Title: When She Was Dead
Author: Syn
Rating: R, for language and violence
Spoilers: If you don't know by now that Buffy dies and then returns, then that's your issue.
Setting: Summer between Seasons 5 & 6
Archive: Take it, spread the love.
Disclaimer: Relax, I'm just playing with them.
Summary: The Scoobies tell Buffy what they did all summer, and the stories meld surprisingly.
A/N: Been thinking about this one for a while and I finally sat down to do it. I wanted everyone to have a story in here, and to show bravery in the face of danger. Okay, almost everyone. ;) Also, this is shamelessly written in the style of Melissa Flores's "How to Date a Beautiful Woman". I will cease and desist now, I swear.

*** *** ***


The Present

Xander watched as Buffy walked into the living room, her hair pulled back from her face, eyes far away. Despite the haunted expression on her features, he smiled. She was back, she was really back.

Five long months of waiting, wondering what had become of her soul hadn't been in vain because here she was, the Slayer and more importantly, Buffy. Not some cheap replica, but the real article. Again he smiled at her from his perch in the recliner, his hand fitting quite comfortably in Anya's. The ex-demon squeezed his fingers, her digits warm and steady. Across from Anya, Willow had her head on Tara's shoulder, a smile similiar to Xander's on her pale face. Dawn was curled up cat-like on the floor beside the two witches, running her fingers through her shiny locks and stealing glances at her sister. Giles was very quiet as he sipped at his tea. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Spike, who was trying and failing to become part of the shadows.

:Why the hell is he here?: Xander wondered, annoyed.

"What's everyone looking at?" Buffy asked, her green eyes shifting back and forth as if there was something wrong with her. Nothing but life, Xander thought.

"You're not dead. We're happy." Anya said in patented blunt manner, eliciting a guffaw from Willow and a tight squeeze of her hand from Xander. Of course, she was right, but things like this took more delicacy.

"Yeah. Me too...." Again, Buffy's voice trailed off and she clenched her fists, knuckles healed from her scramble out of her own grave. A week later and her skin still held the memory of the raw bloodiness. She pushed them into the pockets of her comfortable jeans. "So...what did you guys do while I was gone?"

"Nothing much." Tara answered in her quiet way, her shoulders shrugging and lifting Willow's head with them. Xander noted, for the first time, that his best friend's red hair had grown longer. Strange, he hadn't noticed it before.

"Nothing much? Oh please...remember that really tough Shervik demon? Or that vampire with the guitar? Or...Midsummer?" Dawn spoke up proudly, remembering her role in each and every escapade.

"Oh yeah! Midsummer!" Willow said, glancing knowlingly at Tara, who looked back with a small smile.

"Midsummer?" Xander's brow furrowed as he tried to recall what had happend around midsummer.

"You know, demon cult intent on destroying the world. Dawn and I took care of it though." Anya said, tossing her blonde hair and smiling at the Key, who glanced at her sister, wondering if she'd be mad. Buffy just blinked and looked questioningly at the five of them.

"You and Dawny? You mean, Tara and I!" Willow said indignantly, sitting up and squaring her shoulders.

"Bullocks. If I recall, Watcher man, Buffybot and I had a rumble on midsummer night. Whole world coulda ended and all."
Spike spoke up for the first time, taking a drag on the cigarette clenched in his fist. Xander rolled his eyes in the vampire's direction and went back to the others. Giles nodded in Spike's direction, as if suddenly remembering the event.

"Yes, I recall that night. Don't you, Spike?" Giles said, cracking his knuckles menacingly. Spike looked away and Xander's brow furrowed.

"So you all....there's a big story here, isn't there?" Buffy frowned, her far away eyes suddenly switching to the present and a ghost of a smile flitting over her face. Xander was pleased to see her so interested, afterall, he was too.

"Yeah, just what the hell happened?" He asked, drawing Anya into his lap and frowning at her, his lip poking out.

"Well, here's how it started..." Dawn said, siezing her opportunity and bouncing in place as all eyes riveted on her. "I'd gone out patrolling..."

"WHAT?" Everyone but Anya shouted and Dawn turned bright red.

"Just listen first, punish later." Dawn said, raising her hands. "Anyways, I'd gone out patrolling and I got into a little bit of trouble..."

