Provenance: Chapter 1
by Lisette: The television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters and material belong to Joss Whedon and UPN. All things Stargate: SG-1 belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I claim ownership solely of the story idea - no profit will be made by this.
Author's Note: There comes a time when an author has to admit that reviews are the fuel that drives a story to completion. After one year in which this story has lingered, stagnant and without completion, I have finally reached that time. I now openly admit that you, my dear readers, can be the only thing that will push this through until the end, finally freeing me of it so that I may once more direct my attention elsewhere - and yes, perhaps even back towards a sequel to Equinoxium. You see? I'm not above blackmail. Regardless, let it be noted now that this story is in no way associated with any of my previous works. It is a Buffy-character-centric fic that will quickly deter from the normal path. And yes, my friends, there will be drama. There will be angst. There will be action. There will be humor and yes, there will even be romance. Maybe I do have a heart after all. Enjoy.
Timeline: Set during BtVS 5:22 (ep. 100) "The Gift" and pre SG1 2:18 "Serpent's Song"
Brief Description: BtVS/SG1 – For Buffy, the end is only the beginning. It's time the Slayer was introduced to the Big Picture in all of its Technicolor Glory.
Rating: M for Language, Violent Content, and Sexual Themes
There are many times in life when people get so caught up in all of the Little Things that they fail to see the Big Picture - even when it's looming overhead. Sometimes it takes something catastrophic for people to take notice, and even then only because the Big Picture comes crashing down on their unsuspecting heads.
Buffy Summers was one such individual. Her life was filled with challenges, victories, and losses, and the heavy price that came with saving a world that never appreciated her many sacrifices. In the course of her battles she had already lost her life and her love; she had been betrayed by her government and even those closest to her. Yet it was in her fifth year of living on the Hellmouth that some of the greatest prices were demanded of her. She had lost friends before, and lovers as well, but never until this moment had she been forced to suffer the heavy loss of family. A brain tumor stole her mother from her, and then Fate demanded the sacrifice of a sister that was not truly her own, but one that had been created from her flesh, from her blood, and given a place in her heart and mind. In the end, this price had proven to be too great for a soul that had already suffered too much, and instead Buffy took the gift that the First Slayer had offered her. She chose Death.
It was just too bad that Fate chose that moment to step in and show Buffy the Big Picture in all its technicolor glory.
Features cold and impassive, Buffy lifted the heavy troll hammer and then brought it down with a swift, sure stroke that connected enchanted metal with weakened flesh, causing her opponent to stumble back and to her knees. The defeated eyes of the hell goddess glistened with tears, her smooth face smeared with the blood of a self-proclaimed god.
"Stop it," Glory ordered, but the strength was gone from her rich voice and instead the words carried like a desperate plea.
"You're a god," Buffy pointed out, her lips creasing in a thin, tight line as she lifted the hammer and let it fall in another devastating blow that sent the goddess reeling onto her back on the cold concrete. "Make it stop," she continued as she knelt over the prone being who had done so much damage to her friends over the past few months. For the first time, Glory was helpless before her, and Buffy felt her anger surge as she thought of her own feelings of helplessness that had plagued her for so long now, Spike's tortured body, Tara's vacant gaze, Giles' grisly wound, and her sister's frightened face as she looked to Buffy to protect her from a goddess. Over and over again Buffy brought the hammer down upon Glory's battered frame, so many days, weeks, and months of frustration pouring into this final, brutal act- until everything shifted as Glory morphed into Ben's blood-stained features.
"I'm sorry," he choked, his brown eyes locking with her cold glare.
Rigid, Buffy looked at this shell of a man - a man that she had trusted and who had betrayed that trust, and in doing so endangered her friends and family. She should hate this man for all that he had done, and yet Buffy couldn't help the small wave of pity for the creature that lay defeated before her. She knew what needed to be done to ensure the safety of the world, again, and yet this time Buffy found her resolve lacking. There had been so much death lately, by her hand, and by whatever hand controlled the fate of others. First cancer had taken her mother, and then Glory had taken Tara. Then the Knights had come and she had destroyed them without hesitation or compunction on the morality of taking human life... and then Glory had finished the job.
