harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
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Spanderverse: Points of View, Four

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: Tara

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

Notes: Story number Twenty in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Points of View, Three”.

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.

THANK YOU JOSS and DH COMICS for Buffy: Season 8! And for Angel: After the Fall

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.

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Spanderverse: Points of View, Four

Tara

 

I remember the ground shaking. And I remember a howling wind; so loud, like there was a tornado directly overhead. The sky was full of bright flashes of light as electricity arced across the sky. I was terrified.

 

And then there was a lull in the noise and the wind. It was surreal and peaceful for just a few moments, like they say that the eye of a hurricane is like. But when the noise started again, it wasn’t the wind howling and the lightning crackling that we heard, but sirens and people. Just the normal, human sounds. The end of the world had transformed into the mundane in, literally, minutes. I was still terrified; it was just spiked by confusion now.

 

Willow and I were on the ground at that point, clutching desperately to one another and both of us were crying hard because we hadn’t really believed that Glory could win. Not when she’d beaten Buffy up and not when she’d destroyed Giles’ shop. Not when she mind-raped Anya and not when she’d snatched Dawn from us. We would win, you see, because we were the good guys. I know that seems simplistic, but that’s what I believed in my heart until the world started coming apart around me.

 

So, Will and I were clutching and crying and then we were looking around confused and scared. I don’t think we dared to hope that we’d suddenly won again, but for being an apocalypse, it seemed suddenly so… un-apocalyptic.

 

Willow got up before I did and she grabbed my good hand and pulled me to my feet. I was looking straight up at where Glory’s portal had been doing its best to yank us up into it and my mind wasn’t really working. You see, for the portal to be closed, it meant that Dawn had to have died, at least according to Mr. Giles. Well, the portal certainly seemed closed, unless the whole planet fell into it and we just didn’t know it yet. Except that I was looking up to make sure that Dawnie was alright, even though I couldn’t have seen her up that high, anyway. It didn’t enter my mind that she would be dead, portal closing or not.

 

Willow tugged me and I lost my balance and that sort of pulled my mind back to working because I was suddenly scared again by why we weren’t all dying. That may seem odd, being scared that we weren’t dying, but the human brain can act weird sometimes when it’s confused or in shock.

 

Anyway, I stumbled a bit and Willow’s grip on my forearm was tight enough to hurt. I glanced at her fingers and they were white… ghost white, gripping me. Her nails were digging a little and I was going to tell her to let go because she was hurting me. But I saw her face and I lost the words because the look on it was someone who was utterly without hope. I might have asked her what was wrong, but that’s when I saw Buffy so I already knew.

 

We headed toward where she was lying and Will… she just was so white and I could feel her trembling from where her body was touching mine as I put my arm awkwardly around her, trying to keep my cast out of the way.

 

Buffy was lying on rubble and she didn’t look right, somehow. It might have been that she’d always had so much energy that I just never imagined she could be so still. Or it might have been how far backward she was bent… like her back was broken. Which it was, but in my head I didn’t think that. Buffy was the Slayer and even though she was a person, she was more than us. I didn’t imagine that a Slayer could look like a broken person. I don’t know why I thought they’d be so different, except, you know… I’d seen her do some pretty incredible stuff.

 

I don’t know how long we took to reach her. Looking back, it seems like we were just stumbling toward her body for hours, but obviously it couldn’t have been more than a minute… probably even less. We weren’t that far from her.

 

The sun was coming up fast and its orange glow was on her skin. I remember thinking how pretty she looked because her hair was fanned out around her and there was this smile playing around her mouth. Like she was dreaming a really pleasant dream and with the light, she was almost radiant. Except for the way she was lying there, anyway.

 

I had to fight Willow a little bit to get her to let go so I could check on Buffy. I kind of knew that she was really dead, but at the same time, I knew that I’d check for a pulse and find one. She was really hurt, that was obvious, but we could deal with hurt. We could help her with ‘hurt’. We could fix that.

