harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob
spanderverse

Coming Together, ch 1 of 9

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and the Spanderverse series.

Notes: Story number seventeen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Pathways”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read. Also, another thank you to Twiztv(dot)com script assistance and Wikipedia for character details.

Note: The ‘Angel’ timeline might be a little fuzzy. I don’t want to drag too much of that series continuity in for this story. I will say this takes place before the events of ‘Reunion’ when Angel fires everyone and the whole Dru-Darla mess takes place. If you’ll remember, Pathways occurs before Dru arrives in L.A. and this occurs directly afterward, following BTVS: The Body.

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Coming Together

Ch 1 – Grief of Loss

 

Buffy sat on her bed, eyes staring glassily at her bedroom wall. Her mind was supposed to be focusing on what would happen now with her and Dawnie. How they would get through the funeral; the arrangements and the task itself and then how they’d manage to go on from there. Really, though, she remained a blank slate. Her mind shied away from thinking about anything beyond this very moment and then this one and then this one….

 

Dawn lay on her bed staring at her ceiling through her tears. She wondered briefly how she and her sister were going to go on after today, but her mind rebelled. It was too scary to think what might happen next. Would Buffy take care of her? Would their dad come back home, finally? Would he take her with him to Spain, or wherever he was these days? And what about that tramp he’d run off with? She couldn’t really be expected to live with his former secretary, could she? Too many questions and no way to answer them; it made her stomach clench tight and the ache for her mother stole her breath. She didn’t know what to do.

 

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Anya sat on the edge of the sofa, not sure what she was supposed to do now. She’d felt a little better when she’d cried, but now it felt like a pressure was building up inside of her and she didn’t think she had any more tears left to release it. Across from her, Xander sat slunk down in a chair. He’d been silent the entire drive home from the hospital and though they were going over to Buffy’s in a few hours, that seemed like vast acres of time now in which to sit here unmoving and silent like this. She kept looking toward him, wanting to say something, but nothing was coming to mind. After Willow’s outburst at her, she was afraid of saying anything, really. She didn’t want to make everyone feel worse by asking any more questions, though she was still confused about what they were supposed to do at this juncture. She wished there was a Vengeance Demon for this situation; she’d gladly risk wishing away this pain from her friends if only she could. Xander had more tears falling from his chin down upon his chest and she didn’t know if she was supposed to go to him or not. In her previous mortal era, men were hard and cold. They didn’t show emotion like this, unless they were truly devastated, and even if they were, they’d grieve like this in seclusion. This was a new age though when men were allowed, if not actively encouraged, to react this way. But Xander never had, at least not in front of her. Even when Dracula had killed his father, Xan had been stoic through it all. With Joyce though, he’d cried three times, including now. It was weird and uncomfortable and she didn’t know how to react to make things not worse.

 

Xander Harris sat slumped in the lumpy arm chair he’d been meaning to replace. A spring was jabbing him in the back, but he couldn’t be bothered to move. Everything… the whole fucking world… had just tilted on its axis. Joyce was gone… dead… absent for eternity. He didn’t know how to cope with this. She was the rock they could all cling to when things got bad. She was all of their mom, not just Buffy and Dawn’s.

 

Oh, god…Dawn. How can we help Dawnie, he thought as tears pricked his eyes. He felt them slide down his face and thought about how this morning he’d been embarrassed when Anya had seen them. He wasn’t embarrassed now. Just cold and sort of empty and wishing there was a spell to make this not have happened. If this had happened two years ago, he might have been pushing Wills to find something, but he’d grown up and he knew that spells and wishes and magicks may promise a lot, but they always ended up stabbing their casters in the back. He’d have to let Joyce go; all of them would have to. He placed a hand over his face and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to think, anymore.

