BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Discworld and denizens by their author, Sir Terry Pratchett.
My thanks to reviewer litmouse for a better perspective :)
Season 3, January 1999
I sat on the front steps of my house and talked with my friends about how we could help Susan go home.
My mom was frankly pleased to meet a literary figure, but she wouldn't allow the skeletal horse inside the house. It was a person, somewhat, so it didn't seem fair to talk where it couldn't hear.
Having the main conversation outside was just practical - and it wasn't like any of the neighbors would notice.
"If I'm reading this right, this book enables the bearer to summon Death and to finesse Time," Willow said, holding up the relevant passage. "If Time has been invested in something Hellmouthy, like a bunch of demons immune to paradox, I don't think it's a good idea to try our version out..."
"We should be able to contact mine," Susan began. "I've gone on several half-dates with him and-"
"Wait," Xander interrupted. "You're seeing some... I mean, you're seeing a guy with a robe and a beard unshaved since the beginning-"
"No, her athletic son, who's been promoted. Well, not exactly seeing him, it's slightly complicated."
"I'm sorry," Xander said, frowning, as he laid back in the grass. "Makes me wish I'd read more than thirty pages."
"That's alright," Giles said. "If I'm to understand this, if that adventure is going to be published, it hasn't been yet. So we're basically reading ahead. May I ask... Half-dates?"
"He's still learning, so he's only half-way in any given moment."
"Ahh, yes," Giles said, polishing his glasses, again. "I can see how that would be a problem."
"I thought you guys might be getting hungry, so I made a late lunch," my mom announced as she brought a fully loaded tray outside.
"Awesome!" Xander cheered as he grabbed his food.
Our friendly neighborhood gal-from-a-book accepted hers with a weak smile, probably because of how her parents had died...
Man, she's jealous of me having a mom like Joyce, I realized. Here comes the happiness... and here comes the guilt.
"Here, have another crispie treat," I said, tossing the baked snack to Susan. "You've earned it, slamming the lid on a creature like that. Though, I still don't think she was all that much of a threat."
"You never know, from what you told me, her Harbingers were a lot more active this time around. Maybe what she lacked was the right motivation."
"Here's hoping we never have to find out."
Susan helped Willow find shortcuts through the spell, so we didn't have to sacrifice a Persian rug. Which was good because I had other plans for that money.
The collapsible volleyball net hadn't been used in years anyway...
The portal opened without a hitch. Susan stuck her head through for a half-second and came back out with a huge smile on her face.
Time powers are useful, I thought to myself. Why couldn't I wind up with them?
After the first round of goodbyes, she walked up to 'Binky', rubbed the side of his skull and whispered something into his ear. By the time she turned around, the horse had already vanished into the sky.
Her next move was to drag Xander over to the portal. She leaned in, the top half of her body disappearing, then came back out with a necklace of some sort that she draped around Xander's neck.
I couldn't exactly make out what they were talking about and I didn't want to interrupt. He's known her since, well, the middle of the night. I'm a bit of a latecomer to this story. Faith's hovering just a little too close, though, isn't she? I thought to myself. Hello, rude much?
Susan finished the conversation with a quick peck to Xander's cheek and she would have disappeared into the portal while he was still standing there, stunned, but as she was turning away, Faith touched her arm, holding her back. They spoke, too low for me to hear...
I made up my mind to ask Xander what I'd missed, because Faith's grip on Susan's arm looked just a little too strong to be friendly.
After a few more tense seconds, the portal closed, taking Susan with it, and we were alone again.
"Well, this is new," Giles said, nodding his head at Xander who was rolling the pendant between his fingertips.
"And this isn't," I said, watching Faith stalk down the sidewalk in a huff. She never even looked back.
"That's a shame," Giles commented. "Since Christmas she's been become more and more open, more socially integrated, if you would. I'd hate to think that this entire incident could set her back a few paces."
"Even it it does," Willow said, smiling brightly, pleased at the success of the spell. "She'll come back around eventually. We have time."
"Yes, I suppose we do..." Giles mused.
"Well, I guess it's back to the normal chaos of planning for my birthday," I announced, quite happy to change the subject to something a bit more grounded in reality.
"Yeah," Willow answered as she grinned oddly about something, quite possibly my present. "What could go wrong?"
Season 5, April 2001
After I got back from my vision quest and had resolved all the nonsense that had been simmering while I was away, I approached Giles with some further thoughts on what I'd heard. "When the First Slayer said that death was my gift I naturally freaked out, but do you think she could have been saying it with a big-D?" I cautiously held out a copy of 'Reaper Man' with Death on the cover.
