Balanced in Shadows Disclaimers:
I own nothing and no one. Therefore, no profit has been or will ever be made from this story. ‘Nuff said. Spoilers:
None that I’m aware of. Takes places a few years after the Buffy Season Finale ‘Chosen’, and set in between Star Wars Episodes II & III. All Star Wars related info was pulled from Wookipedia, the Star Wars Wiki
FR 21 Pairing:
Buffy/Shar (OC)/Koyi (OC) Summary:
Betrayed by the Powers, Buffy walks away from her ‘duty’, and gets a new, destiny-free life, in a new dimension, where the ‘Eternal Battle’ is fought by others. But, when things heat up, will she be able to remain neutral, or will she be drawn back in?
Anything I’ve missed (disclaimer related) I can’t think of it at the moment, but it still applies.
Thanks to everyone who volunteered to be my beta-readers. I really needed you guys.
Special Thanks to IceFlame55 & Bill Gopher. They're always there to help out whenever I've run into the proverbial brick-walls.
Buffy looked around in confusion. The last thing she remembered was collapsing in bed after the surprise birthday celebration with the Scoobies, who had arrived on her doorstep from their respective stations around the world. She was turning twenty-five next weekend, and with her history of birthdays, they wanted to mark the occasion before the actual birthday, in hopes that they could break that particular cycle.
So, how did she go from her home in Rome to a desert in the middle of nowhere?
“Hey Slayer,” a familiar voice said from behind her.
“Whistler,” she said flatly, tensing as she turned around to face him. Her eyes widened in surprise. The Balance Demon looked like someone had worked him over really, really hard. “What happened to you?”
“Just a little disagreement,” he shrugged. “I’ve come with good news and bad news, kid.”
The uneasy feeling that had been building in the pit of her stomach grew exponentially. “Okay?”
“the Powers are happy with what you’ve done. The Balance is even more stable now with so many Slayers. By activating the Potentials, the Red Witch has done something that the Powers wanted, especially since the demon count has risen to such an extent, but couldn’t do themselves since they were forbidden to interfere at such a level again. The spell is beginning to taper off, however. The Balance cannot handle more than a hundred or so such Champions at a time, so that is where the numbers will siphon off.”
Buffy put her fingers to her temples. “Please tell me that was the bad news.”
“Unfortunately, no. A member of a group called Circle of the Black Thorn is cooking up something huge. the Powers have tried block him, but Cyvus Vail has managed to breach the barriers between dimensions in an attempt to gain more power. If he succeeds, none of our Champions will be able to stand against him and it is possible that he would be powerful enough to challenge even the Powers and their Counterparts. Only the willing sacrifice of the life of a true Champion will be able to seal the breach.”
Buffy’s eyes closed at the news. Of all the Champions, why did they always have to pick her? A part of Buffy rejoiced at the news, though. Finally, she could go back. “At least I’ll have time to make plans this time.”
Uncharacteristically, Whistler looked away and sighed heavily, correctly reading the brief look of relief that had quickly crossed her face. “If you do this, you can’t go back.”
Dread began to trickle down her spine. “What?”
He swallowed convulsively, wishing he didn’t have to destroy her like this. And he knew that this would destroy her. “By the nature of the spell the witch used, you are barred from True Death. Your soul is immortal. Your body will heal from virtually any wound. If it's something that you can't heal from, like beheading, then you'll simply be reborn.”
As Buffy stared at him in disbelief and depthless pain, another figure appeared.
“Tell her all of it!” The figure said hotly. “Tell her the truth, Voice of the Powers. She has the right to know just how deep the betrayal goes.”
A bolt of lightning struck the ground in front of the stranger, and Whistler tilted his head as if he were listening to something. “This is not your concern. The Slayers are the Champions of the Powers.”
“Not this one,” the stranger shot back. “And well aware of that, you all are. Her destiny was fulfilled when she died at the hands of the Master. You managed to regain control of her new destiny when she was revived, but even that destiny was fulfilled when she defeated Glorificus. You allowed the witch to tear her from her rest as punishment for not sacrificing the Key as you decreed she should have, knowing full well the consequences of the spell, and all because your egos were bruised when she refused to run in your harness.”
Buffy was pale and shaking as she listened. Whistler took a few steps back, knowing full well how volatile this particular Slayer was when pushed. He knew that when she got over her shock, she’d try damn hard to see exactly what he was made of, and not in a good way.
“What…” Buffy swallowed convulsively. “What do you mean?”
“Without knowing it, you have managed to defy the Powers from the very beginning,” the stranger told her. “You fell in love with a vampire, your natural enemy and prey. You allow demons to live in peace as long as they do not harm others; you bring your world to the attention of mere humans, therefore introducing elements that they cannot control; and other things. When you refused to destroy the Key after discovering the truth, the Powers decreed that they had washed their proverbial hands of you. They could not bar you from your Final Rest when you died, that is guaranteed from the moment you are Called, but they allowed the witch’s power to drag you out of it.” He turned his attention back to Whistler. “You turned your collective backs on her and her friends until the battle against The Emissary known as The First Evil, and only then because of the threat to the Slayer Line. Then, when she refused the offer of the Shadow Men, and thereby strengthened the Slayer Line, you decided that she needed to be punished and to be made an example. You know that-”
“Stop!” Buffy shouted. Both the stranger and Whistler instantly shut up and turned to her. Her face was streaked with tears and twisted in pain. Her gaze was horrified and tortured when she turned it on the Balance Demon. “Is it true?”
