This is just an idea I had bouncing around in my head after someone on a message board I'm a part of brought up that she would like to have seen something like this happen on the show. So, I finally just decided to get off my lazy butt and write it. This is probably going to be really sort, so most likely nothing more than 5 or 6 chapters. As usual, I hope you all enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
The pack on her back beginning to feel slightly heavier as she continued to walk through the desert sands, Buffy squinted at the rock formations in the distance. Even though she had come prepared, just as Giles had said she had needed to, it was still an entirely different thing to think about what you wanted to think you needed to survive in the desert, and what you actually needed. Xander had wanted to help her, but she had, needless to say, assured him that his help wasn't needed.
Pushing her sunglasses up in order to properly see the colors around her, the vampire Slayer continued to squint, the sun above her beating down upon everything in sight. As she finally reached the relative coolness of shade, she eased herself down into the cool sand, breathing a sigh of relief as she slid the heavy back-pack off of her shoulders. Taking off her sunglasses as well, she was silent as she looked out across the landscape consisting of nothing more than rocks and sand.
He hadn't said exactly when she would come back, only that she would return when she had been imparted with a new part of wisdom. Sighing, she closed her eyes and wondered exactly what it was that she was supposed to learn on this 'Spirit Guest' that he had suggested to her. It had been one of the last things he had suggested to her before he had departed to return to his coven in England. Her resurrection had dragged him back, and she felt slightly guilty about that, possibly even more for living. Wasn't that always how it went? Everyone's problems always stemmed from her or her actions. The two things were always connected, even when they tried to deny it.
The fire continued to crackle in front of her as she stared up at the stars, the night air beginning to grow slightly cold. Wrapping the blanket tighter around her shoulders, Buffy moved her gaze onto the still roaring fire that she had managed to build with the stray logs that had lain scattered across the desert floor. The bright light gave her some comfort against the dark that was her only company besides the stars. Grabbing the pen from where it laid in her jacket pocket, she pulled out the mini notebook she had pressed in with all the rest of her survival gear and slowly began to doodle, simply letting her mind go off in every possible direction.
It felt strange to finally be alone, considering that her friends and sister had been with her ever since she had come back, ever since they had brought her back from... Heaven. She hadn't shared that fact with anyone except Spike, not even sure why she had trusted the vampire with that information. She had wanted to tell Angel, but he wasn't here. He was in Los Angeles, living his own undead life now, being a hero to those that needed it most…and she was still here. Alone, guarding everyone from the demons attracted to the Hellmouth.
And that's how it had been for at least two years after she had watched him leave, his only goodbye being a simple look, a pair of locked eyes, and a slow turn. They had tried to stay away from each other after that, but fate kept pushing them together as if it found it amusing to watch as they forced themselves to stay away from each other after everything was said and done. It hurt her each time she came close to him, so close to what she had seen almost every night in her dreams, to be so close to the subject of every inch of passion she held inside her heart.
It hurt worse than anything she had ever felt.
Shaking her head as if that would dislodge the thought from her mind, she looked down at the doodles she had been drawing un-subconsciously with her pen. There were numerous clouds dotting the paper, but there were occasional crosses or stars scattered about here and there. All things that could either be taken as a symbol of death or of Heaven. Frowning, she again fought back the urge to remember what it had felt like to be dead, to be completely at peace with herself. She had saved the world, and she had finally been able to rest.
And now, here she was, back in a world filled with so much pain that she could barely stand to look at it. Every morning when she awoke from dreams filled with those feelings of peace and security, she found the same problems and pain that she wanted to escape from so desperately. There were times in the middle of the night when she couldn't stand them anymore, and simply cried, letting the hard exterior she worked so hard at putting up fall apart into millions of pieces. And every day she would go back to being the Buffy, Vampire Slayer and savior of the world. That's really all she felt like to everyone else.
