To Hell and Back Again
I own neither Supernatural nor Buffy. More's the pity. SUMMARY:
Supernatural/BtVS, Buffy/ Dean: ‘Hell and Back Again’ challenge response (3471). Buffy jumps into Glory’s portal and into hell and she has to deal with the demon side of the slayer. When she climbs out the gate, it turns out getting out of hell is far easier than learning to live again. After all, they call it eternal damnation for a reason. THE CHALLENGE:
“What if Ruby wasn't the only demon who remembers her humanity? What if after Buffy jumped into the portal, she did die, but she somehow ended up in hell? What would happen when the slayer escapes when the gate opens and is now a demon herself?
In this challenge, a darker Buffy that's been through Hell and back still remembers her old life, and when she's finally free, she decides to look up the Winchester brothers.” RATING:
FR-15 for language and a bit of adult-ness. TIMELINE:
After season 2 for Supernatural. Goes AU post ‘The Gift’ in Buffy, but I’m keeping the timings the same meaning that Buffy died in 2001 and Supernatural season starts in 2007. A/N:
My bit for the TtH summer 2008 ‘Respond to a Challenge’ challenge. A Snowball’s Chance… by Kiara
T H E N - To Hell and Back Again “Be brave… Live, for me.”
Buffy awoke with a gasp. Instincts honed from years of practice were immediately assessing the situation, although at this point she wasn’t sure whether she was the hunter or the hunted. There was a distant roar, not that uncommon, and the high-pitched sound of screaming, again, not uncommon. The rocky walls were dark with shadows, the only light coming from a wide crack in one side where Buffy had come in. All those fire and brimstone rumours were a myth, at least where she was. As her eyes got used to the darkness, Buffy put the screaming and begging for mercy to the back of her mind; she had long since given up on trying to save everyone. Most of them probably deserved anyway, and they were, quite literally, damned whatever she did.
It took her a few seconds to take everything in and make sure she was alone. Then she was on her way. Buffy wasn’t stupid, she hadn’t been for a long time. She knew she topped the ‘hell’s most wanted’ list and a moving target was harder to find. Apparently, demons held a grudge, and she’d pissed off quite a few in her time as slayer. Plus there were probably thousands of demons on top of those she’d personally sent to hell that wanted to capture her, to torture the slayer purely on principle. She’d had enough of that to last a lifetime, or an afterlife as the case may be.
On top of those demons, the corporeal ones that had an almost comforting familiarity about them, there were the non-corporeal ones to worry about. They lingered up high, formed of clouds of black smoke that crackled with electricity, but the moment you dropped your guard, they attacked, invading your body and taking control. With the regular kinds of demons, the ones she’d fought as the slayer, it had been simple. They wanted to cause pain, to make you hurt. These wanted to destroy you. They could make you do whatever they wanted; as if you were an observer in your own life. They had trapped Buffy once, when she’d first arrived. She’d been naïve and optimistic, sure she would find a way out. That didn’t last long. As the months turned into years, Buffy had lost hope. She kept to the shadows, allowing the slayer in her to take over.
The slayer could sense demons before she could see them. The slayer was woken by the smallest noise that could be a threat. The slayer could cope with being beaten or stabbed on top of her existing wounds that hadn’t even had a chance to heal. The slayer was a survivor. Why? Well the slayer fit in; that essence of demon that the first slayer had been infused with all those years ago. That part of her belonged in hell.
It hadn’t taken long for the hell-bound demons to recognise the slayer (the demon) in her; well, they could all see each other’s true faces and natures down there. It wasn’t pretty. They had taunted her with it and it had hurt. But then she toughened up and didn’t allow such things to have an effect. That which had made her quicker, stronger and all those other slayer traits had taken over, it was necessary for survival. She tried to slip by unnoticed, being caught was…unthinkable. She moved though the deepest circles of hell aimlessly. What was the point of the journey, when you’d already reached the final destination? But maybe that was changing.
For the last week or so, her wanderings had had a purpose- other than “don’t get caught” which went without saying. In hell, the nightmares didn’t stop when, if, you went to sleep. They continued, your own subconscious becoming your worst enemy as you entered your own personal hell. The first dream had been confusing. It had been years since Buffy had dreamt of anything not related to hell and now it happened every time she allowed herself to sleep. You had to take notice after a while, especially when you were the slayer. It had taken a while for Buffy to recognise a slayer dream, not until she resorted to logical thought did realisation occur. Why would she be dreaming of strangers fighting up world? She saw enough fighting in hell and, at this point, she didn’t really give a crap about people she’d never met. If they wanted to fight demons and die, well, that was their prerogative. The reason to the dreams was revealed later.