He couldn't force himself to answer, but the way he couldn’t meet her eyes fairly screamed it for him anyway.
“You bastards!” With a cry of rage, Buffy threw herself at him, only to bounce off some sort of invisible barrier.
“Please, Chosen One, do not take your fury out on him.” The stranger said from behind her. “He looks as battered as he does because he tried to intervene on your behalf, and the Powers did not take kindly to the supposed criticism.
“What was the plan, Whistler?” Buffy asked hoarsely. “What were they going to do with me since I can’t stay dead? If they sent you to actually tell me what’s coming, then they obviously had something in mind.”
Whistler’s eyes were sad when he forced himself to finally look at her again. “Each time you died, you would be sent to another dimension where your ‘skills’ were needed.”
If possible, she looked even more betrayed. Finally, she turned away from him, and looked at the stranger. “So, who are you, and what do you want with me?”
"I have no name," the stranger answered. "I am a physical construct, an ‘emissary’, much like Whistler here. I was formed for this purpose, to offer you a place in my dimension, a dimension not governed by the Powers that govern this one."
"What's the catch?" Buffy asked tiredly.
"You will still be a Champion." The stranger admitted. "But you will not be the Chosen One. You will be called upon rarely, and even then, only in times of extreme need. Finally, when you are ready to truly rest, your essence will join the Force, as all are, until such a time, of your own choosing, that you wish to retake physical form. Beyond those times, you will not be required to fight, if you do not wish. The warriors of both sides are more than proficient at keeping the Balance. Light has triumphed over the Darkness, and they have enjoyed their time of happiness and prosperity, but it now time for the Darkness to rise once again, and reset the scales."
"Still haven't told me what any of this has to do with me," Buffy said flatly. “Why should I go with you?
"Your answer will make no difference in the outcome of the events taking place. It is merely another option for you to choose from." The stranger shrugged. "I will give you time to consider and return for your answer at the moment of your death. For now, however, it is time for you to wake up."
They watched as Buffy disappeared as she awoke. She would remember everything that had just taken place.
“Thank you for not telling her.” Whistler said softly, regretfully.
“I would have, had she had not stopped me.” The Emissary told him. “Afterwards, there seemed no point in causing her more pain. She will be told eventually.”
“Out of all of them, she’s the last one this should have been done to,” Whistler lamented, sitting on the ground. “In all the centuries, she’s the first to last this long. Her obligation to the Powers would have been done when she turned 25, but they just had to find that loophole. If they had managed to get her off this world before her birthday, then she would never know that she’d been released and, as long as they kept her physically out of this dimension, neither would Mother Earth.”
“I will be taking this up with the Creator,” the Emissary said. “You know that they cannot be allowed to do this, especially since it is now likely that more girls will live longer. Mother Earth allowed the Powers to use her children under the stipulation that they be released after 10 years of service. After surviving endless battles for so long, they deserve to be freed. Even our Champions are allowed to retire if and when they wish. What the Powers are doing to their champions is wrong, and they must be either curtailed, or they must be stopped, and we are not the only ones that thinks this.”
~~~ BtVS ~~ Star Wars ~~~
“Yo, B, what’s up?” Faith asked. She could feel the rage and sense of betrayal radiating hotly through their Slayer connection, something that she hadn’t felt since she’d joined up with the Mayor. A connection that they had been quick to realize that they didn’t share with the Slayers that had been ‘activated’ by Willow’s spell. They could feel the others, but there was no sense of connection like between the Chosen Two.
“I want to wait for the others, so I only have to tell it once.” Buffy said, glancing up at her briefly.
Faith’s breath caught at the amber glow in the elder Slayer’s eyes. She knew what that was. She’d seen it in her own eyes more than once, usually after a hard night of fighting and fucking, but she never expected to see it in her counterpart. B had way to much control to let the Slayer that close to the surface. She couldn't think of what had possibly pissed the other girl off this much. They'd had a great time last night, nothing attacked them, and no one called about an apocalypse in the works. So what happened?
Taking in the dangerous look in the other girl's eyes, Faith's survival instinct overruled her mouth for once, and she merely nodded without pushing further and poured herself a cup of coffee. One by one, the others awoke and joined them. Each of them knew, the moment that they saw Buffy, that something was seriously wrong.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Willow asked.
Buffy looked around at the people that she loved. Through their ups and downs, the laughter and the anger and occasional betrayals, this was her family. She had spent the morning since she'd awoken from the Slayer dream working out what she was going to say, the words that she was going to use to fend off the arguments they would have and explain why she couldn't come back from this one.
"Whistler came to me in a Slayer dream last night," she began quietly. She turned to her mentor. "Giles, have you ever heard of the Circle of the Black Thorn?"
