Title: Watered Wine
Author: Gaeriel Mallory
Disclaimer: Buffy and all related characters are the property of Josh Whedon and Mutant Enemy. X-men is the property of Marvel Comics.
Summary: In the future, the United States finds itself fighting against demonic forces.
Continuity: Buffy - Up to season 6. This story takes place in the year 2005. X-men - Comics. It's pretty vague since I don't really remember much of it, so forgive any inconsistencies.
Note: Pay attention to when each section takes place. This story isn't one continuous narrative but snapshots of various points during the war. It's a little different from everything else I've written but I'm experimenting.
* * * * * * * * * *
"To succeed you must add water to your wine, until there is no more wine." --Jules Renard, Journal
* * * * *
It was an odd group that was assembled in one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries. It was night, the only time that Angel and Spike could have gone outside without bursting into flames. Mutants, humans, and demons made up the group.
Willow, Xander, Giles, and Spike formed a barrier around Dawn, protecting her from the reporters that had thronged to the memorial service for the fallen Slayer. Faith lingered in the back with the rest of the Los Angeles crew. The mutants that had accompanied Buffy on that fateful mission were there, standing with Charles Xavier and the rest of the X-men. Soldiers from the Sunnydale base rounded out the group.
The priest opened the Bible in his hands and looked down at the headstone before reading.
* * *
Torlin's headquarters in Topeka, Kansas was more heavily guarded then they had expected. Mystique impersonated one of the guards with her shape-shifting ability. She easily infiltrated the base and let the others in. The trouble had started when they had encountered a group of Torlac demons in the hallway. The fight was fast and brutal. But by the time all the demons lay dead, the rest of the base had been alerted and they had been forced to fight the rest of the way.
The others had been ensnarled into a dogfight with a seemingly never-ending stream of demons.
Buffy looked at Magneto in frustration. "How many of these guys are there?"
Magneto sighed himself. "I do not know. But if this keeps up much longer, Torlin will manage to find some way to escape."
Scott looked over at the two. "Go back and find some other way. We'll keep them distracted here."
Buffy looked at her cousin worriedly. "You sure you can handle it?"
"Yes. Now go!"
Buffy and Magneto had backtracked and managed to find an alternate route, encountering two small squads of guards that they dispatched quickly. By the time the two reached Torlin's command center, Buffy was bruised, tired, and nursing a broken wrist. Magneto had fared little better.
Torlin was huge. He towered over Buffy and had large clawed hands. He had glared at the invaders, his eyes settling on the one familiar face. "Magnus."
"Torlin," Magneto had responded. He then flung out his hands and metal ripped itself from the wall and the floors before hurling towards the demon. Torlin's eyes blazed red and the metal melted into puddles before they had a chance to even touch him.
That was the start of a brutal fight between the three of them. Buffy threw everything she had into defeating Torlin, trying to distract him so that Magneto could put a long piece of metal into him. She twirled her sword in her hands, keeping it out of Torlin's line of sight so that he could not melt it. She finally saw an opening and lunged forward, managing to cut the demon deeply in its side.
Torlin roared in pain and grabbed the Slayer by the shoulders. He turned towards Magneto, and Buffy found herself at the receiving end of a sharp metal pole hurtling through the air. When the rest of the team finally caught up, they found Magneto slowly extracting the pole that had impaled both Buffy and Torlin. He looked up at Scott with tear-filled eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry."
* * *
There had been no time to hold a proper funeral until the war was over. Thankfully, with both Torlin and the Poraxian Council gone, the demon coalition fell apart. Life was returning to normal, albeit slowly. The one change was that the population of the United States--and the world--was forced to admit to the existence of demons and magic. The time of selective ignorance was over.
Dawn entered the newly reopened Sunnydale High School and made her way to her first class. She slid into an empty desk and stared blankly off into space.
A boy sat down next to her. "Hey."
She looked over at him.
"Aren't you Dawn Summers? The Slayer's sister?"
She looked down at her hands. "Yeah," she answered.
"That must have been really cool, being in the middle of everything," he said with a grin.
Dawn shook her head. "No, not really. It wasn't cool at all. It stops being cool when your sister survives the entire war only to get killed at the end of it."
The boy stopped smiling and seemed to shrink in his seat. "Oh."
* * *
Scott sat in front of Buffy's grave. "I guess we'll never have that family gathering we talked about, huh?" He sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Buffy. I wish I could have been there. There might have been something I could have done to stopped this from happening."
"There was nothing you could have done," a quiet voice said behind him. Willow sat down on the grass next to him. "It was her time."
Scott looked at the witch. "Dawn told me that when she died before, you did some spell--?"
Willow shook her head. "Not this time." She reached into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out a folded piece of paper. "I found this in her stuff. I thought that you should read it too."
Scott unfolded the paper and stared at the handwriting. "She wrote this?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, it's dated right around the time she got pulled into the war."Dear Willow,
If you're reading this, then I'm dead. It feels funny writing that, since I'm still alive and all, but I wanted to ask you something.
Don't bring me back.
The world will go on without me. It'll still have a Slayer -- just, not me. And Willow, you can go on without me too. You're strong enough to.
Sitting in a prison cell for a month, there's not a lot to do but think. And I sure did a lot of thinking. At first, I was angry, because I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't harboring any fugitives, like they said I was. But that passed, eventually. And I realized something. I'm tired. I've been fighting the good fight for seven years and that's a lot longer than any other Slayer before me.
So, please don't do any spell to bring me back from the dead. I don't think I could bear it again. Let me rest.
Take care of Dawnie for me. Make sure she has food to eat and clothes to wear and that she brushes her teeth before going to bed and all that. I'll miss you all.
Try not to mourn for me too long. Remember that first bit of advice I gave you that time in the Bronze, all those years ago? 'Life's short'. Well, it's still true. And life's too short for you to mope over me. I want you all to be happy.
Scott folded the letter back up and handed it to Willow. "Thanks for letting me read that."
"It's true, you know. Life is short. And Buffy doesn't want us to sit around getting depressed so we shouldn't. I've done the grief thing a lot of times, and it can suck you in. It's pretty powerful stuff. I almost ended the world once, because someone I loved died."
Scott looked at the witch in surprise. "You did?"
"Yeah. But I didn't. End the world, I mean. And let me tell you, it's not good." Willow got up and brushed off the seat of her pants. "I'll see you back at the house?"
Scott nodded slowly. "Yeah. I still need to finish packing to go back to New York."
Willow walked off, leaving Scott there with his thoughts. "You know the one thing I regret?" he asked the headstone. "You never got a chance to meet Jean." He smiled softly. "I think you would have liked her." He stood up and stretched lightly. "Rest well, Buffy. You deserve it."
He walked out of the cemetery and did not look back.
"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." --José Narosky