Summary: What really happened each time Buffy died?
Disclaimer: BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon. Additional disclaimer provided at bottom, as the crossover is a surprise.
Author's Note: Somewhat AU, until Buffy's return. Doesn't excuse her relationship with Spike, simply explains it somewhat. The ending however is AU.
This is a very different writing approach. The viewpoint changes between the two main characters, and is written in first person.
Special Note: Thanks as always to my beta Drea, She simple makes everything better. Love ya sweets.
The first time I saw her, the bloom of womanhood shadowed her still full cheeks. Even then, she sparkled with life as she bravely faced me. I stood and waited, knowing she wouldn't need my words as her sisters all the way back to the first hadn't needed them.
She met me there in that place of in-between. Her warrior spirit shining brighter than any star I'd ever seen. For the first time in my endless existence, I felt the light. She smiled at me and even as I dared the inconceivable, she was gone.
It was not her time, not yet. I could wait. Wait for her return, while I continued, as I always had, forever alone. She was here bare seconds. Yet, I relived them in those quiet moments of solitude. Those rare times when no one calls my name, begging, pleading or cursing it. I take the time to remember.
I remembered falling and the way the water squeezed the air from my body. Blackness surrounded me, choking me worse than the water when the light chased it away and the air returned. My feet hit solid ground, and I stood, still wrapped in the dark except for the brightness coming closer.
The overwhelming fear that had suffocated me along with the dirty water vanished. I felt nothing as I stood in this strange place not knowing if I'm alive or dead, not even, if the world had survived without me. The light drew closer until it nearly blinded me then slowly faded.
I wanted to throw an all-out temper tantrum, or better yet, kick someone's butt. I had wanted to wear my party dress and pretend for just one night that I was normal. Here was proof, I couldn't even die like other people. No, not me, not Buffy Summers.
The most gorgeous man I had ever seen stood facing me. My heart flipped over when he smiled at me, so I did what any self-respecting female did when wanting to attract male attention. I faked anger then proceeded to ignore him.
He smiled at me, showing bright, white teeth and dimples that complimented his crystal blue eyes. His tanned skin and blonde hair gave him the appearance of coming from the light that remained at his back.
Staying seemed like the thing to do when he smiled at me. I remembered waking to Xander's smiling face, and thinking someone out there didn't like me.
The power that returned after my first death felt different. It was mine and it wasn't. Somehow, it had changed, or I had changed. I'm not sure which, and I wasn't sure if I ever would. I just knew my world would never be the same again.
Nightmares haunted my nights since my death at the Master's hands. They slowly started to change. The darkness peeled back to reveal beautiful blue and gold lights. They chased the fear away and wrapped me in welcoming arms. I felt safe here, somehow knowing no one and nothing could harm me.
The dreams eventually faded as time passed. I found I missed them even as they blurred within my memory, realizing they held some importance, even if I couldn't remember.
I tried to recapture that feeling throughout my life without even realizing it. Angel, I thought I had found it in his arms. The warmth I had found in his arms was fleeting. He left me and the loneliness returned. Next, there was Riley, who left long before he ever climbed aboard that helicopter.
When the First Slayer told me Death was my gift, I thought I finally understood what I was searching for, what I had missed without even knowing I was missing it - Peace. I fought my battles, my duty done and was ready to lay down my stake forever.
She came back to me with screams ripping from her throat. I rushed forward to catch her as she plummeted through the darkness. Her arrival surprised me. It was not her time. I knew as I watched the sand pass through the hourglass of her life, religiously counting the time I would once again see my golden warrior.
I gazed down at her face now peaceful in its repose and wondered what she had done to tangle fate's threads into snipping her thread before its time. How could I have not seen this? She had no place in the afterlife waiting for her at this time. There was simply no place to send her soul.
My endless journey had always left me in solitude, until that one fateful day years before when I caught a glimpse of life within her hazel eyes. It was with selfish glee that I chose to keep her here with me in my palace of in-between. I showed her the peace found within death's fold, and she showed me why humans put such stock in love.
We lay in sweet smelling meadows, holding each other as the light warmed us. I told her about my lonely existence, and she listened with an understanding I had never hoped to garner from another.
I should have known it wouldn't last, but had come to depend on her presence next to me. Her smile glowed brighter than the light to me. She gave herself to me never asking for anything in return, which only increased the love I already felt for her. I took her with me as I performed my duties.
