The Honor Guard
Summary: **Sequel to 'Bright Eyes'** Buffy watches her memorial service with an honor guard waiting to escort her to the afterlife.
Warning: I don't know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: for justapiranha, who thought Buffy should get her own goodbye, and my real life friend who suggested that using the Ghost Whisperer to pass along her last words would be a cool idea.
A/N: I was considering this chapter, then wasn't sure I wanted to bother with it, but then John Dye (Andrew) passed away last Monday, Jan 10th, and so I figured it would be a fitting tribute to put it back in.
Thanks to my betas: zigpal, AshDawnSoulmates and AerynSpeedleCaine.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Charmed characters belong to Constance M. Burge and WB. Ghost Whisperer characters belong to John Gray, Sander/Moses Productions, ABC Studios, and CBS Television Studios. Stargate characters belong to Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright / SyFy Channel. Supernatural characters belong to Eric Kripke and The CW. Touched By an Angel characters belong to John Masius, Moon Water Productions and CBS Productions. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
As the people who came to pay their respects danced away from the site of the memorial service, the Angel of Death – a kind man named Andrew – turned to the deceased Slayer and remarked, "And you thought that your life didn't have any meaning. See all the lives you touched?" He pointed to Jack Ryan, who was approaching Dawn, and said, "He's telling your sister that if she ever needs anything, he'll help her out. Your cousin wants to offer Dawn a place to stay with her in Pasadena, away from the Hellmouth."
He made comments about each of the speakers, and some of the people in the crowd who didn't get up to talk. Finally, he gestured to the Leverage team, saying, "You helped plant the seed of being a team in each of them. Before meeting you, none had considered trusting other people like they do now. You helped four lone wolves become a family. Granted, they're a bit odd, but they're still a family."
Turning away from the mourners, Andrew nodded to some people who had remained out of sight until then. "There was quite the commotion about who would get to be part of the honor guard to bring you to the afterlife, Buffy. Even those whose service extends past death wanted to be part of it. I'm told that you know Dr. Daniel Jackson?"
Buffy thought back for a second, then nodded, "Yeah, there was some snakey alien that felt like a demon a couple years ago? I know we got that one; did a different one kill you, Daniel?"
"Nothing like that, I'm afraid. I simply got in the way of some radiation poisoning," Daniel tried to downplay his death.
But the Angel of Death wouldn't allow that to happen. "Don't let his modesty fool you, Buffy. His sacrifice saved many lives that day," Andrew praised the archeologist.
Daniel blushed adorably, then changed the subject, "Anyway, I thought I should be the one to come see you. If I hadn't, I think Oma would have, and knowing how much you don't like cryptic messages, I was afraid that you'd end up punching her out or something. She basically can't say hi without being cryptic about it," he explained with a smile.
Another man stepped forward to be introduced. "And this is Leo Wyatt; he's a whitelighter. They're somewhat like guardian angels for special groups of people," Andrew explained.
After studying him intently a few minutes, Buffy finally admitted to the stranger, "I don't remember meeting you before. Did I know one of your friends or family members?"
"No. I happen to know a Potential Slayer, and thought it would be nice to tell her that I met an actual Slayer…just in case she was ever Called," Leo said with an odd expression – like he had something more to say but couldn't.
"Well, if you're her guardian angel and she does end up being Called, I hope you're good at your job." Remembering some of the Watchers she met, Buffy warned him, "Oh, and make sure she gets a good Watcher like Giles."
Leo gave her that odd look again, but promised, "I will."
Two familiar faces moved into view as Andrew said, "You remember Kendra and Merrick?"
Seeing them caused Buffy to start crying, "Oh god, why would you two want to be here with me? I got you both killed!"
Merrick moved first to hug his Slayer and reassure her, "Sweet girl, I hardly blamed you for what happened with Lothos. He had killed Slayers with much more training than you. But you still managed to kill him in the end. I wanted you to know how proud that made me," he said, tapping her under the chin affectionately.
Even though she didn't hug the blonde Slayer, Kendra still answered in her strong Jamaican accent, "It was my own fault for letting Drusilla capture my eyes. I'd been warned about her ability to enthrall people, but arrogantly believed I was stronger than that. I'm just sorry that you were blamed by that horrid little man for my death," she finished with a snarl.
Another stranger joined them, and Andrew introduced her, "Finally, this is Mary Winchester, the wife and mother of the family that you saved by killing Azazel, the yellow-eyed demon Bobby Singer talked about."
Mary pulled a stunned Buffy into a tight hug. "Thank you, Buffy. I couldn't stop the demon when I had the chance. I hated how my failure turned John into a man who couldn't see how his need for revenge was destroying his sons."
"He's okay now, though?" Buffy asked. Bobby hadn't said, and she was kinda curious.
"Yes," Mary answered with a bright smile. "When little Mary was born, he and Sam decided to let past grudges go. John and Dean still go out on hunts occasionally, but spend most of their time repairing cars near Stanford so they can spoil Mary rotten."
Buffy smiled at the image. "Cool."
"And of course you remember your cousin, Celia," Andrew said, pointing to a young girl.
