Chapter 1: "Can We Rest Now?"
Or "How 'BtVS:Chosen' Should Have Ended"
All rights belong to Joss Whedon (and unfortunately to the networks that cancel his shows)
Opening italics segment is from the script of 'Chosen'.
His hand is held up, frozen in his rictus of revelatory pain. Buffy takes her own hand, interlocks it with his. A moment, and both hands burst into flames.
We hold close on the two of them, ignoring the flames, looking at each other.
I love you.
A moment. He smiles kindly.
No you don't. But thanks for saying it.
Buffy stands immobile, the tears in her eyes breaking free of her lashes and coursing down her cheeks. She stares at the flames engulfing her hand, entwined with Spike's. There's no pain in the fire, just warmth and trust and belonging.
"Spike . . ."
A large chunk of ceiling falls in behind them, and Buffy turns instinctively at the crashing sound it makes. Her fingers slip from between Spike's burning ones.
"It's your world up there. Now GO!" he urges, his smile twitching with pain from the amulet's burning power radiating through him. "I wanna see how it ends."
Buffy looks past Spike to the stairs, but then stares back into his face, shaking her head, more tears falling free. She grasps his arm around the wrist, still immune to any damage from the flames.
"No, Spike . . ."
His eyes plead with her, desperately hoping she will leave him, save herself - but at the same time wondering if this is how they both want it to end.
"Buffy . . ."
"Come on, B! Let's blow this joint!" Faith calls down from the floor above. "The whole place is comin' down!"
They hear her retreating footsteps on the floor above, but still Buffy does not follow.
"I won't go without you, Spike. I love you."
Despite his pain, a fulfilled sort-of joy appears in his eyes as he perhaps dares to believe that her words might be true.
"Nothin' you can do, luv. I'm burnin' up." He lets out a strained laugh. "Mr. and Mrs. Big Pile of Dust . . ."
"I won't leave you!"
"You've got to. Your Scooby mates need you."
Avoiding the amulet's radiant beam, Buffy drops the Slayer's scythe to the floor, threads her arms around Spike's waist, and embraces him tightly. She feels the amulet's heat pulsing through him, scorching him from the inside out, his very soul aflame.
"You need me more," she whispers against his blazing shoulder.
"Buffy . . . Oh, Buffy . . ." Spike gasps as the amulet's revolving rays glow even more brilliantly, filling even the most distant corners of the vast cavern with light. "You . . . you really love me?"
"I do," she insists. "I love you, Spike. I love you, William. I love you-"
The golden beams of soul-enhanced sunlight blaze fiercely, and Spike grits his teeth, cutting short his sudden groan.
"Spike!" Buffy gasps. She keeps her arms tight around him even though her skin seems to be singeing through her sleeves. "You don't have to be brave for me, Spike," she tells him, fighting more tears.
"Comes with . . . the job description," he pants, his strained voice barely audible beneath the clamor of falling rock all around them. "Champion . . . your champion . . ."
The rays emanating from the amulet whirl throughout the cave and then suddenly contract, re-absorbing into the crystal hanging from Spike's neck. The force of it hurls him and Buffy backwards out of the sunlit circle and into the bottom of the stairwell. They hit the floor together, a tangle of black leather and blonde hair. Buffy sits up first, already aware that the warmth of Spike's body is reacclimatizing to its usual room-temperature.
"Buffy, I've . . . I've done it." His eyes rove the little of the cavern that they can see amidst all the dust and crumbling rock. "We've done it. Beat the buggers . . ."
He lifts one hand to the smoking amulet and recoils as soon as his fingers touch it, wincing.
"Should've known Peaches's party favor wasn't all shiny for nothing," he grins cheekily at Buffy, but then his smile vanishes as the platform on which they're lying shudders. Though the amulet's rays no longer burn through the layers of stone, the cavern's infrastructure is clearly compromised, continuing to crumble all around them.
"Please go now, pet," Spike begs. "Can't go out knowin' I took you with me."
"What? Why can't you-?"
"I . . . can't stand. Too drained. Go on, love. For me."
"I won't go! I'm staying! I love you!"
