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This story is No. 1 in the series "Powerless". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Buffy has an important conversation that will change everything.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Dead ZoneNatalieKushnerFR1312,0260183,0581 Sep 051 Sep 05Yes
LEGAL A/N: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters belong to Joss Whedon, Fox, UPN and the WB. The Dead Zone and all characters belong to Shawn & Michael Piller, Stephen King, Lion's Gate Television and USA Network. No profit is being made off of this and no copyright infringement is intended.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short story may become a prologue to something bigger, depending on time restrictions. Post-BTVS S7 "Chosen" and post-DZ S4 "Vangaurd".

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Gentle snow fell over the town of Sunnydale, California as the crisp winter air filled the senses and gripped the skin of the Slayer and her companion. Buffy Summers strolled casually down Main Street in Downtown Sunnydale watching her breath float out into the darkness of the night, illuminated by the lights of the streetlamps. She gazed around with pleased eyes at each gentle, innocent flake as it drifted down from the heavens to the lowly earth and greeted her humbly, unaware of how precious it was.

The snow fell to the ground and left a smooth, white blanket on the ground. The path ahead of Buffy and her friend was completely unblemished. Not a single footprint could be seen anywhere on the road besides those left behind by the two companions.

Buffy wrapped her arms tightly around her knee-length, baby blue raincoat that tied in the front and covered her black camisole and blue jeans underneath. “Cold?” her friend asked.

She glanced over at the tall, tanned, mid-thirties, blonde man beside her. He wore a black leather jacket that hung down over a dark grey, V-neck sweater and black slacks and had piercing blue eyes that seemed to have seen too much in their time. He walked majestically with his silver-headed, black cane with the grace of a king. The very little Buffy knew about him was enough to tell her that he was no king. He was courteous and humble, always willing to help her. And although she had never met a king before, she was certain that this mysterious man was something much more.

He was a wise man.

“Is that jacket enough?” he reiterated. He was ready to pull off his own coat and give it to her.

“I’m fine,” Buffy smiled. “Thank you.” He nodded with a half-smile as they continued to walk down the desolate street, their feet burying themselves with every step in the fresh snow. The thought of his chivalry appeared in Buffy’s mind again – how he’d offered his coat to her.

“Is everything all right?” he asked, breaking her thoughts.

She looked back over at him in surprise. “Why?”

“You seem a little distant,” he answered with concern.

He always put her as his first priority. This man, whose eyes were so full of trouble and despair, never once burdened Buffy with any worry. Instead he was quick to lay the dilemmas of others on his back. However, you would not know simply by looking at him. It took years of Buffy looking in the mirror into her own eyes to recognize the look that she saw in his – the dark expression of Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Tall, Dark and Handsome, Buffy thought. That’s three out of four, with fang-y still unaccounted for. She continued to think, And moody. And cryptic. And on the edge of right and wrong…

She stopped herself before she got carried away any further.

Buffy looked around at the falling snow and took a deep breath. “It’s just so amazing,” she declared finally with a voice full of relief. “It feels so good to be free. And this…”

The words faded away, but the man nodded with understanding. “It’s nice,” he replied. “Peaceful.”

“Peace,” Buffy repeated. “Now there’s a sight I thought I’d never see.” She shrugged. “At least not until—”

“Hell froze over?” he said, looking at her with a smile as they glanced around at the falling snow.


They looked back at the road ahead as they peacefully passed the Magic Box, Buffy glancing into the darkened store windows as she continued on her walk. “Just goes to show you,” her friend added, “you never really know how the story’s going to end.”

She thought about the statement for a few moments and then looked over at him with a puzzled expression. “How do you know it’s over?” Buffy asked.

He looked down at her in silence. With every wise answer he had ever provided for her, he could not find one now. They faced the path ahead again as they passed the hardware store, which was as barren as an empty tomb (on a good night for Buffy).

The Slayer let out a gentle sigh and smiled a bit. “You know,” she said, “we can’t keep meeting like this.”

“Isn’t it what you want?” he asked.

“Does that really matter?” Buffy replied.

He considered for a few moments and then turned back to her. “Isn’t this what you really need?”

Buffy nearly stopped in her steps as the question hit her. She mulled over the question in silence as she continued to walk. Every time the two of them had met in a situation somewhat similar to the current one she had felt better about her life afterwards. At first she couldn’t quite explain it to herself, much less her friends or family. But then it became something she hung on to – something she looked forward to. It had become her secret.

Buffy had gained one of the greatest friends of her life in this man whom she virtually knew nothing about. It was a baffling situation which she had every reason to be confused about. Yet this was not the case.

After listening to him talk about the world the way he had seen it – through his eyes – nothing in her life had ever made more sense. She understood the world and her destiny for what it truly was. For the first time in a long time, she felt she truly understood herself in a way that no slayer has ever comprehended.

