Chapter 8: Across the Stars
Chapter 8Across the StarsStandard Disclaimer: I don’t own any of this. Nothing. Nadda. Special thanks to George, for Star Wars; Joss, for Buffy; and Terry Brooks, for writing he novel of the first Episode.
Buffy awoke, lying on the cool dark ground. Groaning in pain, Buffy staggered to her feet. She looked down on herself, then gasped again, this time in surprise- all of her injuries appeared to have been healed, and she was dressed in a flowing white gown. Looking around, she saw that she was on a street- where exactly, she couldn’t tell, as it was completely enshrouded in fog.
“Where the hell…”
“Not quite, Blondie.”
Buffy whirled around, instantly slipping into a fighting stance as a man appeared out of the fog. The man raised his hands, showing that he was unarmed.
“Easy there, Blondie. I’m not here to hurt yea.”
Buffy stared at the man, a memory trying to break through in her mind. She recognized the man- a chiseled face, short, dark hair, and piercing blue eyes, dressed in the gaudiest clothes she had ever seen…
“I know you… you’re…” she started, then trailed off, desperately searching for his name. The man smiled a rather roguish smile at her.
“Doyle.” He supplied. “We met briefly when you came to visit Angel in L.A. I also saw you in a vision, but that’s another story.”
“But, you died!” Buffy exclaimed, then realizing what she had just said, and what it implied, her breath hitched. “Am I dead?”
“You?” Doyle said incredulously, then shook his head. “No, nae yet. And nae for a long time. I’m just here to give you a message, from the Powers that Be.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at the Irishman. “Why you?”
“Because they wanted to explain some thing to yea, but they wanted to do it in private. Plus, the guy they were gonna send wouldn’t do it- something about not wanting ta wear his ribcage for a hat.”
“Guess Whistler was smarter than he dressed.” Buffy quipped, then turned serious. “So, what did they want to tell me?”
“All right kid, here’s the story. The Powers that Be can’t send you home. They have very little real power in this universe, and even though they want to send you back, if only ta reward yea for everything yea’ve done, they canne do it. The only thing they can do is give you a fighting chance in this universe- you see where I’m going with this?”
Buffy thought back to the last few days, and all of the strange things she had done- fighting against Windu, Maul, using the Force, the vision of Qui-Gon…
“They made me a Jedi?” she ventured, more certain of that fact then her voice carried. Doyle nodded. “Can they really do that?” she asked, and the Irishman chuckled.
“Actually, midi-chlorians are in every living being, in every universe and dimension, just usually in such small numbers that it doesn’t make a difference. There rare people on Earth who have moderately high counts, and can do wondrous things…”
“Like witches?” Buffy asked hopefully, then frowned when Doyle shook his head.
“Nae, witches rely on magic. Anyhoo, the Powers were able to jump start your midi-chlorian thingies, and the next thing you know, you’re powered up faster than if you’d had a pint of Guinness.”
“And the vision?”
“Consider it an extension of your Slayer powers.” Doyle responded carefully. “You’re still a Slayer- there’s no changing that. But you’re recent-changes- have affected your powers in certain ways. Visions are a part of the Slayer package. They also come with studying the Force. You’ll learn how to use them to your advantage. Buffy…” he started, then trailed off for a moment. Then, taking a deep breath, he continued. “Magic doesn’t exist in this dimension, and the Power’s that Be cannae send yea home, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a way yourself. Don’t give up hope, Buffy. And in the mean time,” he finished, gesturing to the end of the street, where the fog had! started to lift, “The Powers wanted to grant you one last favor. A real chance to say goodbye.”
Buffy’s face screwed up in confusion, but when she looked to the end of the street, she gasped.
It was her house.
“They won’t see yea.” Doyle told her as she stared longingly at her house. Only one person in there will. Go- tell her goodbye, one final time.”
Buffy silently walked up the steps onto the front porch of her house. Gingerly, she reached out and touched toe door handle, then turned. The door swung silently open, and Buffy walked into her house; possibly for the last time. Stepping inside, she looked around quietly.