*** *** ***


Midsummer's Night
10:00 pm

The wind rustled the trees, tossing the leaves and sending a moan through the branches. Dawn gulped back a small yelp of fear and steadied herself with a hand on the nearest gravestone. The gray marble was cold under her palm and she bit her lip, legs shaking.

"This...isn't so hard." She said outloud, voice quavering as much as her knees. The darkness answered back with its own call, wind-ripped moaning and an assortment of snarls she felt sure where coming for her. In reality, it was just the freeway on the other side of the bluff, but you couldn't have told her different.

A sword was hooked in the belt of her jeans, her long hair tied back from her face so she could see. Mr. Pointy was in her hands.

Dawn felt comfortable with the heavy wooden object in her hands because it reminded her of Buffy. Thinking of Buffy sent a heavy ache through her and she clutched at the rough wood, wondering what her sister would have thought to see her standing in a cemetary at night, waiting for an oogly boogly to jump out at her. Not to mention everyone else, who was supposedly watching her tonight. It had seemed to her that everyone had things to do these days. Anya was at the Magic Box, the newly fixed Buffybot was out on patrol, Giles with her probably. Spike was who knew where and Willow and Tara had said something about a spells. Which had left Dawn to Xander, who had said he had things to do tonight and left her alone in the house. Bored and feeling pretty damn well useless, she'd decided to patrol.

Which was possibly the stupidest thing she'd ever thought up. And that was saying something.

She walked on, her eyes sweeping the darkness for lurky things. Nothing showed itself and she relaxed enough to walk forward, past the headstones and toward the oldest section of Lawndale Cemetary. Here, stone angels crumbled on thier bases, fat, pudgey hands pressed together in supplication of an uncaring God.

Dawn trailed her fingers across the cheek of one rain-damaged cherub and down to the crucifix someone had left there, wrapped around the angel's fingers. "Who left this?" She wondered aloud, lifting it up to look at the small silver body of Christ attached to it. The silver was tarnished horribly, so it must have been there awhile. Years perhaps.

Looking at it made her terribly sad and she let it drop, only to have the crucifix come away in her hands, the chain it had been attached to coming apart in a crumble of rust. "Crap." Dawn said, jamming it into her pocket for lack of anywhere else to put it. She hoped the person buried here wouldn't mind.

Just as she looked up from her little task, she caught the sound of several somethings walking in her direction. She ducked behind the stone angel immediately, her stake trembling in her fingers and her heart thumping in her chest so fast she could barely breath. With squinted eyes, she attempted to see who and what was coming at her and she nearly ran when she saw them.

Four brownish-colored demons with great big orange horns atop their heads and insect-like eyes were walking, a vampire clutched in thier strong hands, snake-like tails wagging as they went. The vampire squirmed in their grip, his golden eyes wide, his face twisted in rage. From her crouch behind the stone angel, Dawn could barely make out what they were saying and she strained her ears to catch everything.

"Come on, be a good sport, Fabreccio! We just want to bleed you dry!" One of the demons said, his long tongue flicking out over his black lips as he talked.

"Yeah, come on...don't you wanna?" The shortest of the brown demons laughed, his insect eyes catching in the dim light and bursting with a million flecks of light.

"Hell no! I don't know what you bastards plan on doing but you'd better let me go!" Fabreccio growled, kicking his legs in vain, muscles straining and cording in his neck. From her vantage point, Dawn could see blood trickling from the corners of his mouth and a purple bruise blossoming around one ridged eye.

She almost felt sorry for him when she saw the demons yank him in four different directions, threatening to pull him limb from limb. His screams echoed across the lawn and she winced. Whatever these demons were, they obviously weren't going to play nice.

They continued on, toward her, but to the side. She could avoid them if she wanted and wouldn't have to get involved with them at all. After all, they had a vampire and not a human. What did she care? And then the biggest demon spoke up and her heart froze in her throat.

"Tonight the world is going to end, Fabreccio, and you're going to help us." He said, bass voice deep and booming when it reached her ears.

"Oh crap..." Dawn whispered, perking her ears up more and leaning forward. The demons continued on their path and didn't notice her from where she stood.

"End?" Fabreccio whimpered, his teeth jammed against his upper lip, spittle flecking his chin.

