A/N: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon. All we own is a wicked obsession with both.
I jolted in my seat as a voice boomed overhead. "Flight 217, Sunnydale, California; now boarding." I took one last look around the tiny terminal, wishfully thinking that maybe Edward had changed his mind and would come with me. In fact, I found myself almost bailing on my flight altogether and saying to hell with my destiny...but I knew it wasn't that easy. A Slayer's work was never done, and I couldn't just dump my responsibilities on my friends and family.
Not again, anyway.
I walked through the automatic doors and into the slight drizzle where the teensy plane was waiting to carry me safely home. I hoped. That was the problem with small-town airports: you always had to fly on those tiny, rickety things that seemed to shake and make an obscene amount of noise in even the slightest turbulence.
I took a window seat and rested my head against the cushiony headrest as I waited for take-off, my mind drifting back to my final moments with Edward. It killed me that we didn't have more time together, but I had a destiny to fulfill and I knew he had his own life here.
This was right.
The flight wasn't an overly long one, which was nice since I was a terrible flier.
Yeah, Buffy Summers: killer extraordinaire of all things that go bump in the night is terrified of flying. Go figure.
By the time we touched down at the small, almost non-existent Sunnydale airport—which seemed more like JFK compared to Forks'—I felt a little bit better. When I stepped off the plane and into the sunlight, I could smell the salt from the ocean wafting through the air, and my skin soaked up the rays as they beat down on my face.
Excitement and joy consumed me as I passed through the doors to the main terminal and saw a familiar face. I could feel my smile stretch from ear to ear, and my heart strained in my chest. My feet took off running before I could even think.
"Mom!" I threw myself into her arms and held her as tight as I could without crushing her. Sure, it had only been a little over a week since I had left, but that was just too long to go without my mommy.
"Hi, honey. How was your flight?" she asked, holding me tightly.
I withdrew from the embrace and looked into her sparkling eyes. "Bumpy," I informed her. "I'm putting a word in with the Council for a private jet." We turned toward the luggage conveyer belt, mom keeping one arm wrapped tightly around my shoulder as we walked, and I continued my incoherent babbling. "They want me to save the world from unspeakable evil? I wanna travel comfy. It's really not too much to ask."
With my bags in tow, Mom and I made our way to the car and headed for home. As we drove through downtown Sunnydale, Mom was busy telling me about the new exhibit she was in charge of.
"I think you'd really enjoy it, Buffy. I know the museum stuff has never really been your thing..."
"Now, Mom, that's entirely un-true. That Madame Tussand's wax museum with the life-like Brad Pitt is exactly my cup of tea," I corrected her.
She laughed. "All right, fair enough. But I'm being entirely serious here. In the early nineteen-twenties, he found his most enigmatic subject in the modern American woman during the influx of them in the working world." She turned to look at me. "And I figured you, of all people, could appreciate something as socially dynamic as that. Edward Hopper's work was—" I gasped at the artist's name, and I felt a tug at my heart as I blinked back the tears that stung my eyes.
She quickly turned to look at me. "Buffy? What's wrong?"
I gave her a small smile. "I'm sorry. No, I'm fine. I just really missed you," I told her.
She eyed me skeptically. "You're sure?" I nodded my reply. With her eyes refocused on the road I was able to get my emotions back under control. "Oh! Before I forget, we have a meeting with Principal Snyder the day after tomorrow to discuss your reinstatement." Mom's eyes never left the road as she navigated her way through the abandoned streets. "Since the last time we've met with that angry little man, I've spoken to the school board and everything is in place. But he still seems to think what he has to say matters."
"Okay," I said quietly as I stared out the window. It wasn't long before we pulled into our driveway.
"Home sweet home." Mom put the car into park and we climbed out. I headed around back for my luggage. "Oh, why don't you let me grab those? Go inside and rest up for a bit," Mom offered.
With a small laugh, I looked at her. "Mom, I have a year's worth of clothes in two suitcases. I think you're seriously underestimating just how many times I had to sit, jump, stuff, and jump some more before Eeehh…I was able to get it zipped." I felt my cheeks burn with my almost-mention of Edward. She looked at me suspiciously and I quickly turned away. "Plus, Slayer strength came with the enrollment package," I joked as I opened the hatch and pulled my luggage easily from the vehicle.
"Maybe so, but I think she wanted you inside so we could all hop out and yell 'surprise'."
I jerked toward the familiar male voice and let out the girliest of all screams. "Xander! Oh my gosh!" I pulled him into a hug. "Ugh! I've missed you so much!"
