Stages of Understanding

Disclaimer: No, I don't own BTVS, wish I did though. All rights belong to Joss Whendon and anyone else who has their finger in the awesome pie that is Buffy.
Rating: R for safety but I have plans for NC-17 later.
Spoilers: All through season five. This takes place during season six.
A/N: Okay, as stated this is a season six fanfic. However, Warren died when his robot girlfriend entered the picture (so his first episode is his only episode.) Yes, no robot Buffy either. Jonathan died in season three in the episode "Earshot". As for Andrew...who knows. Playing D&D in his parents basement for all we know. Spike is not a big character in this. So no Spuffy. I really hate Spuffy.

Prologue

It was breezy. Not heavy but just enough to send a chill. Then again, being up on that rickety old tower was far colder for them than anyone who was down below. They didn't have the breeze that Buffy and Dawn felt. The odd thing was, neither of them really felt anything. Dawn was to busy listening to Buffy speak, trying to memorize everything about her sister; her hair, her face, her eyes, the sound of her voice. She knew that she would never see her again. Buffy simply felt peace. She made her decision and was okay with it. A part of her was even happy about it. She would be able to rest now. No hellmouth to worry about and she knew those she cared about would be okay.

She could die with that.

Buffy turned and looked at Dawn. She took a strand of her chocolate hair and pushed it to the side. She wanted to embrace her but knew that if she did, she wouldn't go through with it. Buffy would let the world go to hell. She only had a few minutes to say goodbye and she had so much she needed to say.

"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work I have to do. Give my love to my friends. You have to take of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world...is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me. And tell Giles...tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. Tell him, I love him. Like, really love him. That a part of me always has."

With that, Buffy kissed the top of Dawn's head, turned and ran. She jumped over the small hole in the plank in the tower and then dove off of it. She didn't feel any pain. Even though she was dying, she was at peace with it. It was easy to let go. She knew that her friends would miss her but in time, she would see them again.

For Dawn, she didn't understand until she was at the bottom of the tower, looking at her sister's body. Spike was on the ground, howling. For someone who didn't have a soul, it felt as though his was ripped out of his chest. Xander was frozen and Anya clung to his arm, simply staring on. Willow was crying while Tara was still coming out of her haze.

For Giles...it was as though the world had ended and Glory had won. For Giles, he had nothing left.