Xander sat on the couch, his arm around Anya, whose head rested on his shoulder, Buffy saw it was wrapped in bandages Next to them sat Giles, who held a sobbing Tara in his arms, quietly whispering words of comfort to the near-inconsolable girl. Buffy could only guess how she felt- driven insane by Glory, finally given her sanity back by Willow, reunited with her soul-mate, only to loose her once more mere minutes later. She wished that she could tell her that Willow was okay, that they were searching for a way home, but she knew that was impossible. Only one would hear her tonight.
She looked around for her sister, but didn’t see her anywhere. For a brief moment, she was afraid that Dawn had run away, but she dismissed that notion- why would the Powers tell her that she would see her sister one last time, only to pull a bit-and-switch?
Thudding footsteps coming down the stairs caught her attention, and she turned around to see Spike descending the stairs, pulling on his long, leather duster. Giles noticed and stood, then quickly walked over to the door where Spike was waiting.
“Spike! Where do you think you’re going?”
The blond vampire turned to face the former Watcher and looked him straight in the eye.
“I promised Buffy I’d look after Dawn, Rupert.” He stated, pain of the loss of Buffy evident in his voice. “But I can’t, not yet. I’ve some things to do, and when I get back, I intend to honor my promise.”
Buffy looked at the two curiously, wondering both what Spike was talking about, and what Giles was going to do. After a few moments of staring, Giles sighed, then pulled off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Very well, Spike.” He relented. “But do come back soon. I don’t know why, but Dawn seems to be rather attached to you. And to loose yet another person-”
“When she asks tomorrow, tell her I’ll be back in a month, two tops.” Spike pulled out a fag and lit it up. “I got to go.” He said, then turned and opened the door, and walked out of the house into the night. Giles sighed once more and closed the door behind him. Buffy watched as he walked back into the living room, then turned her gaze up the staircase.
Slowly, the Slayer ascended the staircase to the second floor of her house, then turned down the hall and headed towards her sister’s room. Reaching the door, she quietly opened it and stepped inside.
Dawn was sitting on her windowsill, her knees pressed up into her chest, looking out the window to the night sky. Tear stains ran down her cheeks, and every now and then she gave a small sob. Buffy’s heart broke seeing her sister looking so sad. For a few moments, she merely observed her sister, memorizing every detail and burning it into her mind.
After all, it could be the last time she ever saw her.
Finally, when she could take the silence no longer, she spoke.
“Quite the view, huh?”
Dawn’s head whipped around, and her jaw dropped in shock as she took in her sister standing in the middle of her room.
“Buffy?” she whispered, disbelieving what she was seeing. Tentatively, she walked forward, reaching out with her hand, hoping against hope…
Her hand touched Buffy’s cheek.
“Buffy!” Dawn cried, wrapping her arms around her sister, hugging her with all the strength she had. Buffy returned the hug, with only slightly less strength on her part.
“Oh, god…Dawnie….” Buffy sobbed, holding her sister tight.
“Buffy, I thought I’d never... I thought you were…”
“I’m not dead, Dawnie.” Buffy said softly, pulling away slightly and cupping her sister’s face in her hand. “Neither is Willow. We’re both alive…”
“But not here.” Dawn finished quietly, realization dawning. “You’re not really here, are you?”
Buffy shook her head sadly, and stroked Dawns hair. “No, sweetie. I’m not.”
“This is a dream?”
Buffy nodded, tears starting to form in her eyes. “But I’m really here, in your dream, Dawn. A gift from the Powers They wanted me to be able to see you one more time.” Buffy avoided using the word ‘last’; Dawn didn’t need to get any more upset tonight. “I don’t have a lot of time, though, so I need you to listen to me.”
“Willow and I, we’re all right. We’re trapped in another dimension, one without magic, so there is no magical resources when can turn to too look for a way home. But there are other resources, and we’re going to find them. And we’ll be coming home, I promise.
“Tell Tara that Willow is alright, and that she’s always thinking of her. Promise me you’ll tell her.”
“I promise.” Dawn sobbed, drawing closer to her sister once more and hugging her with all of her might.
“And Dawn, don’t worry about Spike. He had to take care of some stuff, but he’ll be back soon. He’ll look after you; they all will. He hasn’t abandoned you- he never will.” Buffy let out a small sob. “Oh god, Dawn… I don’t want to leave you again…”
“Then don’t!” Dawn cried. “Stay here!”