"Yeah. END." The demons jerked him again and he howled. "You eat a human and we drain you while you do it. The God Auturus blesses all Villsk demons and we ascend to the Higher Planes while other living creatures suffer eternal torment. Kinda pretty, ain't it?"

"For you.." Dawn muttered again. She sighed and wondered how the hell her sister could do this. ANOTHER apocolypse and it seemed it was up to her to stop it. "Great."

Scared to death and shaking beyond her ability to control it, she stood and stepped out from behind the stone angel, sword sliding out of her belt and the stake jammed into the pocket of her jeans.

"Stop right there!" Dawn said, her voice rising a decibal higher than she'd meant it to. The sword shook slightly in her fist, but she refused to lower it any further.

In front of her, the demons stopped in their tracks and turned toward her.

*** *** ***

The Present

"What the HELL were you thinking?" Buffy interrupted, her mouth falling open and her fist clenched to her sides as if she was considering slapping whatever deity had blessed her with such a stupid sister. On the floor, Dawn sat a little higher and squared her shoulders defiantly.

"I was THINKING I'd do the world a favor and stop it from ending. Where would I get those ethics, I wonder?" Dawn said sourly, her mouth turning down into an impetious frown.

"Don't give me that. I'm the Slayer, that's my job! You're just a kid!" Buffy threw up her hands and rubbed the bridge of her nose with one weary finger. "Jesus..."

"Hey now, love, it's not Little Bit's fault. We're the ones that left her all alone." Spike spoke up, looking pointedly at Xander. Xander bristled, but didn't respond. Instead, he turned on Willow and Tara.

"So, wait a minute, if you were stopping the apocolypse, what apocolypse where you three stopping?" He asked, jerking his head at Spike also.

"Same one, I guess." Tara said, her brow furrowed as she thought back to that night many months ago. "Except, we never really came in contact with the Villsk demons. And it was sort of an accident..."

"Yeah..." Willow echoed, her green eyes far away and a troubled expression on her face. "I was doing this spell and it went kinda wrong."

"There's a new one."

"Shut up Anya. Anyway...the spell went wrong..."

*** *** ***


Midsummer Night
9:30 pm

"What does that book say to do?" Willow asked Tara as the blonde witch leaned over the thick volume on the table in Giles's apartment. The Watcher peeked his head out from around the corner of his little kitchen and watched them intently.

"I do hope you're going to be careful." He said, eyebrows rising high up on his tall forehead. Willow glanced in his direction and smiled, but didn't answer.

"Of course Mr. Giles." Tara said politely, her fingertip running down the lines of ancient text before her. "And thank you for letting us use your place for the spell. We're trying to tone down the amount of magic Dawn is exposed to. We think it might give her ideas."

"Yeah, after that whole ressurrection thing, we don't want her to get addicted." Willow added, sprinking more of the toadstool dust around the perimeter of the circle and trying not breathe it in. Giles nodded his head and wrinkled his nose at the smell emanating from the mixture of powders on his living room rug.

He hoped the girls knew they'd have to clean it up.

:Don't worry, we'll clean it up.: Willow said in his head, sensing his thoughts. He swiveled on her and shot her a warning look.

"How many times..." Giles started, but Willow smiled and had the decency to look abashed, but she could still read him a bit as he turned away from her.

"Sorry." The red-head went back to her powders and he sighed deeply. That smell was really going to drive him nuts. What he needed was a good walk and some action. Perhaps the Buffybot was about somewhere. "You can go, you know. We've got everything handled fine here."

Again Giles shot Willow the warning look as she read his thoughts without permission. "I didn't read your thoughts. Its obvious you want to go." The witch amended, smiling slightly.

"Is it?"

"Kinda." Willow said, shrugging her shoulders, the coarse buff-colored robe around her shoulders itching her skin slightly. Tara looked up from her book and smiled at him too, the hood of her own robe floating around her pale face, strands of blonde hair falling out and over her blue eyes. Willow thought she looked beautiful.

"And you're kind of in the way too, Mr. Giles. No offense." Tara said, standing up and bringing the huge book with her.

"In that case, see you in the morning. If the Buffybot comes by, tell her to meet me in Restfield Cemetary." With that, he left, taking a stake and twin throwing axes with him as he went. Willow watched him go, thankful he hadn't asked what spell they were doing and why.

