As she turned around all Buffy could see was endless white. Looking down she noticed she was dressed in a simple summer dress, also in white. Definitely not dreaming; even there, I could never dream this white.
Buffy remembered the fights and the tears that had led to her unwilling stay at the mental hospital. Hank had urged Joyce to consent and kept pushing until she eventually caved and had Buffy committed.
Buffy shook her head forcing herself out of those dark memories to focus on the present. Someone obviously wanted to talk to her and had hijacked her sleep to do so.
“Knew you were always smarter than you let on, kid,” a familiar voice came from behind her. It was a male voice that spoke with a Bronx accent.
Even as she turned, Buffy knew who she would find. A short man with a close shaved hair cut, dressed in a garishly patterned shirt and cargo pants who was fiddling with his hat. Buffy felt a small smile come over her face.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite Balance Demon. What can I do for you this time, Whistler?” she asked and then continued "unfortunately I don't have a lover to kill this time around."
Whistler shook his head and then looked into Buffy’s eyes, his showing a seriousness she had seen on him the only other time she had seen him before; the night she sacrificed her heart for the world.
“There's nothing you can do for me, I’m here about what I can do for you,” he replied.
“Come again?” Buffy asked.
“The past months, years even, have been difficult for you; so the Powers that Be have decided to bestow upon you with an unprecedented gift,” Whistler stated gravely.
“Yeah, and what’s that?” Buffy asked warily.
“Freedom,” was the simple response.
“Freedom from what exactly?” Buffy asked stepping toward him her voice tightening.
“From being the Slayer,” Whistler said quietly.
Buffy stopped, her mouth hanging open in shock; shock that slowly built to anger.
“Let me get this straight, you choose me as the Slayer, make me fight for my life every night, lose the love of my life and my mother. You insert the Key into my life with a full set of memories knowing I’d protect her only to lose her and you want to take away being the Slayer? Now, when I’ve finally started to accept my destiny? What is wrong
with you people?” Buffy asked her voice rising to the point of yelling by the time she was finished.
Whistler’s quietly spoken words cut through her rage.
“You’ll still be a Slayer. They can’t change that even if they wanted to, which they don’t,” he said in an effort to calm her.
“But you said…” Buffy started.
“The only way you could stop being the Slayer was if you died again,”
“But then how? I don’t understand,”
“Think of it as a gift for services rendered. We are releasing you from active duty. Any slaying you do will be by your own choice. We are also removing the compulsion to hunt and the Slayer dreams. You will only be given one if the situation warrants your immediate attention. You will no longer be tied to the Hellmouth and while you will still be a Slayer, you won't be The Slayer anymore,”
“But what about the Hellmouth? It can’t be left without a Slayer for too long,”
“It won’t be,”
Whistler looked at Buffy with a raised eyebrow as if daring her to argue.
“Faith,” Buffy said quietly.
“Faith,” Whistler echoed.
Buffy simply nodded. Faith was a good choice, even with their history; most of which Buffy had forgiven when Faith had turned herself in. And coming back to Sunnydale would be good for Faith; it would help her to settle some ghosts.
Leaving Sunnydale would be good for herself as well. Buffy knew that, but she wasn’t ready to accept it yet.
Buffy looked back up to Whistler and smiled.
“I hope you have a plan for getting her out of prison, besides breaking her out,” she commented.
“Of course,” he answered, amused.
Buffy nodded and then looked down before looking back up at the Balance Demon a thoughtful expression on her face.
“What happened to Dawn?” she asked quietly.
“You’re not going to like it, kid,” he replied with a grimace.
“Just tell me,”
“Nobody will remember that she ever existed,”
Buffy was momentarily speechless, but was finally able to spit out one word.
“Why?” she asked.
“Once she jumped and hit the portal the Key's construct was no longer needed and as a fail safe erased all memories of its existence,” Whistler quietly replied.
“Why haven't mine faded yet?” Buffy choked out.
“They will once you leave this dream state,”
“But why? You made me love her, how can you just make me forget her?”
“Because it will be easier for you in the long run. No one will wonder where she went and there will be no questions that you have to come up with answers for,”
“So, the Powers the Be are only looking out for me?”
“Yes, kid, it’s their final gift to you,”
Buffy nodded her acceptance if not her understanding.
“So, what should I do now?” Buffy asked sounding lost.
Whistler smiled enigmatically.
“Whatever you want kid,” he said. “Whatever you want,” and with that being said, Whistler disappeared.
“What if I don’t know what I want?” Buffy called after him.
After a few moments to come to terms with what she had been told Buffy looked around her and noticed that the white was slowly fading. I hope they let me go back soon.
“Soon, sweetie. You can go back soon,” a soothing voice said. A voice that was all too familiar to Buffy.
Turning around Buffy saw a woman surrounded by soft light; she was wearing a white dress, her blonder hair falling softly around her face in waves highlighting her compassionate eyes.
“Mom?” Buffy asked not daring to hope that it was her.
“It’s me. The Powers let me see you as one last gift,” Joyce said with a soft smile.
“I am so proud of you. You’ve had so much to handle, especially lately. And you’ve handled it with grace and maturity that some thought you incapable of.
I know you feel guilty about Dawn, but you shouldn’t. It was her choice and it opened a different path for you to take and I promise you, it’s for the best. It will give you a chance to start over,” Joyce continued.
“I wouldn’t even know where to start,” Buffy commented.
“There are some things in my room that will point you in the right direction. I know you’ll do the right thing, you always do.”
“This sounds like goodbye,”
Buffy felt a tear roll from her eye and down her cheek. She felt the warm caress of her mother’s hand as she wiped it away.
“I love you, Buffy,” Joyce said in a whisper before she too disappeared.
“Mom!” Buffy called bolting up in her bed.
Looking at her clock Buffy saw that the time was close to noon.
“Might as well start going through her stuff now, I can’t keep putting it off,” she murmured to herself.
Shoving the covers off, Buffy stood and wiped away any remnants of her tears and sleep. Walking over to her dresser she pulled out her comfort clothes and dressed, coming out in comfortable jeans and a black tank top.
As she left her room Buffy looked down the hall to her mother’s room. The room she had not been able to go into since the funeral.
Buffy felt herself turn away from the room and walk toward the stairwell.
“Maybe I’ll just grab something to eat before I go in,” she said to herself and without any hesitation walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews, keep em' coming!
A/N: Sorry for the delay in updates, my computer decided it wanted to die on me and I haven't been able to replace it yet, but soon!