To Be or Not to Be
All things involved in the Buffyverse belong to Joss Whedon, and all things Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien family. The title comes from Hamlet and at least this chapter comes from the same speech.
Chapter 1 To Be or Not to Be
Year 2101 C.E.
Buffy stood on the edge of a high cliff on St. Kilda sword in hand. Her toes curling around the edge, breeze fluttering her skirt and hair, and she was smiling. It was late, almost midnight, and she was almost ready to jump. Despite the previous resurrection, Buffy felt certain this leap would be her last. The week before at the ripe old age of one hundred and twenty, Willow, one of the greatest witches of all time was finally laid to rest leaving Buffy the last Scooby. This time there would be no one to bring her back.
Willow tried to assure Buffy that only a handful of witches could resurrect a person and none of her friends would dare do it again, but Buffy didn’t want to tempt Willow a second time. The spell had ramification nobody anticipated and somehow Buffy stopped aging when she came back. Her cells changed; she was living flesh and blood and there were slight variations and a handful more scars, but she remained in the body of a woman in her early twenties. She could gain or lose a few pounds, build muscle and cut her hair, but that was all the change she could make short of losing a limb or dying. Death was another concern. She nearly died on several occasions, but somehow miraculously recovered each time. Research produced headaches and very few answers. The handful of cases of successful resurrection did not include people living forever and after several years of research the gang gave up looking for answers. Willow guessed that the spell must have interacted with her slayer powers but it was only a guess.
Despite her physical sameness Buffy did grow and the changes were reflected in her body even if only subtlety. Her eyes changed, but without wrinkles to frame their age, she merely appeared clever and bright though if you looked long enough, there was depth and age. She never really got the respect from the outside world that the older generation should. Even the younger slayers, knowing who she was never quite treated her like they did the other aging Scooby’s and slayers. Her mannerisms and movements changed as she grew older too. She still walked tall and proud, confident in her ability, but her life became more reflective, slower and natural. Her body, mind and the slayer were not separate entities, but pieces of a working whole, fluid and one. Slaying was as easy as walking, though she was careful not to get too cocky, but over a hundred years of slaying made her almost unbeatable.
After her husband and children grew old, she lived the way she thought old women should, much to the amusement of Dawn. She kept a very large garden and even learned to grow vegetables after ten or fifteen years of trial and error. She taught young slayers, read a lot of books, and took very long walks in the wilderness. To the council and slayers Buffy became some kind of symbolic god, but she wasn’t exactly necessary, so drawing on a huge payout from the council for services rendered, Buffy pursued other interests, raised a family, and lived a long full life apart from the council, though she was always there to teach and help when they needed her, and during apocalypse season or on Tuesdays she was always on call.
Despite making peace with her youthful appearance her friends and family were not as quick to let it go. At first it was something curious and interesting. They thought maybe all slayers would age more slowly, but when it became apparent that it was just Buffy, and she was not aging at all, the jealousy and resentment became an issue. Willow in particular became obsessed with the idea of living forever. That is until she watched Buffy suffer the loss of first her husband and later her three children. They died of old age but that fact didn’t take away the sharp sting and continued ache of grief, and certainly did nothing to temper the overwhelming feeling of being alone. Willow at least was there, but after her daughter finally passed away, she slowly withered apologizing to Buffy even in her last breath for leaving her alone.
Xander died at the age of sixty five taking a bullet in Africa trying to extract a new slayer from a country at war with itself. Dawn lived almost another twenty years after Xander, but died after complications from a stroke at the age of eighty. Andrew disappeared and was presumed dead after an epic battle with a time traveling demon, although there was always hopeful speculation that he might turn up in the future, or that they might find evidence of him in old tales.
Faith, like so many slayers before her, was killed battling a vampire, remarkably at age fifty five. She was always in partial retirement sort of like Buffy, but couldn’t quite give it up. Said it made her feel guilty knowing demons were out there, she said her not doing something was as bad as the Germans sitting back letting the Nazi’s exterminate people. She could save people, and so she did for most of her life. Giles of course was killed by Angel so long ago it seemed to Buffy like a lifetime ago, and Angel went out as he always should, fighting the good fight, helping the helpless. Buffy heard the tale every now and again, and like most old stories, it was as far from the reality as most of the stories floating around about Sunnydale.
