Title: End of the World
Timeline: BtVS - Post season 7 , AtS - Post season 5
Spoilers: References (loosely) to S8 of BtVS and Christopher Golden's 'Lost Slayer'
Summary: Everybody wants to live forever, except some don't.
A/N: I can't count how many of these types of fics I've written, but I'd like to think they're not carbons of each other. This one hit when I was capping Law&Order episodes, of all things.
Beta: Not. Sorry. I'm looking, though, if anyone is offering.
Feedback: is a must!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.
They all fell, one by one, and Dawn watched it with tears that became a permanent fixture on her features. Principal Wood was first, and as she watched Faith scream in fury and take on the eight monsters that killed her boyfriend, sobs racked Dawn's body as Faith killed them all, because across the battlefield, another skewered Giles through the chest.
As Giles' glasses fell from his face into the mud, the girl who wasn't sank to her knees, mirroring the action as her sister's Watcher died and the demon pulled his weapon from his corps and moved onto the closest Slayer. It all felt so unreal watching the scene play out like all of her worst nightmares combined, and even as she cried and screamed it felt like it couldn't really be happening. It kind of felt ironic, that they'd spent so many years trying to keep the Hellmouth in Sunnydale closed while the one in Cleveland was dormant, yet so soon after they sealed theirs, the second one gave way and spewed out more nasties then they could count.
As girls went down all around her, she gave one final scream of defiance and rose, sword in her hand, and at the sound, Dawn was rushed by three of the same kind of thing that killed Giles. She took them down with ease, but hadn't realized a fourth come up behind her and she felt a pain in her abdomen. Looking down, she saw the wooden pike favoured by the hellspawn protruding through her side, she screamed again. As the thing pulled it's weapon out, she whirled around and cut off it's head.
Still screaming, she continued on, slicing through one after another, her wound that should have been fatal glowing and seeming to heal itself going unnoticed by her as she continued to take down the ranks. Unnoticed by the girl, but not by the monsters she slew. They stared at her in horror as she reduced their numbers and gave the others a fighting chance. Ronda gave a battle cry and when they made eye contact, the Slayer grinned and winked but all Dawn could do was grimace and try not to look at where she knew either man lay.
After that battle, nothing was the same. Buffy had lost the last of the innocence she's managed to hold onto throughout that last year in Sunnydale, Xander was only sticking around to do all the damage he could to avenge Anya, Willow hadn't been the same since she walked in on Kennedy and August a few years back, and Dawn... hadn't aged a day since that day Giles died.
They all looked at her differently since someone had told them about Dawn's miraculous recovery. At first, no one had believed it, but then, slowly, they started to treat her differently. Andrew was the most obvious, but that was because he kept hanging around her and comparing her to Wolverine after seeing her get a paper-cut and having it heal almost immediately. Then the Slayers, Kennedy and August first, followed by Anna, and most of the other girls. Finally even Xander and Buffy stopped sitting with her at meal time and Willow began avoiding her all together. Only Ronda and Faith still treated her the same and it became an unspoken thing that regardless who was assigned to work together, it was always the the three of them because no one else would go into the field with Dawn.
It wasn't for a little while that Dawn realized that she wasn't aging, almost three years after the fact, but no one else had either, because they all had more pressing things to worry about. It was just that Ronda had made a joke that while they probably wouldn't live to thirty, they all looked older then her parents and Dawn realized that she still didn't look older then nineteen or twenty. That night, she used Ronda's knife to cut off her hair and started dressing more like Faith. A few nights later, Willow just vanished. No note, no explanation, just gone. When Buffy found out, her face hardened, the scar on her lip becoming more evident and she shrugged like it didn't matter.
"Let her go. It's her choice." Xander caught her eye, glared at Buffy and left, slamming the door behind him.
In that instant, Dawn hated them both. Willow for abandoning them and Buffy for not caring. It was the first emotion she felt in a long time. It hurt, it burned, it made her feel like screaming until her throat was raw and she couldn't move. It felt damn good.
Buffy was killed in the field almost a year to the day Willow left, along with Andrew, Kennedy, Satsu and about a dozen other new girls. They held a brief funeral without anything left to bury. After that, the girls started dropping like flies. Xander kept trying to keep up people's spirits, but when he died a few weeks later, that was it. In just a few short days, it was just Ronda, Faith and Dawn.
Storming the fucking stronghold that had been built miles around the Hellmouth had been Ronda's idea, the last act of the desperate. But it didn't matter. Faith and Ronda never really expected to come out of it alive and Dawn prayed that she'd be able to die along with them.
Apparently, God doesn't answer prayers of energy in the form of a girl.
They hold a vigil every few years, it's not planned, it just sort of happens, the five of them. They all just sort of show up in the ruins of Angel's old building, without any prior contact between them and remember. An odd mix of the damned, standing around what used to be the lobby and mourning the dead at the same time as resenting them for being able to die.
Angel, in his torn and blood-stained jacket, looks the worst, like a corps that doesn't know it's supposed to stop moving once it's been killed. He hasn't left LA since he took on Wolfram & Heart, yet Dawn knows he only enters this building when they're here.
Spike stands across from his sire, both an act of defiance and a need to be close to the man who in many ways was his idol, but as a vampire and a man looking for redemption. Every time Dawn sees him, she feels like the 14 year old looking for protection from the man who somehow manages to terrify and fascinate her. Dawn suspects that he still kills humans, though, because he doesn't look malnourished like her used to when the chip in his head worked and is holding up much better then Angel does.