Giles' eyes widened as he nodded. "They are a group of mortals, mostly sorcerers, dedicated to gaining power, no matter the source or consequence. How do you know of them?"
"It seems that one of them has decided to look for his power in someone else's back yard. Whistler said that his name was Cyvus Vail.”
Giles immediately pulled his glasses off and began polishing them agitatedly.
"He's breached the barriers between dimensions, and only the willing sacrifice of the life of a true Champion can seal it again."
Giles' 'Dear Lord' coincided with Willow and Dawn's 'Oh my God', Xander’s ‘Oh shit!’ and Faith's 'What the fuck does that mean?'
Buffy waited for the exclamations to die down and answered her Slayer sister. "It means that I'm going to have to die again to stop this."
"Why you?" Dawn demanded. "Why does it have to be you?"
Buffy sighed deeply, knowing that this was going to be hard for all of them. "It can't be Angel or Spike, because Whistler said that it has to be the willing sacrifice of the life of a true Champion. They're vampires, which means that they are already dead. It can't be any of the Slayerettes, either. They are champions, but they aren't Champions. With a capital C. Champions are Chosen by the Powers. They might have been one day, but we'll never know, since Willow activated them." For a moment, she wondered if any of what she'd just said was true. It didn't matter, however. She knew that she'd never let one of those unsuspecting girls take on such a burden.
"What about me?" Faith asked suddenly. "Better me than you. The future would be better off in your hands than mine, B."
"It has to be me because the Powers are gunning for me anyway, and they won't stop until I'm dead," Buffy finally admitted. Taking a deep breath, she told them everything. She told them how the Powers allowed Willow's resurrection spell to work, and the consequences of the spell. How, even if she died, she couldn't stay dead. She'd eventually return, over and over again, always fighting.
Willow and Dawn were devastated. Faith and Xander and Giles were dumbstruck. That the Powers would do something so despicable to one of their best was something that they just couldn't understand.
"All this is because of me!" Dawn cried, jumping to her feet.
Buffy jumped up as well and caught her in a tight hug just before she bolted. "No, Dawn! NO! This is not your fault. None of it. It was my choice, and I'd do it again, even if I knew all of this would happen. I told you then, and I'll tell you now. The minute they put you in that body and inserted you into our lives, you became my baby sister, and that makes you the most important person in the world to me. It doesn’t matter what they thought, or assumed, or decreed."
She let Dawn cry into her shoulder even as she turned them so that she could face her best friend. "This isn't your fault either, Will. You did what you did because you were trying to save me. If the Powers hadn't allowed it, the spell wouldn't have worked at all. That makes this their fault, not yours. Understand? They let this happen, and then they turned their backs on us. All of us. They were going to just stand by and watch until The First threatened the Slayer Line. Then they had to act."
"What did they do?" Xander demanded furiously. "We did all the work and all the dying!"
"I have no idea." Dawn had finally calmed down enough that Buffy could sit them both down. "The one that told me all of this didn't get that far. I wouldn't have believed any of it, but Whistler confirmed it all. Apparently, he'd been getting his ass kicked by them because he was trying to intervene on my behalf, to get them to lighten up. He was beat up pretty badly."
"So, what are you going to do?" Faith asked, subdued. If the Powers would do that to little Miss ‘Greatest Slayer Ever Lived’, what were they going to do to her?
"I think I'm going to accept the offer." Buffy announced. She waited for their denials to die down. "the Powers were going to take me away anyway. They were going to let me die, and move me somewhere else, using me to fight for the rest of my existence. At least with this new guy, I don't have to. I'm finished with all of this. This is the fucking last straw. I love you guys, and maybe you’ll figure out some way to get a message to me or something, but I’m not coming back after this.”
No one said anything at her furious words. They could tell that the Powers had finally pushed Buffy too far with their manipulations. There was a dark undertone of fury and something very close to hate in her voice, even when she was comforting her sister and best friend. It sent shivers down their spines.
For Giles, the longer he thought about it, the more relieved he became, that she was going somewhere else. Not because he no longer wanted her with them, but because he felt that these actions, by the very ones on whose behalf Buffy had spent the better part of her life fighting, would at some point send her willingly into the Darkness.
Faith considered the other Slayer; she was surprised that B hadn’t snapped before now. It had taken her a long time to realize that Champions, the ones with the capital C, usually got fucked up the ass when it came to their lives. After all, who’d waste their time trying to save the world when everything’s all good on the home front? Folks like that don’t mind looking through the red shades and pretending that everybody’s lives are just as perfect as theirs. According to Angel, every Champion cracks under the stress at least once. Hell, she’d done it, and she’d only been a Slayer for less than a year at the time. The closest B had come to it, Angel told her, was when she’d turned to Spike after being torn out of heaven. Now, to find out that, not only do you have to deal with the usual shit, you got the bosses gunning for your ass too. No wonder she was giving the Powers the big ‘Fuck You’. A/N: The ‘red shades’ that Faith mentions refers to ‘rose-colored glasses’, a term where everything a person looks at is perfectly fine.