"I thought he'd never leave." Willow said, throwing the last bit of the stinky toadstool powder on the circle. Tara nodded and Willow looked over her shoulder at the ancient text. "Did you find that last passage you needed?"

"Yeah. Umm..t-there's also a w-warning attached to it." Tara stuttered, her eyes suddenly huge as she brought her face up to Willow's.

"And? There's usually warnings when you're playing with dark magicks. We'll deal with the consequences when they happen, okay baby? Right now we need to find the Gatekeeper and that's what's important."

"I know honey, but the Gatekeeper? Why him?" Tara asked nervously, biting her lip.

"Because he might know where Buffy's soul is at. If...if we can't find the Urn of Osiris, at least we can know where her soul is. I've explained this already." Willow said, turning away from her girlfriend and sighing heavily, unshed tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. She felt Tara's hand descend on her shoulder and squeeze gently.

"I miss her too...b-but this is dangerous for you. The Gatekeeper...all the stories say he's cruel and not known for the niceness. I'm just worried he'll do something to you." Tara said in her ear, hand sliding around to her stomach, rubbing gently like she knew Willow liked.

"I'll be fine honey, as long as you're here to anchor me." Willow turned and tucked a strand of Tara's long hair behind her ear and then nudged the book in her hands. "So...let's get on with it."

With a defeated sigh, Tara stepped into the circle, followed closely by Willow. They stood back to back, hands clenched together behind their backs, heads tilted back to the high ceiling of Giles's apartment.

"Okay, after the chant, you have to hold me up because I'll be in the Spirit World. After an hour, make sure I'm back in my body. If I'm not you're going to have jerk me back or I'll...." Willow said, closing her eyes and centering herself.

"Don't make me come and get you, please." Tara begged, clasping her hands tighter and centering herself too.

"Promise." Willow muttered, feeling herself go into a deep trance and bringing Tara along with her. Ten minutes later, she took a deep breath and started in on the chant, Tara joining in on the second chorus as the book had indicated.

"Gatekeeper of Death
Grant me entrance
I fall to your feet
and tremble
Fear you Gatekeeper
as I cross the mortal world
Grant me entrance!
So mote it be!"

They ended the simple chant and waited a few seconds, but nothing happened. Willow opened her mouth to speak and suddenly, the room shook and the world spun away from her. She felt Tara clutch her and hold her steady within the ring of power made by the powders strewn on the floor.

With her inner eye, Willow suddenly Saw the Gatekeeper standing before her, ghastly smile wide. She opened her mouth to speak and suddenly the world gave way again and she spiralled up and out of her body, going so fast the wind stung her cheeks and little flames of power sparked across her skin.

She no longer felt Tara holding on to her. She no longer felt as time was ripped away from her.

And then...

SLAM! Willow gasped for breath she didn't have with lungs she didn't have and then opened her non-existent eyes.

She moaned with no lips, the throbbing, clutching cavern around her shifting back and forth between reality and the stars. Something had gone wrong.


*** *** ***


Midsummer Night
10:00 pm

Spike leaned back against the door of his crypt and took a deep swig from the bottle of whiskey clutched in his hands. The liquid burned on the way down and joined the molten lead already eating away at his stomach. Above him the stars shone brightly, blurred by tears he refused to shed.

"I did it...my way..." He sang softly, voice warbling and his lips pulled back into a sneer. He snorted with laughter and then took another deep drink from the rapidly emptying bottle.

He closed his eyes and felt the searing in his gut, thankful to feel anything at all. Long days of dreaming fitfully, saving someone he could no longer save in his mind for the millionth time. Each way different. Each way successful. He was a goddamned hero in his dreams.

What was he in real life? A lovesick vampire getting wasted on what served as the frontporch of his crypt, tears spilling down his cheeks and the urge to throw up growing. That's what he was. He wasn't a hero. He was pathetic.

"Hello Spike. You have nice abs!"


This wasn't what he needed right now. Not her. Definately not her.

"Hello Buffy....bot." Spike choked out, swiveling his bleach blonde head in the robot's direction, his eyes deeply shadowed as pain spiderwebbed across his heart. "What are you doing?"

The robot stood before him in all her glory. Eyes shining, leather pants, jacket, heels, long honey blonde hair unbound and glossy lips. Perfection.