She wept for the souls as they followed the light to their final resting place. I asked her once if she regretted not being able to go into the light. She actually hit me and told me I was a stupid man. I think I had never been as happy as I was that day.
It should have warned me that our time was ending, but I did not even want to consider the matter. The repercussion for our actions would shake the very foundation of the world.
Memories were strange. I used to pray to forget, forget the pain, the heartache and anger. It was different since my return. Each time I closed my eyes, I prayed to remember each moment. The images were fuzzy in my mind as if someone had placed them under water. I held tight to those feelings though, knowing they were all that was keeping me sane as I walked about more dead than alive. It was funny to think I had never felt more alive than when I was dead.
I wanted to return. Why couldn't my friends have left well enough alone? I can't believe they thought I had gone to hell. Even if I had, did they even consider that my return might in someway provide Glory or some other hell-god access to this dimension? I know they did it out of love for me; still I can't stop the resentment and anger I felt toward them.
This world was too loud, too bright and I wanted my sweet meadow back. Irony. Irony was that the only one who understood what I was going through was my former enemy. Spike turned up every time I turned around, which before my death would have grossed me out. It soothed me now, in a way I didn't understand and was too tired to try.
Every night I slayed and prayed. Funny huh? I'm not particularly religious, but still I prayed. I lie down at night too exhausted to do anything else but sleep. The prayers escaping my last conscience thoughts were of vibrant blues and gleaming golds. My dreams brought a few short hours of peace, before the never-ending cycle of my life started again. Sadly, the dreams were starting to fade, and I only caught brief glimpse of colors and shapes. I grasped at them, as if I were clawing my way from my grave once more. It had me wondering if I crawled into it, would it all come back to me, would I find my peace. I knew that way lead to disaster, but my thoughts and my feet drew me to my grave more nights than I cared to count. What was it about this place that I couldn't resist?
I watched as she struggled through her days and comforted her as best I could each night. Her light had dimmed, until I almost didn't recognize it. My fury knew no bounds as I watched her struggle through each day. Her gait was no longer smooth and feline, but that of a wounded creature. The world moved around her, yet she was disharmonious, in it, not of it.
The others, those she considered friends, did not notice the differences in her. I could not fault them for wanting her back in their lives. How could I? Did I not want the same? The difference was that I wouldn't cross that line. I wouldn't steal her away, though it tempted me greatly seeing her like this.
Human life changed with the blinking of an eye. I continue my work as I must and am gone from hers but for a minute and so much had changed.
I watched the child of darkness hound her. He followed her relentlessly, smelling her despair and knowing her heartbreak. She had no fight left and wanted to find sweet release, any release. I knew he wanted to bath in her faltering light, and bind her to him any way he could. I couldn't allow that to happen. He was dead after all.
He pulled her into his crypt and she followed. She pushed him against the wall, hungry for anything that could help her to feel again. I needed her to understand she deserved more than this.
My hands touched her face once more, as I brushed her hair away from her face. I forced her to look into my face and see me. My head automatically bent forward as I gently brushed her lips with my own. The feelings of love that I poured into that simple gesture relayed everything I felt for her. She pulled away in shock as she stared at me. Her fingers reached up to touch her bee-stung lips. Tears filled her eyes as her hand came up to caress my cheek.
She whispered brokenly 'why' as she fell into my arms. I soothed her and whispered calming words. We talked hurriedly as I had little time to complete what I had to do. I was breaking many rules, but I hadn't started this. I would see her strong again in this life until she returned to me.
I'm not sure how or why, but I finally came back to my senses. The peace I'd known before returned to me in some small measure, when I needed it the most. My world went on a long downward spiral and took my sister along for the ride. I'm not sure when everything went sideways, but I know I was driving, and everyone knows how much I suck at that.
How did my life become such an all-out mess? Somewhere along the way, I became an adult. It sucked beyond belief. I thought being the Slayer was hard. It had nothing on raising Dawn, paying bills, and going to work. I owe my Mom major apologies; of course, she's not here to hear them, maybe someday.
My dreams returned to me, and I no longer visited my grave. I talked with my friends and Dawn, and had stopped those things that needed stopping, and should never have started, really. The dark no longer pulled me under, but each day was a struggled that I was determined to win.
Then, it went to hell as usual. I should have known that I couldn't simply walk away unscathed. I had to pay for…everything I guess.
The meadow shook with the anger I felt as I watched her lie broken. Torrents of rain poured across the sweet grasses. He would pay for daring to cross that boundary. I would see to his punishment myself.
