From Within

"From Within"

by Lisette -- Lisette_1@lycos.com

Legalese: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and the WB. No profit is being made by this short story.

Author's Note: I know that it's been awhile, but I couldn't resist this short story after seeing the episode, "Spiral." This story is a spin-off of that episode, showing that sometimes escaping into the furthest regions of our minds isn't the best answer as what our imaginations deal up for us could be our worst nightmares. Enjoy.

Rating: R for Content and severe angst.

From the episode "Spiral," aired on 5/8/01... what did happen...

As Buffy watched in growing confusion and horror, Ben's lean form arched back and then shifted until it was Glory that was standing before them. Eyes growing wide in shock and horror, she slowly, almost mechanically, drew her sister's shaking form behind her as Glory stretched casually before them, a large smile lifting her painted lips.

"Well, what do you know?" the hell-god asked, grinning broadly at the slayer and her friends, all literally frozen by shock. "Little Ben finally did something right," she laughed as her eyes homed in on Dawn, causing Buffy to stiffen.

"The Beast..."

Surprised, Glory turned towards the knight, bound to a pole in the center of the darkened room. Instantly, Glory's smile seemed to freeze on her face as her eyes narrowed. "Hey, it's Greg-er," she scoffed, her eyes narrowing into slits as she eyed the man. Almost casually, she turned and lifted a hubcap from a table beside her and then heaved it, discus style, towards the bound man.

Unable to do anything but watch, Buffy blanched as the cold metal bit into the man's flesh, the sickening wet sound echoing throughout the room as his head dropped forward until his chin rested against his chest. Aghast, Buffy finally felt her paralysis began to crumble as she turned to glare at the smug god.

"Now it's not," Glory whispered as Spike charged her, his bandaged fists swinging before she easily backhanded the vampire, sending him flying back into Xander and them both to the ground in a heap of limbs.

Without a word, Buffy then launched her own attack, charging the god... only to be knocked back in a similar fashion, this time taking Willow down with her.

Smiling in satisfaction, Glory turned and faced the one that she really wanted, watching as the girl's eyes grew round in terror. Laughing, she quickly strode forward and seized the key's small wrist in an iron grip and began dragging her towards the door.

"Buffy!" Dawn cried out in panic, watching as Anya grabbed her other hand in a desperate attempt to help -- only to have it slide away as she was hauled from the building.

"Dawn!!" Buffy screamed, scrambling quickly to her feet and racing out the door, a fierce battle between Glory and the knights already raging beyond the magical field that Willow had created. Gasping, she quickly staggered towards the brief opening that Glory had created and threw herself against it, just as the doorway sealed once more, sending her rebounding back to the hard ground.

Grunting in pain, her body still protesting from the earlier fight, Buffy resolutely climbed to her feet and hobbled back inside the old shack, her bright eyes piercing her friend. "Willow!" she called out, her voice firm as she grabbed a wooden pole for support. "Get it down! Now!" she ordered as she turned just as quickly, hearing her friend's chant already begin as she hurried back towards the door... and slowly stumbled out, her heart dropping into her stomach at the area of destruction that lay before her.

Dawn and Glory were gone, nowhere to be seen, but everywhere that Buffy looked she saw the bodies of the dead and dying knights that had been her enemies just moments ago. Now, they were nothing more than a group of humans, humans that she was to protect, who had died at the hands of a god. Shaking her head numbly in disbelief, she turned at the broken words of one of the knights. He was dying, this knight who had led them -- she could see that.

"The Beast," he gasped, red blood staining his black chin.

Instantly, hot tears burned her vision as she vaguely heard the others pour out of the building behind her, their words dying away on the wind as Buffy surveyed the damage once more. Glancing down, it was almost as though she could see the blood that surely stained her own hands. In that moment, everything became clear to her. The knights had fought against her, trying to take her little sister away and she fought against these men, throwing everything that a supernaturally gifted Slayer had against them as though they were demons. She had killed ten men that day, not monsters. Their blood was on her hands, and looking around, Buffy saw that their numbers had been multiplied by the death that surrounded her.

Numbly, Buffy felt her legs finally give out beneath her as she slumped to the hard ground, falling back as the tears poured unheeded down her pale cheeks. She was a murderer -- not a defender of light and justice. She was the Chosen One and she had slaughtered misguided but innocent humans. Giles was dying -- her father and mentor was dying. She had lost Dawn... she had failed everyone.

And then the outer world was gone around her as Buffy withdrew to a place within herself where nobody could reach. Then again, in the end she hadn't gone to a better place as her lethal imagination supplied the rest...

From Within

From within Buffy's tormented mind... what could have happened...

"I'm sorry," Buffy whispered, gripping Giles' hand tightly with her own, feeling his strength slowly slip away. Shaking her head, she looked down at his battered figure, lying so still on the table in the abandoned building where they had taken refuge from the knights. Biting back tears, she forced her eyes away from the sight of his bloodied side where the lance had pierced him, wounding him so grievously, and forced herself to instead lock on his beautiful eyes.

"What for?" Giles murmured quietly, his forehead wrinkling as he tried to focus on his ward's face.

