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Stranger in a Strange Land

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Against the Wind". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: How many times had Buffy wished that she was anywhere but Sunnydale after her resurrection? Guess that just proved the old saying right: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Star Wars > Buffy-CenteredkerrykhatFR1312,998163,18115 Aug 1215 Aug 12Yes
Summary: How many times had Buffy wished that she was anywhere but Sunnydale after her resurrection? Guess that just proved the old saying right: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; George Lucas owns "Star Wars" and related characters; I own nothing.

Author's Note: Response to the prompt, "wish" at tth100. Finally, the first part Against the Wind series. Takes place roughly six months before Episode I.

~*~*~
Andrew and Jonathan sat in the Bronze, dejectedly staring at their drinks. Bruises blossomed on their faces, and Andrew’s left arm hung limply in his lap.

“Warren’s never going to forgive us,” Andrew muttered for the countless time.

“Can you stop repeating that?” Jonathan demanded. “Saying it over and over isn’t going to make it any less true.”

“I know, but it’s just that where does that leave us?” Andrew asked. “You know how Warren can get. He’s not going to let this one go.”

Jonathan nodded and went back to staring at his drink. Out of the three of them, he was probably the one with the best idea of what the Slayer could do, how she was basically Wonder Woman without the swimsuit uniform and the invisible plane. He had been the one to give her the class protector award after all. Warren had only been at Sunnydale for the last semester and hadn’t even bothered with graduation, and Andrew had been a year below them.

“She wasn’t the same,” he muttered, more to himself than to Andrew. The more that he thought about it, the more he was sure of it. There was no way that that Buffy Summers he remembered from high school would have snapped like that, even after all the shit that they had put her through that day. There was no other explanation for why she had gone all bizarre-Buffy on them and started beating the crap out of them.

“Maybe Warren’s right about things being better if she was gone.”

Jonathan’s head snapped up and he stared at Andrew. “Don’t say things like that,” he warned Andrew.

“Why? I mean, you want to be an evil overlord of Sunnydale, right? You saw what she was like back there,” Andrew argued back. “There’s no way that’s going to happen as long as she’s around. And she’s crazy. She might have been good back in the day, but she’s loco now.”

“And you think getting rid of her is going to make things easier?”

“Yeah.” Andrew took a drink before he continued. “Just, the more that I think about it, the more that I wish that the Slayer was gone, just as far away from here as she could get without any way to get back.”

“And then the town would be overrun by demons and vampires,” Jonathan replied, wondering how exactly Andrew was missing this point. “Look, I want to be an evil overlord as much as you and Warren, I just disagree on needing to get rid of the Slayer. Wouldn’t it be better to keep her distracted and use that to our advantage?”

“Like sending her on a quest while we take over?” Andrew asked hopefully, noticeably perking up. Jonathan nodded, silently relieved that he had managed to get Andrew away from the idea of needing to remove Buffy, at least for a little while.

Neither of them noticed a young woman sitting at the table next to them, a small smile on her face as she played with a pendant around her neck.

“Wish granted.”

~*~*~

Buffy stood in the doorway watching Giles’ retreating figure walk away down the front path. She waited until he had reached the sidewalk before closing the door and letting the mask she had plastered to her face fall off. Carefully placing the check Giles had given her on the coffee table, she slowly sat down and put her head in her hands. The tight grip she had held on the emptiness within her slackened and the dull, hollow pain that was her constant companion filled her, reminding her yet again that she was thanklessly alive.

Today had been one of the bad days. Of course, nearly every day since Willow had dragged her from Heaven and shoved her into a coffin was a bad day if she wanted to be picky about it, but this one had been worse than most of them. Catching those geeks messing with her had almost been the last straw holding together her fragile self-control. It was only specter of Faith smirking at her that pulled her back away from the edge and let them cower away.

Ever since clawing her way out of her coffin, Buffy had been going through the motions of being the girl she had used to be before she died. Before everything started falling apart. Before her mom died. It was getting harder and harder, though, and she suspected that sooner rather than later they would catch on that she wasn’t herself.

That she had come back wrong.

Taking a deep breath, Buffy slowly raised her head and studied the check. It was enough to cover costs for a while--two weeks at the most--but it wouldn’t help them for long. And once that was gone, she and Dawn would be right back where they started. No money, and no job prospects for a college dropout with no real skills other than slaying and destruction.

With an effort, Buffy pushed the thoughts of their lack of finances and job-age out of her head. The alcohol she had drank at the bar was wearing off, and while getting drunk again certainly sounded appealing, it would also cost money she currently didn’t have. That only left one potential option for possibly working through the emptiness she was feeling.

She was in her room when she heard Dawn approach her.

“You’re going out,” Dawn stated from the doorway in a barely masked unhappy tone.

Buffy nodded, not turning around. Dawn was the only person who seemed to suspect something was wrong with Buffy right now, the only one who seemed to know that she was just going through the motions.