So much pain and death.
"Tell her it's over," Buffy stated, her voice betraying none of the weakness that flowed through her. "She missed her shot. She goes," she ordered, knowing even as she did so that someday she may live to regret this moment; that some day they may all live to regret this debilitating weakness that stayed her hand when more blood needed to be shed to end this once and for all. "She ever, ever comes near me and mine again..."
"We won't. I swear," Ben vowed as Buffy read the solemn promise in his eyes. He wouldn't be returning.
Dismissing him without a second glance, Buffy dropped the bloodied hammer and hurried away.
Dawn needed her.
"Chevron five encoded."
Hands tucked deep in his pockets, Colonel Jack O'Neill rocked back on his heels as his eyes remained riveted on the clock above the doors to the gate room. "Thirty seconds and counting, Danny-boy," he stated gleefully, well aware of his 2IC's bemused expression and the high arch of Teal'c's brow as his teammates waited beside him.
"Chevron six encoded."
"Any second now," he muttered over Sergeant Walter Harriman's familiar voice as he counted the seconds down. "Any-" he broke off as the heavy doors slid open to reveal his wayward archaeologist. As usual the younger man was burdened down with a pack that was double the size of any of the other team members, his boonie hat sitting skewed on his shaggy brown hair. "Damn," Jack cursed as Daniel came to a panting halt beside his three team members. "So close," he mused as the gate finished its final rotation.
"Sorry I'm late," Daniel wheezed as he attempted to straighten his heavy pack, apparently oblivious to Jack's disappointment.
"Chevron seven locked," came the announcement over the loudspeakers, drowning out Jack's retort as the wormhole activated and the gate exploded towards them in a rush of blue water.
"Oh, you weren't late, Daniel," Carter quickly assured with a cheeky smile as she pulled down the brim of her green hat. "I think by the Colonel's count you still had ten seconds left."
"This time," Jack corrected as he sent the captain a cool glare. "This time," he repeated before turning to where General Hammond watched from the control room. "All here and accounted for, sir," he called out with a head jerk to the fourth member of his team. "All set for a fun trip to PX..."
"PX3-582," Teal'c supplied with a slight incline of his head.
"Exactly," Jack agreed.
Smiling, General Hammond nodded his approval. "Then SG-1, you now have a go."
Throwing a jaunty salute in the general's direction, Jack turned and led the way up the shallow incline and into the shimmering lake of blue.
Dawn was screaming.
Legs pumping, Buffy flew up the final steps of the rickety tower just as a small, strange man in a black suit lowered a blood-stained knife to his side from where he stood before the tall brunette. "Dawn!" she cried as her sister's tear-stained face turned desperately towards her.
"Buffy!" Dawn gasped, the pain of the shallow cuts coloring her words.
"This should be interesting," the small man commented, readying his knife as Buffy strode forward, the small slayer barreling past him and absently pushing him over the ledge to clear the way to her sister.
"Here," Buffy reassured as she snapped the bonds holding the younger Summers with a sharp jerk of her hand, the sounds of her Dawn's pained sobs competing with the sharp scream of the strange man she had just killed, up until the point where his impact silenced his terrified cries.
"Buffy, it hurts."
"I got it," Buffy soothed, even as Dawn's three words ripped a few more jagged holes in her bleeding heart. This was her sister - the sister that was never meant to be, and yet the one that was more family than her father could now ever be. Dawn was all that she had left, and even if most of her memories were a lie, that couldn't stop the understanding that Dawn was a part of her - perhaps in an even truer sense than most sisters could claim. The monks made Dawn out of her flesh - out of her blood. "Come here. You're gonna be okay," she rambled, her platitudes coming automatically as she pulled the taller girl against her side, supporting her weight as she began leading her only remaining family from the precipice.
