Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; George Lucas owns "Star Wars" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Notes:
Written for the prompt "incorporeal" for Taming the Muse over on LJ and "heartache" for TtH 100.
For those who haven't seen my profile, I'm rebooting the Against the Wind verse, starting with Stranger in a Strange Land. All the over stories are now under the series title "Dance Along the Edge". This happened for a variety of reasons, one of which my plans for this verse shifted and it was easier to start over than to try to force it to fit what I'd already written.~*~*~
Buffy slowly opened her eyes, wincing a little at the sudden stab of sunlight greeting her.
“Mph, too early,” she muttered, huddling back into her pillows and hugging Mr. Gordo tighter to her chest.
Wait. Mr. Gordo…
Buffy sat up and gazed around her in shock. This… This was her room. There was her closet. This was her bed. That was the stripped wallpaper that had been there ever since they moved to Sunnydale. Twisting around, she looked over her shoulder at the old posters that she had never bothered to change after all these years.
Somehow, in the middle of the night, she’d managed to go to sleep in her cramped room on Naboo only to wake up in Sunnydale.
“Oh my God,” Buffy breathed, not trusting herself. “I’m back.”
Hesitantly, Buffy slipped out of her bed and walked towards the window. Nothing about Revello Drive looked any different from the last time she’d seen it. Sure, it was daytime and all, but it was still its normal, everyday self. After her time on Naboo, with its weird combination of Italianish buildings and high-tech gizmos, the contrast was almost striking.
Buffy never thought that ordinary would be so comforting.
“I’m home.” Saying it, no matter how softly, made it real
. The last few months of her life, ever since she woke up in that hospital in Keren was in the past. Her time pretending to be all amnesiatic was over. For the first time since Willow had pulled her from Heaven, Buffy felt the first stirring of hope within her.
“Hello? Anybody here?” Buffy softly called out, opening her door and peering into the hallway. “Dawnie? Willow? Tara?”
Nobody answered her, but she could hear the distant murmur of voices coming from downstairs. Running her hand along the wall, Buffy walked towards the sound and tried to slow down her racing heart.
Making her way to the kitchen, Buffy paused at the sight before her. Dawn and Willow were sitting on stools at the kitchen bar, with Tara at the stove. Her breath caught in her throat and it took her a second to find her voice.
All three women froze before slowly turning to where Buffy was standing.
“Oh my goddess,” Tara breathed, her eyes wide with shock. “Buffy? I-is that you?”
“In the flesh,” Buffy managed to get out before Dawn launched herself at her.
“You’re back, you’re back,” she muttered, hugging Buffy tightly and burying her face in Buffy’s shoulder. “You came back.”
“Of course I came back,” Buffy reassured Dawn, stroking her hair. “I’m right here.”
She held Dawn for a long time before prying herself loose. “Let me breathe, Dawnie,” she told her sister when Dawn’s arms tightened around her in protest. “So how did you do it, Wills? How did you magic back?”
“I’m not sure,” Willow confessed, exchanging a look with Tara. “But something did. You’re back!”
“I’m back,” Buffy repeated, reaching out to hug Willow only to have her hand pass through her friend. “What?” She tried again, only for the same thing to happen: her hand, passing right through Willow’s body. “What’s going on?”
“This isn’t real,” Dawn said sadly. “You didn’t really want to be here, remember?”
“No, I want to be here!” Buffy protested, turning to face her sister. She tried to put her hands on Dawn’s shoulders, but they passed through, just like they had with Willow. “No! What’s happening?”
All around her, the kitchen started fading, the edges and details blurring together.
“Dawn! Don’t leave me, I’m sorry!” Buffy cried out, trying desperately to reach her sister before she faded completely. “Dawnie!”
With a start, Buffy woke up drenched in sweat, staring at the wall of her Keren apartment.
Clutching the pillow to her face, she screamed in frustration. It’s been so real, so close to reality, almost like all her wishes had come true.
But she wasn’t Dorothy. She couldn’t just click her heels three times and want to go home. She was stuck here on Naboo, working a dead-end job as a waitress once more. She kept hoping that Willow and Tara would find a way to bring her back, would find a way to rescue her.
Except it never came, and it became harder and harder for her to keep believing that it would come. Buffy was starting to lose hope that she would ever see them again outside of dreams and memories.
She stared at the darkness surrounding her blindly, until it began to lighten and it was time to drag herself out of bed once again.
“Hello, Buffy,” her coworker Tiena greeted her when Buffy arrived at the small diner inside the Keren spaceport. “How are you today?”
“I’m fine,” Buffy answered, doing her best to mask the hollowness she felt. “I’m just fine.”