"Hey, supergirl," Celia greeted her cousin. She was so pumped that Buffy actually turned into a real superhero. "Auntie Joyce is getting things ready for you. It's so funny to see somebody fussing in heaven 'cause everything's already perfect there. I think she was just too nervous to come back down so soon after she died," she babbled.
Just then a young woman with long brunette hair walked up to the area where the spirits were conversing. "Pardon me, but I was wondering if I could talk to Buffy?"
Shocked at the interruption, Buffy yelled, "Wait! You can see us?"
Melinda nodded, "Yes. Umm, I have this ability to see and talk to ghosts; help them work out why they haven't moved on yet – or at least try to. I actually was coming to Sunnydale to speak with you, but then I found out that you'd died. "
"If you didn't know I was dead, why were you coming here?" Buffy asked in confusion.
A look of sadness swept across Melinda's face. "To pass along a message from a different ghost…Riley Finn?"
"Riley's dead?" The news hit Buffy harder than she thought it would. "How did it happen?"
"He and his team were chasing a group of demons near the town where I live, and he zigged when he should have zagged…his words, not mine," Melinda clarified with a small smile. "Anyway, he wanted to apologize for the way he left. He knew that he was being an ass, but he hated the fact that he'd never be the love of your life. Jealousy makes people do stupid things."
"Apparently," Buffy said with a hint of bitterness. She had beaten herself up for weeks because of how things ended with him. "Was he happy? At all?"
Melinda nodded again, "He was working on it. Met a woman who's also a demon fighter, but their relationship was more balanced. He was her equal, not her sidekick. Again, his words."
"How's she handling his death?" Buffy asked, feeling sorry for a woman she never met.
The Ghost Whisperer shrugged. "She's mourning, but he said a goodbye to her, so I think she'll be able to move on."
"Good. Thanks for passing along the message from Ri," Buffy replied.
Before Andrew could say anything else, Melinda quickly offered, "I was wondering if you'd like to say anything to your friends and family – as long as I'm already here."
Turning to the Angel of Death, Buffy asked hopefully, "Is that okay?"
"Go right ahead," Andrew nodded.
The Slayer turned back to Melinda and warned, "Got a pen and paper? I've got quite a list."
"No problem," Melinda answered, holding up the required items.
Guessing she should keep the list somewhat small, Buffy tried to limit it to just the closest people in her life. "Okay, so let's start with…
Penny – Find out if she's serious about asking Dawn to move in with her. I'd love it if she were.
Anne – I'm so proud of what she's done with her life. She is an amazing person!
Wes – I'm sorry for the way I treated him when he first came, and yet I'm glad that he isn't a Council drone anymore. He's much cooler now.
Cordy – Tell her that she's right, even though we didn't always like each other, I would trust her to have my back for world save-age.
Oz – I hope he finds the peace he's looking for, and that he finds somebody who can accept and love all of him.
Spike – For a big bad, he's a good friend. Tell him thanks for watching out for my baby sis.
Anya – Thanks for the offer of Xander or money to come back, but my time is up. Just make him happy and that'll make me happy.
Tara – Her friendship when my mom died kept me from falling apart completely. Knowing that somebody else felt the same things made all the difference. Tell her she is my family, just like the others.
Angel – Tell him that I hope he finds his redemption someday. Other than the bad stuff, I don't regret our time together. I still care about him and he deserves to be happy. Oh, and get him to find a way to keep his soul from being pulled out so he can be truly happy!
Xander – He's the best brother/friend a girl could want. Tell him to marry Anya or I'll come back and kick his butt. She makes him happy, even if she is a bit odd. We all are, so she fits right in.
Willow – And she's the best sister/friend a girl could want. Tell her to be careful of the magick though; we wouldn't want another Eyghon mess. And not to take Tara for granted.
Giles – I couldn't have done this without him. Our relationship changed several times and labels wouldn't do it justice. So, all I can say is that I just love him.
Dawn – She was more than just a sister to me. She may not have been expected, but she was always wanted. My life was better because I had her in it. Oh, and to accept Penny's offer if she makes it."
Once she finished writing, Melinda inquired, "Is that it?"
"I love them all. They're the greatest family a person could pick for themselves. Oh…one more. If you can find him before he leaves, can you tell…" Buffy whispered a name in Melinda's ear, "Tell him that I loved him? That my time with him was the happiest of my life? But tell him privately."
Even though she listened to the memorial service, Melinda was still a little surprised by the request. "Really?" Buffy nodded. "Sure."
Buffy looked at her honor guard and Andrew, stealing one last glimpse of her earthly family again. "Then I guess that's it, huh? How are we supposed to do this stairway to heaven deal? Is it an actual stairway…'cause that would be an awfully long walk."
Andrew smiled at her babble. "It's a little quicker than that." He touched her forehead and a glow enveloped the group, except for Melinda, who had to shield her eyes.
The light caught the attention of the mourners and they turned back to see a young brunette wave goodbye to eight beautiful doves flying up to the heavens.
A/N: No, I'm not gonna tell you who he is. That will be up to you to decide for yourselves.