Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
and its affiliates belong to Joss Whedon and his affiliates, and definitely not to me.Warnings:
None. No pairings. Does contain disconnected Scoobies.A New Start
The first time Buffy had an inkling that anything was wrong was two years after they changed the Slayer line and a routine patrol almost ended in death when a vampire escaped her grip.
The second time was a year later, when a broken bone took three weeks to heal instead of a handful of days.
The third was at the age of twenty-seven, when her entire body cramped after their latest apocalypse, and she knew there was no way to keep hiding it.
Buffy was duly brought to the British HQ and tested for every illness, magical and mundane, and every curse, poison and degenerative disease the combined brains of the Watcher’s Council could think of. When they finally identified it, she wanted to cry.
“It’s magic, Buffy,” Willow explained. “I – the magic, the power, that creates and drives the Slayer. When we called the others, it changed them, including Faith. It, uh, it cleansed the demonic taint. But because you’d already died and were disconnected from the immediate line –”
“I got missed,” Buffy finished, voice abrupt. “So, what’s the what? Am I gonna be back to normal girl, or is it worse than that?”
“It’s worse,” Willow answered, tears in her eyes. “The whatever it is, the infection or curse or whatever, it’s not stopping at normal human ranges. It’s pretty much tearing you apart, slowly, from the inside out, like it’s trying to get rid of the Slayer Essence, but can’t differentiate between you and it anymore.”
“So it’s gonna kill me.” Though Buffy’s words were cold, she was filled with an angry sort of fear. She didn’t want to die. Not anymore. She wasn’t done yet. She still wanted love and marriage and kids and happiness. Hell, she wanted the picket fence and the arguments about staying out too late and comforting about boys (she was sure she could be the best comforter ever - no child of hers was ever going to manage a worse track record with men). She lifted her gaze to meet Willow’s. “Fix it.”
“I don’t –”
“I don’t care how, Willow. Fix it. I want to live.”
And so Willow and Giles and the rest of the Watchers began to check – while making sure that Buffy’s condition would not spread to the other Slayers. That was soon found not to be the case. It really was Buffy’s status as an anomaly in the Slayer line and the one still retaining the demonic-tainted Slayer Essence that was causing this magic to try and strip that taint away, and taking Buffy along with it.
In the meantime, Buffy could feel her body turning against itself. Every exertion of strength, even the slightest bit above normal, brought muscle pain and bone-deep aches accompanied every punch. She could no longer beat even an ordinary Olympic sprinter, let alone keep the sprint going more than five minutes. Her healing was still above average for someone normal, but less than half that of her old self. Only the sharpened sense still seemed to remain even close to as strong, as though they had been manipulated by genetics instead of magic, but the world still seemed dull after more than ten years of seeing it from a higher level of ability.
She withdrew. She had not been close to anyone for a long time, and she only increased that. Dawn had long ago abandoned her despite Buffy’s best efforts, and the distance that had formed between her, Xander, Willow and Giles by the end of Sunnydale had only increased over the last five years. Buffy didn’t care any longer. She just wanted to be alone. She didn’t want them to see what was happening as her own body turned on her.
And then Willow found it. Not a cure, exactly, but a resolution.
“It’s magic that’s causing this, right? The magic that Calls a Slayer and the magic of the Earth and the goddesses that now guard the Slayer line,” Willow explained.
“I don’t feel all that magical,” Buffy retorted.
“It’s simply a kind of magic that causes a physical effect. It’s why you don’t have the densest bones and muscles on the planet in order to grapple with a demon six times your mass,” Willow shot back. “The Slayers are magical creatures, but you start off as normal as any other human, just with that little extra that gives you Potential.”
“You’ve all got better than average genomes, from what I’ve decoded. Naturally more athletic or stronger senses or whatever. It must make it easier for the magic to augment you into becoming the Slayer,” Willow answered.
“Augment. Nice. Makes us sound like robots.”