Willow is beside Angel, hair black and dressed like a fairytale witch. Her hair blows slightly in a breeze that Dawn can't hear or see, and the black veins that she had when she was avenging Tara's death seem to come and go. She's lost all of her Willowness, and has only shown even a flicker of her humanity when remembering Tara.
Dawn has Spike and Willow on either side, despite the fissions of fear she gets when she looks at her old idol. Her hair is uneven from cutting it herself and her clothes are form-fitting and well worn for maximum maneuverability, because even though she can't seem to die, she hates the reminder of it.
The last person is positioned between the two vampires, and Dawn's not really sure what her story is. Her hair is dark blue and she's got a blue hue to her bone white skin. She wears a leather outfit that Faith would have loved and has a sense of entitlement like no one else she's ever known.
The five of them just stand there, sometimes for more then a day, without speaking, until, one by one, they can't anymore and just sit down on the filthy floor and once they're all sitting on the ground, Spike and sometimes Dawn chain smoking, they remember everyone they've lost and share stories that they all have heard and each remember a little differently, even if they weren't there to experience.
But when they leave, the tears that haven't stopped falling for so many years, since Principal Wood fell first so many years ago, finally reach an end.
They've all fought each other at one point or another, sometimes over a look or a gesture, other times over the way one of them remembered something, sometimes just out of the need to express something, to feel something. Every single one of them have fought every one of the others, except for Dawn and the blue girl. Dawn gets the impression that even Willow knows her, although she doesn't know how. Maybe in those years she was AWOL.
This time it's Spike and Dawn. Obviously, it's wrong of her to remember Buffy in any sort of negative light, because when she mentions how she felt when Willow left, Spike's on top of her, his hand on her throat and in full vamp-face. He looks like he's moments from biting her, but as vicious as his attack is, her anger from the memory is stronger and she's punching his gut. She flips them both over, and begins to pound on him and for every blow he lands, she gives him three in return. Finally, he bucks her off, and then they're on their feet, still trading blows. Dawn kicks him in the stomach and he doubles over. The win feels too easy for her, but he doesn't strike back. Following one of their unspoken rules, he walks out with as much dignity he can manage after having his ass handed to him by a girl he helped protect so many years ago. Illyria watches them, intrigued, and after Spike's out of sight, Angel snarls and leaps to his feat, looking like he's about to take her on next. Dawn looks him in the eye, her message clear; she's challenging him to try and take her, begging him to try and kill her. She's asking him to be the one who can take down the Key in front of the Destroyer of Worlds and the Madwoman. But he doesn't. After a moment, he sits back down, his posture straighter, but with no inclination to fight. That night, she leaves and the others watch, but don't say anything to convince her to stay. That's not how this works. In another few years, they'll meet back here and do this all over again.
Everybody wants to live forever, but that's only because they don't really know what it means. They think that it's about being young and beautiful forever, or at least staying with the people you love, having fun in the body you were born in, breathing the clean air and having the sun on your skin.
Even the few thousand humans left, living in small groups around a world now run by demons, monsters, vampires and other things Dawn doesn't have a name for, people who never knew what the world was like a couple hundred years ago, still dream of being able to live forever. There's still Slayers being chosen, from what Dawn's heard, but she's got no interest in finding out who the lucky girl happens to be right now. As soon as the hoards find out who she is, there'll be another being Chosen. That's just how it works now, the same as how it did at the dawn of time, when the first watchers had the poor girl chained in a cave, forcing the power onto her, despite that she wanted nothing to do with it.
Angel still fights for redemption, although Dawn suspects that it's not so much for the things that Angelus did, but more because he doesn't know what else to do.
Willow's become something of a legend, people referring to her as the Madwoman and she's somewhat of an enigma to everyone but four shadows of people who used to be.
Illyria's been rebuilding an empire that Dawn vaguely recalls reading about in Giles' old books. She's never put the name with the woman before, but when the ancient being offered Dawn a place at her side, she made the connection. She politely turned her down, and Illyria had tilted her head to the side, looking unsurprised, yet still disappointed. "Should you change your mind, you will be welcome." she intoned before turning and disappearing into the darkness. Every now and then, Dawn is tempted to take her up on her offer, but never does.
Then there's Spike. The only true connection to her old life. He may be the one she clashes with the most, but that's only because he's the only connection to her humanity. It's been so long that if it weren't for him, she's not sure she would bother following the call back to LA. But then again, would she really have a choice? She just doesn't know.
They are all there again, with Angel being the last to arrive as always, and Dawn feels herself sink to her knees as soon as he takes his place across from Spike. She has no reason to stand any more. She feels as though she no longer has a reason for much at this point. Her hair is long again, in a tight braid that she pulls so tight that it hurts, because at least then she is feeling something, if only for an instant.
They all seem to sense her resign and sit down as well. And when she opens her mouth to begin her tribute, she realizes she can no longer remember what she was going to say. She can picture blond hair and green eyes, but who she is or what she meant to Dawn is a blank. She can't remember anything about her and that realization leaves her feeling so empty that she finally is able to cry again, she cries until her throat is raw and she aches inside, so hard that her body is shaking and Spike goes over to her and wraps his cold arms around she small body.
"I can't remember."
And after a long time, her shaking subsides, and through her exhaustion she looks up and sees the others standing around her. She can;t even remember the name of the woman with black hair and layered dress, but her face seems somehow softer then it did when she first walked into the room and that is enough to allow her to feel a little more at peace.
Everybody wants to live forever, except for those who will.