But even as Buffy led Dawn away from the long drop, she already knew that it was too late. The sharp copper scent of Dawn's blood drifted in the early morning breeze, and the small hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end as the very air became charged around them. She was the slayer, and as such it was impossible for her not to feel the changes that were being wrought behind them. She had been too late, but some part of her refused to accept this as she pulled her sister forward. Perhaps it was the little girl in her that had been stamped out far too young, but she couldn't help but think that if she didn't turn around - if she didn't stop and acknowledge the damage being done - then perhaps she would never have to.
A fantasy - one that was revealed when Dawn ignored their forward momentum and resisted her guiding arm. Wide, terrified brown eyes turned to her with such pleading that Buffy nearly crumbled there and then. Those eyes understood too much, and they were begging her to make things right - to do the impossible and take back what Glory had started. "Go!" Buffy ordered, the desperation to believe in that fantasy carrying into that one sharp word.
"Buffy, it's started."
Shoulders slumping, Buffy felt the agony of that fantasy crumble - every hope, dream, and wish for a better tomorrow disappearing with her belief in everything that was good and right. In that moment she finally understood true betrayal as she slowly turned towards the light of the crackling portal that was growing behind them.
Eyes riveted upon the familiar, rippling blue waters of the open wormhole, General Hammond watched as the last member of SG-1 stepped through the gate - just as the waters solidified into a crackling green lake of a turbulent sea. "What's going on?" he demanded, his usual soft Texan accent hardened beneath the instant worry for his flagship team.
"I don't know, sir," Sergeant Harriman quickly returned, his fingers flying over his keyboard. "The energy readings are off the scale and the wormhole hasn't disengaged... it's not responding to overrides," the man continued as Hammond took a step closer.
"Can you-" he began, his words faltering as a creature unlike anything he had ever before seen hurtled through the gate. It was bigger than Daniel Jackson's small car, with mottled green skin, intelligent eyes that flickered over the room, and talons that gouged the hard concrete as it skittered down the ramp and towards the armed men and women that fell back beneath gnashing teeth.
"What the hell?" someone muttered from behind him as the creature hissed at the soldiers that stood frozen in disbelief.
"That's impossible!" another technician stammered. "It's impossible for something to come back through an outgoing wormhole-"
"Close the iris!" Hammond snapped, his sharp command cutting through the shocked babble as the Sergeant moved to comply, only to shake his balding head a moment later.
"I can't sir," he admitted, just as the creature began to attack and as his men opened fire in the gate room down below.
As his feet once more found solid ground, Jack lifted his head to find not the abandoned hillside of PX3-582, but a large room done in typical Goa'uld gold, and crowded with an armed contingent of Serpent Guards with a very confused Apophis at its head. Instinctively tightening his grip on his weapon, Jack took a small, wary step forward as the rest of his team materialized beside him, their eyes locked on the strange tableau spread before them.
Shaking off his numb disbelief, Jack couldn't help but wonder who looked more confused by this turn of events - his team or Apophis. Which begged the question- "Hasn't anyone killed you yet?" he asked as he waved his gun towards their old nemesis - the nemesis who was most recently responsible for brainwashing Teal'c's son and impregnating Daniel's wife. Thin lips settling into a frown, he quickly turned to his second-in-command. "Carter?"
"I don't know, sir," she replied, her voice tight with tension. "We dialed PX-"
"Carter, does this look like PX3-582?" he demanded as he jerked his head back to the waiting Jaffa.
"Uh, no, Jack," Daniel interrupted with a cautious shake of his head. "It looks like Apophis' mothership," he continued as he nodded towards a window that revealed the vast emptiness of space.
"Didn't we already blow that up?" Jack returned, his spirits rapidly sinking.
"It would seem, ONeill, as though Apophis has acquired a new Goa'uld mothership," Teal'c responded evenly as Apophis' hard features slowly lifted in a chilling smile.