 

I couldn’t feel a pulse and this tiny voice in the back of my head was whispering, ‘Well, of course not’. But I wasn’t ready to hear it so I decided it was because her skin was so cool. That was the reason I couldn’t pick up a pulse… don’t ask me to explain the logic, there wasn’t any. But I leaned down over her chest and listened for a heartbeat, while at the same time trying to convince myself that I could feel her exhaling breath against my face.

 

Things around me seemed so preternaturally silent. I mean, it wasn’t. There was activity beyond our construction yard that was making a huge racket as people sought to get help or to give it. It was all so far away, though. We were in our own world and it was so quiet. Like Gaia herself was holding her breath and waiting on me to give her an answer.

 

I looked at Willow and she was shaking her head… in shock… in denial. I couldn’t find words. What could anyone say except the truth and no one… certainly not Willow, wanted to hear it. So I just got up and pulled her into my arms and held her as tightly as I could. And when she began to yell her grief against my shoulder, I finally began to cry myself for my lost friend.

 

I don’t know how long we stood like that before I became aware that the others were there with us: Anya, Xander, Dawn and Giles. I’m not sure what happened to Spike, but my mind already had enough to worry over between Willow and Dawn. I hope he’d understand that; I like Spike, but sometimes he’s very hard to get into the mind of.

 

Things sort of happened faster than I could keep up with then. There was a police detective and Giles and he were arguing and then he was leading us… Dawn and I, to the street to find an ambulance. Dawn had been cut, of course, because it was her blood that had to open the portal. Somehow, Buffy’s lifeforce closed it. I don’t get how, unless there is some sort of deeper connection between Buffy and Dawn that we aren’t aware of. Or was. That’s the hardest thing in these horrible hours afterward… thinking of Buffy in the past tense. I’m not sure I can get used to it.

 

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Dawn and I made it to the hospital without incident. I was worried that they wouldn’t treat her because I’m not blood-kin, but there was such chaos in the hospital with injuries coming in from all over the city that they just took her and treated her with few questions asked. I even got some Tylenol for my hand which was really starting to hurt. I felt guilty asking, it was just my hand after all and others (Buffy) had suffered worse, but it really did hurt. Glory had crushed it earlier, you see, so I have broken bones in the hand. It’s not really important, never mind.

 

So, they took Dawn and myself into a room and asked about how she’d gotten injured. I didn’t know what to say to that. But Dawn, even through her shock and misery, was thinking ahead. She told the doctor that she’d been in front of a window when the earthquake started and it had blown out and cut her. Which is a pretty ridiculous tale, considering how exact her injuries were, but sometimes I forget how different Sunnydale is and the doctor bought it without batting an eye. It can be very strange living here.

 

While she was being stitched up (and no one ever did ask why she was dressed so oddly, like something she’d wear in a play), I worried about Willow and Giles. Mostly because of Buffy, but also, Giles’ ankle had looked broken to me and yet he was organizing things back at ‘The Site’ instead of coming here with us for aid.

 

My mind drifted a bit and I thought about the detective that had been there. The one who’d helped to call an ambulance for us. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but Giles seemed ready to tell him everything about who Buffy is… uh, who she’d been. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but I trust Mr. Giles, even after the bad stuff at the Magic Box. We’ll find a way to make things work out for the best, now that the worst has been done. I just hope that he won’t be too much trouble. I don’t want us to lose Dawn to her neglectful father, or even worse, to foster care. I wonder if Giles can adopt her. Maybe Xander or Willow could, I don’t know. I’d never thought about these sorts of things until now. But I know that Dawn needs us. We have to be the ones to help her through this. We’re the only ones she can talk to about what’s happened and I know there’s going to be a lot of guilt because that’s what happens when somebody dies and Buffy died to save her. To save all of us, but really, to save her. I don’t know what happened on that tower, but I know that much.

 

When we came out of the exam room, we found the detective waiting for us. Mr. Stein said that Giles had finally been brought in to set his ankle, so we waited for him. It was sort of awkward. I’m not good with talking to strangers and Dawn wasn’t talking to anyone. We just sort of waited silently, except for Rick (that’s the detective) asking us if we were hurt badly. I think he specifically didn’t ask how we were doing, because he must have seen that for himself.

