Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em. They are the creations of Joss Whedon, Terry Pratchett, Bryan Fuller, Neil Gaiman, and Moore & Eick.
Crossover with Discworld, Dead Like Me, Sandman, and Battlestar Galactica (the new one).
Setting: Um, “The Gift” technically. Also spoilers for the season 3 episode "Maelstrom" of BSG.
Warnings: mutilation of fandoms, general insanity and (abuse of parentheses).
Note: each of the following five scenes is unconnected, although the very beginning of the first one remains constant throughout, if that makes sense. Generally, this fic doesn't make a lot of sense, and I have taken a few small liberties with some canonical things (Rube's post-it came with a picture this time, and not-Leoben has some time-travel-portal-thing on his watch, ok? Ok.).
“You have to be brave. Live. For me.”
Buffy said her last farewell to her sister and raced towards the edge of the tower and the rising sun. The unnatural wind whipped around her as she fell, and she idly thought that it looked like electricity, like when that weird cyber-freak had tried to kill her back in high school.
The brutal truth of what she was doing pounded in her head and thrummed through her veins, and then the portal’s energy was doing that too and she realized that dying was not at all like an electric shock. It was more like every nerve in her body screaming, every muscle spasming out of her control, and after that long moment her eyes slipped shut and then . . . and then she was floating.
She drifted to the ground, lighter than a feather and she knew with astonishing clarity what she was and what that
was, that lump of flesh, bone, and blood that lay amidst the rubble, lips curved in what had been, for one brief and shining moment, a serene smile.
Yup, Buffy knew what that meant. She was dead, which meant the guy on the horse next to her was probably the Grim Reaper. The fact that he was completely covered by a black robe except for one skeletal hand wrapped around the handle of a tall scythe didn’t hurt either.
COME WITH ME, he said, pulling an hourglass from the recesses of his cloak. The sand was all collected in the lower compartment, although she wondered if it was supposed to be quivering like that. The elegant, pale horse pranced in place and tossed his head with a neigh. STEADY, BINKY, he said to the animal, smoothing one skeletal hand against the horse’s neck.
He turned back to Buffy, and she saw two blue pinpricks of light in his empty eye sockets. YOUR HOUR HAS PASSED.
“Tell me something I didn’t already know.”
Yup, Buffy knew what that meant. She was dead. It wasn’t much of a surprise. What was a surprise was the figure standing beside her ghostly presence.
Maybe she hadn’t expected a dulcet choir with wings and Birkenstocks to lead her to pearly gates, but she certainly hadn’t expected a middle-aged man with slacks, a sweater, and a thermos. He looked about 50, skin beginning to sag on his bones and dark hair becoming tinged with gray. He looked kind of familiar, and then she remembered the trek to the tower, and more specifically, the bumbling man who had stumbled through their group.
He noticed her appraisal. “Hey kid, you wanna take a picture?”
“Sorry,” she said. Something about his tone made her feel like a recalcitrant child. “This isn’t exactly what I was expecting.”
“Tell me about it. I haul my ass out to Nowheresville, California in the middle of the night just because I got a cryptic message about some special case, and then I find out you have a freaking robot twin! You ever tried to take the soul from something that doesn’t have one?”
“Headache like a bitch.”
He took a long pull from the thermos. When he looked back at her, he finally seemed to register that they were standing above her broken body with her friends and family gathered around in shock and horror, and she was very confused.
“You’re dead, peanut, in case you didn’t realize.”
“Thanks, I figured it out,” she said, a little irritably. She thought she had good reason. “So what kind of demon are you?”
“Demon?” he said, caught aback. “I tell you, I thought I’d seen it all.” He paused, giving his thermos a contemplative look. “Reaper,” he said finally, lifting it to his lips again.
“So…what happens now?”
“I take you to the great beyond.”
She looked up and there was light coming from the sky, but not from the red sun. This light was soft and warm as it washed over her.
