Main Characters: Willow Rosenberg, Scott Summers
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon & co own everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stan Lee & Marvel comics own everything from Marvel/X-Men.
Distribution: Bite Me, please, NHA, WLS, WWW, Serena, anyone else ask first.
Summary: Buffy's cousin drops in the summer after season 5. Willow has to tell Scott that Buffy is dead.
note: this might be slightly AU on minor details.
Willow could feel the sunshine, heat pouring over her, smell the slightly scorched grass, the dust itching at the back of her throat, irritating her eyes. Surely it was the dust that made her eyes itch and burn, and not the tears that had flowed down her cheeks in shimmering tracks, leaving damp, salty lines over her throat, soaking into the collar of her green tank top.
Despite the clear skies and the lazy drone of insects, and the occasional sounds of songbirds, Willow was the only person here, alone in the area. She could look over the rows of marble and granite headstones, and she was alone. Granted, there were a few shrubs, and a slightly scraggly pine tree off to the right, but that wasn't the same. Sighing, she sank to the ground, sitting to talk to her best friend.
Reaching out, she ran her fingers over the name carved into the grey stone, touching it with fingers worn almost painfully sensitive by this very action over the summer. "I miss you, Buffy. Things just aren't the same anymore."
She talked, telling Buffy all about what everyone had been up to over the summer. Telling her how Xander had proposed to Anya, saying that life was too short not to go for what happiness he could find. She talked about the wedding plans that Anya was making, how she had decided that an outdoor wedding, lit by candles and perfumed by hundreds of flowers would be nice, and that way Spike could even attend. They had gone dress hunting, seeking the one perfect gown that would make Anya happy, that would make her feel like the most beautiful woman on the earth, one that would take Xander's breath away when he saw her wearing it. She could almost picture Buffy smiling at the news.
Moving on, she told her about how Giles had asked her to hack into the California state records, to see if Dawn had a legal existence, and when she discovered that the mystical monks had missed that, had created one for Dawn, as the legally adopted child of Joyce Summers-Giles and her husband Rupert Giles. They had been the only real parental figures the key-turned-girl had ever been able to remember, it was only fitting that it be official. Dawn had gone with Giles to England, and they had a small cottage outside of London. Dawn was excited to be able to check out the places mentioned in the Harry Potter books. Dawn missed them all, especially Buffy, but she was safer there, and well taken care of. Far better than she would be if she had gone to live with Buffy's father, Hank Summers, or if they had tried to take care of her their selves.
Finally, she spoke of Spike, how he had been meandering around Sunnydale, feeling broken and aimless. How she had recruited him to help her protect the streets of Sunnydale, to fight the vampires and demons with her. To provide the physical strength that she lacked. She told Buffy, or rather, Buffy's memory, how much Spike missed her, how she felt that he had really had feelings for Buffy, and how he had tried so hard to stay together until Dawn had left.
Eventually, her throat sore from all the words that had poured forth, Willow lurched to her feet, brushing the crushed bits of dried grass from her shorts. Wiping a final tear from her cheek, she left the cemetary. She knew that Buffy was dead, that her friend was gone and there was nothing that could be done for it. Well, there were a few spells, but... surely Buffy had been granted Heaven as a reward for all the pain and effort that she had given to keep the world safe. She didn't think that she had the right to pull her friend out of heaven just because she missed her and felt as if a big chunk of her own life had been ripped away.
She had a small backpack with her containing a few of the Sunnydale necessities: Stake, solid cross heavy enough to hit someone with, a few bottles of holy water, and a sharp knife in case of an attacking demon that needed beheading to kill. She also had an apple and a bag of potato chips that she was supposed to have eaten earlier. She was walking back to her house, and she noticed a man standing in front of the Summer's house, staring at the 'For Sale' sign standing in the front yard. Something about him teased at her memory. He'd been in some of Buffy's pictures, some sort of cousin from her fathers side.
"You're Scott, right? Scott Summers, Buffy's cousin?" She was almost certain that was who he was.
The man jumped a bit, his muscles rippling under his grey tee shirt as he turned around. The shirt had a slightly cracked logo, a circle with something in it, an X perhaps? It said something about a school for the gifted. He had on the distinctive red sunglasses that had appeared in every picture of him that Buffy had possessed. He seemed to be looking at her.
"You're Buffy's friend? The one with the plant name? Something like a tree or maybe a flower..." His voice sounded a bit apologetic, as if it embarrassed him that she knew exactly who he was and he had only a vague guess.
She felt herself smiling a bit, for the first time in a while. "Willow Rosenberg, actually. Yes, I'm... I was Buffy's friend. I guess... I guess I missed your name when it was time to notify everyone. Joyce... Did you know about Joyce?"
He nodded, his shoulders slumping a bit. "I heard about the stroke. I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the funeral. Did Buffy move back in with Uncle Hank? I noticed the sign in the yard..." He gestured to the sign with one hand, and his words trailed off. " I was hoping to spend a bit of time talking with Buffy, catch up on a few things."
Willow felt the tears well up again. "No. I guess I really did miss your name. I'll show you where you have to go now to visit Buffy, I was just on my way back, but... it's no problem, really. Follow me."
Scott followed her, a solid, quiet presence behind her as she retraced the now familiar path to the cemetary. She walked through the open gates, and along the rows, stopping automatically in front of Buffy's, right next to her mother. "Buffy died a few weeks ago. It was... a terrible thing."