 

Once Giles was released it was another silent drive back to Buffy’s house. We stopped at Rick’s home and his wife, her name is Carole, joined Dawn and I in the back seat. Giles was in the passenger seat and Carole told him not to worry about it, that the back was fine for her. He’d wanted to give her the seat, because that’s the type of gentleman that Mr. Giles is.

 

Rick and Giles seemed stiff and formal with one another and I kept thinking, ‘How is Giles going to explain all this?’ I had assumed that he’d make something clever up. I didn’t know what, but going into vampires and Slayers wasn’t what I expected.

 

Carole had in her lap a coffee cake and that struck me as absurdly funny. I mean really, it was all I could do not to laugh, because that really would have been inappropriate and nothing was funny anyway because Buffy was dead. Still I had to stare out the back window of the car because the sight of that coffee cake in her lap was hysterical.

 

Or maybe, I was nearing hysteria. By the time we arrived at the Summers’ home, I was back in control and feeling ashamed of myself for finding anything funny. I’ve decided to put it down to mild shock and not obsess about it. I’m just glad I kept myself from giggling in the car or I’d never be able to look at Dawn again.

 

Once in the house, Rick started asking his questions which I understood because he’s a policeman and that’s what they do, but we just weren’t ready. Thankfully, Carole stepped in and I have to say that I really like her. She seems very level headed and very sympathetic and after she’d explained that even though we wouldn’t feel hungry we should have something in our stomachs, I understood why she’d brought the coffee cake. It seemed a lot less funny by then anyway, but right then it just seemed unbelievably sweet of her. Maybe I was just getting really emotional by then.

 

We were all pretty strung out.

 

When we’d gotten back to the dining room table, I listened in, but Giles and Xander handled mostly everything. And they did, in fact, tell them the truth about Sunnydale and Buffy and even Spike. I might have flinched a little bit when Carole and Rick nearly jumped out of their seats when Spike changed because I like him and it seems cruel to be terrified of him. Not that he would notice… in fact, he’d probably find it amusing, but I feel bad for him on his behalf. He may still be a demon, but things aren’t as black and white as most people want things to be, including with him. Spike is very thoughtful and brave and I feel safe with him looking after us and especially after Dawnie. I know he’d pay any price to keep us safe. It’s taken some time for him to come around, but I had hoped that I’d gotten through to him on my birthday when I told him to stop fighting being in our family. I think maybe I did a little.

 

Of course, I know he’s mostly changed now because of Buffy and Dawn and Xander. But still, I think if you can treat others with love and respect, most times they’ll return it. Not that I’m going to put it to the test with any un-chipped vampires. All the love and good intentions in the world aren’t going to help if they’re busy biting you.

 

I still worry about Giles, though. He’s obviously very uncomfortable with Xander and Spike’s budding relationship. I don’t want to see us all fighting. We need Mr. Giles’ vast knowledge and experience, and besides, he’s just family, too. Plus, there’s Dawn to think about. We can’t subject her to extra stress by sniping at each other. Mr. Giles will need to keep his displeasure to himself, or at least wait until he’s alone with Xander and Spike so that it’s not upsetting to Dawn.

 

So, Giles and Xander basically told them a compressed history of everything that had happened since Buffy had arrived here. There was a lot that I hadn’t heard about and other stuff that I think they really only skated the surface on. Xander seemed to get very tense when talking about Angel and his history as an ennobled vampire who worked on our side, like Spike. And I know that there’s been some major drama there in the past from what little I’ve picked up from Willow, but I thought everyone got along now. Angel and Xander’s ex, Cordelia, was both here for Mrs. Summers’ funeral services. I should ask Will to fill me in sometime.

 

I have to say that both of the Steins took things pretty well. Especially, Carole, but then she did grow up with the weird occurrences and such. She was just like the other Sunnydale residents… knowing something was wrong with the town, but never doing anything about it or thinking too hard on it. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve mentioned more than once during Scooby missions. I guess this makes them de facto members of the gang now, too. I’m not sure how to feel about it. I mean, it would be nice to have some police support, even if it’s unofficial, but at the same time if it gets out that Buffy is dead we’re really screwed.

