Thanks for all the wonderful comments so far! I’ll try to put up as much as I can before 4, and then I’ll do whatever’s left around 5 or so.
Buffy sat with her back against the wall with her knees to her chest, her hand over her heart as she took calming breaths. There wasn’t any pain left from the demon’s skewer, now all that she felt was the pain from hearing the people she loved weeping over her dead body, some who were already dead in her time.
She’d heard Tara try to console a hysterical Willow, her own tears muffling her words of comfort. They were the only two that spoke, but she could hear the others. Dawn. Giles. Spike.
Their sobs tore at her heart, and it was shocking at how easily she’d fallen back to this time, how she felt more like a living version of the girl lying on a pile of rubble outside than the person four more years had created. She wanted to go to them, to tell them that she was okay, that she was alive and that they could stop crying, but…
Holy shit, this was beyond bizarre.
They’d all gone. Where, she didn’t know. Somewhere in Sunnydale.
She was back in Sunnydale. Sunnydale, which was now just a hole in the ground.
Either this was some wacked out sort of time travel, or she was hallucinating. Or maybe… she didn’t know what else. Hallucinating seemed like her best bet. She remembered all too well the demon’s venom that had made her believe her whole life was the delusion of some girl in a mental institution. This kind of felt like that.
Although that place had felt very real, and sometimes she doubted if it hadn’t been. If this was induced by the Zhenchuk demon—which didn’t really make sense, since its stabbing would’ve killed her one of two ways—then there were no witches to make an antidote for her. She was alone.
Or maybe not. Maybe she could go to the people she knew here and ask for their help. She had witches, Watchers, ex-demons and a vampire at her disposal. Someone had to know something about what was happening, right?
But if this was time travel, then she shouldn’t be seen. Isn’t that the way it goes? She only knew about time travel from movies, but something told her they’d gotten something right with that ‘disrupting the course of history’ stuff.
Buffy stood up and stared down at her ripped skirt and stocking-covered feet. She wished that she hadn’t had a job interview the same day she traveled through time.
* * * *
He heard her returning to the basement, and from the sound of water sloshing about, she must be intent on cleaning him up. Spike turned from her, unwilling to let her look at him after what had happened.
The initial shock of his grief was gone, and he was filled now with rage, mostly directed at himself. It didn’t seem that way to others, however.
“Go away, Dawn.”
She didn’t leave. Instead, she placed the bowl of water on the floor beside his head and knelt by his side, not bothering to mask the wince or muffle the sharp intake of breath that resulted from the pain in her middle.
“You’re covered in blood, Spike,” she said, her voice hollow. “I’m sure you’re worse off than you look, but you need to be cleaned up.”
“Go away,” he repeated, his voice not as strong as before.
Dawn dipped the cloth into the water, rang it out before applying the moist towel to his forehead, and rubbed downward.
Spike closed his eyes, a lump forming in his chest and moving into his throat as he allowed her to touch him, the cold water almost soothing to his gritty skin. He then turned his head and looked at her. She was no longer wearing the hideous garb that she’d been dressed in for the ritual. Instead her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. At her middle he could see the bulge where Rupert or someone had wrapped her up in bandages.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
“You’re the one who fell off a tower,” she replied almost coldly, but she choked on the last word, her face scrunched up as she began to cry again.
Dawn dipped the towel back into the pink water and continued to scrub, and it was as if her pain was shared with him the minute she touched him.
“I was so close,” he whispered, tears in his own eyes. Dawn let out a sob but continued wiping the blood from his face. “If I’d been faster… if I’d pushed that bastard off before he got the chance to… to… she’d still be here.”
“Don’t say that Spike, please,” she pleaded. Dawn dropped the towel into the bowl and laid her head on his shoulder, shifting slightly when he grunted in pain. “It wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you—”
“That’s bollocks,” he wept. “It’s no one’s fault but mine. I told her… I said I would protect you, and I didn’t. And now… and now she’s…”
Dawn sobbed into his shoulder, and he weakly lifted his hand and pulled her closer, holding her as they both cried over the mess they’d made.
* * * *
Buffy walked towards the center of town, wishing desperately that she had some shoes. Shops and restaurants were opening up and down Main Street, and Buffy watched the people lifting gates and flipping signs with an odd sort of fascination.
They were all here, living their lives, completely unaware that their town will be destroyed two years from now; completely unaware that it had almost been destroyed last night.
This is what she saved? Alfonso the grumpy jeweler who could leer like there was no tomorrow (which was a good way to do things, given where they lived), the ungrateful old couple walking their fat dog and littering on the ground? Is this what she’d died for?