With a vicious rumble, the staircase explodes in a shower of debris. Spike grips Buffy around the shoulders and rolls towards the still-intact opposite wall as rubble cascades down on them. He takes the brunt of it, stones striking his back, legs, and head, shielding Buffy with his arms and body. She clings to the lapels of his leather duster, suddenly gasping as the familiar pressure of his body on hers reawakens memories she had long ago suppressed. Spike gives the stone ceiling above them a skeptical glance.
"If that comes down on us, we're both dead, good and proper!" he shouts over the continuing roar.
Buffy follows his gaze, desperately hoping that the others have fled the school property.
"Move it!" Faith screams at the group running ahead of her as they tear down the school hallways, the tile floors collapsing behind their feet. Kennedy and Dawn support Willow's exhausted form, and the witch glances past the dark slayer to the dusty entrance of what remains of the Hellmouth.
"Buffy! Where's Buffy?" Willow calls to her, but Faith waves her forward, urging them to run faster. Panic in her brown eyes, Dawn grabs Xander's arm as he looks around wildly for Anya, unable to see her half-buried body several yards away.
"Come on, Xander!"
"Anya! ANYA!" he cries, as Faith and one of the newly-endowed Slayers pulls a cowering Andrew out of a corner and yanks him along behind her.
Stumbling on debris, they emerge from the school building and charge for the bus. Giles and the remaining Potentials-turned-Slayers are already inside, most of them nursing wounds of varying severity.
"Go! Go! Go!" Faith screams at whoever is in the driver's seat as she shoves Willow and Xander up through the wheelchair-access door and into the back to the bus. Robin slams down the gas pedal and wrests the wheel hard left, steering the bus toward the parking lot exit and out onto the deserted Sunnydale streets.
"Buffy?" Giles asks, his eyes begging the recent occupants for news.
"She didn't follow me," Faith pants, falling to the floor of the bus and wheezing, "She stayed."
"With Spike," Dawn whispers, realizing the truth, a tone of betrayal in her voice. Willow hears it and crawls across the floor of the rattling bus to pull the teenager into a tight hug.
"She'll be okay, sweetie," the witch promises, her own throat choking up. "And . . . and if not," she adds with a forced laugh, "we can always bring her back, right?"
"Hold on!" Spike roars as the floor gives away and he and Buffy slide deeper into the crumbling remains of the Hellmouth. Buffy throws out her arm as they tumble down, locks her fingers around the Slayer scythe, and plunges it into the wall, driving the point at least a foot deep.
With a jolt, they hang suspended, anchored to the side of the cavern by the ancient weapon. They swing in mid-air and then slam back against the cliff face. Somehow, Spike still manages to keep Buffy protected from the pieces of mountain still striking at them from every direction. She hears him breathing in hissing gasps and knows that each one is a sign of pain.
"Are you still burning?!" she demands in a concerned yell, glancing up through the dust at the circular cut-out in the ceiling where the amulet had blasted through to the surface. More chunks of the cavern roof are missing now, and noon sunlight bathes them.
"Not much. Don't know. Maybe," he answers, gasping out the words and raising his eyebrows in half-sarcastic uncertainty. "Could be the Gem of Amara has a cousin . . ."
With a groan, the chunk of wall in which the scythe is buried breaks off the cliff face, sending the two of them falling down another twenty feet. Spike hits the ground first, and Buffy hears a horrible crunching snap just before she drops down on him. He crumples, cushioning her landing.
"Spike! You're hurt!"
He shakes his head, but his scrunched-up eyes and tormented face say otherwise. Blood is trickling from a cut on his ear, and scratches riddle his duster.
"Shelter . . ." he groans, his eyes skimming the closest cavern wall for any crevices big enough for them to hide in. The Hellmouth, the school, the whole valley is tumbling down on them, piece by piece.
"Right . . . shelter . . . there!"
About fifteen feet to their left is a cleft in the rock face, an opening about 3ft-square. Tucking the scythe under one arm, Buffy takes the collar of Spike's duster in both hands, pulls him across the floor, and shoves his torso through the entrance.
