A/N: Boring legal bits: I don't own Avatar or BtVS. I'm just having a bit of fun with the shiny toys and will return them in...as close to new condition as possible. Hope y'all like! Please review, you inspire me.
“DAWN!” shrieked Buffy, staring at where her sister had been.
It was just meant to be a simple destroy and retrieve to stop Dawn’s bimonthly kidnapping. She had already killed the demons and made it through the magical barrier on the stairs to the cellar, where Dawn had been strung up over a carving in the floor, a willow tree surrounded by a pentagram. Dawn’s arms were stretched out from her sides, and they were bleeding freely from the two lacerations that opened them from shoulder to wrist.
The carving was glowing brilliant green, tendrils of energy reaching up from it to wrap around Dawn’s body.
Dawn met Buffy’s eyes, her wide blue ones betraying her panic. “I love…” was all she got out before she disappeared before her sister’s eyes.
Dawn fell through blackness so thick that when she brought her hand up in front of her face, she couldn’t see anything.
For a long time, nothing else happened, she just fell. She was reminded of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and wished that she had something, anything to distract herself. Moments later, her skin started to itch, and then to burn. From the outside in, her body seemed to catch fire. Her bones burned and screamed as they stretched, her spine felt as though someone was completely remodeling it. Dawn screamed, and screamed, and screamed.
The Na’vi gathered in the base of Hometree, waiting for Eytukan to tell them his decision on the Sky People. These strangers who had come to their world and torn into it, but at the same time said they wanted to teach them and to learn from them, some of whom had even become like them part of the time.
Some called these ones dream walkers, while others called them demons in false bodies. They had come to them months ago and started trying to communicate, quickly learning enough of the language to be able to speak basic sentences, and to teach some English. Then they explained their desire – to set up a school within the village itself and teach the Na’vi to understand them, while learning about the Na’vi at the same time.
Mo’at and Eytukan descended the stairs together, their daughter Neytiri several steps behind them with her future mate Tsu’tey.
“It has been decided,” Eytukan spoke, his voice immediately silencing any murmuring in the crowd. “We will allow the Sky People to come to the village, for now. As they learn from us, we may learn from them. There are rules, however. They are not to be taken to the Tree of Voices or the Tree of Souls, or told of their locations. Learn and observe as much of them as is possible.”
Tsu’tey was scowling throughout this speech, and as soon as it was over, he whirled and stalked away, making his opinion of the situation clear.
“Tonight we have the Great Gathering. Tomorrow we will inform the Sky People of our decision. Go now and prepare to meet with Eywa,” directed Mo’at. “Go about your day.”
Neytiri smiled at her parents and headed up the middle of the tree to the aeries.
Hours later, she came back down from hunting with and tending to Tze’tzey, her bonded ikran, who she had taken her first flight with three years previously. She walked behind her parents, beside her betrothed, through the forest to the Tree of Souls, where they would take part in one of the twice-yearly Great Gatherings.
While the Na’vi were perfectly capable of communing with Eywa from many sights on their planet, the Tree of Souls was the clearest, and it was the charge of the Omaticaya to care for it.
Soon they were seated around the base of the Tree, Mo’at and Eytukan standing before the assembled Omaticaya. “Tonight, the people of Eywa come to her as one,” Mo’at called the traditional beginning, her voice carrying to the farthest edges of the clearing. “From the farthest oceans to the wide sweeping plains, the Na’vi are one with their Mother.” Moving in unison as the last words were spoken, the Omaticaya made Tse’halu with the root system that connected their planet, connecting them to each other and to their Great Mother.
The night’s prayers were drawing to a close, the swaying slowing as the phosphorescence began to fade slightly. Mo’at was about to say the closing words, when the Tree began to glow far more brilliantly, an almost blinding green. It flared out from the Tree, which at the same time released a flare of pure joy to the Na’vi, then disappeared. As it winked out, a terrible, painfilled scream echoed through the clearing, coming from right at the base of the Tree.
Mo’at abandoned all ceremony as she dropped Tse’halu, releasing her connection with the Mother as only one who is fully bonded to her can, whirling to face the direction the noise came from. She saw the form crumpled beneath Tree, surrounded by its great roots, even as her mate and daughter joined her. She moved towards the body, feeling herself shake as she did so, remembering the last time she had witnessed such a light, the night her younger daughter had been stolen from them.
“‘Aw’tsa?” whispered Neytiri, her voice shaking slightly. “Aw’tsa? Is that you?” she ran forward before anyone could stop her and grabbed the body, turning it over in her arms. Mo’at and Eytukan were behind her, staring down, and Mo’at collapsed against her mate’s chest, tears running down her cheeks as she stared at the unchanged form of her lost child, cradled in the arms of her sister.
Turning to face the assembly, Mo’at spoke. “Eywa has given us a gift,” she declared, voice shaking slightly. “Awve’tsawke has returned to us!”
There was stunned silence, and then the entire clearing took up a shrill, ululating cry. Tsu’tey joined Neytiri, lifting the limp body from her arms to allow her to stand, but she took it back immediately, staring in wonder at the face she had never expected to see again, the younger sister she adored so much.
She carried her back through the forest, her parents, betrothed and the clan surrounding them. When they reached Hometree, Mo’at directed her to lay her sister on the ground by the cooking fire, and she knelt by her child’s body, taking the small face between her long fingered hands, running her thumbs across cheeks and over hair that was no longer held in its intricate braids but hung loose, long and straight around the fine featured face with it’s delicate bioluminescent markings.
She was so still, only the slight rise and fall of her chest indicating life, that when her face twitched under the gentle touch, they all startled back in surprise.
Her eyelids flickered as they leaned back in, waiting for her to wake up. Her eyes opened slowly, her pupils growing and shrinking before they settled and her eyes settled on her mother’s face. Her eyes opened wider as her mother reached for her, her mouth opened wide, and she screamed.
‘Awve’tsawke – First Sun/Dawn