A Burning World
Disclaimer: The characters/worlds of Buffy, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas belong to their respective owners. If you recognize it I do not own it.
Timeline: pre/current Fallout 3/New Vegas universe and post Twilight in Buffy.
A/N: Thanks for reading and for the reviews.
She acted strange. If her skin had degraded, if her slayer healing had been compromised by radiation, those of the wasteland might not have found her so abnormal; they could have labeled her ghoul and felt as if they had sufficiently solved the puzzle of Buffy. As it was, the otherness that came with having seen the old world marked her as something apart, something that didn’t fit with anything that the wastlanders could define or understand. She would have loved to see how they would have reacted to the old her, all witty quips and pop culture references, but after a couple lifetimes of no one getting her references she had all but abandoned that facet of herself.
Now she wandered, observed, staving off interacting with others until it became essential to her continued survival. Not that the swirl of magic that kept her body unchanging, made her immortal, would allow such puny forces as starvation or gaping wounds to end the slayer that had defeated death so many times before. It simply made her uncomfortable to ignore pain from impossible wounds that should have been her death. It was through one such reluctant interaction, many such impossible wounds, that she met the denizens of Underworld.
Having stumbled up to the History Museum after a particularly harrowing encounter with the creatures that had made a nearby metro tunnel their home she had wondered if her body would shutdown. She had wondered whether the wounds would cause her to enter into a healing sleep similar to the coma that had robbed Faith of many of her years of life yet would only consume days of Buffy’s.
Instead, a ghoul had noticed her plight and, given her heavily wounded appearance, mistaking her for a ghoul had carried her inside the Museum. This behavior from a wastlander had been startling and had she been in any shape to fight the ghoul she would have. Not because of the ghouls resemblance to a zombie, she had since learned the difference between a ghoul and one of the undead, but simply because, in her experiences with this new post apocalyptic world, the only living things wastlanders where this overly concerned with were the mutated cattle which they called brahmin. And in a society that included cannibalistic raiders as well as feral ghouls that was not a connection she wanted to make.
Inside she found an entire settlement of ghouls, humans with extreme cases of radiation poisoning which led to the eventual decay of their skin, living in a settlement based out of an old museum exhibit titled Underworld. She found it amusing that she would find her refuge in such a place, a slayer that used to battle the forces of the underworld only for it to become her sanctuary. Yet, as cliché as it may have sounded, they understood her. They looked beyond her ‘smoothskin’ appearance to the commonality of timelessness that both Buffy and the ghouls had been cursed with. It was here that her spark of humanity was rekindled, among those the wastlanders called zombies.
Outside of the museum she could often be found patrolling with Willow, and what a surprise that had been, to stumble upon a redheaded ghoul sharing the name of a friend long since lost to the nuclear flames of war. Strange also to pick up a gun, a piece of technology that in the old world she had been loathe to use but was key to life in the wastes. Utilizing her slayer gifts, her innate gift for understanding weapons, she was able to adapt to using even the most advanced of laser technology and had quickly become a guard for the Underworld community.
Here she lived as close to at peace as one could after their world ended. The only source of friction she had with the community had been eliminated almost from her first day, the day she met Charon. The hulking individual that was enslaved to another ghoul Charon was, at first impression, a truly annoying individual. But after discovering that his ill-natured attitude and singular repetitive responses were linked to his master Ahzrukhal, when she discovered Charon was basically enslaved, she sought to resolve the situation. And, Buffy being Buffy, she solved it in a violent manner.
It didn’t matter that ghouls were humans with radiation sickness, it mattered only that Ahzrukhal had refused to release Charon from his enslavement. Having long since come to the conclusion that many humans were just monsters with souls, and that these souls didn’t always mean that they didn’t have the same potential for evil that demons did, it wasn’t hard for her to treat the man as if he were Willy on a bad day. The threat of violence was met with a predictable warning that Charon would ‘deal’ with her if she didn’t back down.
“Is your contract void if you die?” In hindsight it probably would have been a wiser move, for him, to have Charon interfere then. But as it was he backed down, perhaps seeing that he would be dead before his giant of a bouncer could interfere. His death, however, was sealed the moment Charon realized that he was no longer under the ‘employ’ of his form master.
No words were ever spoken towards her in anger over the unsavory ghouls death and she found that after his influence was removed from Underworld everyone was far friendlier. Charon, newly freed, found himself unable to readjust after his abrupt termination. Buffy didn’t help matters when she refused to ‘hire’ him after becoming the owner of his contract. Instead she had shredded the grimy paper that had bound him to Ahzrukhal for so long leaving him feeling more lost than he could remember in his long life. Having no other ideas as to what to do he gave the Ninth circle over to Carol and Greta, owners of the neighboring hotel, and joined Buffy and Willow as guards to the museum.
Time unmeasured passed this way with Buffy, Willow and Charon turning back raiders and discouraging the Brotherhood of Steel from taking shots towards the museum. Buffy found a place to be and a new Scooby gang had begun to take shape around her without her notice when Charon took his place beside her. It would be many more years yet before her world would change once more. Time would give her this small break before war once more intruded upon her life, before the struggles of the lone wander came to the Underworld and Buffy would once more enter the wasteland.