Who else was there? Oz had been gone almost as long as Faith. The other slayers aged more slowly than most humans, but many were just as committed as Faith. Unable to ignore the suffering that demons and vampires create, most slayers continued to fight as they got older and sooner or later something always got the better of them. Some retired and lived very long lives, but eventually even they were at the mercy of time and death.
That left one person, or more precisely, one vampire left alive. Spike lived on, despite his best efforts, and was paid by the council to be the first punching bag for newly called slayers. He taught them to fight and hunt and on rare occasions even taught a few history classes. He also continued to spend a lot of time stalking his favourite slayer.
“What do you think you are doing slayer?”
“Willow passed away last week.”
“So I heard. What the bloody hell does that have to do with you standing so close to the edge with that bloody sword?”
“She won’t be alive to bring me back.”
“You know that fall won’t be enough, and The Slayer shouldn’t go out like this. It should be in the heat of battle, fighting for your life. You’re worth more than this. Slipping off in the darkness like an old dog ready to die, it’s not right.”
“Not right? Look at me Spike, my existence is not right, my body is not right, and my mind is certainly not right! You know who lives forever? Vampires live forever, evil baddies live forever, and I kill evil baddies. The other slayers know it, they know I’m wrong. You were right Spike, I did come back wrong.”
“No I bloody well wasn’t. I was evil then, trying get you any way I could, and praying on you when you were weak. One of the greatest regrets of my life that was, and when I realized what it would mean-.” He stopped and looked down.
“Doesn’t mean you were wrong, just evil in the execution.”
“He was wrong, actually, and so was I.”
“No, it’s not Tara, it’s the first.”
“It’s not the first Spike.”
“I’m Tara, I mean, its’ really me.”
“Are you here to take me, er, on?”
“Are you here to try and convince me it’s a wonderful life? Are you my Clarence Odbody?”
“Well no, I’m not your guardian angel, but the gods want me to talk to you before you jump.”
“So you’re Tara?”
“Yes, they thought it might be easier getting a message from me. Whistler said something about a hat? Oompf.” Buffy crashed into her, hugging her tightly.
“You’re solid, why are you solid?”
“Perks of being the messenger I guess.”
“Willow, is she?”
“She’s there with the others.”
“And Dawn? Giles? Xander? Bob and Sarah and Alex and Joyce, and my mom?”
“Of course, they are well.”
Just as Buffy let go of Tara Spike crashed into her with a hug too. “Sorry pet, I’ve missed you.”
Tara smiled at both of them. “I’ve miss you too. We can watch, but it’s not the same as being alive and talking with you, and you know, living.”
“I don’t remember being able to see what was going on when I was, well when I was dead.”
“Most don’t, but the Gods are happy with all that we’ve done. We changed the world Buffy, all of us, and as a reward we get to see what has become of it. It’s not all good of course. More slayers mean more slayers dying, but ultimately the world is much better because of you, because of us.”
“I suppose I seem ungrateful then, because I don’t want to keep watching it first hand, to keep helping.”
“No, Dawn and Giles were a bit surprised you waited as long as you did. They didn’t realize you were waiting for Willow.”
“I couldn’t let her go alone.”
“You’re a hero Buffy, and that’s what heroes do.”
“I don’t feel like a hero. I feel old and worthless, and wrong.”
“In a sense it’s true, especially if you believe it. There isn’t much left for you here. There could be, if you wanted to remake yourself. Spike knows the way. He could show you how to survive a changing world.”
“I don’t want that.”
“Then the Gods would like to make a request. First let me explain to you that no matter what you do you will be with your friends when it’s over. Should you choose to end your life here and now, there will be no punishment for refusing. You are the warrior of the people, they would never punish you. It is something I wished many times that Willow and I understood before we brought you back, but it’s hard to feel bad about it when you have done so much good since then.”
Tara paused. “There is a place that has gone through a terrible war. Many lives were lost and at the moment when the hero, Isildur, could have finished it, he was overcome with evil. A ring tossed into a volcano might have ended the reign of Sauron, the big bad in Middle Earth, but the ring influenced Isildur, and he took it for himself. Sauron lives on. Even weakened, he will come back, and his minions live on and continue to build strength and kill and torture the people of the world.”
“So he’s like Voldemort? Like an evil energizer Bunny? Like the first?”
“If the ring is destroyed, he will no longer have the power to return.”
“So they want me to destroy the ring?”
“No, there is a prophesy.”
“Of course there is, so what do they want me to do? What does it say?”
“They want you to keep the people of Middle Earth safe until the ring can be destroyed by one of Isildur’s descendants. Even though the war is over, there are still a lot of bad guys roaming and killing people and there will be more war.”
