Oh and I don’t own LOTR.
For once Faith was glad for the small blessings. It seemed so far that no sharks were following them, yet. She knew it was an illogical fear and damn if she didn’t feel slightly bad about making fun of Wills with her frog fear. At least what Faith was afraid of could really kill her.
It had managed to rain again last night, giving the group at least a little water. They had also been steadily floating in the direction that the eagle had flown in yesterday, and the dark haired slayer hoped that it meant that they were slowly heading for land. If they weren’t Faith knew chances were that they most likely would not survive.
Another thing that seemed to pull Faith’s hopes down even more was Giles had still had not awaken, in fact he seemed to be getting progressively worse. The bleeding had mostly stopped, but now he a high fever that they were having a hard time getting rid of. Several times during the day the group would take turns submerging him in the cold water in an attempt to drop his temperature.
Both Faith and Buffy had argued several times about what to do about their Watcher, but the only thing that they could seem to agree on was that if they didn’t get help soon he was most likely going to die. Faith hoped that it wouldn’t come to that, she was sure that if they lost Giles it would be the final blow to Buffy and she would probably follow him not long after.
As much as the loss of Dawn and Willow bothered Faith she knew that the others had lost people in the final battle as well. Her gaze fell on the only two normal humans that had managed to survive besides Giles and Xander.
Scott and Jo, twin brother and sister barely nineteen and both had already seen more than their fair share of death and evil. The twins along with their older brother Max, who had been killed prior to the final battle, came from a family that had for nearly a millennium served the Powers. All member of the family from the beginning had been master swordsmen, passing along their talents and legacy to their offspring almost at birth. The twins had known nothing other than fighting the darkness for their entire lives. It was their destiny, they knew it and accepted it, just as they accepted that it would most likely bring them to an early death as it had all of the other members of their family.
Faith was sick of destiny.
She took a moment to examine the other slayers. After the battle with the First, they managed to find many of the slayers that had managed to escape the Bringers. At first there was so many, too many, and they had grown comfortable in the fact that the scale was balanced in their favor. It was only when the last threat of evil arose that they realized that they had been wrong. Fatally wrong.
The activation of all the potentials had actually drained the power from the slayer line, eliminating the possibility of more slayers being activated. So upon the death of the last slayer in their group, the once powerful line of champions would be extinct.
For some reason this had terrified her. The thought of what would happen to the world when there was no longer a slayer caused her to have many horrifying nightmares and extremely twisted and confusing dreams. They were so vivid that she would have thought them to be slayer dreams, but none of the others seemed to be having them.
Now the Earth was gone…or at least she thought it was, and Faith was now faced with the one thing she feared more than the dark blue ocean and what was hidden in it, and the loss of her new family or the loss of the slayers. The unknown.
Lost in her thoughts, Faith didn’t notice the group of four eagles approaching them until Xander pointed him out.
“Hey looks like the eagle is back and he brought friends!” He then squinted trying to get a better look at the giant bird and his companions. “And it looks like he’s carrying something.”
The group watched warily as one of the birds descended in their direction carrying what seemed to be a small bush of some sort. It swooped down nearly a foot above the heads of the two slayers currently occupying the top of the boards, dropping the bush that it was carrying beside Giles, before soaring up in the air and joining the other eagles in circling the makeshift raft.
Faith stared at the bush amazed. The eagles had brought them branches heavily covered with small red apples. They were trying to help them! The corners of the dark haired slayer’s mouth curved up a bit. They might just survive this ordeal after all.
It only took the slayers and others a few seconds to process the fact that there was actual food, before there was a mad rush to get to the apples.
“Girls! Girls!” Xander shouted, crawling up onto the plank and trying to fend off the slayers. “There is enough for everybody!”
“Xander,” Faith called up to him with a smirk, “after all these years haven’t you learned not to come between a slayer and her food?” She then glanced at Buffy who had a slight curl to the edges of her lips as she watched Xander trying to fend off the younger slayers.