"Oh, for crying out loud!"
"You know you have to let me. It has to have the blood," Dawn choked as the tears continued to stream down her pale face. And in that moment, Buffy finally understood what the First Slayer had been trying to tell her all along.
Turning, Buffy's eyes followed the length of the rickety tower to where the path led to the sun that was rising so distantly in the east. The First Slayer had said that death was her gift, and she had been right. Death had been her gift for the dark creatures that she had spent the last five years battling, and it was her gift for her sister so that the younger girl could live a long and happy life, and most importantly, it was her gift for herself as reward for so many years of hard work, for all of her losses, and in payment for the parts of her soul that had been consumed in the battle.
It was time.
"Buffy... no!" Dawn whispered, apparently guessing her intentions by the look of peace that had settled upon her features.
"Dawnie, I have to," Buffy returned as she reveled in the alien feeling that had wrapped her in a warm, soothing blanket. How long had it been since she had known peace? How long since the weight had been lifted from her stooped shoulders?
"Listen to me," Buffy commanded as she turned to her sister with eyes that were finally less shadowed. "Please, there's not a lot of time, listen," she urged as the taller girl continued to protest, vehemently denying that which Buffy knew was rightfully hers to take. "Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you," she whispered, refusing to allow her sister to look away - to force her to read the truth in her own heartfelt gaze. "I will always love you, but this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles that I figured it out, and... and I'm okay," she stated, trying to put hours of explanation into the little time that remained. "And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other," she continued, feeling a pang as she realized how much her leaving would hurt them all. For a moment, she felt that pang widen into uncertainty, until once more the First Slayer's words rang in her mind.
There was no more time.
This was her time.
"You have to be strong," she continued, forcing the steel to return to her voice - only to have it falter as she fully allowed her sister's anguish to wash over her. The words 'I'm sorry' hung unspoken between them as Buffy struggled to pull her tattered resolve around her narrow shoulders. This was no time for apologies, for there was never time for apologies when it came to saying goodbye.
"Dawn, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live... for me," she finished as she ran her dirt-streaked hand over the curve of Dawn's cheek before pulling her close and pressing a soft kiss against her sister's smooth skin. The kiss lasted for but a moment, but it was a moment trapped in eternity as Buffy forced all of her love and strength into that simple gesture before she turned from her sister and ran towards the rising sun. With her arms spread wide Buffy jumped from the tower and allowed gravity to pull her down until the fierce waves of the portal's energy consumed her, body and soul.
First came light.
Then came pain.
And in the end there was darkness.
Mystified, Klorel, son of the mighty Apophis, ignored the hesitant warnings of his Jaffa guards as he slowly moved towards the flickering green light of the open wormhole. They were mid-dial on the gate's DHD when the portal had appeared, with no out-wash of water, and now, with the alien sun beating down upon his dark, braided locks, the warrior-child found his fascination outgrowing his distrust.
In all of the long knowledge of the Goa'uld, never before had such a thing occurred. To happen now, on the cusp of such a momentous day, heralded great things for the godling. Great things, indeed, he thought as the green light flickered over his tanned features, the energy fluctuating in stability before finally closing with a giant belch that sent one small form flying from the closing wormhole in a tangled heap of limbs that rolled bonelessly to stop at his sandaled feet.
Eyes narrowing, Klorel waved one of his Jaffa forward as his eyes traced over the small form of a young female - a slave, but one with unusual coloring. Her skin was bloodied and bruised, her features petite, and her hair the color of the sun - not unlike the Tau'ri woman, Captain Carter. Her clothing was strange - pants the color of charcoal and a heavy, high-necked shirt that was a dirty white, and black coverings upon her feet.
"She is dead," the Jaffa announced as he finished his quick inspection.
Frowning, he watched her still features a moment more before waving for the Jaffa to carry this new curiosity. Only time would tell of her significance, he reasoned as another Jaffa returned to the dialing device and began pushing the correct tiles.
To be continued...