Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Tamora Pierce owns "The Song of the Lioness Quartet" and related characters; I own nothing.~*~*~
“This is where the story changes, you know,” a voice, achingly familiar, spoke from behind where Buffy was standing in a bright white room.
“Hello, Tara,” she whispered, not wanting to turn around. If she turned around, if she looked, it meant that she was probably dead--again--only this time because she wasn’t fast enough to escape the rapidly growing sinkhole that had once been Sunnydale.
“Just because you’re here doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dead, Buffy,” Tara said, voicing Buffy’s unspoken fear. “And don’t worry, I’m not the First either. I can touch you, see!” A warm hand, all too real for somebody that had been dead for over a year, settled on her arm and gave it a firm squeeze.
“What do you mean, this is where the story changes?” Buffy asked, looking up at the taller woman.
“You think to know what’s to come, what you are, remember?” Tara replied, with a slight teasing tone in her voice, echoing the Tara from Buffy’s dream after they had defeated Adam. “Everything was leading up to the moment that you destroyed the Hellmouth, and activated the Slayer line. The Powers couldn’t do it on their own, not without breaking every single rule they’re supposed to follow, but they created a series of events that were always going to lead to that point in time. But now that story’s over, and now it’s time for you to decide something.”
“And that would be?” Buffy asked, trying to stomp out the anger that was simmering to the surface at the thought of the Powers blatantly manipulating her throughout this entire time.
“You can either stay in your dimension and continue your work as the Slayer,” Tara answered, turning slightly so that she was facing Buffy. “You can chose to pass on for good, or there is a third option.”
“And what exactly is behind door number three?” Buffy sighed, not sure if she was going to like this.
“You come to my dimension, and aid my champion there.” Buffy tried not to cover her ears at the sound of this new voice. It was the sound of werewolves howling and of splintering coffins, almost too painful for her to listen to. The source of this voice didn’t match its terrible sound: a tall, graceful woman with piercing green eyes, masses of curly, black hair, and smooth, flawless skin. A sort of glow appeared to emanate from her, giving Buffy another sign that she was something other than human.
“Who are you?” Buffy asked, trying not to show how unnerved she was. “And what do you mean by ‘aid your champion’?”
“I am the equivalent to your Powers in my dimension,” the woman answered, the painfulness of her voice decreasing somewhat. “I am one of many beings, and have many names. The one most familiar to those who worship me is the Great Mother Goddess.” Buffy’s eyebrows rose slightly. Huh.
“So, what, now that the Powers are done screwing with my life, they’re passing me on to the next person who needs me?” she questioned, looking as directly at the Goddess as she could. It was almost impossible to meet her eyes, but Buffy did the best that she could.
“Like your friend said, it is your choice whether to come to my dimension or not,” the Goddess answered calmly as a black cat calmly strode into the room. It paused in front of Buffy and studied her with unearthly purple eyes for a few seconds before turning back to the Goddess and meowing at her in an annoyed tone.
“Hush, Little One,” the Goddess scolded the cat. “Now is not the time to discuss this.” She looked back up at Buffy and gave a small smile. “The Little One doesn’t believe you are right for the task. He says that he has enough problems with his current charge, and he doesn’t need you adding add to his troubles.”
“Really?” was Buffy’s dry answer. “And why does Fuzzball think that? And I never said I was going.” The cat shot her an affronted look, but remained silent while the Goddess spoke.
“My world is very different from yours,” the Goddess answered. “If you choose to go, I will be able to give you some knowledge of it, but I’m afraid you would find it a rather difficult adjustment at first. And to answer your previous question about aiding my champion, she has a heavy burden, and her road is about to become more difficult, and there is little I can do to help her at this juncture in time.”
“Other than send me in to the burden share-age.”
“We do not treat our champions like your Powers treated you, Buffy Summers,” the Goddess answered, her voice soft. “We try to do our best by them and to make sure they have the ability to access the knowledge or skills that they need in order to fulfill their tasks. And as for you, think of this as an opportunity to start anew. You will still have access to your powers as a Slayer, but it is no longer simply you against the world’s darkness. ” She smiled again. “You might be able to find the peace you have been looking for, ever since your resurrection, a chance to heal the wounds that are still slowly bleeding in your soul. I’ll give you some time to think about my offer.” She vanished as suddenly as she had come, leaving Buffy, Tara, and the cat alone in the white room.
Buffy went over to one of the corners of the room and sat down to think about the offer before her. She was tired, so very, very tired. There was a part of her, a rather large part of her, to be honest, that wanted to take the second choice and pass on. She had no interest in going back to Sunnydale. As much as she loved her sister and her friends, she didn’t think she could ever truly forgive them for throwing her out of her own home, only to expect her to come back and act like nothing had happened. It was time for her to move on.
But was she really ready to give up the ghost and hit the bucket at the age of 22? There was so much she hadn’t done yet, and now that she was the only Slayer in the world, she had time now. Think of this as a chance to start anew,
the Goddess had said, and maybe she was right. Even with what was sure to be massive dose of culture shock, she would only really be Buffy, not the One Girl in All the World. She could finally be something other than the Slayer.
Making her decision, she looked at the cat. “Tell her my answer is yes.” The cat looked at her for a moment before meowing in response. For some reason, Buffy was not entirely surprised to hear that it sounded like actual, human words:Let’s hope you’re as good as your Powers say you are,
the cat said. I have no use for you if all you do is complain and cause trouble.
Before Buffy could respond, he vanished, leaving her alone with Tara.
“You made the right choice,” Tara said quietly. “Not for them, I mean. I’m sure they would have found somebody eventually if you said no, but it’s going to be good for you. If anybody deserves a second chance, it’s you.”
“What about you?” Tara shrugged at Buffy’s question.
“I’m a messenger between dimensions,” she answered simply. Buffy studied her for a moment, realization dawning.
“You’re the one who told her about me,” she stated. “You told her that I might be interested in helping her out.”
“Like I said, Buffy, if anybody deserves a second chance do something with their life, it’s you,” Tara replied, a sad smile on her face. “Think of this as a much delayed and not nearly big enough apology for dragging you out of heaven.”
Impulsively, Buffy reached out and hugged Tara. “Thank you,” she whispered. “For this.”
The light around them started to grow brighter, blinding Buffy. Before she vanished, Buffy heard Tara whisper to her, “I’ll see you soon. And I’ll let them know that you’re alright.” Soon, there was nothing but the light, surrounding and filling Buffy. Images and words began to fill her head, temporarily overwhelming her.Your journey starts here, Buffy Summers,
the voice of the Goddess whispered to her inside her head. Good luck.
In the Roof of the World Mountains, when the searchers reached the end of Chitral’s Pass searching for Sir Alanna of Trebond, they were surprised to find not only the redheaded female knight, but also a blond woman in outlandish clothes lying next to her, both unconscious in the bitter cold.