“What’s the prophecy?”
“When darkness takes the man
So shall there be the woman.
One girl in all the world
The chosen one
With a crown of stars
Beloved of the Valar.
She alone will wield the strength
And skill to fight the forces of darkness
To stop the spread of evil and
The swell of their number.
She is the Slayer
Beloved of the Valar, the Lady Gilrin.”
“Well that solves that, I am not the Lady Gilfin, or whatever fish thin you said. Plus it doesn’t say anything about the heir.”
“If you spoke Sindarin it might make more sense to you. Gilrin is more a title, like slayer. It means Lady crowned with stars and the elves would know you as having the Valar’s blessing and support. As to the other prophecy, I do not know it. I only know what they want you to know.”
“What would they want me to do?”
“Train and protect the various people of Middle Earth, kill demons, and when the time comes, help destroy the ring. They do not expect you to be constantly training and slaying. They mean for you to have a life as well. There are people that need you for more than your ability to slay.”
“As long as you want. You will understand more when you get there, but you may choose to spend a few years training, and if that is all you want to do, the Valar will welcome you home. But Buffy, should you stay, you will mean more to the people of Middle Earth than you ever could here. You will not have to hide unless you want to.”
“Secret identity girl isn’t really my thing.”
“And it has saved your life.”
“Where will I live? How would I survive?”
“The Valar believe you would prefer to live with the Eldar, or the elves, and have sent messages in the form of dreams to prepare at least one family that might take you. They too have eternal life and are very well educated, but if you prefer to be with humanity, any village would be happy to have you. They would feed and clothe you in exchange for your skills as a fighter. It may take more time with humans. You know how men and women can be about who does the cooking and who does the fighting, but they would accept any help you can give them. Most every village has lost several men, and they are defended by a few injured survivors, young boys, and old men. You are not stuck in one place either. You can spend a few years in one place and move on if you want.”
Spike had been silent for a long time, and when Buffy looked at him he shook his head. “Buffy, this doesn’t sound like the kind of place a city girl like you would want to live in.”
“Spikes right, it would be a very different kind of life, but you would be helping a lot of people.”
“And I’d be there with you.”
“No Spike. This offer is for Buffy only. You’re needed here. You have a lot more to do with the council and slayers, before your time is up, and there are several more big bads that need killing before you can leave this world.”
“You mean I might actually go to the big blood bank in the sky?”
Tara laughed. “Yeah Spike. You’re not responsible for what the demon did in your body, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have things to atone for, and the Valar need you here. Especially if Buffy is gone, you are the last of the great heroes of this age.”
Spike was silent again, pensive and curious about the future.
“What do you think I should do?” Her question was directed at Tara, but she looked to Spike as well.
“Well love, you heard the lady, she says if you don’t like it, you can shove off some other cliff, and join your merry band of hero’s in the sky.” He looked down, “but I don’t want you to go. I’d help you, you know, if you wanted me to.”
“I know Spike, but if I was here, I couldn’t ignore the council, or the slayers. I will always want to help, but they don’t need me anymore. You don’t need me anymore.” She paused for a minute and said, “What would I need? Weapons, and?”
“The most important thing you should have is the scythe. There is another plot to steal it, and take the power of the slayers away, as there always will be if it stays here. If you bring it with you, the slayer line will never be tampered with again, at least not from the scythe.”
“Shouldn’t I teach whichever baddie is trying to mess with the slayers a lesson, or slay him?”
“Without the scythe he can’t hurt them. He isn’t powerful enough, and will be taken out by his own people soon enough.”
“What else would I need?”
“Whatever you think you can’t live without, but limited to things you can carry. Like a couple of photographs, maybe a backpack with clothes, sleeping bag, a favorite book, Mr. Pointy and anything else you might think you want, but most of your necessities can be bought or will be taken care of for you.”
“By the foster family you mentioned?”
“It is a good way to think of them. It will seem more like an exchange student program at first, but hopefully you will come to think of them as family, as you did with me, Willow, Xander and Giles. You will have a lot to teach each other.”
“When do I have to leave?”
“Whenever you’re ready, but the sooner the better. They need you Buffy.”
“I will have to get the scythe, close up accounts and things. What should I tell the council?”
“I wouldn’t tell them that you are leaving for good or where you are going, but you could leave a will and an explanation with your lawyer.”
“Should I tell them I’m committing suicide or something?”
