Life's Ending, Life's Beginning
Disclaimer: I do not own either the Buffy franchise nor Stargate, so allow me my ramblings, which are for entertainment purposes only.
Rating: FR18 for violence. There may be some romance later, but don't look for it until much later in the story.
Author's Note: Do not look for Jack, Sam, Daniel, or Teal'c to show up for a while, folks. The first few chapters are going to be about what went wrong and Buffy dealing with the aftermath.
Chapter One: Cataclysm
Dead. They were all dead. Giles, Willow, Xander, Angel, Joyce, and Hank. Killed by a mistake that never should have happened. When Buffy and her Scooby gang had planned how best to stop the Mayor, it had been Xander who had first made the suggestion about using a man-made eruption, an explosion, to stop him. Just as a volcano had stopped the last Ascension, they could stop this one in a similar fashion. He even knew where to get enough explosives to do the job. They had all been blissfully ignorant of the possible consequences.
When Xander rigged the school to blow using ANFO, Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil, he had not really understood the quantities needed. His soldier memories told him the formula and how to calculate the amount required, but it was Xander the high school slacker who actually did the calculations. Too much time spent sleeping in class rather than paying attention, coupled with his typical sloppiness, had led Xander to miss the amount of explosives he needed by a factor of 20.
Since he had no practical experience with explosives to go with the theory provided by his memories, he had not questioned the ten tons of fertilizer that was to be mixed with fourteen hundred pounds of fuel oil, packed into fifty-five-gallon drums, which would help contain the explosive pressure, allowing for actual detonation.
Buffy hadn't even considered his calculations might be wrong, even when the entire library was encircled with the explosives, merely thinking that the Mayor was definitely in for a surprise. Giles and the others had been too busy moving books and recruiting students to worry about the explosives beyond asking Xander if he thought that he would finish on time, to which he replied affirmatively.
After all, Xander had finished on time, raiding his Uncle Rory's farming supply warehouse for the ammonium nitrate. The endless trips back and forth from the warehouse, using some of the boys from the senior class to help, had resulted in huge stacks of fertilizer everywhere. The many fifty-five-gallon drums of mixed fertilizer and fuel oil, now officially ANFO, rigged with det cord and C-4, stolen from the nearby Army base to act as a booster to ensure reliable detonation, were put in place and rigged to blow using a plunger-type detonator. They had run the wires quite a distance from the school. "Just in case of flying desks," Xander had jokingly put it. Everything was going according to plan.
When Buffy had led the Mayor-turned-giant-snake through the school and into the library, she had run like the wind, moving in excess of 40 miles per hour, as fast as she had ever run since becoming the Slayer. Bursting through the library doors, she had scampered through the entire room, before darting out the back entrance. When Buffy had seen the stacks and stacks of explosives while on her way through, she had, for the first time, a premonition of disaster. There had been just so much, stacks and stacks of barrels with the yellow strands of det cord hanging everywhere.
Running towards her watcher who was standing up behind the heavy concrete abutment they had previously chosen for shelter, holding the detonator, about to depress the plunger, she put on one last burst of speed and literally leaped forward, up and over the concrete lip, dropping neatly behind it, its bulk sheltering her. Giles detonated the explosives before she had even hit the ground, not waiting for her to regain her feet and take the detonator from him.
Maybe he saw the wall of the school bulging from the snake-like form of the former Mayor about to make his exit. Buffy would never know. She no sooner hit the ground then it felt as if the entire world went mad. The ground came up and struck her, the world an endless sensation of roaring orange light and burning intense noise. She felt more than saw Giles go spinning away from her, lost in the distress of senses overwhelmed and raw. Finally, the worst of it stopped, and she could see a pall of smoke over everything from where she lay on the ground, still sheltered by the vestiges of concrete and steel.
Choking from smoke, Buffy had staggered to her feet. The first image she saw upon rising was a towering spire of black smoke outlined by flashes of flame where the school had been. Nothing appeared intact, save a few bricks hugging the foundation of what used to be a school. The concrete edges of the abutment that had protected her were shattered and broken, steel rebar peeking out of the concrete housing like broken bones from a corpse. Turning her back upon the blazing fire and smothering heat, Buffy's eyes fell upon the still form of her Watcher.
Giles lay crumpled on the ground nearly 50 feet away. Running to his side, calling his name, "Giles! Oh my God! Are you alright?" Buffy dropped to her knees next to him.
Immediately, she knew he was dead. The upper left half of his head was missing, sheared off by hurdling debris, the expression on what was left of his face one of astonishment, rather than fear or pain. Heedless of the blood covering him, Buffy took him into her arms, rocking him and crying quietly. After a few minutes, she pressed one final kiss to his sooty cheek before laying him gently back to the ground. Arranging his arms at his sides, Buffy said goodbye to the man who was the closest thing to a father she'd known these last three years, "I love you, Giles. I promise I won't forget you."
Moving to check on the others, despite the tears still blinding her, she circled the funeral pyre of Sunnydale High. Rounding the remains of the building, she came upon a scene of horror. As bad as the blast had been out back, it appeared to have been even worse here.