“I can’t!” Buffy sobbed. “I wish I could, but all I can do is tell you this- I meant what I said on the catwalk, Dawn. You need to be brave, now more than ever. You need to help keep everybody together.” Buffy suddenly looked up and around, a frantic look on her face. “NO! Damnit, I’m not ready to go yet!”
“Buffy!” Dawn cried. “Please, don’t leave me again!”
Buffy sighed, resigned to what was coming. She leaned in and gently kissed Dawn on her forehead. “I’ll always be with you, Dawn, here,” she pointed to her heart, “and here.” She finished, touching her head. “Never forget that I love you. Live, Dawn.” Buffy said, as she started to fade away, “Live, for me…”
“Buffy!” Dawn screamed, snapping awake from where she had fallen asleep on her windowsill. She frantically looked around for her sister-
And found nothing.
Dawn stumbled over to her bed and sank down on it, quietly sobbing. That was how Tara found her a few moments later as the blond witch came into her room.
“Sweetie?” she asked the girl softly, “Are you okay?”
Dawn looked up at Tara; the witch saw the tears streaming down her face. Instantly Tara went to Dawn, sitting down next to her and wrapping her in a motherly hug.
“I know the words seem hollow, Dawn, but it’s going to be…”
“I saw Buffy.”
Dawn’s words brought Tara up short. W-what?”
“I had a dream. Buffy came to me- said it was a gift from the Powers.”
Tara wanted to dismiss Dawn’s dream as just that- a dream, with no basis in reality. But something in her told her that Dawn’s dream was more than that. “What did she say?”
“That they were alive, and safe. And that Willow thinks of you all of the time, and that they’re looking for a way home.” Dawn’s eye’s narrowed. “And if they can’t find a way, I will.” She whispered to herself, but Tara didn’t hear her. Tears had started to stream down Tara’s face at the mention of her love. She pulled Dawn in for another hug, and that was how they stayed- two women grieving for the loved ones they had lost- until they fell asleep.
Buffy’s eyes snapped open, and soon the blurred surrounding came into focus. She was lying in a bed in the palace infirmary. She felt the bandages wrapped around her chest and hands, protecting the burns on her back from the laser containment field and the exploded lightsaber respectively. There was a bandage on her head, covering up where her head had impacted against the wall of the hanger. She felt the soreness in her muscles, as result of them being put to use in a way they hadn’t in far to long. And she felt the tears as they started to run down her face, a result of seeing her sister for one last time.
Buffy turned her head towards the source of the voice, and saw Anakin, standing right beside her bead, a worried look in his young face.
“Buffy? Are you okay?” he asked worriedly. Buffy looked at her brother for a moment, numerous emotions coursing through her. Finally becoming too much, Buffy did the only thing she could do. She let out a small sob, which led to more sobs. Buffy cried- for the life she lost, for the sister she would never see again. As Buffy cried, Anakin crawled into the bad and wrapped his small arms around his sister, trying to do anything to comfort the sobbing girl.
And in the darkened doorway of the infirmary, two figures watched the siblings with interest.
It was two days after the battle for Naboo, and tomorrow was the day that a planet-wide celebration was to be held, headed up by a parade and presentation in front of the palace. Those who had fought for the planet were to be recognized, and a lasting truce with the Gungans was to be solidified.
And Buffy wanted no part of it.
She sat on the roof of the palace, looking out over the city as the people started milling about, preparing the streets for the parade tomorrow. In about an hour, though, there was to be a funeral for Qui-Gon. The Jedi Council had come to Naboo from Coruscant, as had the newly named Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
Buffy wasn’t particularly thrilled with that.
She knew that in a few hours, she would be going to the funeral of the man she had failed to save. In the meantime, she chose to find a quiet place to organize her thoughts, which were many and jumbled.
“This is the last place I expected to find you.”
So much for a quiet place to think…
“My fear of heights cost Qui-Gon his life, so I decided enough was enough. No better way to get rid of your fears, than to face them head on.”
“Anakin tells us you’re afraid of hospitals, as well.”
Buffy let out a long-suffering sigh. “One at a time, Barney. One at a time.”
Mace Windu stepped out onto the roof from the high, open window of the palace. "You didn’t cause Qui-Gon’s death.”
‘If I hadn’t choked, I would have got there in time to save him.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I saw it happen.” Buffy responded, and Mace raised an eyebrow in surprise. “I got a vision of what happened. If I hadn’t choked, I would have got there in time to stop it.”