Ripping the paper from the notebook, she crumbled it up into a ball and tossed it into the fire, almost smiling as she watched the doodles erupt into bright flames. As she watched the paper rapidly turn black and crumble into ashes, she was reminded of how her high school in Los Angeles had looked as the gym had been engulfed in flames, the vampires inside having stood no chance at surviving. There had, of course, been severe consequences from that single action, leading her to leave home for almost four months, seeing Las Vegas with Pike until he had left her, the first of the many heart-aches she had endured over the course of her life as the Slayer, and finally, the stay at the 'Hospital' that her parents had seen fit to put her into.
Pike, Angel, Parker, Riley, all of them she had felt something for…Parker of course receiving the least of it, considering what he had done to her during her Freshman year. She had loved Riley, but she hadn't been truly in love with him, and she realized that now, once he had left her for somewhere else in the world. She had no idea where he was now, but she prayed that he was safe. He deserved to be happy, even if it wasn't her that he took comfort in. Their time together had been an enjoyable one, and she would always hold it close to her heart.
And then there was Angel. He was always there, deep inside her heart and thoughts, like some ghost that she couldn't vanquish. He had been her first true love, her first…first, and he had been the first person that she had killed and had loved. She had sent him into Hell to save the world, at the cost of nearly losing her heart. For three agonizing months, she had lived alone in Los Angeles, living on whatever she could scrape up as a waitress. And every night, she had dreamed of him. Of how he had held her and told her that he loved her. Most were simply memories, but a few felt truly real, as if he were still with her in her dreams. And she'd suffer through the day without him, the pain from seeing and hearing him say her name only seconds before he'd been killed haunting her as she made her rounds through the restaurant.
And when she had come back to Sunnydale, realizing that she couldn't abandon her friends and duty, all of the wounds had been reopened every time she walked past a place where they had fought together, had talked, or had kissed. When she had finally been able to start to come to grips with what had happened, he had reappeared, changing everything into a new direction, one that had made them feel awkward all over again. Every time she looked at him, she couldn't help but think of the torture Angelus had inflected on all of them, but at the same time, she couldn't not love him, the emotion having grown too large in her heart to be completely destroyed.
And then, as quickly as he had reappeared in her life, he was gone, claiming that he wanted her to have a normal life in a town that was atop a Hellmouth. Even now she smiled at the irony of the entire situation. Pain and grief laced the smile, but it was a smile nevertheless. A normal life. She was a Slayer, the one girl chosen in all the world. She wasn't entitled to have a normal life. She had given up on that entire notion years ago, when she had realized that she probably wouldn't live to be twenty-five. And that had been true for at least three months, but now here she was, living and breathing once again. She had cheated death twice now.
Would it ever stop? All this pain she kept feeling inside over what had happened, crawling out of her grave being the worst of it. She hadn't understood what was going on, being trapped inside something underground with hardly any air left. She remembered how fast her heart had been beating when she had started punching at the roof of the casket, the rush of adrenaline going through her system being more than anything she had ever felt before. The single thought running through her mind had been that she had to get out of there, and up to where there was more air. That had been her single purpose at that moment.
And now, here she was. In the middle of Hell itself, living, surviving, fighting, all the while wondering when she would finally just rest. Would it ever end? Angel had promised her once that it would, and that he would be there with her when it did. Did he really mean what he had said, that he would be there with her at the end, holding her just to assure her that it had really ended? Closing her eyes, she tried to fight off the thoughts that the fighting would never stop, and when it did, it would be simply because she had died, not because she had saved the world one last time. Everyone she had ever known would live on and remember her, but she wouldn't be there to see them grow old, she herself would never have the children she had occasionally dreamed about.
Everything would end one way or another, but whether she lived to see it would remain to be seen.
Throwing a few more logs onto the fire, she watched the sparks fly up into the black night before they disappeared, burning themselves out completely without the constant support of the fire that had gave birth to them. Wrapping the blanket tighter around her body, she laid down onto her side and closed her eyes, wanting to get some sleep while the fire continued to offer her warmth and comfort.