I watched to ensure she endured no more hurt this night. Sleep overtook her and I sent her the only comfort I could.
The dark creature's arrogance amused me. Even as I plotted to turn his quest into my weapon for vengeance, I watched with insight into his mind and unbeating heart. He thought the feelings he had for her were love. Love, true love, rather than the obsession he had to chase after her light. He was no more than an addict seeking his drug of choice, but had no way to know the difference. Poor creature, were I any other, perhaps I would have an iota of pity for him.
I felt my golden warrior's panic and quickly returned to her side.
How can everything change so quickly? I never thought it would end this way. Demons yes, guns no. The world was fading and Xander was shouting my name. I guess it was true. Be careful what you wish for, you never know who's listening. I just never thought, even on the Hellmouth the 'W' word rule applied to my inner thoughts too.
He was there. It was real. Everything came rushing back to me. I ran to his waiting arms and felt the happy tears running down my face. Words rushed from our lips in a tangle before they were no longer needed. Our bodies melted into each other and it was as if we had never been apart.
Then, Willow shattered my blue and golden world with her dark magics. She ripped me from his arms, and the last thing I heard was, him shouting my name.
I woke to the coal black eyes of my friend. My world had turned upside down and my once shy friend was now the latest Big Bad. How had I come full circle once more?
She returned to me for the briefest moment. I held her in my arms, murmured love words, loved her and then they took her from me once more.
How can this be? Why were they pulling my love's strings and not allowing her well-deserved rest? There was more at play here and I planned to discover it. Whoa, betide those who think they could ignore the rules. Even I must abide by them. I walk the razor's edge even now with my love, yet I do not cross it.
Should I find others at play here, they will learn just how long my reach truly was.
She wanted to end the world because Tara had died. Willow said she wanted to end everyone's pain, but I knew that was bull hockey. She wanted her own pain to stop, and didn't care who died as long as it did. I remembered when I killed Angel to stop Acathla. No one understood why I felt the need to leave town. Perhaps, they didn't care to, because the one I loved was still underneath it all - a vampire.
Tara, poor Tara, had the gentlest heart, and didn't deserve to die. The strange thing, when you stepped away and thought about it, was who did? I mean were we really ever ready to let the ones we loved go, or did we shout and cry at their passing no matter how it occurred?
Warren deserved punishment for his crimes. He didn't deserve it at Willow's hands, or in the manner, it came about.
I smiled feeling the darkness I held within my grasp come at my beckoning. The vampire stepped into his next challenge. His quest neared its end and his prize seemed attainable.
His battered and broken body pushed forward as he refused to give up the prize he came halfway around the world to win.
I remained cloaked in my world of in-between, yet I felt another's presence. Who else had an interest in this creature?
Reaching out, I searched his mind for the prize he sought. I felt my lips quirk upward at his foolishness. It had no impact on my own plans, since I did not intend to allow him back into my love's life.
He completed his final task and declared the prize he sought. Before I could intercede, the other onlooker interpreted his wish to fit their designs.
This changed many things. I knew who had tampered with my love's strings, snipping and tying her life's threads to suit their plans. They played dangerous games that skated along and over the rules, which no one dared break. I was tracking them now, and they had better step carefully.
The world was going to end this time. I know I had thought the same thing several times before, but this time I didn't see much chance of us winning. More girls poured into my house everyday, and somehow I'm supposed to feed, train and protect them.
An Evil bigger than any I've ever fought planned to suck the world dry, and I had no way to fight it. Everyone argued about everything. Willow was afraid to use her magic, and Spike, well he was another matter altogether. And, I wasn't going to think about Giles, nope, not even going there.
The Potentials, what a name to hang around young girls' necks, yuck, were well, spoiled brats, scared as hell, but still spoiled brats nonetheless. I had no idea what they expected from me. Hell, I had my hands full, trying to deal with one teen, and see to her safety. Why in the hell would Giles think I knew anything about leading an entire house full of them?
Throw in the Head Evil, its party animal Bringers with their sharp knives, ooh and don't forget the Ubervamps, and you get the bestest party on the block any Slayer could ask for. Now, if I could just figure out how I became the bad wolf in this fairy tale gone sideways. Maybe then, I could understand why I was sleeping in someone else's house rather than my own, wrapped in the arms of the vampire who tried to rape me.
They had grown arrogant in their power, and thought themselves above their stations, forgetting their origins, more importantly they forgot the rules. They were the rules over all of nature, the rules of the omniverse - the Rules.
