: Oops, I lied. Forgot about the deleted scenes. So... one more chapter, after this.
But this is the end of the story.
I really, really love this ending. And the fanart from Rjalker is of this scene.
I'm reading through the next story, right now. The Bringer of Death
. It's well written, a good story, and completely necessary in terms of overall story arc. And it contains serious DoctorWhump, which I know some people read for. But it is really, really dark.
That one will be the only story of the series, at least so far, that's going to have to be rated for 18 and up. As always, with my stories, nothing is explicit. But it's got dark enough implications that I can't in good conscience rate it FR13.
For those of you who want to keep reading this series, but don't want to read an M story, I'll summarize the story at the beginning of the next one. The next one is a lot lighter (I got sick and tired of writing dark stories), and is called Happy Endings
Anyways, enjoy the end of "Your Nature".
And enjoy the deleted scenes, coming soon to a story near you!--000--Epilogue
Buffy wasn't dreaming.
She had defeated the First, watched Spike sacrifice himself to save the world, and watched her home collapse into a giant crater. She had lost so many people, and gained so many allies. She'd lost her house, her possessions — her red notebook. And she'd used the Scythe to activate every single Potential Slayer, creating an army of Slayers where once there'd only been one. She'd changed the world.
She couldn't dream that.
"You are, you know," came a Northern English accent, behind her. "Dreaming, I mean."
Buffy spun around, and found that the room had morphed into a desert landscape, the sun setting in the distance, the sky illuminated in color.
And sitting on a nearby rock was a familiar man with close-cropped brown hair, big ears, and a leather jacket. Who, Buffy guessed, wasn't the Doctor.
"Not all the rest of it, I mean," the man who wasn't the Doctor said. "Battle of the Hellmouth. Defeat of the First. Changing the world. All that bit's real. But this—" gesturing at the world around him. "You're dreaming all of this."
Buffy felt her breath catch in her throat. She'd already lost someone so incredibly precious to her, today. Spike. Now, seeing the image of someone else — someone she loved more than anything, and had lost — was almost… too much.
She didn't cry. Not on the outside. On the outside, she was stone.
"I'm never going to see him again," Buffy said. Her voice flat. Emotionless. Detached. "The Doctor. The real
Doctor. Because he thinks I'm dead. He'll always think I'm dead."
The man in the leather jacket said nothing.
"You don't need to sugar-coat it," said Buffy. "This great big future the Slayer has — with hope and love and admiration — I don't create it. All that's based on the me I used to be, before I came back from the dead. It's based on my legacy
"Yes," the man in the leather jacket confessed.
Buffy nodded. "I'm supposed to step aside," she said. "Now that I've done the hard part. Let everyone else create the Slayer Institution. Because I'm not the hopeful, optimistic, loving person the Doctor saw, before. I'm…" she paused a moment. "I'm stone."
"You're Buffy," the man who wasn't the Doctor said. "All you ever needed to be. Last Slayer. First Slayer. First president of the New Slayer Institute."
Buffy didn't answer.
"You've been living in the Dark Ages," said the man in the leather jacket. "Age of myths and magic. Age of fairy tales and fantasy. Forgotten histories and legendary monsters and corrupted tales about one brave Slayer who fought 'em all off." He grinned. "But that time's over. Now, you're livin' the pages of history."
"The Slayers you've activated — they'll need a guiding hand to push 'em along," said the man. "Get the ball rolling. They'll need you. To unite and lead, to continue the work you've begun, and…" He stopped a moment, and when he continued, his voice was far quieter, "they'll need a General. For the battle that hasn't happened, yet."
"Oh, no," said Buffy, stepping back in protest. "The First's defeated. The war's over. I'm retiring."
"Battle's over," said the man in the leather jacket. "Not the war."
Buffy didn't answer.
The man in the leather jacket's expression turned grave, solemn — just as it had when Buffy had first entered the Axis, when he'd reminded her about Anya.
"A war is being fought, here," he told Buffy. "A war I've lived through. A war I lost." His blue eyes bore into her own. "A war you can win. If you can see the battlefield."
The man looked away, a sad smile on his lips. "Nothing. Never mind. Just remember — when Hiskaloph arrives," he said, "that's when you'll know. Your time is up."
Hiskaloph. That sounded familiar…"Was very good friends with President Hiskaloph," the Doctor had told Buffy, in the 39th century. "She wrote me into the Slayer Constitution."
Buffy had written that name into her red notebook. The one that now lay at the bottom of a crater.
Buffy stared out at the vast, colorful sky. Thinking about what she'd lost. No. Who
she'd lost. She'd lost Spike — one of her dearest friends, one of the few people she'd relied on for everything. She'd lost him, because in the end, even if he'd once been evil and soulless and horrible, he'd still give up everything — even his own life — for her.
Just as the Evil Doctor had, in that other timeline. Monsters turned to heroes.
She'd lost Spike. She'd been unable to connect with Willow since the whole Willow-turning-evil thing. Xander was angry at her. And she knew she'd always try to push Dawn somewhere safe, whenever danger turned up.
Spike had been everything. And he was gone.
Now… there was no one.
No one left to confide in. No one left to wait for.
Because the Doctor thought she was dead. Would always think she was dead. And while he thought she was dead, he'd never have the heart to come back and check.
"I'm never going to see the Doctor again," Buffy confirmed, for herself. Because saying it out loud seemed to make it more… graspable for her. More devastating, more soul-crushing. But she'd moved beyond the need to show those emotions outside herself. "No psychic paper messages. No way of getting in touch. No hope we'll ever meet each other again."
"But you did," countered the man in the leather jacket.
Buffy raised her eyebrows at him.
"Will do," he corrected. "Are going to. Are going to have already…" He leaned back, and muttered something under his breath about stupid apes and their moronic need for tenses. "TARDIS is better at grammatical tenses than I am," he added.
Buffy's stony expression faltered, and, just for a moment, she felt almost like her old self. The self that hadn't fought and died and fought again. The her that had been with the Doctor, had been full of love and hope and happiness. The her that looked for starlight.
"I'm going to see the Doctor again?" she asked.
The man in the leather jacket said nothing for a long, long moment. Behind him, the sun sank beneath the horizon, and the sky turned dark above. The expression on the nameless not-the-Doctor entity's face matched the dreary darkness of the sky.
"You are a Line Hopper," he whispered, at long last. He dropped his hand across his knee, unable to meet her eyes. "And what happened in Elizabeth's 2003 — the deaths, the desperation, even the shattering of all hope and the destruction of two lives — must happen here. I can delay it, make sure it happens at a later date. But I cannot prevent it."
He stood up, put his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, and began to walk away.
"I'm sorry about that," he told her.
Buffy stepped forwards, hand outstretched. "Hey!" she called out.
He turned, his eyes piercing through the darkness.
Buffy gave the entity a small smile.
"I forgive you," she said.