Mace was silent for a moment, digesting this new bit of information. Now, more than ever, he was certain that the decision the Council had made was the correct one, despite the reservations of Master Yoda. He decided it was time for her to hear what he had to say.
“The Council has made its decision.”
Buffy gave a small, knowing smile. “So, who’s going to train Annie?”
Mace gave the girl a piercing look. “So certain we’re going to train him, are you?”
Buffy sighed, and returned Mace’s gaze with one of her own. “Cut the crap, Windex. You and I both know what you came to tell me. So, who’s training him?”
Mace decided to be forward with the girl, lest he incite her ire again. “Obi-Wan will train your brother.”
There was a pause as Buffy mulled this over. “Is that allowed?” she finally asked, confusion evident on her voice.
“After Obi-Wan’s performance against the Sith Lord, the Council has bestowed upon him the rank of Jedi Knight. It is now his duty, and privilege, to take on a Padawan of his own. Anakin will be that Padawan.” He paused for a moment. “It has also been decided that you shall be trained as well.”
Buffy chuckled. She had been expecting this, and while part of her bristled that they would presume to tell her what to do, a larger part realized that this was her new destiny and, even more, an opportunity that she could not pass up. “Really?” she said coyly. “So tell me, Windex, what sorry schmuck drew the short straw and has to- it’s going to be you, isn’t it?” she finished with a sigh as she saw the look of smugness on Windu’s face.
“Indeed I will, my not-so-young Padawan.” Mace replied with a small smirk. Buffy’s eyes narrowed.
“Oh my god. You? Making jokes?” she shook her head in mock sorrow. “I must have broken something loose up there when I rattled your brains.”
Mace let out an uncharacteristic chuckle, then turned serious. “The Council discussed this at length, Buffy. Your age is an issue, as is the anger and pain I sense in you. And yet, when you had the opportunity to use them against the Sith lord, you did not. That shows a strength of character that a Jedi needs to survive in this galaxy. Add to that the training you received from your world, and the trials you faced as the Slayer…” Mace looked dead into her eyes, “I believe you will become a great Jedi. Though I warn you- it may take some time for me to fully train you.”
Buffy ignored the last part of his statement, instead focusing on the real reason behind her new appointment. “Plus, I can keep an eye on Anakin.” Buffy reasoned out. “that’s the big reason, isn’t it? To keep your ‘Prophecy Boy’ in check?”
Mace nodded. “The bo- Anakin’s,” he corrected quickly, “his future is clouded. Too many unknowns, and his feelings are conflicted due to the loss of both his mother, and now Qui-Gon. We believe that, with you by his side, it will help bring some-stability- to Anakin.”
“Why is he so important to you? What is this prophecy, anyway?”
“The prophecy has been in the archives of the Jedi for a millennia. It basically speaks of one who will bring balance to the Force. All the signs point towards Anakin. And if he is to do this, I believe he needs a steadying force in his life.”
Buffy nodded. “Cool. So, me and Annie, the Jedi wonder kids. How about Willow?” she asked suddenly. “Who’s going to train her?”
“Willow is not to be trained.”
Buffy looked at Mace in shock. “What?”
Mace looked back unapologetically. “Willow is not a Jedi. A powerful girl, yes, but not a Jedi. It is not our responsibility to train her.”
Buffy couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Not your responsibility? Don’t you realize how powerful she is? What she can do?”
“Yes. But I also know that her power is something we don’t understand, and couldn’t possibly hope to train her in.”
“It doesn’t matter if you understand it! Jedi training is probably just the thing she would need in order to learn enough about her own internal magic! If the Jedi don’t train her, someone else will! And her in those fancy archives of yours…”
“You will have access to the archives, Buffy. Unlimited access, which is something that is usually only reserved for Masters. But our decision on Willow is final.” And with that, Mace turned and walked back towards the window. He was about to step back inside when Buffy’s voice brought him up short.
Mace turned once more to face his new Padawan.
“This decision s going to come back to bite you in the ass one day, Master.” Buffy said in a cold voice. “And when it does, I’ll be there to say ‘I told you so.’”
Mace stared at the girl for a moment, then inclined his head. “The funeral will be in two hours. I suggest you prepare yourself.” And with that, Mace stepped back inside. Buffy watched him leave, then turned back around and faced the setting sun of Naboo, her hands clasped behind her back.
