TWENTY-FIVE: On Going Home, Or At Least Back...
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim, and Anita Blake. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: Willow woke up and realized Kennedy was dead. Anita talked to Xander about going home, and Giles talked to Xander about pride. Buffy and Faith went on patrol. Ramona decided that the slayer school would be her new home.+++++TWENTY-FIVE: On Going Home, Or At Least Back To The Hotel
Two weeks passed, and now Anita was back in the graveyard in St. Louis -- the one where the portal had deposited her... was it less than a month?... ago. The blood circle had been drawn. Dawn and Willow were ready to open the portal. Faith, Buffy, and Satsu were there with Anita, just in case something came through from the other side.
“Thank you,” Anita said. She felt weird about hugging Buffy, but when Buffy hugged her first, she really had no choice. “Everything you did for me...”
“You’d do the same for me, if I was on your side.”
“I’d like to think so.” She let Buffy squeeze her once more, and once she was free, she shook hands with Faith and Satsu. Then she went to the witches. “Willow, I can’t tell you how sorry I am about Kennedy. I really liked her.”
Willow nodded. “If you’d stayed, I bet you guys would’ve been friends.”
“You’d win.” Finally, she turned to Dawn, and now Anita initiated the hug. It was like hugging Cherry -- something she’d get to do soon enough, something she’d need once she went through and lost four people that meant the world to her. “Thank you, Dawn,” she said. Words weren’t really enough to express what she felt, but the young witch nodded anyway. “You gave me such a gift. I wish I could repay you.”
“Live,” Dawn said, holding Anita in the hug. “Live, and be strong.”
They separated. Anita stepped into the circle. “Ready?” Dawn asked.
She saw Satsu slip her arms around Buffy’s waist, holding her from behind; she saw Faith and Buffy hold hands. She saw Willow and Dawn place their open palms on the invisible barrier that made up the circle and felt it close.
She would remember them all. She would live, for them. And, someday, maybe, she’d come back.
But now, it was time to go home.
The witches chanted something in Latin. A pale green bubble formed around the boundary of the circle. Willow did something with her hands and the bubble collapsed into a roughly-shaped doorway delineated by green light.
“Thank you,” Anita whispered.
Then she stepped through, heading for home.+++++
Back in her hotel room, Faith tapped Ramona’s number into her cellphone and waited for the other girl to pick up. “She’s through? Everything’s okay?”
“Everything’s fine,” Faith said. She sat on the edge of the bed and undid her boots, then pushed them off. Still in jeans and a tank-top, she flopped back on the bed. “How are you?”
“One day at a time,” Ramona said.
“One day at a time.” It was something Dr. Frost had coached them to think in their grief counseling sessions -- and
, Faith thought, I once swore I’d be damned if I ever went to any of those
. But she had to admit the doc knew his shit. She still ached to think that Robin would never come back to her, but she was going to live. “One day at a time.” A pause. “You settling in okay?”
“Yeah. Weird not hearing you snore, though.”
“I do not
snore!” Just before they’d left for St. Louis, Ramona had moved into her own apartment a couple of doors down from Faith. “At least you didn’t either.”
“And it’s a lot easier to sleep without you kicking the blankets off every night.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not my fault you’re still cold. You’re the one who went to Canada, not me.”
Ramona chuckled. “Hey, when you get back, you want to go bowling again?”
“What, so you can run up the score some more?”
“Maybe so I can teach you how to do it right.”
Faith scoffed. “I know what I’m doing, Punky. Just, I don’t want to break the pins, so I hold back on the slayer strength.”
“So do I, Faith.”
Well, Ramona had a point there. “Fine. You win.” She let out a huffy little sigh that was all bluster, and then she grinned. “Soon’s we get back. Loser buys the burgers.”
“Loser buys.” Silence for a moment. “I’m going on patrol in a few minutes. I have to get ready.”
“‘Kay.” Faith stood up; she wanted to take a shower, but calling Ramona had been more important. “You take care, Punky, you got me?”
“I got you.”
“Don’t want no vamps munching on you before I finally beat you in a game or two.”
Ramona laughed. “You wish. ‘Night, Faith.”
Faith set the phone on her nightstand and started taking off her clothes. It sucked to sleep alone -- having Ramona in her bed, even just to sleep together, nothing sexy, had been a big help the past couple of weeks. But she was going to manage it. “One day at a time,” she said as she padded into the bathroom and started the shower. While the water heated up, she looked at her face in the mirror. “One day at a time, Robin.”
He didn’t answer -- he wasn’t really there, and if he was, she’d think it was probably the First, come back to haunt her again -- but that was okay. Sometimes, it helped to talk to him.
She stepped into the shower once it was hot enough. If Ramona could go out on patrol and risk her neck, the least Faith could do was be strong enough to sleep on her own.