Maybe those faithful old friends, ‘the Powers that Be’, were feeling guilty for letting their champion go to hell, maybe they were under the misguided notion that she’d be their lapdog again if she got out. Whatever it was, they were giving her a way out and it’s not like anyone else was offering. Buffy was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth; with her luck, it would probably have fangs. A gate would open, that much was clear. When, who knew? But she was getting as close to it as she could. She was getting out of hell even if it killed her.
“What the hell just happened?!” Dean yelled, having no idea just how accurate that statement was.
“That’s a devil's gate!” Ellen shouted over the roar of spirits rushing past them. “A damn door to hell. Come on, we’ve got to shut that gate!”
Buffy had gotten pretty close to the gate. The thing was, she’d failed to account for how quickly the demons would sense there was a gate open and flock towards it. The corporeal ones were no problem; Buffy had been travelling for weeks to get here so they would never get there in time. The non-corporeal pillars of black smoke rushed past her not even attempting a possession. She wasn’t going to make it.
As Buffy resumed her climb, she had nothing to lose after all, she felt an ice cold grip on her shoulders. She immediately began to struggle against the demon holding her, but stilled. It was taking her towards the gate. Why?
As they flew higher and faster, Buffy began to feel dizzy. As she gasped her first fresh oxygen in god knows how long, she caught a glimpse of a graveyard- how fitting- with a small group of humans pushing forward, presumably trying to close the gate. She was free… and with that thought, Buffy fainted.
“Welcome to the land of the living.”
Buffy squinted up. Her senses immediately went wild and she scrambled to her feet. Overcome by a touch of vertigo, maybe she shouldn’t have moved so quickly, she swayed a little and stumbled back a few steps. As the red spots faded from her vision, Buffy took in her surroundings. There were a few candles around a still smoking bowl, definite signs of magic. Still, for the moment she focused on the blond woman, the one giving off bad vibes. She blinked and for a minute, she could see its real face, grotesque and twisted over the deceptively pretty mask she had first noticed.
“You got me out?”
“No need to thank me.”
“I wasn’t.” Buffy said coldly.
“Now there’s gratitude.” Blond demon said, but it lacked bite. She looked Buffy over critically, eyes flicking to black briefly and destroying any doubt there might be about the creature possessing the once-human body. “I always thought the slayer would be bigger. Well, that’s what the stories lead you to believe anyway.”
Buffy scoffed. “And you’d know so much about it.”
“You’d be surprised how much you can pick up when you’re dead for hundreds of years.” She said casually. In hell, she’d had plenty of time to learn. As a demon, she wasn’t much of a target for torture and besides, her kind of demon was difficult to find when they were just clouds of smoke. Plus they could body-hop whenever they wanted. It would take a very deep grudge in a very powerful demon to have both the inclination and ability to track her down. “I know a lot about you slayer.”
“Really? Shame I can’t say the same, but I try to avoid acquaintance with demonic skanks.”
"Well, if that isn't the pot calling the kettle a demon..." Ruby muttered as she blew out the candles she had used during her ritual. It took a lot of magic to turn regular old slayer blood into something worth fearing.
"What's that meant to mean?" Buffy damn near growled though she knew perfectly well what the demon was insinuating and she couldn't deny that the thought hadn't crossed her mind. In hell, they had taunted her about what she was, specifically about where the slayer came from. They'd put demon in her, it was obvious; where else would the super strength, the healing, the speed and reactions come from? It was beyond human. Did that mean she wasn't human? It was a topic she tried not to think about… mainly because the thought of what the answer might be scared her.
Ruby looked up, and for a second she could have sworn she saw the slayer. There were times when one demon could see another's true nature- like the way mortals could see their black eyes. Most of the time it was an ugly swirling mess or a fanged beast or something similar, and Ruby hadn't noticed anything odd about Buffy...until she saw the slayer in her. It could have been a trick of the light, but Ruby could have sworn for a second the human face became darker, with black shadows around her eyes, and skin a deathly pale excepting two dark strips in the hollows of her cheek. She'd heard the rumours about what gave the slayer her power, there had to be something demonic in there to allow her to survive her years in hell and maybe Ruby had just caught a glimpse of it. This was clearly a sore subject, but the information could be useful in the future. "Nothing, forget I said anything."
"Believe me, I'm trying."
She scowled. “Would it kill you to be polite? I did pull you out of hell and all.”
“I’m already dead.” Buffy retorted quickly. “Why did you pull me out? Not that I’m complaining, but you do know that you’re getting nothing in return right? I’m not gonna be your bitch or anything.”