He made this little choked noise, as if the words had tangled in his throat and refused to come out, and reached out, his hand shaking a bit as he touched the headstone. "What happened? What does it mean, 'She saved the world a lot'? She should have been safe..."
Willow settled herself onto the ground again, finding the slight depression that she'd worn into the ground with her visits. When she spoke, her voice was soft, filled with the pain and grief that Buffy's death had left her. "I'm not sure that you'd believe me. It's a bit hard to understand, and a bit scary."
He looked at her, the shadow of a frown on his face as he settled on the ground across from the grave, opposite Willow. "Try me, I can handle a lot. Probably more than Buffy would have expected."
Willow gave a small sigh. "The world can be a dangerous and scary place, Scott. Filled with things that are very hard to understand."
He looked over to the side, and a thin red beam emerged from his sunglasses, disintegrating a tall weed that had grown up above the level of the dried grass, in defiance of the grounds keeping. "I can understand a lot."
Willow gasped, surprised by the beam. "How... What was that? How did you..."
Scott tensed slightly, pulling his arms closer to his body as if bracing himself for rejection. "I'm a mutant. There are a good number of mutants out there, and the numbers are increasing every year. Some of us try to help people... I'm part of a group that does. We... we risk our lives to try to keep other mutants from hurting people. Some mutants are afraid, or angry at the way they've been treated, and so the lash out against normal humans. But I wouldn't think that's a big issue in such a small town as this."
"A mutant. Huh." Willow pondered this words, thinking that maybe Scott had a bit more in common with Buffy than her friend had thought. "No, we haven't worried much about mutants in Sunnydale, except for the swim team, but that's... different."
"What about the swim team? Was there a mutant on it?" Scott sounded interested, and maybe a bit relieved that Willow hadn't freaked out over the eye beam.
"Sort of, but not quite. See, what happened was the coach got tired of the team loosing, so he started having the school nurse inject them with a weekly dose of steroids and this combined gene and hormone mixture of some marine life that this Russian scientist developed back a few decades, and it was turning them into these scary fish men like the creature from the black lagoon, except that we didn't know that at first. All we knew was that we had found the skins of three of the swim team. It was pretty icky. We thought there was something eating them." Willow sighed, remembering the whole mess, wishing that Buffy were still here to remember it with her. "Last thing we knew, the five of them went out to sea. We haven't seen or heard anything since, and that was three years ago now."
"They turned them into mutants? That's... actually a bit creepy." Scott looked stunned.
"So, why do you do this? I mean, why risk your life? I know why Buffy did..." Willow was curious.
Scott fidgeted a bit, as if he was trying to gather his thoughts. Finally, the words came, filled with a quiet determination. "It's sort of a responsibility. I can do things that other people can't, try to fight dangers that others can't. If I don't fight this battle, who will? Who else will stand up for the rights of mutants? I can't afford to let this go because I'm waiting for someone else to act."
Willow nodded, understanding all to well the idea of 'if not me, then who?' that he had mentioned. "Yeah... sometimes there isn't time to wait for someone else to do something."
"Willow? What did you mean you know why Buffy risked her life? WHy does her... why the inscription?"
Willow looked at him, her heart pained by the evident grief and confusion on his face. Now she was going to have to tell him, to explain about all the things that Buffy fought. "Well, that's sort of a long and horrible complicated messy story. I'll give you the cliff notes. Vampires and demons are real, magic is real but not always bad. In every generation is the Chosen One, who stands against the darkness, who fights the vampires and demons. She protects the world from dangers that most people don't even want to believe are real. She is the Slayer. She was... Buffy was the Slayer. She died to keep this evil hell goddess from opening a portal to hell and destroying the world." Tears were running down Willow's cheeks again.
For a few moments, Scott was speechless. "Vampires... demons... real? Are you certain it's not just mutants?"
Willow gave a very weak smile. "I'm sure. We've actually seen people that we knew turned into vampires. My... I dated a werewolf for a while, but he left town after... we split up. As for the demons... not all demons are evil, some just want to live their lives, and not cause trouble. Then there are the ones that want to end to world, or eat human hearts and try to carve up little kids because they can. Those are the ones Buffy was chosen by destiny to fight. Lots of them come here, because of the Hellmouth, which is this mystical thingy that's really complicated to explain. But Buffy protected people, from the sort of things that inspire horror stories and the scary legends, like Hansel and Gretel, and there were the Gentlemen, these really creepy guys that floated and took hearts from people's chests... Buffy was a hero, and nobody really knew but us. We helped her, because after we found out, after we knew it was real, we couldn't pretend that it wasn't. We couldn't stand back and say 'no, not me'. It would have felt horrible, each time someone else was killed, and I would have wondered, 'could I have helped prevent that? If I had helped, would that person still be alive?' So, I can understand the whole responsibility thing"
For a while, they just sat there, each lost in their memories of Buffy. Remembering the bright, sunny cheer that she had, and her way of finding something to laugh about no matter what. The way that she handled life, and insisted on remaining herself, on staying Buffy Summers.
"I'll miss her." Scott's voice was a low whisper.
"We all will. But as long as we remember her, a part of her will still be here with us." Willow rested her hand on his, offering a shred of comfort as they both sat in mourning for Buffy.