One day at a time.+++++
Satsu was always the big spoon when she and Buffy were together in bed. Buffy didn’t mind it at all; for all the power she had, she liked to be the girl, liked to be the one taken care of. Plus, sometimes Satsu would get wandering hands.
Not tonight, though. Tonight, Satsu was behaving herself. Buffy was fine with that; she laid her arm across Satsu’s, covering her hand and interlacing her fingers with her lover’s.
“What’s on your mind?”
Buffy shrugged. “Just thinking about Anita. Going to be hard for her over there.”
“Four lovers, dead in seconds.” Satsu spoke softly, her breath fluttering through Buffy’s hair. “I couldn’t handle it. I could barely handle losing you.”
Buffy wriggled in Satsu’s grip until they were face to face. “Yeah, well, you’re not losing me. Not now, not ever. You hear me?”
“I hear you.” She kissed her, soft and gentle, and Buffy felt her lover allowing her to set the pace. Tonight’s pace was all about love. “Buffy?”
“I’m sorry if I pushed you too hard, back then.”
“What?” She flicked her tongue over her lips -- how the hell did Satsu always manage to taste like cinnamon? -- and took a slow breath. “Satsu, if anyone should be apologizing, it’s me.” Satsu wisely waited for Buffy to continue. “In the past few weeks, since I came back, I realized that my problem wasn’t the way I lived my life. It wasn’t my fear over losing people.”
“What was it?”
Buffy kissed Satsu again, and then said, against her lips, “it was not having someone to love.”
Satsu’s brow wrinkled. “I don’t think I understand. I don’t mind, but I don’t understand.”
Buffy flashed a grin; in the darkened hotel room, Satsu’s night vision would be good enough to see it. “I was feeling disconnected, like I didn’t have anything to really hold me in place. I left because I thought I might find it somewhere else.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.”
Now Buffy urged Satsu onto her back before straddling her hips and leaning down to press her forehead to her lover’s. “Me too. Because you hold me, Satsu.” She wriggled as Satsu put her arms around her waist, pulling her close. “You hold me, and you love me, and you give me that one little thing that was missing.”
“I could give you something else,” Satsu teased.
Buffy put on a mock-horrified look and gently slapped Satsu’s shoulder. “You evil woman,” she said. “Here I am trying to be sweet and romantic, and you’re going all Faith on me, all ‘oh, I’m a big bad girl who bedded Buffy the Vampire Slayer, let me claim her with--’”
Buffy found herself cut off as Satsu pulled her head down and kissed her.Okay
, Buffy decided. Lecture later. Sex now.
She had a feeling Satsu would agree with that course of action. If she ever stopped kissing her long enough to ask.+++++
Dawn couldn’t sleep, not with Willow sitting in the hotel room’s desk chair, staring out the window. “C’mon, Will,” she said. “Come to bed.”
“Later,” Willow said.
Dawn knew Willow wasn’t crying. Not yet. Dawn had been doing everything she could to help her friend, but in the end, every night came down to Willow, in her arms, in tears.
“Well, if we’re not going to sleep, you want to go get a drink? Maybe find an all-night mall or something?”
Willow shook her head. “It wouldn’t be the same.”
“No,” Dawn agreed, “it wouldn’t. But at least it’d be something.”
Willow turned in the chair to look at Dawn, who had moved to sit on the edge of the bed. “Everyone dies, Dawnie.”Oh, no. It’s going to be a bad night.
Dawn had nursed Willow through plenty of these lately, and it never got any easier. “I know.”
“Everyone I love dies.”
“Oz died in that avalanche, saving those hikers.” It had happened three years ago, in Tibet. “Tara died because I couldn’t find the magic to save her.” That wasn’t quite true, but Dawn had learned not to argue. “And now Kennedy... my Kennedy... just... just snuffed out...”
“She was only twenty-five,” Willow said, getting up from the chair. She sat beside Dawn on the bed, put her head on her shoulder. “She had so many years ahead of her, all taken away.”
“But she had you for a lot of them,” Dawn said. “She had you, and you loved her, and you made sure she knew it.”
“She was going to marry me.” Willow’s voice was hollow. She still wore the ring, and it glinted in the light of the clock-radio. “She gave me this ring the day... the day she died.”
“I know, Will.” Dawn held Willow close. It was all she could do. “I know.”
The tears came, and Dawn let Willow cry. It was going to take time -- it had taken Dawn time when her mom had died, and again when Buffy had sacrificed herself, and to her surprise she’d grieved for weeks after Spike had sacrificed himself in the Hellmouth. It would take Willow a while, but eventually she would break through to the other side.
Dawn was willing to wait as long as it took. Willow had always been there for her, and now it was Dawn’s turn.