No matter your power, someone somewhere had more. And above and beyond, there was one rule none evaded, no matter how they might try - Death comes to all.
I'm here to remind the Powers it's about to visit them before they'd like if they don't see things my way.
They have played fast and loose with the lives of their 'champions' for far too long, and none more so than my golden warrior.
I'm standing here and am about to walk into the mouth of hell, literally. How screwed up was this? The newly souled vampire wearing his ugly apocalypse accessory, my sister Slayer (former enemy and tentative friend), not to mention the SiTs (soon to be real Slayers if Willow pulled it off), were waiting for me to lead them. Everyone else was upstairs, guarding the school to keep the Bringers away from the Seal.
My lids closed as I take a deep breath. I felt him there beside me. I'm not sure if it's wishful thinking, or the circumstances, but I held onto those feelings, and the beautiful colors bursting behind my eyes.
"Slayer," Spike shouted. "No time to daydream."
My eyes flew open as I crashed back to reality. I wanted nothing more than to stay with him in my world of blues and golds.
"I wasn't dreaming," I whispered, remembering wasn't dreaming. "Just clearing my head."
I cut my palm and pumped my hand to increase the blood flow. Rich, red blood flowed onto the seal. It drank it down like a newborn fledge.
She was glorious. I watched her lead her small army into the maws of hell. Her light glowed brighter than the noonday sun. She was back. My love had found her way back to the light and grabbed hold with those strong hands of hers.
My joy knew no bounds, when I witnessed her predatory movements and air of assurance. She became the killing strike, weaving her spell around me as she danced her deadly ballet of destruction. It was beautiful and haunting.
I saw her fall. She started to come to me, but I delayed her journey. Not yet, my love, soon you will understand everything.
The searing pain in my side hurt beyond anything I had ever felt. I hit the ground hard and everything around me stopped. Someone had hit pause, and forgot to tell me. The pain disappeared. I felt wonderful, more than wonderful; I was giddy with excitement.
Gimme a beat and I could dance the rumba. Euphoria filled every fiber of my body as a whirlwind of blues and gold swept through me.
Suddenly, time ran normally and I stared into my own face. It gave two-faced an entirely new definition.
Anger replaced joy. It fueled me, taking away my need for anything else. I'm not sure I even breathed. The Scythe returned to my hand, and we danced. I led, with it following my every step, as a good partner should. I was oblivious to everything around me. My focus remained on the destruction I reaped. I didn't wake from my berserker frenzy, until I heard his shout.
It was time. She had fought with such fierceness that it took my breath away, if I had one.
The Powers had set events into play that extended beyond their control. They tried every means imaginable to rectify it and remain firmly at the helm. Some doors once opened refuse to close.
They forgot who they were dealing with as they moved their champions about to achieve their goals all in the name of balance. Ha, what an inane concept. The fools had no idea what they had unleashed. It was time to show them their mistake, and who better to shine light on the matter than her. Was she not the perfect example of choosing her own path? They thought they had her cornered this time, with no way out, but she had fooled them yet again. Now, they planned to keep her dancing endlessly on the end of their string - the fools.
I would see her far beyond their reach and mine, before I allowed that to happen. Her time drew near as she went to the vampire. His soul ignited the amulet, setting in motion the chain of events that would change this world forever.
I stared at him in awe, unable to believe what was happening in front of me. Our eyes locked as our fingers entwined. The flames engulfed our hands.
"I love you," I whispered, staring into those blue, blue eyes.
I ran for the stairs, an unnamable force pushed me on and I followed it. The town crumbled around me as I jumped from roof to roof. A whisper tickled my ear, encouraging me to go faster. I reached the edge where nothing stood between me and the others, but a gaping chasm. Come to me, my love. Trust in me; trust yourself.
The words washed over me. I looked back at the high school as it imploded, sealing the Hellmouth. The town continued to crumble around, even the building I stood on had started to shake. Understanding came to me with single clarity; it was a leap of faith.
I held tight to the Scythe, closed my eyes and leaped from the roof.
The heart, many said, I didn't have stopped beating as I waited for her to decide. She had no way of knowing how much depended on her choice. It overflowed with love as she fell into my arms.
We tumbled to the ground in a tangle of limbs. The sweet grasses softened our fall. The meadow welcomed her back, and echoed with her silvery laughter. She had returned to me, more than that she had unwittingly stopped the Powers in their tracks.