“Do you want back up?”

“I’ll be fine,” Buffy replied sharply as she slipped a stake up her sleeve and closed the door of her weapons chest a little harder than was necessary. She started towards the door, but Dawn didn’t move from her path. “Dawn, move.”

Dawn stood there for a moment, probably showing that she wasn’t moving because Buffy had told her to and was doing it on her own free will. Buffy started walking down the hall before Dawn’s voice stopped her.

“Don’t go.”

Buffy took a deep breath and looked behind her. Dawn stood there, looking younger than Buffy remembered her looking in far too long, like she was lost and was desperately trying to grab on to something that might slip away at any moment.

“I need to, Dawn. You know, Chosen One and sacred duty and all that,” she answered, trying to change the mood. “Willow and Tara should be back soon, so you won’t be by yourself for too long.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Dawn countered as she took a step towards her sister. “You don’t want to be here, Buffy.”

“Well, you are cutting in on my Slay-time.”

“Not the house, Buffy! Here! Just here!” Dawn’s voice rose to a shout as she gestured vaguely around her. “Every time you come back, you always have some new wound like you’re looking to…”

“Dawn, shut up!” Buffy shouted back before Dawn could say any more. Before she could get even closer to the truth than she already was.

“Why? Because I’m right?”

“No. You’re not,” Buffy lied. “I come back wounded because I’m still not recovered from the whole dead thing and they’re just getting in a few lucky shots. And we’re done talking about this.” With that, she started walking quickly towards the door again, ready to do anything to get out of this house before Dawn tried to continue the conversation.

“Buffy! Buffy, wait!”

Buffy had almost reached the door when a bright light surrounded her. Throwing up her arm to protect her eyes, she squinted, trying to find its source. Faintly, she could hear her sister screaming her name. The light started to overwhelm her senses as she tried to back away from it without success. It continued to grow brighter and brighter until finally she couldn’t stand anymore and she slipped into unconsciousness.

As suddenly as it appeared, the light vanished, taking Buffy with it and leaving Dawn standing alone in the hallway.

~*~*~

Everything hurt. That was the first thought that came to Buffy’s mind as she dragged herself bit by bit into consciousness. Her arms, her legs, places that she wasn’t even sure could hurt, hurt like hell. The only time that she had felt pain like this was…

Panic shot through Buffy’s mind and she tried to open her eyes. It was harder than it should have been, but she finally managed it.

Not coffin. Not coffin is good, she thought, looking around the dimly lit room. Then her eyes fell on the machine next to her and she realized she was in the next worse place: a hospital. What was worse was that the writing showing up on the screen wasn’t any type of alphabet she recognized, even after going through those old musty books of Giles, which begged the question: where the hell was she and what had happened to make her be in the hospital in the first place?

Struggling to sit up and ignoring the pounding in her head right behind her eyes, Buffy tried to give the room a better scan, although, she could already tell that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Everything in the room was too sleek, too much looking like something out of those sci-fi shows that Xander loved and not enough like it looked like it belonged in an ordinary hospital. She swallowed, suddenly aware of a sickly-sweet taste in her mouth. She tried swallowing again, but it did nothing to get rid of the taste or the feeling.

A door opened and an older man dressed in white with grey-streaked brown hair walked inside with a pad in his hand. Buffy stared at him, not so much because it at least showed that there were humans wherever the hell she was, but because what he was wearing rung no fashion bells, past or present with her.

“Well, look who’s awake,” he said, breaking her study of him. “We were wondering when you would regain consciousness.”

“How long was I out?” Buffy’s voice sounded rough and unused to her ears. Good sign that was not.

“A little over a week,” the doctor answered, checking the pad before looking at the machine. “Do you remember what happened?”

Buffy opened her mouth to answer and then stopped. It might be better to play dumb and see what happened.

“No,” she lied, hoping that her hesitation would be taken as trying to remember and failing.

“The landspeeder accident?” the doctor prompted, a frown creasing his forehead. “You’re lucky to be alive.”

Yep, that’s me. Oh so lucky to be alive. Again, Buffy thought, somewhat bitterly. On the surface, though, she gave the doctor a grateful smile.

“That’s just me, full of luck.”

“Do you remember anything?” the doctor repeated encouragingly. In that moment, Buffy made a split decision that she hoped wouldn’t come back to majorly bite her in the ass. She could tell the truth and be locked up in whatever this place’s version of a looney bin was or she could…

“No. I-I can’t remember anything,” Buffy said, her voice trembling slightly. “I remember some names, but I can’t remember anything else.” Her voice caught and it wasn’t all fake. Dawn was right, wasn’t she? Buffy hadn’t wanted to be in Sunnydale and now she wasn’t. Of course, this place could be far, far worse than the Hellmouth.

“Do you remember your name,?” the doctor asked gently.