She smirked, making it clear that she had an ace up her sleeve and she was going to enjoy revealing it. “There’s nothing I want from you that I haven’t already taken.”
Buffy followed her gaze to her left forearm. She hadn’t even noticed the fresh wound still bleeding. She’d gotten used to being covered in cuts and gashes; they didn’t even register half the time. Buffy moved forward suddenly, one arm flashing out lightening quick to grasp the demon’s neck. “What. Did. You. Do?”
“I wouldn’t do that.” She smirked, looking down between their bodies where she had a bloody knife poised over Buffy’s heart. “That’s the good thing about slayer’s blood; it’ll really give things an extra kick. Now, there’s nothing this knife won’t kill.”
Buffy knew she couldn’t kill Ruby before that knife did its job. Especially as choking her wouldn’t do anymore than make her vacate the body she was using. “You gonna kill me after going to all that effort to get me out?”
“No.” She replied simply, but there was a world of hidden stories behind her eyes. Demons were manipulative by nature, and this one was clearly playing to a bigger picture. “Actually, our goals are probably pretty well aligned at the moment. We can fight the forces of evil and make the world a better place.”
Buffy’s eyes were full of suspicion. She didn’t bother hiding it. “What are you?”
“Very nice. And I ask again, what are you?”
“I would have thought that the slayer could figure that out for herself.” Ruby smirked, her eyes turning black to demonstrate her point.
“I know you’re a demon. And I’m not even gonna touch the whole ‘demon turned good’ issue with a bargepole. I have both been there and done that, and I don’t need to catch the reruns.” Buffy said impatiently. It had been a very long day, a very long year, and the last thing she wanted to do was have chitchat with a demon. “I was in hell long enough to know that fancy spellwork isn’t usually in your types repertoire.”
“Oh that.” Ruby looked over her shoulder, almost as if she’d forgotten the magical paraphernalia was still here. Buffy knew that was just for show- she wasn’t that good of an actress. “I was a witch…before. That’s how I knew you would be useful- ancient magic written in obscure magic books.”
“So I shouldn’t worry about other demons coming after my blood?”
“Oh they’ll be after it. But they’ll have different reasons.” Ruby stepped back next to the bowl, the burned remains of herbs, a piece of parchment and a priceless artefact. She kicked it, sending the ashes up into the air. “See you around slayer.”
She was gone before the dust had settled. Buffy glared coldly at the spot where Ruby had stood. These days she could be more objective, demons could be useful- even the evil ones had their uses if you played them right. With the slayer in her becoming more prominent, she was probably a lot more demon than she’d care to admit these days so there was a very real danger that her glass house would shatter if she started throwing stones about. Still, she didn’t like Ruby. She was too manipulative.
“Now what?” Buffy muttered to the empty forest. At the beginning, she’d thought a lot about what she’d do if and when, she got out of hell. Months had turned into years and she’d realised that she could never walk in that door, into the open arms of her family. Then she stopped thinking about it.
Or tried to anyway. Hell had a vicious rumour mill and her friends caused quite a stir every so often. There had been a lot of excitement when the Sunnydale Hellmouth had almost opened when they were fighting El Primum Maleficus, one of the oldest forms of evil ever known. But then the hellmouth had quite literally collapsed on itself and was no more. The place she had spent years protecting was gone. Had her friends survived it? Did they stay in Sunnydale till the end? Were they still fighting evil without her? She had a gut feeling the answer was ‘yes’ to all her questions.
Recently, most of the activity surrounded a new hellmouth, one in Cleveland. There had been rumblings there for a while now; many of the more powerful demons had reserved their spots underneath it, just in case one day it opened. If she wanted to find her family, to be a part of them again, Cleveland seemed like as good a place as any to start.
They said that you could never go home again. It sounded like the place had changed. The people had probably changed as well. Buffy had definitely changed. She wasn’t the same idealistic kid who had believed she could change the world. The world, both human and demonic, was screwed whatever she did. She had seen enough of hell to know that there would always be evil, always be killing, always be pain. Why fight a war that you couldn’t win? She didn’t know if she’d ever be the slayer again. She didn’t know if she’d ever go back to the Scoobies, whether they wanted her back; that was all up in the air. The only thing Buffy could be sure of was that things were different now.
And they would never go back to how they used to be.
Okay- I know it’s short, but it’s only the prologue. I’d really appreciate some feedback on this- it’s a lot different to anything I’ve done before and my first challenge response! I’d like to hear of ways I can make it better. Thank you.