"Fascinating." Giles rubbed his chin as he carefully chose his words. "The origins of the Slayer spirit are a mystery to me although, given enough time, I might be able to piece together a better picture. Ms. Sto-Helit did say that the First Evil had apparently been unable to consume all of the, for lack of a better term, essence of Death that had been assigned to our world. A fragment could easily have evolved or been shaped into your powers. It being an anthropomorphic personification of one of the basic bricks of reality could explain why it doesn't follow the normal rules for possession..."
"So, this would be why the First Evil was trying to goad Angel into killing me?" I shuddered. "It liked my taste from when I drowned and it wanted more?"
"Yes, well. Fortunately for us all... Sad as it is to say, the death of a Slayer is nothing unusual. Other than the odd splitting of the line, nothing notable has come from having you back. Which, you being here, is something I... We are all very glad about."
Season 5, May 2001
Dying wasn't fun. It was worth it, to save my sister, but it hurt.
I had dove from the platform, felt a moment of incredible pain and then I was kneeling.
The place was shapeless. I couldn't tell if my eyes, if I had them, were opened or closed.
I can barely remember talking to a group of things, or someone with a multitude of voices, about where I wanted to go, if I was to be offered a choice of Earths or Heavens.
I was surprised to learn what my mother had chosen to do. I guess Susan had affected her more than I thought. I asked if I could follow my mom and I was allowed to.
After I had made my decision, someone approached me and, reaching down, lifted my head so I could stare into their face. In the background behind the figure I could see others standing and sitting but my focus was riveted on the one who was touching me, who I could tell was the First Evil from how she kept switching between Jenny's face, Dru's, and mine.
"It's a shame," she said in different pitches. "I'm almost sorry to see you go. You have no idea what a wonderful opportunity it was for me to have a resurrected Slayer walking around Earth."
"You kept trying to kill me."
"Yes," she said, letting go and walking away as things returned to being blurred and indistinct. "But I had dibs."
Binky arrived and carried me from that place of formless mists, to a somewhere a bit more grounded.
I guess it's not the best 'Heaven' out there, but it would still let me help my friends back on Earth. That counted for a lot.
I recognized my mom directly, out of all the other souls there. I'm not sure how I did as she was a little blue ball of light, pretty much the same as I was. I guess she just had a certain mom-ness about her.
We didn't have time to talk at first, because the wheat that filled the space was dying at a rate only a little bit slower than we could heal it.
"Why are we humming to this singing wheat again?" I asked her after a few days of constant work, when the wheat was as bright and healthy as we could get it. "This would probably be boring if I wasn't dead."
"It's a metaphor, honey," she conveyed, with the impression of a grin. "We believe that the world can be a better place and we're assuring the wheat that it's true. If we didn't keep their hopes up, they'd wither and die. Each stalk is keeping a tiny piece of the First Evil's mind asleep. We're just as important as the 'ground' beneath us that keeps it's undiluted essence from infecting its corporeal body."
"Wait! What do you mean its body? I thought that bug monster thing was just something made up to scare me."
"Its physical body can look like anything it wants to, sweetie. That's it right now over there," she said, indicating Binky on one of his routine sweeps of the field. "No more time to talk right now, I can hear the wheat turning sour way over there," she announced, before flitting off.
"Great," I said. I'd have rolled my eyes, if I'd had any right then. "So I'm dead and stuck in a dream sequence."
Season 6, October 2001
Being raised from the dead this time was a lot worse than dying. My death had affected me. It had hurt those around me, but there hadn't been any loose ends.
This left a big one and it took me over a year to remember that it needed tying up.
There was a sudden tornado centered around me in the field of wheat. I could feel myself being stretched, as if I was about to break.
The ground below me was torn up by the force of the portal, chunks of wheat and 'dirt' rising into the 'sky' to spin along with me.
I 'looked' down and saw the essence of the First Evil, the stuff of darkness that the 'dirt' had been covering. I stared into the abyss and my mind snapped to protect me.
By the time I fully disappeared from that plane, the hole had filled in, but the wheat in that area was in sore shape. Worse, I had been marked from my time spent dead. If I had been a candle to the First Evil before because of my drowning I was now a giant spotlight trained on a sign reading 'All you can eat Buffet'. I would be a beacon calling the First Evil's consciousness to wherever I was, drowning out the wheat's song just enough for a slow, small trickle to wake and follow me...
Traumatized by what I'd seen, even for an instant, I had hid my memories of what we'd been doing behind a very thick wall. That left me with only a vague impression of being at peace and having spent the time guarding my friends from something...
Waking up six feet underground didn't help a bit.
Even once I clawed my way out and reunited with my family, it wasn't the same...
I sat on the front porch of my house, surrounded by my friends, but I just wasn't home.