Disclaimer: Believe it or not, Highlander and BtVS belong to Panzer/Davis and Joss Whedon, not me …I'm just dipping my toes in their sandbox :-) A small vignette, set in my ‘Heaven and Earth’ universe
Four people stood beside her grave
Buffy, clad in black, grimly held Dawn close as Anya stumbled uncertainly towards the grave, her face betraying her bewilderment with death as she self-consciously threw a handful of earth into the pit. Xander stood awkwardly in his suit, his hand hovering over Anya’s shoulder, wanting to comfort her, but unsure of his welcome. After a brief moment, his hand fisted and dropped limply to his side.
She scanned the shaded tree line, already suspecting he wouldn’t be there. Spike didn’t like funerals.
The sun blazed with a white-hot intensity even through the tinted window of the car; lending the scene an almost movie-like quality, as if it wasn’t real.
It didn’t feel real.
Tara pressed her fingers against the darkened glass, willing herself to believe as she rested her forehead against the cool glass. “She’s not here,” she murmured worriedly under her breath, “Why isn’t she here?”
A sigh filled the silence in the car. “I knew this was a bad idea.”
She glanced over her shoulder and Adam shifted in his seat, lounging against the far door as his hands burrowed further into his coat; his suit of armour against the vagaries of the world. “I had to come,” she murmured, studying his shuttered face. He probably believed his blank expression hid his thoughts. It didn’t. She knew that mask too well; had seen it many, many times.
On Buffy’s face.
Cold and distant, hiding the turmoil within. The pain, the grief, the loneliness, the guilt...the mask that Buffy now wore as she stood beside Tara’s grave. “No, Buffy, It isn’t your fault,
” she thought, a pang going through her heart as she watched the slayer reluctantly release her grip on Dawn and step forward to sprinkle her handful of dirt.
Buffy’s head shot up, her eyes suddenly alert as they scanned the graveyard. Startled, Tara pulled her hand from the window as the slayer’s eyes narrowed, her expression growing slowly thoughtful. Had Buffy somehow heard her?
The urge to leap out of the car was nearly overwhelming. She pictured herself running across the neatly cropped grass and pulling Dawnie into her arms, wiping away the young teenager’s tears and easing the pain in Buffy’s eyes. She wanted to tell them that everything was going to be all right. That she wasn’t gone after all, that she wasn’t dead, she was alive
But… She isn’t here.
And everything isn’t all right
The engine revved into life, and Tara automatically fumbled with the seatbelt as the car abruptly pulled out. “Time to leave,” Adam said tersely, under Tara’s silent gaze. “Before you do something I’ll regret.”
And Tara blinked; her eyes, finally, blurring with tears. Why weren’t you there?