 

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Rupert Giles sat on the floor, his back against the sofa. In front of him on the low table stood a bottle of scotch and a glass with two fingers of the amber liquid sitting in ice. Surrounding him from the stereo speakers sounded the lowered volume of music. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream played from a record on the old player. No one listened to popping, scratchy vinyl anymore, which was a shame as it conjured experiences that the perfectly pristine CDs couldn’t. Like books versus computers, there was an argument for the old fashioned records providing a superior experience to their modern counterparts. He could almost imagine the argument with Jenny that that would have engendered and he smiled a little in remembrance of the fiery computer teacher.

 

Joyce and he had listened to this very record while smoking cigarettes. Well, they were under the influence of cursed candy and later in the evening things went pear-shaped, but here in this room he’d really gotten to know Buffy’s mother better as a person. She had liked Juice Newton and feathery boa collars and she’d kissed rather wonderfully. He would miss her, not just for the nurturing support she’d provided Buffy and Dawn, but for her sense of humor about their extraordinary circumstances and for her strength. He didn’t know many women, certainly none who weren’t trained in the sort of things they dealt with who could have taken it as well as Joyce eventually had. There seemed to be an especial cruelty in the universe to have taken her away with such sudden disregard when they’d all thought she was over her health crisis. And now, he had to be there for the girls more than ever, becoming ever more the ‘parent-figure’, especially if Hank Summers would not or could not step up and meet his emotional obligations to them. And though he personally hated the thought, he knew it would be better if he didn’t. It was imperative that Dawn stay here, masked by the Hellmouth. Hank, no matter how he may wish, could not protect her if he wanted to take her away. Finances would also be a strain on them in the meantime and Giles began to strategize on what he could do to help them through as he sipped at his scotch.

 

There were more immediate concerns, of course. Arranging for Joyce’s service and burial; going through her papers to see how she wanted to handle this event; finding out about her insurance policies and the entire minutia that comes with these things. He placed his glass down and reached over, pulling the phone to him. He’d thought about whether it would do more harm than good, but came to the conclusion that he could only help Buffy now. Giles dialed a Los Angeles exchange and waited.

 

“Angel Investigations; if you’re in need, we can perform any deed. Cordy speaking and how can we assist you?”

 

“C-cordelia? This is, uh, this is Giles.”

 

“Oh my god,” Cordelia screeched in excitement right into his ear. As he pulled the instrument away from his head a few inches, she bubbled on with questions about how he was doing, how was the gang, things in L.A. had been so busy lately, but she’d thought about them occasionally.

 

It was several minutes before her excited blathering died down and she suddenly sounded pensive on the phone.

 

“So, uh, Giles? I just realized that you probably weren’t calling just to get caught up on things. What’s happened?”

 

“I-I’ve actually called to speak to Angel, if I might,” he said.

 

“Angel is either sleeping the sleep of the dead or he’s brooding. What’s up, Giles? I can tell its bad news. Why else would you be calling Angel of all people… or demons? Is it Buffy?

 

“Buffy is… well, I was going to say ‘fine’, but that’s not so. Cordelia, I’m afraid that Joyce has passed away this morning – uh, natural causes, thankfully…, I guess.”

 

He heard her gasp of shock over the phone, but when she spoke again she sounded far more like the Cordelia he remembered. Less of the phony receptionist-pleasantry in her tone for Angel’s clients, and more like her blunt, decisive and forceful self.

 

“We’ll be there, Giles. When is the service; I’ll make sure Angel comes. Just… is Spike still in town, because the last thing we need is a Grandsire/Grandchild fistfight.”

 

“I need to talk to Buffy,” Giles thought aloud. “But I imagine it will be a Saturday service, late in the day. We probably can’t arrange a night burial; not in this town, but he could visit Joyce’s grave after nightfall. I’ll call you to confirm but let’s plan this Saturday, alright? As for Spike, even he must know how hard this is already going to be. If he doesn’t want a stake through his groin, he’ll cooperate.”

 

“Wow, nice imagery… no, wait, it was icky. But, what the hey? You gotta do what you gotta do. Can you just let her and Dawn know how sorry I am.”

 

“Of course, of course. Thank you Cordelia; we’ll see you on Saturday.”

