I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Endless. They belong to Joss Whedon and DC Comics respectively. I also don't own NCIS. It belongs to Donald P. Bellisario.
Warning: Character death ahead...
~~Flirting with Death
I’ll never quite forget the first time our eyes met. It had to have been the single-most joyous and disappointing moment of my life. It was when I was giving CPR to Buffy. I was working desperately to save the life of the young woman I thought I loved and suddenly, it worked! Buffy was alive and breathing again. I was ready to jump for joy. And then Buffy’s first word after I saved her life was ‘Angel’. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a real let down.
With Buffy speaking Angel’s name after I saved her life, my mind froze out what she was saying to Angel for the next few moments. That was the moment I saw her. She was a strange sort, even to me. Her clothing was goth in style, and yet she had to have been the happiest goth I had ever seen. Around her neck was a silver ankh pendant and beneath her right eye was a marking I’d never seen before.
I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t terrified by her presence. A woman in Gothic clothing in the Master’s lair should have screamed vampire to me. For some reason, though, it didn’t. The woman radiated a sense of calm like no one I had ever met. And then she winked at me and it was like I was released from a spell. I started noticing Buffy and Angel again and realised they were heading off to confront the Master. I chased after them quickly, but I never forgot the beautiful goth woman.
The second time I saw her was on the night that Angel, Willow and I were investigating the Sunset Club. As the three of us were rapidly discovering how screwed up those kids were, she was walking among them. Her face was sadder then last I had seen and, for an eternal moment, it was like she knew what we did. It was like she could see that those kids were on a pathway to self-destruction with their worship of the ‘Lonely Ones’. And so, while Angel was busy insulting one of the idiots, I walked up to her.
“What are you doing here?”
The beautiful goth merely offered me a sad smile. “Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answer?”
I conceded her point. Somehow I knew that death was in the air, and that she was there for that. “Who are you?”
Her smile brightened faintly at the question. “I have gone by many names, some better than others. My favourite, I think, is Teleute.” She glanced around faintly. “Some of these are not long for this world, but some might live longer.”
I nodded in acknowledgment. Some of those kids had their head so deeply wedged in their rectums that nothing could save them. Still, I knew that she was right. Some of them were salvageable. “Will I ever see you again?”
Her grin became ironic. “Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answer?”
My third encounter with Teleute came on the same day that I faced Angelus one on one. Angelus was in Sunnydale’s Hospital with flowers for Buffy and his best wishes for a lengthy demise. I was there to prevent his little visitation and keep Buffy in the land of the living. I wasn’t about to let him undo what I accomplished in the Master’s lair, even if his broody alter ego had gotten the credit for it. What Teleute was doing there, I never did find out. All I remember for sure was that she was standing behind Angelus and watching as we’d had our confrontation.
“It must eat you up that I got there first.”
I stared coldly at Angelus, even as I kept half an eye on the woman behind him. “You’re gonna die, and I’m gonna be there.”
I still remember the faint smile that Teleute gave me as Angelus slapped the flowers against my chest and bolted.
Teleute came to me next as I was dragging a zombie alongside my car as I questioned him. When the poor bugger’s head was taken off by a mailbox, I turned my eyes back into the car and noticed her sitting alongside me, calm as you please. I’ve got to say that it was a good thing that her very presence seems to fill me with calm, or I’d have likely slammed my car into a wall in shock. Instead I offered her a faint smile and concentrated on getting to the school in time to stop Jack from blowing the Scoobies to smithereens. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
The goth’s pixie grin appeared in the corner of my eye. “Tonight Death’s riding with you, Alexander. I thought you might like some company.”
It’s a measure of how much her presence distracted me that I didn’t contradict her. I didn’t take any notice of her use of my full first name. I didn’t realise that I’d never actually told her my name. I didn’t even catch her ironic turn of phrase. I simple matched her smile and skidded into a parking space at Sunnydale High. “I’ve gotta go stop a cake from being baked. If you want to talk more, you’ll have to run.” I immediately booted it through the school, leaving Teleute behind in my haste to stop Jack.
My standoff with Jack was a tense affair, but I managed to get him to disconnect the bomb. I’ve always followed the teachings of Leroy Jethro Gibbs when it comes to bluffing. He says, ‘The key to a good bluff is not to bluff.’ My bluff with Jack was no bluff. I knew that if Jack didn’t disconnect that bomb, then everyone I care about would have been dead. There was no way that was going to happen.
As I turned around to watch Jack running for it, I discovered that Teleute was behind me, leaning against the wall. I sighed in faint relief.
Teleute smirked at me. “I like the quiet too.” The silent moment was rapidly shattered by Oz chowing down on Jack. Poor Oz. I never did tell him why he was oddly full the next day.
Over the course of my life, Teleute was there for many turning points. She was there when Buffy died and took her on her journey. She was there when Willow performed the resurrection rite and actually slapped Willow across the face, although Willow never seemed to notice. Come to think of it, that was the moment I really began wondering if bringing Buffy back was the right thing.
Teleute was there when Willow went on her rampage and she stood at my side as Willow struck out at me with her magic, again and again. She was there at my side when Anya died, and held my hand as my hometown collapsed into a great hole in the ground.
Teleute was there every time I lost a slayer in Africa, offering up a shoulder to lean on. She was there when I killed a poacher who had been selling slayer parts. She was there through every key facet of my life, every time my life hung in the balance. I suppose its not surprising to me that she was there when I died too…
I didn’t even remember how I’d died when I crossed over, though Teleute told me that I’d died saving the world. I don’t think anyone could ask for better than that, really. Still, what stands out in my mind was not my death. It was when I found Teleute there, waiting for me. I grinned at her with a sardonic smile and I just had to shoot my mouth off. “Hey darling! Where you been all my life?”
She responded with that ‘I’ve got a secret’ smile that I had so come to love, before she followed up verbally. “At the end. I’ve been at the end, waiting for you to get here.”
Over my life I’d had many great ‘loves of my life’. Some of them were brief, like the flicker of a candle’s flame. Others were lengthy, going on for years. Teleute is not one of the loves of my life. That would be a contradiction in terms. Still, we are in love, and it will last forever… continuous, eternal, infinite, endless…
For the record: I am aware that NCIS started long after Jack O'Toole got bluffed. For my purposes, however, it did not.