Yup, Buffy knew what that meant. She was dead. So shouldn’t there be somebody here to tell her where to go? She had a sudden, panic-stricken thought that perhaps it didn’t work that way, perhaps there was nowhere to go, and she was left to her own ghostly ways. Her breath began to come hard and fast, and she wondered at the idea that she could hyperventilate in the afterlife.
“Relax, honey, it’s going to be okay.”
Her breath caught in her throat and she looked up, startled, to find the source of the voice. Her eyes locked with the stranger’s over the scene of her loved ones’ grief. The stranger was a woman, with ivory skin and jet black hair that stood out almost as though she’d been electrocuted. She was dressed in tight-fitting black clothing, and a large metal talisman rested on a cord just above her breasts.
The pale stranger stretched one hand towards the Slayer. Buffy placed her hand in the other’s palm, and was startled at the warmth from the contact. The woman gently turned her away from the scene of her death as Buffy tried to suppress the quaking in her body (did it count as a body when she was a ghost?). When the shaking continued, the stranger quietly wrapped Buffy in her firm embrace. The skin of her bare arms was cool in the night air, but at that moment, Buffy felt warmer and safer than she had in a long, long while.
Yup, Buffy knew what that meant. She was dead. What had her confused were the two people who had just appeared—literally, just appeared—at the scene. The light-haired man in the very drab clothing looked mildly perplexed, but his companion, a woman with short blonde hair, looked pretty much the way Buffy felt (she’d had a bad day, no, a bad year
Buffy just stared at the incongruous pair, waiting for them to speak; this was her death after all, and she felt no need to explain herself (that was her body over there, her friends arrayed around it in various stages of shock and grief). The man blinked, looking from Buffy to the other blonde, who mostly just looked dazed.
“Oh, fra—shit,” he breathed, fiddling with some watch-like contraption on his wrist. Buffy raised her eyebrows at the strange man, and his companion blinked at him, looking none too pleased.
“What the frak is this supposed to mean about my frakking destiny?” the woman growled. “Can we get to the frakking point? I think I’m busy dying.”
“Um, hello?” Buffy offered with a little wave. “Recently dead here. Would one of you mind telling me what the hell
is going on?!”
The other blonde returned to glaring at the man.
He glanced uneasily between the two of them, still fiddling with his watch meanwhile. “Must have got lost in the cross-time waters, slipped into the inter-dimensional stream...” he continued to utter some vaguely mystical technobabble to nobody in particular. The other blonde cleared her throat, somehow making that sound like a death threat (Buffy thought she might like this woman), and the man straightened and turned to Buffy.
“Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back to guide you after we’re finished.” With that, he and the woman were gone.
Buffy looked at her friends and family, who remained oblivious. She looked down at her corpse, moving to sit on the nearest crate. “Well, that was weird,” she told nobody in particular.
A while later (her friends seemed to be moving in slow motion, so she really wasn’t sure how much time was passing) the strange man reappeared just as silently and mysteriously as the first time.
“Who are you?” she said.
“I am the keeper of the space between life and death. Close your eyes; I’ve got something to show you.”
Yup, Buffy knew what that meant. She was dead. She wasn’t particularly surprised to find herself in such a state (killing herself would do that to a girl, and besides, she’d been facing death for years). She wasn’t particularly surprised, either, to see that she wasn’t alone.
Her companion didn’t speak, didn’t reach out in any way, but Buffy knew she’d never be alone again.
She stepped away from the people she’d known and loved and died for, and walked towards the woman who’d given her life thousands of years ago.
The other woman’s bare feet moved lightly against the concrete, but Buffy could see the play of powerful muscles under the dark, thick skin of calves and thighs as she crouched and gripped the earth of this world with toes and soles accustomed to hot, harsh dunes.
The warrior straightened her shoulders and her stance, an ethereal wind whipping the knotted clumps of dark hair from her painted face, and the world began to slip away from the two of them.
As Buffy stared into the dark eyes of the First Slayer she felt the matching paint on her own face, and thousands of Slayers welcoming her home.