 

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Tara and Willow were back in the room they shared on the college campus. Willow had been crying off and on all afternoon. She was currently pulling out outfits; trying to decide on what to wear to the actual service, though they didn’t know exactly when that would be yet. Tara was half-meditating and half-praying. She was really going to miss Joyce, but she was sure that she was being allowed entrance to a better place. Now, if she could just convince Willow, before she did something stupid they’d all regret.

 

“I’m not saying I’d d-do it. I just… I just want to know if it’s possible,” she was saying.

 

“It’s not. I told you, we aren’t allowed to alter the natural order of life and death, Will.”

 

“Yeah, so you’ve said. But we twist the natural world in other ways…, why not this,” she began going teary eyed again. “Dawn doesn’t deserve to lose her mother like this!”

 

“None of us deserves to lose anyone. But we can’t stop the natural progression of life. It’s wrong and you could end up bringing back a zombie or God only knows what. You can’t take the risk of putting Buffy, Dawn or Joyce through that.”

 

Willow grew silent as she again walked to the closet and pulled out a skirt and jacket, laying them on the bed. Tara watched closely, seeing her thinking over her latest words. Willow was an awfully powerful witch; she had felt her energy during their very first meeting, but she had never grasped the underlying philosophy of Wicca faith. For Willow, religion was good when one needed it to fall back on, but as soon as it became inconvenient it was to be discarded for more practical needs. Like needing to see your friends not hurting; Tara was afraid because she thought that if anyone could perform a resurrection, no matter how ill-considered, it might just be her girlfriend.

 

“I just… I hate feeling this way. J-joyce wasn’t just Buffy’s mom. She was there when I found out that Jenny had been murdered by Angelus. She was always there since Buffy and I became friends.”

 

“I know,” Tara stood up and embraced Willow in a huge hug. “I know this hurts… bad. But it’s our obligation to go on, not try to turn back the clock and undo things.”

 

“Were you ever tempted? Uh, when your mom…?”

 

“I won’t lie, it crossed my mind,” Tara admitted. But she cut off whatever self-justification Willow was opening her mouth to say. “But I knew I didn’t have that right. None of us do. We have to let go, Will. The important thing for us to do now is to make sure that Dawn and Buffy know they can rely on us to be there for them. They’ll be okay. It’ll take time for all of us, but we’ll all be okay.”

 

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Buffy answered the door dressed in the same outfit she wore to the hospital. The red sweater was damp at the sleeves where she’d been wiping tears from her face all day. As she took in Giles looking as shell shocked, still, as she felt, she hugged him and encouraged him inside. The sun was low on the horizon, but its warm rays were still bathing the lawn outside. It seemed to her perverse. It was like the world wasn’t caring what she was going through; it should have been raining and cold and dark.

 

“How are Dawn, and yourself?”

 

“Oh, uh… she’s still in her room. I think she may have been talking to Janice; I’m not sure. I-I guess I should have looked in on her. I’m just… I feel like I’m walking around in a daze still. Uh, I was… um… I was going to look for something for the gang to eat.”

 

“We’ll order in. Don’t worry about that,” Giles gave a small and sad smile. “We’ll need to make some decisions, Buffy. There are things that you and Dawn should discuss… a-about the arrangements. Um, I, uh, I thought I could take a look over Joyce’s papers… like I did for Xander’s father, if you’d like?”

 

“Um… yeah… yeah, thank you, Giles. She has a fire proof lockbox in her room. I’ll, uh, I’ll go up and get it and check on Dawnie.”

 

“Do you have any idea what you’d like to eat? I should order so it will be here when the rest arrive.”

 

“I couldn’t tell you, Giles. I-I’m not really hungry.”

 

“I understand. I’ll look over your take out menus and decide on something.”

 

Buffy nodded her head weakly as she started her way up the stairs. She looked like she was carrying an awful weight on her shoulders to Giles and his heart cracked a little more for her predicament. With a sigh, he started for the kitchen.

 

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End Chapter 1

Tags: btvs, buffy, coming together, fanfiction, harsens-rob, spander, spanderverse
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