But not even close.

"I'm patrolling. I accidentally let a vampire go; he was fast." She said, nodding her head with a serious expression on her face.

"Was he?" Spike drawled, taking another deep drink from his bottle.

"Yes. I fight with weapons!" The Bot said cheerfully, strolling over to him, a stake in her fist and an axe at her side. She looked ready for anything, except an IQ test.

"Yes you do. Where is everyone?" Spike asked, looking around with glassy eyes. He took another swig from his bottle, remembering what it had been like to be inside the machine. She'd felt so real, even if he'd known she wasn't. He wondered if there was much of a difference between the two of them.

He'd never know.

*** *** ***

The Present

"Okay...TMI!!" Buffy exclaimed while Xander fought the urge to beat the crap out of the neutered vampire. Giles audibly cleared his throat.

"Anyway...." Spike shrugged as if he hadn't heard them and went on.

*** *** ***


Midsummer Night
10:05 pm

"Everyone had things to do! But I don't need them! I'm the Slayer! Would you like to have sex with me now?" Buffybot said, crouching before him, her wide green eyes studying his face hopefully.

"No!" Even though he felt like saying different, "I thought Willow programed those commands out of you..."

"Yes. I was broken and she fixed me. Willow's gay."

"Yeah...so shouldn't you go patrol or something? Leave me the bloody hell alone?" Spike grumbled, suddenly annoyed by her very presence and desperate to get drunk alone.

"You're mad. Is it something I did? Should I be spanked?" Buffybot asked hopefully, half turning her rear end in his direction. Spike growled and stood up in one fluid motion, grabbing her wrist and bending it forward, face melting into the beast as he moved.

"Why won't you leave me the hell alone!!!???" He screamed, teeth bared at the blinking Bot, her eyes widening and her mouth forming a small o of surprise. "Why did you leave me, Buffy?!"

"I'm Buffy!" The Bot exclaimed, bewildered because she was Buffy, she hadn't left. She was right here.

"You're dead! You BITCH!" Spike screamed again, wondering when his lips had become detached and why his voice sounded so close.

"Ow!" The Buffybot said with no feeling behind the word, her gaze flickering to the bent wrist in Spike's hands and back to his wild yellow eyes. "You're hurting me, Spike. Is this foreplay?"

He'd give her foreplay!

Her mouth tasted like cinnamon when he crushed his lips to it, and he wondered why. He wondered if he tasted like whiskey and then realized he didn't much care. A feeling of wrong twanged through his spine, but he ignored it and kissed her harder, wishing the world would end and spin away with him in the middle of it all. His loopy hands found themselves attached to her silicone breasts, squeezing and kneading without warning.

Thoughts merely entertained were now dancing merrily in his actions and he was powerless to stop them. This was wrong, this was sick, but dammit, he wanted to feel....

Suddenly, the Bot broke the kiss and stumbled backward, her stake rising in her fist. Spike wondered, through that alcohol laced brain of his, if she was going to stake him. He silently wished she would.

"Demons!" Buffybot's voice rose and she pointed dramatically behind Spike to the door of his crypt.

Three brown-skinned demons with big orange horns and flies's eyes sneered at the two of them.

"Hey...how the bloody hell did you get in there?" Spike said stupidly, his blue eyes shifting back and forth between each demon.

"Wow, we're in luck!" One of the demon's said, eyes glinting and muscles rippling. "A vampire AND a human. Call the others and tell them we got the ingredients!"

"Ingredients? Are you baking a cake?" Buffybot asked before Spike could shush her. The demons laughed.

"Yeah and you're the icing! Too bad though, I'd like to play with you before he drains you dry." One of the demon's said, horns scraping the top of Spike's door as he stepped out into the warm summer air. "Get em!"

"I don't think so!" Spike swiveled on the newcomer and saw Giles step out from behind a tree.

"Another human? Looks like we can play with the pretty one after all." The big demon said, a smile transforming its face to hideous heights.

Giles stepped up beside Spike as the demon spoke and turned to him. "One for each."

"My kind of odds." Spike said, smiling ferally, taking the axe Giles pressed into his palm.

"We kill them and then we're going to talk." Giles said through gritted teeth, the other axe in his hands.

Uh-oh...what had Giles seen?

*** *** ***

(end part one)

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