Minor Dawn Summers/Daniel Jackson.Spoilers:
After season 7 of BtVS, sometime in the early seasons for Stargate SG1.Disclaimer:
Of course I own absolutely nothing! Other than half of a chubby cat named Sickan who spends all her time in my lap as I sit and write at the computer. LOL. Meaning I definitely don't own Stargate SGI or BtVS.Summary:
Ten years after Sunnydale, Buffy finds herself grieving once again.A/N: Believe it or not but this is the first proper fic I’ve written in over a year. So while I’m sure you are all wondering what the heck happened and why I haven’t really been updating for so long, this seems very much as a promising sign that my muse is returning for real. Meaning that maybe sometime soon you’ll see more from me…;)
“Life is the sum of all your choices.” ~ Albert Camus
Buffy Anne Summers didn’t see herself as a foolish woman. Never had for that matter, well except for the short precious years before she was called at 15. However she was not, and had never been, ignorant on how she was viewed by others. While it sometimes had infuriated her, she had come to use it to her advantage. Over the years she had perfected the role as a ditzy blonde. On more than one occasion it had saved her life. And has time had passed, it became a second nature to her to never let someone she didn’t trust completely see who, and what, she was behind the facade her body portrayed. Nor see her weaknesses. Because while all strangers saw were a pretty girl, she was a warrior. She always would be. And it was a calling she didn’t intend to walk away from.
Not that she hadn’t had the opportunity because she had. First when all the potentials had been awakened, and taken under guidance by the Scoobies and what had been left by the destroyed Council. But to leave at that time would have been taking the coward’s way out, or so she had thought at the time.
But even when, several years later, a new Council was up and running she stayed. And she watched as the Scoobies, one by one, found their own path in life. Only even though they never strayed very far from the reality that had been their life for so long, Buffy felt the distance between them grow. Because whilst they found their happiness, all she felt was an increasing emptiness. A weariness that she’d never really seen coming. For in truth, she’d never expected to live this long. And she felt as if there was no longer a true purpose for her in the world. Only, she’d spent over half her life fighting evil, and it had become as much a part of her as breathing was. Whether she liked it or not she had become tainted. Tainted by the very same darkness that she’d fought against for so long. And it was something she’d come to accept.
Which was why, ten years after the fall of Sunnydale, Buffy was still on the front lines fighting the same war night after night. Traveling from city to city, never staying anywhere for long, while she juggled her responsibilities as the oldest living slayer to date. She fought because it was all she knew, and she fought so that those she loved and saw as a family wouldn’t have to. Even though she was jealous of how their new lives had turned out, while hers had remained the same, she was happy for them. She was happy, and oh so relieved that they all were as safe as they could be, despite being prominent leaders of the new Council. But most of all she was so truly happy that she hadn’t have to bury any of them.
And never in a million years would she have expected it to be her own sister. Her own flesh and blood. Not so long after Glory, after Sunnydale. And not when Dawn had truly been living, been happy. Been safe. She’d heard it in her sister’s voice during the brief phone conversations and meetings they’d had during the moments in which their lives had been coordinated. Her sister had been in love. Truly in love. And with a man that seemingly had shared her little sister’s love for languages and history.
It had warmed Buffy’s heart at the time. Knowing that her sister had the life she’d always deserved. And for the year that had passed since Buffy first learned of the boyfriend named Daniel Jackson she’d always meant to come visit to Colorado Springs and meet the man herself. Yet, the timing had never been right. And while Giles and the other Scoobies got to meet the archaeologist, all she received was second hand information and pictures. Pictures of Dawn and a brown haired man, both looking ridiculously happy. Sure Buffy had been worried. About his age. About whether or not he was a good man. But she’d been comforted by the Scoobies’ opinions of him. And of the pictures. Because they had all spoken the same thing. That Daniel Jackson truly loved Dawn, and for all intents and purposes probably would end up marrying her.
That had been the one thought running through Buffy’s mind when she received the call from a devastated Giles. That it couldn’t be happening because Dawn had had her whole life in front of her and it couldn’t end like this. Her sister had been supposed to get her fairytale ending. To be happy and live a long married life far away from the dangers of fighting on the front lines in a war that never would end.
But now she never would.
It had made Buffy feel numb. Made her feel dead inside. And that was how she’d spent the first few days after knowing. Going through the motions of life but not feeling a single thing of it. But on the third day she woke up to a rage so violent it scared her. She threw herself into fighting, not caring whether she lived or died. She cut herself off from the Scoobies. Cut off all contact from her friends and ignored the desperate calls they sent on her way, begging her not to do anything stupid or rash. Increased her traveling so that they wouldn’t be able to catch up with her. She didn’t want to be stopped. To be rescued.
Because nothing mattered anymore. She had failed. She had lived when her sister had not. And that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She was the one always destined to live a short life, not her little sister, no matter how Dawn came to be. It wasn’t fair how life always ended up in death. In pain and grief and anger.
She didn’t cry. Never shed a tear, not even as she heard Giles’ broken voice through the phone saying the words she’d never wanted to hear. She couldn’t. Because crying meant it was real and she so desperately didn’t want it to be. She wanted it to be a bad dream. A nightmare which she would wake up from at any second now.
Only she didn’t.
And on an early November morning as the morning sun rose over the mountains, Buffy finally reached the place named Colorado Springs. And she finally reached the road on which her sister had lost her life one fateful stormy night as her car slid off the road, slippery from the heavy rain, and collided with a tree. Dawn hadn’t been killed by the forces of evil. And somehow that had been the hardest part. Because by it being an accident meant that she never had a chance at preventing it.