No. And yes. She’d died for Dawn, and for her friends, and for Spike. Buffy wrapped her arms around herself and scoffed. Spike didn’t even make it into the ‘friends’ column? It actually made since that he didn’t, because… he was Spike.
He was here. Living, breathing… well, okay, neither of those, but he was being. She could walk into his crypt right now and he would be there, and she could smell his scent and touch his skin again. She could see his eyes, she could hear his voice, she could… destroy the future by altering the past.
Right. Won’t be doing that, then.
It was almost enough to just walk around and see all the Sunnydalians (Sunnydalers? Sunnydalites?) milling about as if everything were normal, as if Sunnydale existing was a regular thing.
* * * *
Anya felt the painkillers Xander had given her slowly taking their affect on her. Her eyelids were heavy, but she snapped them open, her eyes fixed on the woman on the sofa across from her.
Buffy was dead.
She didn’t think that Buffy would die. Dawn, maybe, and Spike seemed to have been asking for it… but Buffy?
Xander was heartbroken. Of course he was, one of his best friends just died. It hurt her to see everyone in so much pain, and she felt bad for not feeling worse. She did feel bad, though. Horrible. She’d liked Buffy, except for when Xander was doting on her or she was being particularly annoying, but she didn’t think that she deserved to die. She’d been a good person, and she’d always had nice hair.
These weren’t the thoughts she was supposed to be having. Who cared if she had nice hair? She was dead. Her hair was going to dry up and her skin was going to go leathery and decompose and her organs…
Oh god. Buffy was dead.
She looked up at blurry Xander, realizing for the first time that she’d been crying.
“Are you hurt?” he asked in a quiet voice.
“I want to go leave,” she said. “Can we go home?”
Xander hesitated before nodding. “Yeah. Yeah, if that’s what you want—”
“It is,” she said quickly. “Please, let’s just go. Okay?”
Xander helped her to her feet and they both took one last look at the sofa. She looked like she was asleep.
BUFFY! Wake up! It’s not funny anymore!
They’d get mad at her if she said that.
* * * *
Buffy entered the graveyard, the sharp grass crunching beneath her feet. It was a beautiful day, the day she died; clear and sunny with a refreshing breeze that cooled the warmth of late spring. She wondered how the others remembered it.
Bleak. Dreary. Devoid of any warmth. That’s how they’d always talked about it, whenever they did.
It didn’t take Buffy long to reach her destination, and she was surprised that she didn’t start crying on sight of the spot. Instead a smile sneaked onto her face and she touched the cool stone fondly.
She’d never liked coming here before. Before it had just been a reminder of what she had lost, a painful one. Buffy hadn’t been able to look at it without feeling something tear in the area her heart was located in, but she would often patrol the area to make sure it was demon free. Her mom deserved some peace and quiet.
The grave no longer brought her pain. Nothing fresh, anyway. Now she was glad to have something she could touch that was her mothers, even if it was the stone which marked her death.
I miss you, she thought, tracing the lines of her mother’s name. If she were still her, Buffy would’ve risked turning the universe inside-out just to see her mother again.
As she knelt by the stone, something crunched beneath her knees. Leaning back, Buffy found a bunch of dried daisies tied with string. She lifted them up and smiled.
He was here. She should take the risk. If she got out of this mess without seeing him she would regret it, and there were ways that she could get around the whole messing with history issue. She could always make him think she was the First. Buffy shuddered and pulled the daisies close to her heart.
No. That would be beyond cruel.
She had to see him, though. And Anya and Tara were still here. God, she missed them so much all of a sudden…
Buffy’s stomach rumbled and she frowned. It was dinnertime, or lunchtime, considering her time zone. She laughed at that. Time zone. How was she going to get something to eat without alerting anyone to her presence? And without any money?
* * * *
Tara held Willow in her arms as she cried, each sniffle breaking her heart into even smaller pieces. They didn’t share any words, but none were needed. They both knew what the other was thinking.
Willow was angry because she couldn’t fully appreciate Tara’s return, in light of Buffy’s death. She was angry at Buffy for jumping, for leaving her, for thinking any of them could get along without her.
She was also scared. Scared of what the future would be like without her best friend in it, without her compass. Buffy had always been her compass, pointing her in the right direction. She’d brought Willow out of hiding and made her life meaningful, and now she was gone.