As I peered over his shoulder I saw Willow flanked by Oz, Cordelia and Giles. Tears streamed from my eyes as I let go of Xander and rushed toward Willow. We giggled uncontrollably as we hugged, both of us simultaneously talking a mile a minute and yet still understanding everything the other was saying. It was a girl thing.
"Buffy," Cordelia spoke up. "You look...well, you've looked better. Your skin is pale and your hair is in dire need of a deep conditioning." Her tone was friendly enough, and it was good to see her lack of tact was still firmly in place. It wasn't like I expected a hug from her, but anything a little less "Cordelia-esque" would have been a welcome change.
I raised a single eyebrow at her and smiled. "Thanks? It's good to see you, too."
My eyes travelled to Oz and Giles, who had hung back on the porch. Always a man of very few, monosyllabic words, Oz gave a very characteristic head nod to welcome me back, while Giles offered a wave.
"You guys, this is so great! I missed you all so much," I exclaimed, fighting back more tears of happiness.
"We missed you too, Buff," Xander said with a grunt. I turned to look at him as he attempted to hoist one of my gigantic suitcases. "Holy crap! What did you do? Stuff a body in here?"
I rolled my eyes and rushed to his aid as he struggled. I grabbed the handles of both suitcases and easily picked them up off the ground and took them inside.
"Pffft. I was just getting warmed up," Xander scoffed in an effort to fluff his male pride.
"I know Xand, but I wanted them inside this side of today," I teased.
When I stepped through the front door I let out a sigh of contentment. I was home. I quickly put my luggage in my room before joining all of my friends downstairs. We sat around talking for hours until the sun started to set and everyone had to start heading for home. Oz was the first to go since he had band practice that night, and Willow assured him she would find a way home later.
"Okay, well I'm not allowed on school property until the day after tomorrow when mom and I talk to His Ugliness. So, I'm thinking tomorrow we picnic just across the street. I'll bring the yummies, you all just have to show up and eat," I said as we all stood in the doorway
"Oooh! Picnic!" Xander exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.
I laughed and watched as he and Cordelia headed for her car before I turned to my mother. "Mom, would it be all right if I walked Willow home? I need to get a little patrolling in tonight anyway."
"Yeah, of course. Be safe," she said.
"I will!" I called after me as I pulled Willow from the house.
We walked down the street and toward the cemetery, all the while Willow filling me in on the gossip around school. "So Harmony allegedly went to Paris for the summer and is now dating this guy named Pierre. She's been flashing his picture all around school, but I swear it's just the guy that comes in most of the frames in every major department store," Willow said before we burst into laughter.
As I gasped for air I responded, "I can't even say I am at all surprised. I mean, you'd have to either be deaf or undead to be involved with her."
We walked through the main gate into the old cemetery and began winding slowly between the gravestones, scoping out the ground for any fresh graves. I pulled out a stake and handed it to Willow before gripping Mr. Pointy in my right hand—merely a precaution.
"So, how was Forks?" Willow asked quietly as we scanned the darkness.
"Rainy, but it definitely had its perks," I said with a sly smile and a faint blush that was hidden in the night. "I'm glad to be home again, though."
"And Edward? How's he? Are you guys going to stay in touch?" Willow prodded, bumping me with her elbow. She smiled at me playfully, sticking the tip of her tongue between her teeth and wrinkling her nose like she always did.
"I don't know." I smiled fondly at the memories of last night and this morning. "Edward's…good would be a serious lack of just how great he really is, Will." I pulled her toward one of the old concrete benches outside the DuLac mausoleum where we sat down. "It's weird, after everything with Angel I figured I would never be able to really live again, you know?
Willow shrugged. "Well you were kind of mopey, but we all understood why and would never pressure you."
I sighed. "I know that. Honestly, I don't know that I can even explain what I felt when I was with Edward." I thought back to what he had told me. "He said I was lost in heartache and despair…that we both were, actually…and that somehow fate led us to one another. Then, without meaning to, we helped each other heal."
I flipped Mr. Pointy back and forth between my hands as I continued. "I'm going to miss him, but I think I'm finally ready to move on," I said quietly, talking mainly about Angel, but realizing that my words also pertained to how I felt about Edward.
"So, you guys just ended things?" Willow inquired.
I nodded solemnly. "Yeah. It was the right thing to do, though. I mean, I have my life here and he has his there. It's fine. We accepted the way things had to be and we're…happy."
Willow smiled wide and pulled me into her arms. "Then I'm happy you're happy. No one deserves it more than you, Buffy."
Suddenly there was a low growl from behind me. "Hold that thought," I said before jumping to my feet and fighting with my newfound zest for life.