“I love you, Willow,” she said, pressing her lips to Willow’s hair. “I love you.”
Willow just clung to her and cried.+++++In a place of no time, in a time with no place, the shades of two young women walk along a beach that has never existed. “She’s so sad.”
One of the shades had been named Tara, and had been killed by a bullet meant for someone else. The other had been named Kennedy, and a demon had crushed her to death with magic. At least, Kennedy thinks, her death had been painless. To be shot... she can’t imagine.
“I feel so horrible, leaving her like that. Isn’t there anything we can do?”
Tara shakes her head. “We can’t interfere. Grief is a normal, natural thing.”
“Then why am I not sad? Willow didn’t just lose me; I lost her too.”
“I know. I went through the same thing.”
“Oh. Right.” Kennedy isn’t sure how she feels about that, about being welcomed to the afterlife by the spirit of her lover’s dead girlfriend. “So, why?”
“Because we were happy with her when we were alive. Those memories carried over with us.”
Kennedy lowers her eyebrows. “I don’t know if I buy that.”
“Bought or not, it’s the truth,” Tara says.
A wave comes in, covers their bare feet. The edge of Tara’s long skirt grows damp, but Kennedy’s shade only wears cutoffs over a one-piece. Still, it feels good. “How long will it take?”
“For what? For her to get over you?” Tara smiles, and Kennedy feels a pull in her stomach -- this woman, who Willow had told her so much about over the years, is absolutely beautiful. She understands why Willow had loved her. “How long did it take her to get over me?”
“That’s not what I meant!” Kennedy says quickly, flustered.
“I know,” Tara says. Her smile, which had turned mischievous, fades a little. “She loved you so strongly, and for so many years. But she has Dawn, and Buffy, and everyone else, and they’ll help her.”
Kennedy sighs. “I miss her, though.”
“So do I.” Tara stops walking, turns, and stares at a sunset that never changes. “You’ll see her again.”
“What? Is she okay? She’s not going to... I mean...”
“No, no,” Tara says. She taps her temple but doesn’t look at Kennedy. “Many years from now, when her life has been lived, when she’s done all the Powers ask her to do, she’ll join us here.”
Kennedy stands next to Tara and watches the sunset. She reaches for Tara’s hand, which is surprisingly solid, given that neither of them really exist. “Will you wait with me? I...” She lowers her eyes and speaks softly. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“I’ll wait with you,” Tara says. “We’ll wait for her together.”
The sun never sets in the place of no time, but the shades of Tara and Kennedy watch it anyway. They watch, and they wait, and they silently remember the woman they both love.
The woman they will love again. Someday.+++++The End+++++
+++++On Notes from the Author
The purpose of writing this fanfic was mostly to get my mind in the right place for an actual original novel I’m working on. However, what started as an idea for a massive crossover taking place at the end of BtVS Season 6 instead morphed into a somewhat-less-ambitious “six years later” story.
One of the things I like about fanfic is that it gives writers the opportunity to spin the story out beyond its original endpoint. In this case... after “Chosen”, we know there was Buffy Season 8. But not nearly as many people have read S8 as have seen the show. I could have included comics canon, but... well... I didn't.
So the question becomes: what did
Buffy and the Scoobies do after Sunnydale collapsed? We know there’s a Hellmouth in Cleveland; we know there are slayers all over the world; we know relationships are blooming between Faith and Robin as well as Willow and Kennedy. How do all of these things play out over the years?
In my world, it’s more about “where are we now” than “how did we get there”. In the last big fanfic I wrote
, I spun out the story of Hermione Granger to eleven years after the final battle (actually, that story takes place about the same time as this one), but in a world where Voldemort actually killed Harry and all that King’s Cross crap didn’t happen. Likewise with this story, I wanted to know what’s up with all our slayer and witch and watcher friends several years later, once they found their new place in the universe.
Then I started adding crossovers. Specifically, I wanted to write a story about Scott Pilgrim and how his powers fit into a world with slayers. I still don’t know why I decided to include Anita Blake as well, but she just showed up and I figured, hey, let’s go with it. What I wrote in the end was very different from what I originally envisioned, and I’ll tell you now that when I started this story, I had no plans to kill Scott or Kennedy. I did know I wanted to kill Robin off because I had a sequel in mind and, in order for it to work, he couldn’t be present... but the others? It just happened.
In addition to the sequel -- which is completely written and edited, and ready for me to start posting when I get around to it -- the first story in my next series is about 50 percent done (maybe slightly more; I’m up to chapter 12 of 20, but I’m not sure how long the remaining chapters will be).
So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I hope you liked reading it half as much as I liked writing it.Listener
Marietta, GA, USA
April 27, 2012
(PS: If you're interested, here is my map of the slayer school