Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Vampire Hunter D. Buffy belongs to Whedon, and Vampire Hunter D and related characters belong to Hideyuki Kikuchi and UrbanVision. No money made.
A/N: More on the subject of tying up loose ends from last August Fic-a-Day, I have the third in a Vampire Hunter D/Buffy crossover that I started. They’re already combined into a series at TTH, but the first two were called All for Naught and Fate and Coincidence. And, although this is a series, each of these can be read standing alone. You miss out on a little of the surprise, but I do play catch up in each one-shot. But, if you want, you can read the complete series on TTH here. Please enjoy!Sleep Softly
Stonehenge still stood. Tara was awestruck as she dismounted from the black, cyborg stallion. Thousands of years, since time long before Tara had even existed, and a nuclear war… and the circle of stones still stood tall and proud. Tara counted it as a testament to the sheer power of the Druids that had built it. Only great magicks could keep something like this standing over such obstacles.
“12,090 AD… Stonehenge,” the blonde witch muttered, walking reverently toward the center piles of stone.
D, the half-vampire who had found Tara upon her awaking in the arms of a strange vampire, dismounted and followed silently behind her. His possessed Left Hand, however, did not give her the same courtesy.
“So, what exactly are we looking for here, toots?” he asked, his voice as gruff as ever.
D closed the short distance between Tara and himself as they continued their walk toward the center of the erected stones. His long black hair and ebony cape caught in a breeze billowed around him. Tara lifted a hand to keep her long locks out of her face as the skirt of her yellow dress showed the shape of her legs.
“Answers,” she muttered.
“As to why you were moved?” D asked in his monotone voice.
Tara nodded, moving away from the center now. Stonehenge was bigger than she would have supposed, and it more than bummed her out to know that—other than the present—the only time she had ever been to see it was when she was dead and buried.
“The message Willow left said she buried me here when she knew that Sunnydale wouldn’t survive what Buffy had planned,” Tara explained.
It still made her heart ache to think about it. She had been sure that Willow would be long gone in this time—this time where vampires had ruled the earth that had remained following a third World War; this time where vampires were just now retreating back into the shadows. But D had shown her a message, a hologram, left behind specifically for her from her Willow Tree. And what it had contained had rocked her down to her very soul. Willow was alive, kept so by the magicks she had practiced, but she had issued Tara a warning, as well as a plea. She had said that she wouldn’t be the same Willow Tara had known, and she had asked her lover to save her. The shock of it had left Tara reeling on the inside. Save her from what? And then she had realized.
Willow wanted to be saved from herself.
Tara stopped beside one of the gray, tall standing stones and placed her hand on it, putting all of her weight into a lean. She put her face in her other hand, sighing. In a moment, the too-pale D stood over her, his shadow as dark as his armor.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
It was a rarity, she knew that, that D would inquire how she felt. Not once since finding her had he truly asked that. And Left Hand seemed to constantly remind her that D was one cold S.O.B. But he had agreed to help her solve this mystery, to help her Willow, which had shocked the possessed appendage to no end. Now, Tara shook her head.
“She was better, D. Before I died… Willow was better. She wasn’t addicted to magic anymore. Did I do it? Was I the straw that broke the camel’s back? Did I send her to the Dark Side?”
“One thing at a time. Let’s find your grave,” D said without a single hint of remorse.
He turned from the witch and strode away, leaving Tara to gaze after him. Maybe Left Hand was right. D was not a caring man. She pushed herself off of the stone, trailing after him. He seemed to know where he was going, so she asked no questions as he moved beyond the standing stones toward an open, desolate field.
“Here,” he said, stopping.
Removing his long, silver blade from the sheath on his back, he plunged it into the earth at his feet. Tara arched a brow at him, moving closer. She stopped just close enough to the sword that one wrong move would have something on her cut. Closing her eyes, she invoked the goddess, calling on her to help her search the earth beneath her feet. D stood with one hand, his right, remaining on the hilt of his blade. When Tara finished her spell, she nodded.
“You’re right. The earth is disturbed here. Help me dig,” she said, dropping to her knees.
She had roughly eight handfuls of earth dug up before D said, “Move.” She didn’t stop, and it took the half-vampire placing a hand on her shoulder to get her to even look up at him. She nodded, stepping back a few paces.