And that was what Buffy realized as she looked at the memorial by the side of the road; a memorial filled with flowers and burned out candles surrounding one small photograph of a smiling Dawn. It all became real then. In the blink of an eye it hit her that her sister was never coming back, that she was truly gone. And that was when the tears finally started.
And as she fell to her knees, never taking her eyes from the photo of her sister, Buffy finally let herself mourn, all the bittersweet memories invading her mind as she cried. Hard, bitter sobs who left her gasping for air and the injuries she’d collected protested against her uncontrolled movements.
It had been a week since Dawn died, seven long days since her sister ceased to exist. And today was the day of her funeral. The day to say goodbye once and for all.
While Buffy never answered any on the calls on her cell phone, she’d listened to the messages late at night after patrol in whatever city she’d been in as she’d patched up the various injuries she’d received during the fights. And she’d listened on the one where a tired Willow told her that Dawn would be buried mid day while giving all the details as of a exact when and where, all while explaining that they couldn’t put it off any longer, that she deserved to be laid to rest.
Buffy hadn’t called them back.
Yet the details had been etched into her memory, and as she sat by the memorial on the empty road, she knew that she had to go. If only to let her family know she was still alive. She had to be strong. She was the slayer. And now she had to honor Dawn’s memory. And she had to see her sister one last time.
It was after 11 AM that Buffy finally reached the cemetery dressed in a black simple dress with matching pumps. Her hair was put up in a sleek pony tail and her puffy eyes had been neatly covered with makeup. She looked as the collected leader she was supposed to be, and nothing like the enraged warrior she’d been since her sister’s death. The only things telling that not all were as it appeared to be was the white sling her left arm was in, and the dark bruise beneath her eye that was not quite covered by her concealer.
She stood in the back, hidden by some brightly colored trees as she watched the people dressed in black watch her sister’s casket being lowered into the ground. No one noticed her and for that she was relieved. Somehow she couldn’t muster up the strength to walk the remaining distance to her friends. She wasn’t ready to talk to them. Not yet. Not when the pain was still so raw. She couldn’t do it.
Instead she watched as Xander held a crying Willow. She watched as the priest spoke, watched as they grieved. And she watched as Daniel Jackson was held up by an older looking man in military clothes as a woman and dark skinned man loomed near, no doubt the friends Dawn had briefly told her about. She watched as he stumbled, as he cried. And she wished that she could be the sister Dawn would’ve wanted her to be. The one walking up to Daniel, telling him that Dawn would always be with him.
Only she wasn’t.
So she stayed where she was, even when the mourners started to scatter and leave. And she didn’t move until Dawn’s grave was still and quiet, with no one in sight. Only then did she start to walk. Gentle, hesitant steps that brought her closer and closer to the shell that no longer really was her sister.
And as she reached the grave, she carefully sat down next to it and she watched the inscription on the grave stone. Read it over and over in her mind.Dawn Marie Summers
Beloved fiance, sister and friend
Forever in our hearts
In that moment Buffy’s heart broke all over again, shattering into a million pieces. She raised a trembling hand to touch the words, hesitating before finally letting the fingers on her good arm wander on the cold stone.
“Your friends have been worried about you.”
The unexpected voice startled her and she turned swiftly around, alert for whatever threat that was coming her way. But instead she found the grey haired man watching her. The one that had held Daniel. For a moment their eyes locked and she could see the sadness in his eyes. He was grieving too. The knowledge made her turn away, to look at the stone once again as she blinked away the tears threatening to fall.
“I see you’ve been in a bit of a fight.” The man continued, surprising her by walking closer. “Can’t say I blame you, I’d go looking for trouble too. Well, I did do it actually.”
For a moment silence spread, the words sinking into Buffy as she fought to stay in control over her emotions.
“Who did you lose?”
Her throat felt raw as she spoke, making her realize it was the first time in days that she actually used her voice.
The two simple words made her freeze. And they changed everything. Because somehow she knew he understood then.
“All my life I’ve been fighting… and all… the one thought that kept me going was knowing that she was safe, happy. That they all were.” She said softly, her voice broken. “I don’t… I don’t know how to go on now that she’s not here.”
“It takes time.”
“That’s a horrible answer.” She retorted, her voice hoarse.
“But it’s true.” The man said, his eyes somber as she looked at him. “You take it one day at a time, and then, one morning you’ll wake up and you won’t think of her the first thing.”
“I don’t want to forget.”
“You won’t, letting go of the pain doesn’t meant you forget. It means you go on. She would want you to do that.”
For a long moment all she could do was breathe, the pain in her chest so strong that she couldn’t speak. And as she looked back on the grave stone she felt a hand on her shoulder, the warmth of it supporting her in a way she didn’t know she needed.
“I’m not ready.”
“I think you are. Trust me.” He said softly.
“I want to meet Daniel.” She said, the words surprising her most of all.
“Oh I think that can be arranged.”
The words made her smile just a little, despite the tears in her eyes and she felt him withdraw his hand then and looked up only to see him offering it to her. And for a moment she hesitated, not knowing what to do.
“I’ll go with you.”
Somehow his words made her decide, and as she accepted his hand and let him pull her up something inside started to ease up. It made her stop and look at him, made her meet his patient gaze. And as the man put an arm around her shoulder and started to guide her away from the grave, she turned slightly and looked back, her gaze firm on the grave. And for a moment, as a soft breeze swept by she thought she saw Dawn smiling at her.
But then the man’s voice drew her back from her thoughts.
“Now since I’ve made it a habit of never rescuing damsels in distress without telling my name I should tell you that I’m Jack O’Neill and I first met your sister on a snowy day in January when she and Daniel had managed to get themselves stranded at the library…”
And as his voice washed over her, Buffy slowly let herself relax and lean into his arm as they walked.The End.