Once all of the apples had been equally divided among the group he crawled back into the water next to Faith and Buffy, neither of their eyes ever leaving the eagles as he handed them both the last of the apples.
“Wow trained rescue eagles. What next?” He asked. He then noticed that both slayers and Connor were staring intently in the direction that the birds had flown.
On the horizon Xander could barely make out the silhouette of a ship when Faith mumbled.
“Looks like we’re gonna find out.”
It was dark when Willow woke for the second time. This time though she wasn’t as confused as she had been earlier. The haziness from when she had woke the last time was now gone, but the memories of what happened at that moment were still very vague. Taking a shaky breath she tried to bring her mind back further to recount all that happened before she had ended up in this strange place.
The Earth was gone. Many of her friends were gone, and she was the one who killed them. Her momentary loss of control had managed to accomplish where even the most powerful evils, she had faced and thwarted so many times, failed.
Her friends, their souls, would never forgive her for this. She would never forgive herself. Any punishment that the Powers gave her would be well deserved. She would gladly spend her eternities in Hell for what she had done.
But was this Hell?
The room was dark, though moonlight did manage to illuminate a good portion of the room that she was in. She looked around at the beautifully sculpted furniture and art which all seemed to carry a common naturalistic theme. Everything in the room was artistically carved in intricate detail that seemed to make the entire room flow together.
Hell must have a great decorator.
Getting out of bed she stood on shaky legs and walked to the window, nearly falling to her knees at the sight of the beautiful city illuminated below. Everything, the buildings, trees, fountains all seemed to glow with a pure light as if they themselves were alive.
Okay, so not a Hell dimension. If this wasn’t Hell could this be Heaven? If it was then where were the others? She sniffed and blinked her eyes trying to keep back the tears that were now flowing freely. How could she be allowed here and the others not be?
Looking around the room trying to find some clues as to where she was she noticed that the door at the other side of the room had a faint green glow coming out from under it.
Curiosity, a trait that all scoobies carried, got the best of her and she went to investigate.
The door lead to a room adjacent to hers, and was almost identical except that it had two beds instead of one. One of the beds was currently occupied by a sleeping Dawn, who had a crackling green barrier around her.
“I’m glad you’re finally awake.” A familiar southern voice stated. “I was beginnin to think that I was going to be the only one dealing with this strange place for awhile.”
Looking around the room Willow searched for the voices owner. In a dark corner she could vaguely make out a familiar person curled up in a large chair across from Dawn’s bed. What struck Willow as odd about this was the person who she thought it to be would have never curled up in a chair with her knees tucked up under her chin.
“Ill-Fred?” The witch watched as the figure stood up and walked toward her. The movement was still a little too graceful to be entirely human. But instead of seeing Illyria’s blue tinted skin and hair, Fred’s pretty face came out of the shadows and into a patch of moonlight that was filtering in through the windows.
Fred smiled weakly at Willow. “Yeah… At least I think it’s me. I’m feeling a little strange though.”
Willow gaped. “H-how is this possible? I thought- I mean-“
Fred looked down at her hands. “I’m not sure. Things are a little fuzzy. I know I’m dead or at least I was, but I could have sworn that I was somewhere else, somewhere…”
She trailed off remembering something confusing for a brief moment, before looking back up at Willow.
“Illyria is still here though, I can feel her strainin against me, fighting to take over. The weird thing is that I don’t think I would mind if she did.” She hugged herself rubbing her arms a bit as if she was trying to warm herself. “This body…I don’t feel like it fits me anymore.”
Taking a step towards her Willow paused. Part of her wanted to hug the girl though she could still feel a hint of Illyria’s presence lingering around her and knew that the former God King would not take well to being comforted. The rest of her wanted to be selfish and wallow in her own grief, not worry about someone else’s.
Before she could make a decision on what she was going to do, Fred reached out and smoothed Willow’s hair off her forehead. “You look different you know. How long has your hair been this color?”