"Easy with the manhandling, luv," he snorts through gritted teeth. "Can't see how deep this thing is, but bloody little choice left!"
Far above them, the school bus flees Sunnydale, barely making it outside the city limits before the entire valley caves in, a deep crater, the center black and void. With squealing brakes, the bus comes to a shaky halt on the deserted highway.
Kennedy is the first to interrupt the dark silence that begins to coat the survivors, asking Vi about the girls' injuries and shaking open a few more First Aid boxes. Xander and Andrew exchange a few words, honoring Anya's last moments. Dawn is immobile, her face pressed against the glass on the bus's back door.
Slowly, they all exit the van - Dawn, Giles, Xander, Willow, Andrew, Kennedy, and the uninjured Potentials-turned-Slayers - leaving Faith and Vi to treat Robin and the rest of the wounded. At the very edge of the sunken city outskirts, a tacky sign reading "Welcome to Sunnydale" creaks . . . then tips back into the abyss with a clang.
Dawn stands between Willow and Giles, her hands balled into tight fists, her face fixed on the ruins of the only world she has ever known.
"Dawnie?" Willow murmurs, but instantly regrets that she has spoken. Her own voice still trembles, trying to accept the reality that Buffy is gone.
With a tearful gasp, Dawn takes a few unsteady steps toward the colossal crater.
"Buffy!" she screams, staring into the black hole. "BUFFY!"
Her cry shatters them, reminds them all of the voids they feel for the missing faces. Xander leans over onto his knees, mourning for Anya with heavy sobs, tears issuing from beneath both patch and eyelid. Gentle hands surround his shoulders: Willow, knowing from experience that the only thing that will bring comfort to her lifelong best friend is time. Andrew stands slack-jawed at the ruin they barely escaped, wondering why he has managed to survive when those who surely deserve it better have not.
Once more Dawn shouts Buffy's name into the settling dust, then she turns and directs her heaving cries into Giles' shoulder. Gently supporting Dawn, the Watcher gazes in silence at the collapsed town, not even daring to hope that Buffy has survived.
Deep in the remains of the Hellmouth, Buffy and Spike crawl on their hands and knees into the coffin-like fissure until they're inside it completely, protected from the onslaught of falling rock and soil. The miniature cave's ceiling seems firm enough, but for added stability Buffy props the Slayer scythe up vertically so it acts as a brace.
"Okay. Where are you hurt?" she asks Spike. In the dimness of the tiny cave, she feels her head brush the ceiling as she attempts to sit up and look him over.
"Here and there," he winces. "At least one ankle's broken, I s'pect. I'll mend." He reaches out in the semi-darkness for her hand, and she feels his many burns and blisters when his fingers find hers. "What about you, luv? All your bits still there?"
He's eyeing the cut in her stomach with concern, but for some odd reason Buffy feels no pain from the wound that nearly took her life. Perhaps the scythe has some kind of Slayer rejuvenation/healing abilities too.
"Really fine or girly-talk fine?" he insists. "I know they're different. Spent a whole summer babysitting Dawn once."
His eyes lock on hers, and in the deep blue orbs Buffy sees the painful memories he still holds, of the summer when she was dead.
"No, I'm not hurt."
He smiles in relief, closes his fingers around her own, and cautiously draws her hand against his chest.
"Guess we should wait out the apocalypse, eh, pet? There'll be a hell of a lot of rubble to dig through come nightfall. We can rest now."
Looking into his smile, Buffy remembers similar words spoken in a dark church - his body willingly pressed against a cross, steam issuing from his flesh, the guilt of his newly-acquired soul oppressing him. "Can we rest now, Buffy? Can we rest?"
"Yeah," she agrees. "We can rest now. We saved the world, again."
Adjusting her legs so that they lie beside his, she curls up in his arms like she did on the night in the strange house - the Best Night of Their Lives - enfolded in his embrace with her cheek against his silent, lukewarm chest. With one thumb, she brushes the lapel of his leather duster, and he responds with a tender kiss to the top of her head, only moments before he blacks out, his body sagging slightly in her hands. A final boulder slides into place, trapping the Slayer and her Champion in their living tomb.
[End of Episode]