Rickety Ladders and Space Pods
2. Rickety Ladders and Space Pods
See disclaimer in prologue
Xander looked in horror as Dawn took a running leap off of the platform. He was devastated...after all they had gone through to keep her safe... all their sacrifices, yet in the end, they still had failed. She was gone into heaven-knows-where, and there was nothing he or anyone else could do about it. In his mind, all he could see was the total look of resignation on little Dawnie's face as she leapt. His eyes traced the path, her last path down through the air to where she had vanished. As he cast his eyes downwards, his attention was drawn to the large round object laying at the base of the tower. What WAS that thing anyway? Was that a ship?
And oh God! Buffy! She had jumped too, yet she passed through the vortex and continued falling. Where was her body? Wait...did she land on that thing
that had come through? He looked up and mentally followed the route she took when she dove from the tower. Maybe not all was lost after all...
Looking for signs of his friend, he looked over the space pod. Xander could barely see a hint of blond hair spilling over the top of the dirty round whatever it was. “Guys, look!" he cried. "I think Buffy might have made it!” Xander yelled. Willow and Tara broke their embrace and both turned in his direction, totally heartbroken over Dawn's sacrifice. They found a glimmer of hope in their friend’s words. As one, the Scoobies ran over to the craft and hurriedly scrambled to find stuff to climb on in their quest to reach the Slayer. Unseen by all, Giles used their distraction t crouch over the battered body of Glory’s host, Ben. Without fanfare, Giles held the man’s nose and mouth closed and watched his prey until he was sure the Vessel was dead. Grisly work done, the Librarian comforted himself with the knowledge that the hell goddess would not be making another appearance in this realm ever again.
Across the lot the gang frantically assembled a hodge-podge “stairway” and made it to the top of the pod. Prayers of gratitude went up as Xander confirmed that Buffy was unconscious, but thankfully still alive. Bruises and cuts marred her otherwise beautiful features, but she was alive! Alive! Gently the group worked to get the Slayer to the ground. Once safe, Spike carried her like a baby over to the place where Giles had parked their rented van. A nagging thought made Xander look back to the ship?
, and he found himself drawn to the vehicle that had saved his friend from certain death. He walked over and climbed back up the homemade stairwell. Looking through the viewport he saw a badly beaten man with the craziest stand-up hair lying unconscious in the pilot’s chair. He took a deep breath as his sense of responsibility raised his head. Not sure what else to do, he looked for a way inside the space pod. The man obviously received a great deal of trauma, and Xander's memories of the Initiative made him wary of "officials" getting involved. He didn’t want the government to get their hands on the man before they found out if he was good or evil or just plain lost. His eyes skimmed along the side of the craft, taking in the unusual shape. Finally, he saw a recessed button painted red with some strange lettering around it. The button caught the carpenter’s eye and held his attention. He debated with himself, trying to decide if he was doing the right thing, and finally decided what he was going to do. With a deep sigh, Xander bit the bullet and pressed the button.
The space ship opened with a hiss, and one side of the pod slowly lifted away from the interior. The Scooby watched the unusual vehicle open, then eyed the man within. He sure looks human enough
Xander thought to himself before reaching in to try and wake the strange person. After several minutes, he decided to just pull the man out and bring him to the hospital with Buffy. He strained to lift the traveler out of the recessed seat and down the rickety “ladder” to the ground. Laying his patient out, he had only one thought. “Huh.” He said to himself. “I really thought he’d be taller.”
Soon both unconscious people were piled into the van and on their way to Sunnydale General. The mystery man moaned but did not wake up. Buffy however, did, and much to everyone’s dismay, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Where’s Dawn!?!” No one could look at her, much less answer. A few seconds of tense silence hovered in the vehicle as Buffy frantically sought her sister. Not finding her she cried, “Oh God!” The Slayer cried. “She’s dead isn’t she??” She searched the faces of her friends, and their guilty looks only increased her distress. “ Why did you leave her body all alone???”
Willow finally found her voice. “There wasn’t a body…” Buffy’s wrenching sobs were the only sound in the car for a while after that. Gathering her courage, Willow broke into Buffy’s grief. “Buffy, there’s a chance that she’s not dead, just….elsewhere…” The sudden spark of hope electrified the group. “I promise you Buffy, if she’s out there, we’ll find her…we’ll find her.”