The Funeral was a somber affair.
Qui-Gon’s body was lain out on a pyre, according to Jedi traditions. After the appropriate words were spoken by Master Yoda, the pyre was lit, and Qui-Gon’s body was consumed by the flames. As the fire roared, Willow moved besides Buffy.
“So, I hear congratulations are in order.” She said. Buffy gave a small smile.
“Yeah. I get to wear robes and meditate…”
“Yeah, but you get a cool glow stick!”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t talk them into accepting you, Wills.”
There was a moment of silence, then Willow took a deep breath.
“I can’t say I’m not disappointed- all of those books…or whatever the information is stored on…just out of my reach- but at the same time, they’ll be in your reach. And at the same time, I’ll be free to scour the galaxy, looking for a way home.”
“We’ll get back to Earth, Wills.” Buffy said, putting a hand on her friends shoulder.
Across the way, Masters Yoda and Mace watched the exchange with interest.
“Buffy seems to think it is an unwise decision not to train young Naberrie.” Mace observed. Yoda’s eyes narrowed slightly.
“Noted, her concerns are. But dismissed, they will be. Not a Jedi is Willow Naberrie.”
Mace nodded, then turned to look at Obi-Wan and Anakin as the new Jedi Knight put his hand on his Padawan’s shoulder.
“One life ends and a new one begins in the Jedi Order.” He remarked quietly. Yoda nodded grimly.
“Not so sure of this one as of Qui-Gon, do I feel. Troubled, he is. Wrapped in shadows and difficult choices.”
“Obi-Wan will do a good job with him.” Mace replied. “And with Buffy near his side, much of his troubles shall be put to rest.” He pause for a moment, studying Kenobi. “Qui-Gon was right. He is ready.”
“Ready this time, he was.” Yoda acknowledged grudgingly. “Ready to train the boy, he may not be.”
“Defeating a Sith Lord in combat is a strong test of his readiness for anything. There is no doubt. The one who tested him was a Sith.”
Yoda nodded. “Always two, there are. No more, no less. A master, and an apprentice.”
“Then which was destroyed?” Mace asked, “The master, or the Apprentice?”
Yoda didn’t have an answer for him, and their eyes moved back onto the burning form of the fallen Jedi.
And across the way, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine watched all with great interest.
The following day was the parade. People from all over Naboo- both human and Gungan, lined the streets up to the Theed Palace. On the landing in front of the palace stood the Queen, once more in her ceremonial robes, along with her honor guard; Boss Nass, the Supreme Chancellor, and the Jedi. Among the Jedi were both Buffy and Anakin, and both looked decidedly uncomfortable. Obi-Wan looked over to the two new Padawan’s and gave them a small smile.
“Qui-Gon never liked these functions, either. But he understood their need.”
“I must have saved my world a dozen times, and I never got a parade.” Buffy mumbled. Anakin smirked.
“True. But you did get a new haircut out of it this time.” He quipped. Willow, who had heard the jibe at Buffy’s new short ‘do, quickly brought her hand up to cover her smile. Buffy, however, wasn’t amused.
“Annie, I haven’t begun to chew you out for that stunt you pulled in the fighter, so I am the LAST person you want to taunt.”
“But you told me to stay in the cockpit…”
“Children, behave.” Obi-Wan said quietly as Padmè presented the Sphere of Peace to Boss Nass, signifying their bond of friendship. As Boss Nass cried out ‘PEACE!”, Padmè looked over at Anakin, who gave her a rakish smirk.
Buffy looked at the two’s interaction, then looked to Willow and gave her a small smile, which her friend returned.
Buffy didn’t know what was going to happen next. She didn’t know how often, if ever, she was going to see Willow, or how long it would take to find their way home. But she did know that they would find a way home; that she would see Dawn again, that she would get to introduce Anakin to her family, and they would all be a family together. Sure, the odds did seem impossible.
But she was the Vampire Slayer. And beating impossible odds was her specialty.To be Continued in Star Wars- Episode II: Attack of the Chosen.
A/N: As I post this chapter, I’m sending the first chapter of Episode 2 out to my Beta, the lovely Katilwen. So some time next week, expect to see the first chapter of ‘Attack of the Chosen.’