Tara could not explain the how, but D in no time at all had dug up the entire, former grave with only his sword. And when he was finished, standing it a hole up to his shoulders, the blade hit something wooden and soft. Tara dropped to her knees once more, scooting forward to see what her companion had found.
A coffin, plain and half-rotted rested below the half-blood’s feet.
“Open it,” Tara said.
“Uh, you sure about that, sweetheart?” Left Hand asked, but D didn’t hesitate.
The lid all but crumbled in his hands as he tossed the debris away. Inside, the silk lining was just as rotted and hung in rags all around the sides. But it was the items inside that drew the group’s eyes. A black leather bundle of clothes and a small disc. D reached for the disc, climbing out of the grave. He whistled and the stallion galloped over to them. He withdrew from the saddlebags a small, metal something that looked like part of a computer. He slid the disc inside a thin slit in the side, pressed a couple of buttons, and then laid it upon the ground. Within moments, another hologram of Willow stood before them. She was dressed as she was before, in the medieval style mauve dress with her hair long and black, blue veins edging in on her face, and her solid, haunting black eyes.
“I knew you would think to search here first, if you found my other message. You’re probably wondering why you woke up with a vampire, instead of at Stonehenge, like I wanted you to? Well, you can thank our president for that. You see, he was the one that pushed the button first, launched the first weapon. And its target was here.”
She spread her arms out, indicating the space all around her.
“England. Now, I won’t go into why… that’s a whole lot of nothing-to-do-with-us, but I will say that I feared for you again. By then, the group of slayers that Buffy had created were a force unto themselves, one to be reckoned with. And some of the monsters we fought… well, some were stronger than others. You know what they say… there’s always someone better. A stronger foe appeared, and it forced the slayers to do the unimaginable. We made friends with vampires… ones that didn’t have their souls.”
Tara shook her head as she bit so hard at her bottom lip that she was sure it was going to bleed. How could they have done that? Now a whole new line of questions rose in Tara’s minds, and she didn’t like where it was leading. Did the slayers facilitate the rise of the vampires? Were they too buddy-buddy with them to save the world, like they were supposed to?
“So I called on that alliance, and I entrusted you to a vampire named Michael. He kept you with him for a long, long time. So long in fact, that when the time came for him to hide, when humans were retaking the world as theirs, he took you to sleep with him. Something I was not particularly fond of, but it was still the safest course for you, nonetheless.”
Tara felt sick. Willow had
put her in the hands of a vampire, deliberately. She put her back to the hologram, covering her mouth with her hands. Her lungs felt squeezed tight, wanting for air but unable to expand for it. How could her Willow Tree have done it? How?
“You’re angry with me, disappointed,” the holo Willow said now, and she had the deepest remorse in her voice.
Tara turned back to the message. She wanted to rage, to scream at it, but it was nothing but a recording. Her real Willow was long gone, as she was slowly learning.
“So, as an apology, I left you another gift inside the coffin. You’ll know what it means. I’m waiting for you, Tara, and I promise, all your questions will be answered. I’ll see you soon. You’ll find my capital soon enough. I love you. Remember that.”
With that, the holo ended, and it left Tara baffled. Her capital? The vampires had given Willow a city? That thought did not help the ill feeling in the pit of her stomach. She simply stood there, staring where the projection had once been, unable to move. D, meanwhile, delved back into the coffin. When he leaped back up onto solid ground, he held out the leather garment that had been left inside.
“You know why Willow would leave you this?” he asked.
Tara stared at the half-blood, trying to make herself focus on the item in his hands. And once she did, she grinned. Held up so that it fell from shoulder to ground, was an all too familiar leather duster. Tara snatched it from D’s hands and laughed.
“Yeah. I do. Let’s go, D. We’ve got more answers to find.”
“Where do we go now, though?” Left Hand asked. “We don’t have any other link to Willow.”
Tara pursed her lips, thinking. “She said s-something about a capital. I think that’s important.”
D nodded. “Very well. Let’s go.”
Tara balled up the duster, shoving it inside one of the horse’s saddlebags along with the holo-reader. If that familiar duster meant what she thought it did, she might finally be able to get the answers she needed after all.