Later, she understood that the load-bearing walls and frame of the the building had to some degree focused the blast wave in some directions, while attenuating it in others before finally pulverizing under the sheer intensity. Unfortunately, the directions it had focused the blast wave had been near opposite ones. Towards her and Giles at the rear of the school, as well as towards the front where her fellow students had been fighting off the hordes of vampires brought out by the Mayor's eclipse.
As it turned out, she and Giles had been much farther from the school than those fighting out front. Even then, Buffy had been knocked senseless despite being sheltered and and possessing the physical durability of the Slayer, while Giles had been killed by flying debris.
Out front, everything was simply... gone. The entire area was leveled with nothing intact. Nothing remained alive in an area that ran for blocks. Of the students, vampires, and the audience who had come to see the graduation, all were gone, both the living or undead.
Staring out at the wasteland before her, Buffy blinked away tears, the scene abruptly coming back into focus. A scene of shattered brick and debris; torn and crushed flesh; bodies lying in piece, most not even recognizable as having ever been human; everything burnt and blackened. The scene before her was a window into the Abyss.
Numb, she wandered through the infernal scene, trying to find some hint of the fate of Willow, Xander, Angel, or her parents. Everything around her was camouflaged by jumping shadows, painted with shades of orange and red from the towering flames of the still burning building. As she walked, she mourned decisions made in haste, as well as the stubbornness of loved ones.
Her mom had been too stubborn to leave when Buffy had begged her, and her father had made a surprise visit to see her graduate. As he had explained it the night before, he wanted to apologize for missing her birthday and hoped to regain the closeness they once shared. He wanted to be a better father.
She had been hesitant to believe him, but had felt a tendril of hope inside her at his apparent sincerity. She had still missed her dad, despite having Giles. In a burst of forgiveness, she had hugged him, welcoming him back into her heart.
Buffy remembered how happy she had been at knowing her dad was coming to her graduation. Of course she knew he would find out about her being the Slayer, which seemed the only drawback. After briefly speaking to Joyce, Buffy had agreed to wait to tell Hank about the whole Slayer thing until after graduation, when he would have seen the proof of it with his own eyes. That way, the first thing he would do, wouldn't be to call a psychiatric hospital for a reservation for a the padded cell, in a repeat performance of the last time Buffy had discussed her calling with him. Now she would never how he would have responded. She would never see either of them again.
Catching a glimpse of red hair, Buffy abruptly turned away, swallowing against the rancid taste of bile rising in her throat. The fragments of red hair dripped with blood, giblets of flesh clinging, appearing to have been ripped off by force. 'Willow...oh God, Willow,' Buffy's silent lament echoed through her head as she finally lost her battle against nausea and fell to her knees, vomiting. Racked by dry heaves, Buffy ran from the scene, before the first of what appeared to be dozens of emergency vehicles, ambulances and firetrucks, arrived. Running as fast as she could, she lost herself in the mechanics of movement, anything to delay her acknowledgment of grief, of what she'd lost.
Buffy finally stopped in a familiar graveyard, miles from where she had started, breathing hard more from sobbing while running than the movements themselves. Even here, she could see the dull orange glow on the horizon, smell the faint odor of burnt flesh and ashy death. The overcast sky finally fulfilled its promise of mourning and a slow dull rain began to fall.
She ignored the wetness at first, but finally sought shelter in the doorway of a particularly ornate crypt, probably built for someone who had not wanted to be forgotten, but whose legacy were still ultimately lost in the sands of time. With her back against the doorway, Buffy sat down and hugged her knees to her chest, pain and grief overwhelming her, choking her, as rancid as the taste of vomit left from earlier.
She spat, trying to rid her mouth of the sour taste, finally reaching forth to catch some of the rain drops. Scooping them up, she poured them into her mouth, first rinsing it, then swallowing, quenching a sudden, raging thirst. When she had drunk her fill, Buffy huddled into the doorway and cried, lost in memories and dreams of might have beens.
Morning found her still sitting, lost in her despair. Realizing she could not sit there forever, Buffy rose to her feet, headed in the direction of home. The rain had ceased a couple of hours before dawn and the skies had cleared with the promise of a new day. When she reached her house, she saw her mom's car parked out front. Hope flared in her chest. Running into the house as fast as her feet could carry her, she quickly unlocked the front door, running inside.
"Mom! Mom! Are you here?" Buffy's shouts fell upon deaf ears as no one answered. She leaped up the stairs hurrying to check first her mom's room and then her own. Neither had been slept in. That was when it hit her.
Of course her mom had caught a ride with her dad. It wouldn't have made any sense for them to take two cars when they were both going to the same place. When they were both getting along so well. That was why her mom's car was still there.
The ache in her chest, which had for a moment subsided, returned, redoubled in force, strangling her with chains of despair. Buffy thought she would quite literally drown in grief. Walking slowly back to her room, Buffy went inside and lay on her bed. Wet and cold, she curled up under the covers, hugging Mr. Gordo to her breast. Crying again, she finally slept.