I was back.
It had been a week since my arrival back in Sunnydale and a lot had happened.
I was reinstated at school and doing a ton of make-up tests to try and catch up. The new slayer showed up, and while she was a handful, I felt better having someone to watch my back day after day. Oh, and Scott Hope had asked me out, and more importantly, I accepted. It was time for me to move on and get as much of the normal back that I could.
There was only one more thing I had to do before that was possible.
I stood at the end of the long, winding path to the now-abandoned mansion, breathing steadily as I prepared myself for this. I held my clenched hands in front of me and fought back the tears that were associated with the last time I was here.
"You can do this. You have to do this. It's time to let him go," I told myself.
With a deep breath, I took my first step forward onto the property. I pushed the heavy front door open and stared at the charred marking on the ground from the spot I had slain Angel and sent him to Hell. With a shaky breath, I walked toward it and stopped in the centre. A single tear fell from the inner corner of my eye as I opened my right hand and looked at the Claddagh ring that he had given to me as a token of his love.
I kneeled down and placed the ring on the floor. "Goodbye," I whispered to the room, and when I stood, it felt as though an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I took a quiet moment of reflection before exiting the mansion.
As I walked off the property, there was a flash that lit up the sky and I inhaled in hopes of catching a scent of the oncoming rain, only to find nothing. I couldn't even be disappointed, though, because the burden of my past had finally been set free. I smiled and made my way to State Street to meet Scott at the Film Festival.
It's funny, you know? Sometimes, when you least expect it, the happiness you thought you'd once lost just shows up again. Almost as though it materialized from thin air and dropped from the Heavens…
A/N: BPOV brought to you by AngelGoddess1981 :)
Well, what can I say about this amazing journey?
When maniacalmuse first approached me with the idea of a crossover it was first just asking my opinion on what I thought. Of course, being a die-hard Buffy fan since the movie came out in 1991 (Yes, I realize that dates me, but whatevs) and the series debuted in 1997, I was super pumped for this story to be born.
Then, upon further discussion, we realized that Sherri not only bid on a story by muse, but also one of mine in the auction…so we talked about it some more and then asked Sherri how she'd feel about us teaming up and tag-teaming the hell out of these characters, and possibly expanding it into a multi-chaptered short story.
We were beyond thrilled when she said yes!
So, weekly play-dates (for our kids :P) also became weekly plotting sessions to create this world. Upon further plot development, I posed the question "Well, if Edward is going to be canon, why don't we make Buffy canon…but post-Angel Slayage?" I knew I had her, because, let's face it, muse: you like your angst…and this promised to have little bits thrown in. We didn't want it to overpower our story, but to be just enough to grip our hearts and have us remember that anguished look on the face of our first leading vampire for 8 years when Buffy sent him to Hell.
For those of you that followed the television show, you may have noticed that this story took place between the Season 3 episodes Dead Man's Party and Faith, Hope and Trick.
Why did we choose to place the story in the Buffyverse when we did?
First: Buffy was in a really dark place after killing Angel in Becoming, and I was curious to explore how meeting Edward could have helped her through that pain. Would she be closed off emotionally from any and all relationships? How easy would it be to break down that wall that she had carefully built around her emotions?
Second: After having dealt with Angel and his curse, how would she react to meeting a vampire that wasn't born void a soul, but instead lived his life in denial of the obvious truth?
Third: It worked with the High School timeline. That was important. muse knew she wanted this to be pre-Twilight, and I wanted them to meet at the same "point" in their lives (even if Edward is 80 years Buffy's senior ;)). Plus with Buffy being expelled from SHS for her delinquent behavior, it was easy enough to transfer her to get a head-start on catching her up before her mom got her re-instated by the California school board (you know, because Snyder was a "tiny impotent Nazi with a bug up his butt the size of an emu" :P).
Now that you're all in the know on the ins and outs behind our story-planning process, how do you think their meeting and whirlwind relationship would have affected Buffy in the series? Would she have been a little less leery of men that were interested in her shortly after Angel (Scott Hope)? More intuitive to the intentions of the less worthy ones later on (Parker Abrahms)? Would she have been more willing to admit her true feelings for Riley Finn before it was too late? I would love to hear each and every one of your thoughts regarding my thought process.
Huge thanks to all of you who read and reviewed our first ever collaboration! This won't be the last, either!
maniacalmuse…there aren't words to describe just how much fun I had writing this with you! I am so glad that we could tackle this story together, and you are not only my soul-mate in life, but also in fiction :P. I love you, and couldn't imagine my life without you.
As always - Thanks for reading!! Please review!!