And that made Willow sad. Sad that she’d never go patrolling with Buffy ever again, talking with her while she watched her friend kill demons. They’d never watch movies or argue about who has to research with Giles or tease Xander about Anya ever again. Because there was no they, there was only her.
And even in Tara’s arms, she felt incredibly alone.
* * * *
Okay, this was how she saw it—Sunnydale was going to get sucked into the earth in two years, so her stealing some food and nicking a pair of shoes? Not really so bad. It’s not like she was going to steal some filet mignon or a pair of leather boots, just whatever she could find that would get her through… however long it was that she’d be here.
The sun was setting as she walked down the road, sporting a white pair of sneakers that clashed horribly with her business attire, but protected her feet from the ground. Buffy was finishing off a rather crappy sandwich that she’d taken from a convenience store when she heard shuffling in a nearby alley. She stared up at the sky, seeing the sun’s rays disappear, wondering why the nasties were out so early.
Buffy ran towards the source of the commotion and saw a vampire struggling with a girl in an alleyway. He had his hand over her mouth and was just managing to pin her against the wall when Buffy tapped him on the shoulder.
Her fist knocked him to the ground, blood dripping from his nose when he shot back up, glaring at her through amber eyes.
Buffy turned to the girl. “Run home.”
The girl did as she was told and Buffy squared off with the vamp, who happened to be a rather chatty fellow.
“Shit, you must be the Slayer!” Punch, kick. “ Yeah, I’ve heard about you.” Block, punch, head butt. “Rumor has it you like your boys cold.”
Buffy had been enjoying their fight, taking her frustration and confusion out on him, but then he overstepped his bounds. He was a vampire, after all. With a growl, Buffy grabbed him by the ears and gave his head a vicious twist. He wasn’t dead, but he fell to the ground as lifeless all the same. Looking around, she saw an old picket sign with the mayoral candidate’s name listed leaning against the wall. Buffy reached for it and plunged it into the vampire’s chest, getting rid of her problem.
It wasn’t until his dust settled on the ground that she realized what she’d done. She’d killed the vampire, yes, but she wasn’t supposed to. He was supposed to kill that girl.
She’d messed with the past.
Buffy dropped the wooden sign and ran off into the night, not knowing where she’d end up.
* * * *
They were going to pretend like she was still here. Good thing they’d had a quiet service then, no mention in the papers about her death or anything. Her grave was deep within the cemetery, beneath some lovely trees and far from prying eyes. Not that anyone ever checked the names written on stone.
Willow was going to fix the ‘Bot. Put her head back on, make her walk and talk like Buffy. Make her slay. Make her smile.
Make them all forget.
He couldn’t forget. Buffy was… was… his best friend. Xander loved her, and he couldn’t look at that thing everyday and try to pretend like everything was alright. He couldn’t pretend that he didn’t hear Buffy screaming in pain after she’d jumped, as all that white energy sucked the life out of her. No one talked about it anymore, but he could tell they were all thinking the same thing.
* * * *
Buffy was sick of hiding. After saving that girl’s life, she’d run to somewhere no one would come across her and stayed there, venturing out only to find food and somewhere to use the bathroom.
The Crawford mansion was quiet, lonely, and filled with bad memories. Some good, but only in that painful way that made you wish you could forget. The first night she’d arrived she’d thought of Angel. Maybe she could go to him for help?
Then she remembered that he’d been in another dimension at this time, and the thought of seeing him here, now? Completely wigged her out.
Actually, everything was wigging her out.
She needed a shower. And some new clothes. And food that didn’t come in plastic bags.
So she left the mansion, made her way into town, and snuck into the Magic Box. The door was unlocked, which surprised her. Anyone could waltz in and take books on temporal disturbances, rare demons and time travel without any trouble.
Buffy stood in the middle of the shop, holding the books she planned to leave with, and couldn’t help but stare. The beaded curtain that had once belonged in Xander’s basement, the shelves of books she knew so well, the lemon and slug candles whose scents really shouldn’t mingle, and the places where memories lingered. The day Tara’s family tried to take her away. The day they all sang to each other. The day Willow tried to kill them all.
They weren’t all good memories, but they were something of hers that she missed.
Buffy whipped around when she heard familiar voices and footsteps nearing the entrance to the magic box. Without thinking, she ran into back office, wishing she’d had the better since to hide in the basement or to leave through the back door in the training room. But it turned out she was safe where she was.
“The book is here. It’s got all we need to know to do the ritual. Materials, preparations… it won’t be easy, but we can do it.”
It was Willow, and she had that calm tone in her voice that people would get when they were trying really hard not to fall apart. Buffy listened, curious and concerned, as she and two others followed her around the shop.