This beautiful golden creature, who had followed her heart regardless of what the rules mandated from those surrounding her, had done what no other had done before her. She relegated the arrogant Powers back to their place as overseers of humanity, not their overlords. They had forgotten their place in the great scheme of things, and stepped too far over the line without any repercussions.
It's funny how names change overtime with the simple mispronouncement here, or added letter there. Few were old enough to know the Power That Be weren't. Simply meaning that wasn't there name, but over time and the different messengers and champions, and again their own growing arrogance they allowed the misnomer of their name to change. They weren't the Powers That Be as in 'Be All End All'. They were simply Powers B, who reported directly to Powers A. And, even more interesting was that the Powers A or B weren't big players in the upper echelons. They were interspatial auditors, or to put it in layman's terms, watchdogs. The Creator wasn't happy with them and I understand demotions were happening across the board. It couldn't happen soon enough in my opinion.
We stood and watched the bus drive away with her friends and family. She turned to me with eyes filled with love and something I thought never to see - contentment.
I knew when I walked into the Hellmouth that somehow it was my final battle. Whether it was his presence walking there beside me, I'm not sure. He told me what the Powers had tried to do to me. I can't say that I'm surprised. My life was an entire series of push me, pull me, but it doesn't matter any more. I've let it go so I can concentrate on what I have.
Knowing what I know now, I just wish there was someway for me to give those girls, the new Slayers across the world, a choice. I had focused my thoughts on the repercussions to world if we lost to the First, sparing no thought for the thousands of girls I was forcing into a life not of their choosing. I'm no better than the Powers as I sat back and thought about it away from the heat of battle.
My love came to me with an answer as I lay in the sweet grasses in our meadow. The simplicity of it had me laughing. I pulled him down to lay beside me. He pulled me into his arms, and I vowed never to leave him. When I had first arrived, he told that his world of in-between wasn't Heaven. I smiled and told him that was mine.
Willow couldn't understand what was happening. She would scrye for a new Slayer, lockdown the location, and it would suddenly disappear. It didn't happen every time, but more times than the red haired Wicca cared for, and she knew that it wasn't her magic. Something or someone was interfering with her finding the new Slayers. Willow's face fell into its famous resolve mask. She gathered her data and headed downstairs.
They were still staying at the Hyperion, which Angel had graciously allowed them to use, since he and his team had moved into the WR&H building. Willow held her books against her chest as she cleared the last step, when she overheard one of the newer Slayers talking with Sunnydale Slayers.
"It was the weirdest thing. This little blonde appeared in my dream, holding this wicked cool axe. There was some dude hanging out in the background, but I couldn't see him too good. She told me not to freak out, and then asked whether I wanted the power. Blondie told me if I kept it my life wasn't my own anymore, and I had to fight for others. If I wanted to go back to my old life, she could do that for me and that she was sorry for not asking me in the first place. Talk about psychobabble, sheesh. I thought my mom was the only one who did that. How could anyone know about this stuff, and not do something about it? I told her to fahget about it. It wouldn't matter whether I was strong or not. Now, that I know, I can't like unknow, you know, and I planned on doing something about it, and some blonde spook wasn't about to stop me. Figured the power was just a handy dandy perk. You know what she did." The new Slayer placed her hands on her hips as she looked at her captive audience. The other girls shook their heads in synchronized wonder. "She laughed at me, and said I would fit right in, and then asked me to do her a favor. I asked her what kind of a freaking crazy ass dream was this. Blondie gives me this huge smile, and just says for me to tell the Scoobies hi when I see them. What, the hell, are Scoobies? How will I recognize them? Man, this place is huge. Is there a kitchen around here I'm starved…."
The girl's voice faded away as the others showed her where to find food. Willow ignored the tears that had slowly leaked down her face. She turned around and went back up the stairs to continue her search.
Each time a location disappeared, she would softly whisper, "Buffy." Her lips would tilt upward into a gentle smile as she thought of her best friend, and the young girls who wouldn't have to endure the same life forced on her.
Did you guess the identity of the mysterious man?
Or did you skip to the bottom to find out? Naughty, naughty. *smile*
Hope you enjoyed the story. Would love to hear what you thought about it, if you care to tell me.
Disclaimer: Meet Joe Black is the property of Universal Pictures, and was written by Bo Goldman and Kevin Wade.
Pairings: Buffy/Death (Joe Black)
And for you viewing pleasure, I give you the following.
This is the first story in a series called Death, The Gift That Keeps On Giving
. If you want to read the summary you can go here
, since TTH won't post it, until I add another story. There's a really cool pic too.