“It might be for the best, and in effect you are leaving them, so it won’t matter the means. Just as long as they don’t think they can get you back, or the scythe.”
“It’s weird saying it, I was just going to jump, you know, not worry about coming up with an explanation.”
Spike glared at her, but said nothing.
“So how do we do this?”
“Collect your things, get the scythe, and when you are ready I will know.”
Buffy hugged Tara and watched her disappear. “You don’t think it’s a trick luv?”
“It was Tara for sure. She believed whatever she was telling me, so either some bad guy is really good, or she was telling the truth.”
“But if it wasn’t Tara and you get the scythe you are bringing it right to them.”
“It was Tara.”
Buffy packed her things, visited her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even her great-great grandchildren before she talked to her lawyer. They would all inherit a lot of money, and she wanted to be sure to tell them before the money showed up without explanation. Her grandchildren were confused and angry, but she told them as close to the truth as she could. That an angel had come to her asking for help, and she wouldn’t be coming back this time. There were a lot of tears and painful goodbyes, but the younger generations were not as close to Buffy. Knowing she was going to follow after Willow, she began to distance herself, at least from the younger relatives several years ago.
The family was uneasy with her anyway. They were aware of who and what she was. Buffy made sure to be as honest as possible with her family without endangering them. She made sure they could all wield a stake, and that they knew never to invite anyone into their house, even Spike, but an unchanging super hero was becoming harder and harder for the youngest generations to accept. They didn’t know her like her children and grandchildren, and fewer believed the stories as the years went on. Her grandchildren took it the hardest. She was a fixture in their lives, always there to help and love them. She was the kind of grandmother that spoiled them with gifts, helped them when they needed it, and always went to their concerts, art shows, and games. Her cooking never really improved, but in her years of perfecting the image of perfect grandma, Buffy did learn to make the best grandma cookies around.
The council was trickier. There were only a handful of people allowed to even know where the scythe was, and it was heavily guarded with spells and slayers. Though she would not be refused the scythe, she would be questioned thoroughly before she took it out of the underground storage facility. It was technically her weapon, but the council guarded it carefully, and she had to undergo a series of tests to make sure she wasn’t under some kind of spell before they allowed her to leave with it. They gave it to her reluctantly, always afraid she might actually decide to keep it with her. Many of the council were as nervous about Buffy as the younger generations of her family. She was an unknown powerful entity that they were afraid of. Most of the young slayers revered her as a Goddess, but there were a large number of girls that started to question her abilities. She healed much faster than the rest, she did not age, and unlike many of the other aging slayers, her fighting ability improved as she aged.
Some suggested she took on a lot more demon when she went to speak with the three men just before she beat back the first. That she was more demon than human, and there was even talk about what they would do if they had to kill her. Most did not believe these things, but as the years went on and Buffy spent less time with the council, there was more and more speculation about who and what she was. It was time for her to leave.
Two days later, she sat with Spike in her living room, saying goodbye, and wishing him luck.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because there are people that need me, and I want to help.”
“Two days ago you wanted to die, and now you want to live in a totally different world?”
“I wanted something else Spike, I didn’t necessarily want to die. I want to be useful, and being here, without my children and the Scoobies is torture. At least in a new world I won’t have constant reminders of their absence, or what I’ve lost. There will be demons to kill and people to protect, and if I don’t like it, you heard Tara, I can join my family again.”
“I’ll miss you slayer.”
“I’ll miss you too. You’ve done a lot for me and Dawn.”
“I miss the little bit. Was my friend more than the lot of you, she was.”
“I know. I didn’t think I could live without her, and then she was gone, and Willow was holding onto me, forcing me to survive, and now she’s gone, and I feel like I’m dissolving Spike, and soon I won’t even have you.”
“You’ll always have me, and the bit, she’s always with us.”
He hugged her, and they sat together until Tara arrived.
Spike said his goodbyes to Tara, hugged Buffy again, and listened as Tara explained what would happen when they arrived. She opened a portal and Buffy waved to Spike one last time before following Tara through the portal and into the forest.
I'm not a chapter notes kind of girl, so this will be one of only a few. I suppose it starts out pretty sad, but it wont be a depressing story. I like Buffy too much for that, but I've been told that this outliving the Scoobies and her children thing is terribly sad, but I can't imagine Buffy not having kids eventually and that's the way it has to be if she is going to live forever. Thanks for reading and as always let me know what you think. Ideas, polite criticism, appreciation, and editing welcome.