“Yes,” Buffy answered. “It really is.” She suddenly felt a tingling sensation in the pit of her stomach – an emotion she had not felt in quite a while. A distant scream rang out several blocks away, gripping Buffy’s attention instantly. She turned towards the direction of the scream with heightened senses as she continued to walk.

“You need this,” he restated with a casual shrug. “What’s so wrong with that?”

“No,” Buffy answered, prying her attention away from the distant threat. “It’s not that—”

“It’s not?” he asked.

Buffy stopped as she heard a footstep nearby. She turned towards a dark and desolate alleyway, supposedly abandoned, but could not bring herself to imagine what evil lurked inside.

“What is it then?” he asked, considering it himself as he came to a stop. They both stood in the light of the quiet Sun Theater, the green neon letters shining out in the night sky and the glow of the marquee raining down on them. Buffy’s eyes darted from place to place on the abandoned street corner as she gazed around Main Street, looking for any sign of a threat.

“It’s just…” Buffy tried to explain, distracted by the goings on. “This isn’t… real.”

“Do you need me?” he asked simply, with a vulnerable tone. Buffy looked up at him, stunned into silence. She gazed up into his eyes quietly, staring at his face in amazement. That answer was as clear as day.

“More than anything,” she could hear herself saying, but couldn’t feel her mouth form the words. They stared at each other in silence for several moments. It was a question that had never occurred to either of the two friends. She viewed the way he looked at her and could see more humanity in his eyes. The vulnerability made him less of a wise man and more real. She knew at that moment she should rid herself of these thoughts.

This wasn’t real. It was all a dream.

A vicious roar cut through their silence like a machete and ripped the Slayer’s attention away from the situation. Buffy spun around towards a distant street and gazed at it with wide eyes. He followed her gaze, the sound also having caught his attention. She faced him with an apologetic expression, but before she could say anything…

“You don’t have to leave,” he declared, stopping her train of thought.

“But I do,” she answered with a gloomy tone. “I’m the only one that can stop it.”

His blue eyes held their intense gaze on her. He stepped closer to her, reaching beyond the barriers of acquaintances. He whispered to her gently, “You’re not alone.” He placed his hands tenderly on her arms, bringing her to him. “I’ll protect you.”

She stared up at him motionlessly, completely taken. She felt as if she were letting herself fly away, drifting into weightlessness as he pulled her close. He leaned down to her slowly, closing his eyes. In a dreamy trance, Buffy’s eyes closed as she felt the warmth of his lips fall upon hers.

The heavenly state lasted only moments before the back of her skull seared with pain and agony. She screamed, clutching her head as pictures and screeching noises like nails on a chalkboard filled her mind, violating her senses.

An onslaught of bloody faces and twisted, burned bodies flashed before her eyes. She watched a clear blue sky streaked with falling missiles rocketing through the air as they collided with the face of the earth, sending a shockwave that uprooted cities. She could see the Capitol of the United States being engulfed in a wall of flames, the people nearby shriveling up and blowing away in the nuclear wind like paper.

She could feel tremendous heat on her body as her flesh screamed, burning and searing as it was set aflame. The oxygen vanished from her lungs as the taste of blood filled her mouth as a firestorm swallowed the earth…

“Buffy!” a voice called out, breaking her trance. Buffy Summers shot up in her bed and sat beneath her covers, her body covered in sweat. Dawn stood beside her bed in the darkened bedroom with a confused look on her face. Buffy looked over to see the blonde woman standing nearby with concerned eyes as Buffy struggled to keep her heart in her chest. She looked around to see the world was not aflame, she was not on fire and her sister was still alive.

Her wide, green eyes batted around the room and her breath was shaky. “Buffy?” Dawn repeated with a fearful tone. Her younger sister stared at her cautiously. “What happened? You were screaming…”

“He showed me,” Buffy breathed in shock, staring around at the bedroom walls in her Roman apartment. “He knew…”

“What?” Dawn exclaimed. “What are you…?” She suddenly stopped in her sentence, and glared at her sister. “Okay, if the next words out of your mouth contain ‘from,’ ‘beneath,’ ‘you,’ or ‘devours’ in any form or fashion, I’m gonna be super pissed.”

“It’s not the First,” Buffy declared, shaking her head. “It’s… nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“Buffy,” Dawn declared as her sister pulled back the covers and came to a stand, “you haven’t had a prophetic dream since we left Sunnydale. It was probably just a nightmare.”

Buffy walked over to the window in her pajamas and gazed out at the sparkling lights of Rome, the moon shining down on her face from above.

“And why would you have a dream?” Dawn asked. “There are hundreds of other Slayers… I’m sure they’re not all busy.”

“It’s different.” Buffy shook her head, staring out at the city in confusion.

“Yes, it is,” Dawn declared with finality. “It’s just a dream.”

Buffy stared out at the doomed world with a grim expression, the realization coming over her that her work was not done. “It’s not a dream,” she answered. “It’s real.”

The sequel to this story is Powerless, and the final installment of both, Doomsday, is coming soon.

The End

You have reached the end of "Real". This story is complete.

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