Title: Left Behind

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Prompt: Buffy Summers, #38 - Legends for tth100.

Summary: BtVS, Star Trek. Years after her resurrection, Buffy learns the truth about the Nexus and grieves. 900 words.

Spoilers: B:tVS waaay post-"The Gift"; "Star Trek: Generations" (1994)

Notes: Sequel to "Being Inside Joy".

I am on the Enterprise...I am also here. Think of me as... an "echo" of the person you know... a part of her she left behind"
-Guinan, to Picard in the Nexus, "Star Trek: Generations"

When the Farragut returned to Earth with the crew of the Enterprise-D after the incident on Veridian III, the story made every major news channel. It wasn't the demise of the Fleet flagship that was on everyone's lips, however, nor the near-destruction of a star and the millions of innocent lives on Veridian IV. Even the involvement of the renegade Klingons, the Duras sisters, was reduced to a mere footnote in light of the real news that spread like wildfire across the Federation:

James T. Kirk, Star Fleet hero and casualty of the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B, had been alive in the Nexus all this time!

Much was made of his valiant last stand with Captain Picard against the malevolent El-Aurian, Soran. Hero to the last, Kirk had returned from the afterlife to pull off one last miracle! Old tales and mission logs were dredged up and discussed with varying levels of reverence or distaste, and legions of scholars lamented the necessity of correcting so many historical references. Some few even mentioned the reclusive Ambassador Spock, currently somewhere in the Romulan Empire, and wondered aloud how the half-Vulcan would take the news of his former Captain's brief reappearance.

The day after the Farragut's return to Sector 001, Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco made an official announcement of their intent to construct a monument to house the legendary Captain's body. Forty-two babies born that week were named James or Tiberius by nostalgic parents who recalled Kirk as a childhood hero, not all of whom were Human. And in a one-Starbucks town in California, a blonde woman locked herself in her room for two days and wept.

The memories of her time in Heaven had dimmed over the years, but some things about the experience Buffy Summers still recalled very vividly. She'd told her friends that she'd been with her mother that long summer she'd been dead, and it had been partly true; for a time, she and her mother had existed happily in an idealized version of their house on Revello Drive. Eventually, though, her still-present Slayer senses had broken through the pleasurable haze and informed her that nothing around her was real. That as wonderful as the place was, it was nothing more than a construction of her own mind given life by outside forces.

She'd become restless then, and wandered, changing the landscape around her as often as she'd once changed her shoes. It had reminded her of a story she vaguely recalled reading about a girl who, offered a choice of her favorite foods, had chosen dessert; when forced to eat only that for dinner every night afterward, the girl had eventually become desperate for anything else, even a grubby handful of raw hamburger. Buffy had found herself feeling much the same. Perfect as her afterlife was, there was nothing she could root herself to, nothing solid, nothing lasting.

And then she'd found Him. The one the newsfeeds called Jim Kirk.

He never asked how she got there. She never asked about the uniform, nor the way the years had melted from him when they'd met, turning him into an amazing golden creature with the most charming smile she'd ever seen. He blazed with life and raw passion, and she drank it in like a flower turning its face up to the sun. In his imaginary Iowa, she found the bliss she'd been searching for.

She'd never found it again, not from Spike, nor the Immortal, nor even Angel, whom she'd finally reunited with two years after the destruction of Los Angeles. The wrenching sense of loss she'd experienced when Willow forced her body back to life had never quite gone away, though her duty to sister, friends and Slayers had muted it a little. When another portal had opened in Cleveland that only a Slayer's blood could close, Buffy had leaped into it with a sense of relief. The others didn't need her any more, and she could finally go home.

Of course, it hadn't been that simple. The portal had brought her here instead, to an Earth several centuries removed from her own, with an entirely different history and no supernatural forces at all. She'd finally gotten her teenage wish; in this place, there were no foes to fight, no Purpose for her at all. She had nearly given up in despair.

And now-- and now it seemed she had been right to come here, after all-- too late to do much good. Her Heaven had actually been something called the Nexus, but she hadn't been there when Captain Picard had pulled a Willow and forced Jim back to life, too. Instead, he'd given his life stopping an apocalypse while she'd been wasting her time flipping burgers in this world's equivalent of her old stomping grounds.

Yet the Nexus still existed. And within it, according to the commentators, an echo of anyone who'd ever been torn away. Somewhere, a Buffy and her Jim might still be cavorting on that Iowan farm.

Buffy held onto that thought as the renewed grief burned through her like fire, and when the tears dried up she emerged a little paler and a lot more resolved. It was time and more than time that she made something of her life again. Once a Slayer, always a Slayer; even here, there must be something she could do to make a difference.