she performed, we were closer than ever. We’d shared a lifeline for a month, after all. Her near-death experience made Willow realise that she wasn’t ready to risk losing her again, and so they patched things up. They spend part of the year in California and part of it here. A few years ago they took advantage of the Civil Partnerships Act and registered their relationship. The reception was held here, in the Council garden. It was a lovely day. Dawn Summers was here, as she often is, although after graduating she moved back to the States. Triffy was also here. It’s become apparent to me that Scott is in love with her, and she with him. Maybe next time she comes back from Chile something will happen. I won’t stop them. It’s a taboo, but I’ve seen too many people hurt to now grudge others a little happiness.
I sit at my desk, ruminating over what has gone. A small figure bursts through the door. Linda, back from playschool. She wants to know if I will come help her do some painting. In a minute, sweetheart, I tell her, and she bustles out, her earnest efficiency so like her mother’s that it makes me smile amusedly. I look out of the window, at my 10 year old view, and think that despite everything I am a lucky man.
Standing, I head to the door and turn off the lights.