“I can’t believe you’re seriously thinking about doing this.”
“We put her in the ground, Willow. She’s dead. Gone.”
“She wasn’t killed by natural means. We can bring her back. It’s just as unnatural as her death.”
“S-She’s right, Xander.”
They were talking about bringing her back. It was so odd to hear this. She’d wondered what they had done while she’d been gone, how they had done things without her. Not that she thought that they couldn’t do things without hear, but she didn’t know how it worked. She’d only seen how they were with her.
“Got it. Hey, there are some books missing…”
Panic gripped Buffy’s heart and squeezed tightly, as tightly as she held the aforementioned books to her chest.
“Will, just… just think about what you want to do. You want to bring Buffy back to life.”
“How can you see this as a bad thing, Xander? Don’t you miss her?”
“Of course I miss her!” he replied angrily. “Every second I miss her. You know how hard it is. I would love for Buffy to be back, but this… this is just wrong, Willow.”
“Any more wrong than asking me to fix that thing?”
“Listen,” he began calmly. Buffy could hear for herself that Willow was on the brink of tears. “We all decided that we needed the Buffybot. We need it so we can… God…”
“I have to do it, I know,” Willow said calmly. “But I’m not going to look at that thing everyday knowing that’s all I’ll ever see of Buffy again. I have to bring her back. I can’t even bear to think of where she is now.”
“We should leave,” Xander said finally. “Giles will want to know what’s taking so long.”
They began to shuffle out.
“What about Dawn? Should we check on her before seeing Giles?”
“Spike’s with her. He’s in better shape now, and I’m sure he won’t let anything happen to her.”
The bell jingled over the door as it closed behind them.
Buffy stared at the reference books in her arms. The temptation to leave them behind and run in the direction of Revello Drive was overwhelming.
How many times have I wished for this; for just one more moment with him? Maybe that’s why I’m here…
Buffy didn’t know why she was there, but she wasn’t silly enough to believe that this time-traveling adventure had been a gift. She needed to find out why she was there so that she could find a way to deal with this situation and then be done with it.
She knew it did no good to dwell on the past. Reliving it could only be worse.
* * * *
Spike frowned at the TV. Summers’ house had cable, yet at this time of the night nothing good was ever on. And he definitely wasn’t in the mood for Leno.
He went to reach for the remote when there was a whimper of objection from the girl sleeping on his shoulder. Spike looked at her, struck for the first time at how much this girl actually looked like Buffy. They shared the same beauty, although they expressed it in different ways.
Spike hated her for it. This girl would forever walk around looking like someone he’d lost, and may even in the future look more like her. He hated her so much in that moment that he almost growled, wishing that he could do away with her. Spike grabbed a handful of her hair without thinking, not pulling so that it caused pain, but there was enough pressure to wake the girl.
“Spike?” she said sleepily, blinking sleep from her eyes.
His grip on her hair lessened, and he felt the anger clutching his heart unravel as he saw the familiar light in Dawn’s eyes, the light he’d noticed but never really given much thought to. This girl was like the Slayer, owner of inquisitive yet knowing looks that made him wonder how old her soul was. How could he even think of hating her?
“Shh,” he said soothingly, releasing his grip on her hair and smoothing it back into place with gentle strokes of his hand. “Go back to sleep, Nibblet.”
Dawn closed her eyes and laid her head back on his shoulder, a sigh her only release for the pain she still felt. “Dreams aren’t so bad tonight,” she mumbled gratefully.
Spike’s eyes began to water as he realized for the first time that he truly loved this girl.
* * * *
Buffy sat on the dusty old sofa with her feet tucked beneath her, flipping through page after page and coughing. She must be getting some kind of cold from living in this musty mansion. There was mold and dirt everywhere, which didn’t exactly make it a healthy environment to live in. It never bothered Angel, but then of course, vampires don’t get colds.
She scratched the scar on her neck idly as she read about temporal disturbances. This one man, a watcher, once went back in time and accidentally killed himself. Buffy was trying to figure out how that would work—I mean, doesn’t any idiot know not to stab themselves in the back? Besides, how did anyone would know about it? The Council did find out, though, and they called upon their temporal agents to remedy the situation. Buffy wished those agents had their number listed. They’d make her situation easier to figure out.
Buffy continued to research well into the night, even as the first slivers of light were creeping along the horizon. She gave into fatigue eventually, but before she passed out Buffy felt like she’d learned enough to determine how she was there, if not why.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/75651.html