"We should have stayed," Buffy whispered, slowly turning her eyes away as she surveyed the desolate room, noting every single scratch and bruise on her friends. Wincing, she turned back and smiled sadly at her Watcher. "If we had, none of this would have happened," she continued, shaking her head sadly as she waved a hand at the large room.... at his injured side.

"No," he gasped, his word expelled in such a great breath of pain that she wasn't even sure that's what he said. "What you did..." he trailed off, his eyes blinking under the waves of pain, "wa.. was necessary," he forced out, grinding his teeth together. With great effort, he forced his eyes to lock with his slayer. "... one I've.. always admired..."

"Yeah, running away?" Buffy laughed bitterly, feeling his hand grip hers even harder as another wave of pain washed over him.

"Being able," Giles continued, as if she had never interrupted, "to place your heart... above all else."

At this, Buffy felt fresh tears begin to burn her eyes. Desperate to keep them from falling, for breaking down now when so much was at stake, Buffy quickly shook her head.

"I'm so proud of you," Giles murmured, his grip on her hand loosening as the great darkness began to steal over his vision. "You've come so far..."

Instantly, Buffy began to shake her head, a deep frown pulling at her lips. She could recognize words of goodbye when they were thrown at her. In her short life, she had had to say goodbye too many times. Now, it seemed that another one was being forced upon her. In that moment, Buffy realized that Giles was dying. Quickly, the tears that had been flooding her eyes began to spill forth, pouring down her cheeks as Buffy squeezed his hand so hard that it should have hurt, should have brought some form of response from him. But it didn't as instead the Watcher blinked his eyes up at her slowly.

"You're everything.. a watcher..." at this, Giles trailed away, tears coming to his own eyes as the pain in his side finally began to lessen. "Everything I," he continued with a small smile, "could have hoped for...."

With this, Giles eyes slipped shut for the last time as his hand sagged in her own. Choking back a sob, Buffy slowly nodded her head as she gently lowered his hand, resting it lightly on his chest. And then, she took that moment to take in her Watcher, memorizing every craggy feature on his weathered face and committing it to memory. Giles was far more than just a stuffy old Watcher to her. She couldn't say when, but long ago he had stopped being her mentor to her, and instead quickly filled the role of her father.

Buffy had lost so much since she had become Slayer. Some could argue that her father, Hank, had left her and her mother all those years ago because of her becoming the Slayer -- because he couldn't handle the truth of what his daughter kept hidden. Her high school had burned down at her hands and he had disappeared. After that, she had lost Jenny Calendar. Even then, Miss Calendar wasn't Buffy's to lose even though in the end the woman had died fighting for Buffy, trying to fix Buffy's own mistake and making things right again. And she had died with Buffy hating her for who she was and for a mistake that had been her own. And then Angel had left.. repeatedly. She had sent her love to hell and he came back for her -- yet it still wasn't enough to make it work. He left because of her and too many times she had to say goodbye. Then it was Riley.. Riley had left because of her, because of who she was. She had driven him crazy and to vampires -- she had ruined him and she had driven him away. And then her mom..... her mom had died and left her all alone to raise and take care of a little sister that was never meant to be. She was the Slayer -- the protector of world and a fighter for the Light... yet she still needed her mother. Every little girl, no matter how old or young, always needs their mommy. Their mom takes care of them and can hold and protect them when the world gets to be too much. Their touch can make the worst that life throws at you seem like nothing. But her mommy had left her too.... and now her father as well.

Sighing, Buffy closed her eyes and made her legs turn to steel to keep her from swaying. She was an orphan now, an orphan in this cruel world left to deal with whatever Hell's Gates threw at her. She was left all alone to protect the world, keep her friends safe, and to keep her sister from a god. She was screwed.

Blinking back tears, Buffy turned away from Giles' body and realized that none of the others knew yet. None of the others realized that Giles was gone and that now she was all that they had. Wiping her eyes dry, Buffy watched as Anya stepped forward, trying to help Willow to feed Tara -- the ex-demon showing more human kindness than she knew she was capable of. Turning more, she watched as Xander talked quietly with Spike on the far side of the room, their words soft murmurings in the quiet room. And then there was Dawn.. little Dawnie sitting in the middle of the room, her knees pulled up to her chest and her eyes cast towards the floor. She was all that was left to protect all those in the room -- the only family that she had left.

"Dawn," Buffy whispered, slowly moving to her sister's side -- only to stop as a battle cry rang out from the knights that surrounded the building. "Willow?" Buffy quickly snapped, turning quickly to her best friend as she watched the color drain from the witch's face.

"They broke through," Willow whispered in response, the horror evident in her voice as she turned away from her love and quickly strode across the room, reaching for her spell book, lying beside Giles' still form. But Willow was never to make it to her book as the door beside her burst open, the windows smashing all around them as hell broke loose and as the knights stormed in.

"No," Buffy hissed, her eyes growing wide as she instantly realized that she couldn't protect them all. Hurrying to Dawn's side, she quickly drug her sister to her feet, wrapping her arms around her as she turned, just in time to see her friends engage in battle.