“Buffy. Buffy Summers.” From the way that his eyebrows rose towards the top of his forehead, she had a feeling that her name was just as unusual here as it was home. Don’t think about it, Buffy ordered herself silently. Plan now, panic later.

“Are there any other names you remember? Where you’re from?”

“I think, I think my sister’s name is Dawn, but nothing else is coming. I’m sorry. I just, everything’s such a blur and my head hurts and I just can’t remember!” Tears came to Buffy’s eyes, only they weren’t for the reason the doctor thought they were. How many times had she wished that she was anywhere but Sunnydale after her resurrection? And here she was, some place obviously far from home, most likely of the futuristic or the different dimension variety. Guess that just proved the old saying right: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

“Calm down, there’s no need to cry,” the doctor tried to reassure her. “We’ll sort this out.”

“Wh-where am I?” she asked, her voice trembling slightly, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

“You’re in the Royal Hospital in Keren on Naboo,” the doctor answered and Buffy felt her stomach drop a little further. Nowhere that she had heard of before. It backed up the different dimension/planet theory that she was working under. “Do you remember how you got here?”

Buffy shook her head and instantly regretted it. Her head felt like it was about to split in two any second now. Whatever the light had been, it had done a number on her, not including whatever accident they said she had been in.

“Hold still.” A bright light shined in her face and from beyond it, Buffy could see the doctor’s face peering at her. “Well, it appears your concussion has subsided. It also looks like we won’t have to give you another bacta immersion for your injuries,” he continued as he looked at the machine that Buffy was hooked up to and reading whatever those symbol things were saying.

Crap. She hoped that nobody would look at how quickly she healed like it was strange. Or did her Slayer powers even translate to wherever she was? And what was bacta? Add that to the list of things she needed to check out as soon as she left the hospital.

“Don’t worry, Buffy,” the doctor continued as he switched off the light and got to his feet. “We’ll find your family and have this arranged by the end of the week.”

Buffy watched him leave and settled back into her pillows, wariness turning into panic. She was in a hospital, god knows where, with no way to contact anybody she knew. She was playing like she had no memory, when she uniformly failed at keeping a secret identity. Would it keep up when it got to the point of whether or not she remembered those weird symbols that must be some kind of alphabet?

The door opened again, and a woman who looked like she was in her mid-thirties stepped through, a glass with a clear liquid in one of her hands.

“Doctor Rendali thought you might like this,” she told Buffy in a soft voice as she handed over the glass. Buffy eyed it before taking an experimental sip. It was just plain water, much to Buffy’s relief. Unfortunately, the drink did little to eliminate whatever was in Buffy’s mouth, despite her swishing the water around for several seconds. “Your dinner is on the way.”

The food didn’t take that long to arrive, and it was another thing that was both familiar and not at the same time. Buffy stared at the plate full of brown mystery meat covered in gravy, incredibly similar to what she had eaten in hospitals back in LA and Sunnydale. Taking a tentative bite, she was pleasantly surprised at the flavor. It actually tasted somewhat decent.

Buffy quickly finished her meal, but found herself facing yet another problem.

“Where’s the bathroom?”

The slight frown on the nurse’s face was enough to let Buffy know that the term she just used wasn’t one that was common in “Karen” or “Nubu” or wherever the doctor had said she was. Her next words confirmed it.

“The refresher?” she asked, getting to her feet.

Buffy nodded again. She wanted a real bathroom or refresher or whatever it was called and not the tube she was sure they had hooked up to her.

The nurse helped Buffy out of her bed on to unsteady steady legs and let Buffy lean on her while they made their way to the small bathroom attached to Buffy’s room. Much to her relief, a toilet was still a toilet and a sink was still a sink in this new land of weird.

Washing her hands, Buffy carefully examined her reflection in the mirror. She looked like hell, with dark circles under her eyes and limp, dank hair. Next on her list of requests would have to be a shower. Much to her surprise, given what the doctor had said about an accident, she was surprisingly wound free. Maybe that’s what he meant by a bacta immersion.

Waiting until the nurse had left the room and dimmed the lights, Buffy drew her knees to her chest and closed her eyes. The image of Dawn standing there, accusing her of not wanting to be in Sunnydale, appeared to be burned into her memory. What would happen to Dawn now that she was here and without a way to get back? Would Dawn go live with their father in Spain or wherever he was now? Where did that leave the house? Would the Scoobies try to get her back?

She felt tears form and took a shuddering breath. Crying wouldn’t change anything, no matter how good it felt right now. She’d have to plaster a mask on her face yet again and work through the new hollowness that was in her chest. It wasn’t like pretending was anything new to her. It’s just that the stakes were a little higher this time and she was on unfamiliar ground.

She didn’t want to think of what might happen if she failed.

The End

You have reached the end of "Stranger in a Strange Land". This story is complete.

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