In Another Life
Disclaimer: I don’t own either show. I just like to play in their sandboxes.
Prologue - The FirstDuring the Final Battle of Sunnydale
The room was spinning in an entirely pleasing way, preventing Willow from closing her eyes against the dizziness. She lay flat on the floor, arms splayed out and knees bent, blinking at the twirling ceiling of the empty classroom. Kennedy had raced out minutes earlier with the Scythe, her newly acquired slayer strength energizing her. A harsh laugh erupted from the witch's throat, giddiness flowing through her veins as the magic slowly ebbed from her body. Adrenaline and magic combined in an addictive way, making every nerve in her body tingle with excitement. Nothing she'd ever done before had left her feeling anywhere near this level of euphoria, and she suspected nothing ever would again.
A slight frown turned her lips as she remembered what had happened while tapping into the power of the scythe. A price had to be paid, a bargain had been struck, and Willow had readily agreed.
The ceiling began to glow bright white, emanating from a centre point that seemed to grow and grow. This was it, she knew. The collection of the debt she had incurred in setting free the slayer line."Come child, it is time."
Willow felt some sadness seep through her euphoric haze. She would have liked to have said goodbye first; tell Buffy and Xander and Dawn and Giles and Kennedy, all of them, how much she loved them, but knew that it wasn't possible.
She'd made a bargain with a being that was older and more powerful than she could even understand, and it had come to collect. She couldn't regret it, and wouldn't take it back if she could. She'd done everything in her power to help save the world, and now it was time to rest.
"I'm ready," she said, watching hypnotized as the light grew larger and brighter until it was all she could see or feel. It wasn't hot or cold, or even remotely comforting, but Willow just relaxed and let it take her, feeling the last of the magic sparking in her blood. Then the light exploded and she was blinded by the glow.
Minutes later, as the battle with the First was nearing its end, Kennedy came running into the room intent on collecting her girlfriend. All that was left were the candles and herbs.
Willow was gone.
Prologue - The Second20 miles outside of the Sunnydale Crater - Four Days Later
Milo Grant barely caught a glimpse of the figure in his headlights before he was slamming on the brakes, sending the vehicle onto the gravel shoulder in a squealing skid, rocks and dust flying everywhere.
"What the hell?!" yelled his partner from the floor of the ambulance where he'd been thrown.
"I saw someone out there," said Milo, peering through the waves of dust illuminated in the ambulance's headlights. The Sunnydale sinkhole was one of the spookiest disasters he'd ever been called to, and he was planning to take a nice long vacation when he got back to LA.
"There's no one around here, man," argued Walter. "Over three days of searching and we ain't come up with shit!"
Milo just shook his head, knowing Walter was wrong. His instincts - honed in some of the worst parts of LA - had never let him down, and they were telling him that someone was out there.
"Look," said Walter, coming up to the front seat, having apparently given up on trying to grab a quick nap on the way back to LA, "there ain't nobody on this stretch of asphalt, just like there ain't nobody in that hole that used to be a town."
Milo had to grant him that bit about the town, because even after four days and hundreds of searchers, no single body had been found in Sunnydale. What had started out as one of the worst natural disasters in California, had turned into the biggest mystery of the century. An entire town falls unexpectedly into a massive - previously undiscovered - sinkhole, yet no one had been in town during that time. Former residents, when they could be reached - or even found - all had the same story in multiple varieties. A sudden desire for an unexpected vacation out of town, with as many possessions as they could carry. No one was talking, and the investigators had found nothing to point to foul play, but it was still damn odd. Entire towns did not evacuate 'just because'.
They were chalking it up to a 'lucky break' and sending most of the rescue teams home. He and Walter were some of the last to leave, sent back to LA in the pitch black night.
"I'm telling you, I saw something." Milo kept his gaze on the area just beyond the headlights, the view improving as the dust settled.
"There!" he said as something moved at the edge of the light, where the shoulder of the road turned into a ditch that bordered most of the highway. Turning on the high beams, he was surprised to see a small hand, which was attached to an arm, which was attached to a person.
The hand moved in the dirt.
"Get your kit!"