As the flood of knights poured into their sanctuary, Anya quickly staggered away from Tara and started across the room, her eyes locked on her boyfriend, who was already weighed down with fighting bodies. "Xander!" she cried out, her voice a plea of terror.

As Buffy drew back in horror, she saw that Anya never did see the knight's attack from beside her. She was so intent on reaching the only love that she had ever known that she didn't see the knight swing his arm back and then swing it out in a powerful arc, the heavy metal ball attached to the end of his stick connecting solidly with Anya's chest with such sickening force that Buffy could hear the wet crunching of shattered bones from across the room. "Anya, no," she whispered as she watched the young woman slump lifelessly to the ground.

"ANYA!!" Xander screamed, catching sight of her lifeless body. But then, his cry was cut short as one of the many knights that surrounded him took advantage of his distraction and quickly thrust forward with his sword, burying it deep in the young man's stomach as his eyes bulged out in surprised pain.

Grunting, the knight smiled into the dying man's eyes, watching as the blood gurgled up and bubbled from his mouth. Then, with a quick snap of his wrist, the sword twisted in his grasp, furthering the damage to the boy as he thrust it up to the hilt in the boy before quickly withdrawing the bloody metal.

"XANDER!!!" Dawn screamed, watching the gory sight from around her sister's protective arms as Buffy began backing them towards a corner, her panicked eyes sweeping the room.

"No," Tara whimpered, tears streaking down her face as she struggled with the knights that held her arms, her eyes locked on Willow's struggling figure.

"Burn the witch!" the two clerks demanded, holding their crosses before them as the knights easily pinned the young woman against one of the wooden walls.

"No, let me go!" Willow screamed, terror filling her eyes as she struggled against their vice-like grips.

"No, Willow!!" Tara screamed again, her poor befuddled mind understanding nothing except for the need to be comforted by her lover. "Willow!" she wailed again as the men struggled to hold her.

"Hold still, witch!" one of the men grunted, fighting to maintain his grasp of her arm as she twisted beneath his finger tips. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer, her fighting or her nonsensical wailing, and quickly wrapped his mighty arms around the girl's throat. Gritting his teeth, he then tightened his hold before jerking his arms quickly to the right, snapping the girl's neck like it was dry timber.

"No, TARA!!!" Willow screamed, watching her love's death as the girl was dropped like a piece of trash to the floor. "NO!!" she screamed again as she closed her eyes and began to chant. But then, her words came out as gargled gasps of blood as she felt a cold metal tear through her throat. Finally, her hands were released as Willow slumped against the wall, her eyes flying open to lock on the cold eyes of one of the clerk's, a bloody knife in one hand. Gargling her own blood, Willow lifted her hands weakly to her throat, feeling the warm thickness of her blood as she tumbled to the floor in death.

"No, no, no," Buffy murmured, shaking her head in denial as she stood in the corner of the room, her sister pressed against her back into the wall.

"Come on, Slayer," Spike hissed from before them, a sword held tightly in his bandaged hands. "We have to get Little Bit out of here!" he growled as he slashed down, once more killing another knight. When he got no answer, Spike stole one glance behind him and locked eyes with the Slayer. "Buffy," he urged, his voice soft as took in her haggard, wide-eyed gaze. But then, that gaze was no more as a knight took advantage of his distraction and swung his sword in a clean arc, the head of the vampire tumbling from his shoulders only to disappear in a cloud of ash.

As it cleared, Buffy stared in disbelief at the army of knights that stood before her. Here friends were all dead. Dead.

Surging forward, the men grabbed Buffy and drug her away from the wall, her sister's screams ringing in her ears. Quickly, the knights forced her to her knees on the dusty ground, their hands seeming to weigh more than the earth itself as they pushed on her shoulders, keeping her to her knees. And then, Dawn was drug, kicking and screaming before her and pushed down to the ground, facing her sister in a similar position.

"Buffy, help me," she moaned, her eyes clouded with tears and her voice shaking with terror.

"Dawn?" Buffy whispered quietly, as though she was watching this all from very far, far away. Watching as a knight lifted his sword from behind her sister and then swung it down with all of his might, the bright metal slicing into her sister right by the nape of her neck by her right shoulder and continuing down until it lodged itself in her heart cavity, as though he were slicing through warm butter, the girl's scream finally cut short. "Dawn?" she asked again as the look of death stole into her sister's beautiful dark eyes, slumping to the ground in a mess of blood and gore before her as the knight stepped away.

Quickly, roars of victory rose through the crowd of knights, their mission completed as the Key was finally destroyed. And throughout it all, Buffy could only look on at the death and destruction -- the carnage of her friends and family that surrounded her.

"The Slayer?" she vaguely heard one of the knights ask. "What of her?"

"Leave her," the general commanded, finally released of his bindings as he looked down upon the girl's downcast head with pity.

And then, they were gone and she was alone.. alone with her family. "I'm sorry," Buffy whispered, tears falling from her face. "I'm sorry."

The End

I hope you enjoyed the story -- please be sure to keep an eye out for the sequel to "The Chosen One," set to come out later this summer.