“Anyway,” Willow continued, shooting Buffy a look, “the solution is to stop the magic within you fighting the magic outside.”
“So what, I’m going to become Buffy the Magic Bubble Girl?” Buffy asked.
“It’s, ah, it is rather more than that, Buffy,” Giles began, and she switched her gaze to him, suddenly sensing the seriousness in the room.
“What? What is it?”
“The only way to prevent this, er, condition from killing you is for you to go to an entirely magic-free environment.”
“There is nowhere in our dimension that you could be and be safe from this condition.”
“You’re talking about dimensions. Sending me to another dimension, one without magic, that would cure me?”
“The magic that makes you the Slayer would dissipate and there would be no magic in that world to conflict against it or try to rip it away so –”
“So I’d be cured.”
“Potentially. We have no way of knowing what would happen should you return.”
“So it would be a one-way trip.”
She knew she should have felt upset. She should have been angry, or horror-stricken, or even scared.
Instead, there was a sudden sense of relief, and that saddened her more than anything else. So she put on the bright smile she knew they would interpret as being brave and began in her peppiest tones,
“So, brand new world to go an explore. Where do I sign up?”
“No. Willow, just no. I don’t want to die a captive of my own body, unable to breathe without pain, unable to walk or talk or shop or even click a computer. And, to be honest, I don’t want to go out in a blaze of glory either. I just... I want to live. Maybe this can be my second chance. To make a difference in that world in a simpler, easier way.” She gave another smile, more wan but more genuine. “Maybe without the Slayer thing, I can do the girlfriend thing properly.”
“I found a spell,” Willow explained. “It’ll let you just sort of step through into the other dimension. It won’t control where you are, but it will sort of integrate you in after the first hour or so, and kinda file that knowledge away in your head, so you’ll have both histories there. It won’t be able to create things or influence existing people, so basically almost everyone in your backstory will be dead, but you might be about to start a new job or something, and people would remember you from interviews or telephone conversations or something. The longer you’re there, the sooner you meet people, the more secure you’ll be in that reality.”
“If it’s without magic –”
“The one I’ve found has a certain, uh, permeability if you like. I think people have gone there before from magical dimensions or realities. It’ll make the transition easier. You just, uh, might want to watch out, just in case, because from the stuff I’ve read, people from other dimensions tend to sorta pull together without even realising it,” Willow explained.
“As long as they don’t try to hurt me or mine, I don’t care,” Buffy replied. “I – how long do I have?”
“The best opportunity is the equinox next week,” Willow admitted. “I – will you be ready by then?”
“I can be.”
And so she was. Dressed in a practical outfit of jeans, boots, sweater and jacket, bag of mementos slung over one shoulder, she stood before the doorway Willow was about to incant and made her goodbyes. They should have been harder, she knew they should have been, and she worried that they were not. Despite what the First Slayer had told her so long ago, her heart had been damaged, perhaps ever since Willow tore her from Heaven. She prayed that this new start would give her that ability to love back.
“It shouldn’t hurt,” Willow told her as she placed her hand against the doorframe. “And you could turn up anywhere.”
“Well let’s hope they believe me if I say I’m on vacation then,” Buffy half-joked and tried not to feel guilty about the expression on Willow’s face. “Trust me, Wills, this is – this is good. I can’t – I can’t live with the pain anymore. This way I don’t have to and I still get to live. I – I love you all.”
That was still true. You could love someone and hate them or dislike them or never want to see them again all at once after all. That was what made love so complicated and so powerful.
The magic shimmered in the doorway before her, bright white streaked with green and purple.
And with a breath, Buffy stepped through.A/N:
Please let me know what you think - and what you think the crossover world is going to be! There are a couple of hints in there, so I'd be interested to know. Although admittedly, this could work as a crossover for Buffy and any 'real world' set show. Still - guesses appreciated, and the next one will be posted up soon.
ETA: I have read some of the guesses already. I would like to state that it is a fairly new fandom, with few crossovers on TtH so far. Maybe that will help.