 

Well, there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ll just have to hope we can trust them.

 

I feel so badly for Dawn. Her sister is dead and she can’t tell anyone or express any grief in public about it. And Buffy was a hero. She should be able to tell people about her brave sister. At least Mr. Giles is letting us bury her. Maybe it won’t be in a proper cemetery, but it’s important for Dawn’s sense of closure. And I think we all need to be able to do this much for Buffy.

 

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I’m in the basement and it’s cool and quiet and peaceful. Buffy is laid out before me on a make-shift table. I volunteered to prepare her for her final rest. Some people may misunderstand and think it’s creepy or morbid, but really it’s nice. Not that they’ve died, of course! But that you can provide them with this last bit of care and dignity. And as a witch, I feel like I’m more tuned in to the natural cycle in times like this.

 

I had to… no wait; that makes it sound like a chore instead of an honor. Back in my hometown, I assisted my great-grandmother and my grandmother this way. Me and my aunts and Cousin Beth sat around the bodies and we bathed them and did their hair and we talked about the wonderful times we had with them. There was something comforting in having family performing this last task with love and laughter and a few mutual tears rather than handing them over to strangers. I hope that Buffy won’t mind that I’m doing this instead of someone closer to her. I don’t think Dawn or Willow would look on this the way that I do. They’re used to funeral directors and autopsies and morgue attendants; all the modern trappings surrounding death designed to make it sterile and distant from the living.

 

I’m glad I thought to bring tissue down here though, because I find myself crying a little bit. Mostly when my mind drifts to what we can do for Dawn. She’s so young and she’s been through so much in so short of time. I worry that one more thing and she’ll just crack apart.

 

I’ve scissored her out of her clothing and am wiping her down with a wet cloth to remove the dirt and grime picked up from her final battle. Buffy loved Matchbox 20; I think she had a thing for Rob Thomas. So I’m humming to her ‘If You’re Gone’ and I don’t even realize the irony, believe it or not. I’m too focused on my task of making her presentable and as pretty as possible for Dawn because I have a feeling her sister won’t allow us to place her in a grave without one last good-bye. I don’t want her to see the little splotches of blood inside her mouth or from her nether regions where it looks like she was bleeding from her inside. That’s a detail that I can keep to myself. It’s obvious to me that Buffy was hurt before she threw herself off of that platform and I cry some more wondering what her last moments were really like. I stop myself because if I start thinking about whether she was alive all the way down to the ground, I may never sleep again. I want to believe that her death was quick; that the portal energy did something to kill her mystically and it happened so fast for her that she barely had time to realize that this truly was her end. I blow my nose some more and try to pull myself together as I pull a sheet over her body. I still need to wash her face and thoroughly clean her hair.

 

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I’m working on Buffy’s hair, straightening and untangling it for her. The comb I’m using has been dipped in Vanilla-extract scented oil and I breathe in its calming scent. The light down here is weak and yellowish and it makes it difficult to judge whether I’m doing an okay job or not. There’s just the one, naked, sixty watt bulb dangling from the ceiling.

 

I hear the basement door open and close and then there’s the scent of coffee coming down the stairs. I instinctively know that it’s Willow. She’s probably been standing in the kitchen for at least twenty minutes arguing with herself about coming down here and feeling guilty for wanting to avoid it. It’s okay. I don’t judge anyone upstairs for leaving me alone down here to do this job. They were all closer to Buffy than I was and I’ve had experience with this.

 

Willow sets the coffee down near my elbow and as she passes by she glides her fingertips along my back. She sits down and picks up one of Buffy’s hands. It’s sweet of her to help me, but I tell her that I can do this. My voice is almost a whisper and it seems right somehow. Like talking normally would be inappropriate.

 

Will, bless her, doesn’t leave though. She instead grabs a nail file and starts giving Buffy a manicure. She talks to me about Buffy and for several minutes, it’s like being back at home and doing this for my other family. Because, make no mistake, I’m doing this for Buffy because she was part and parcel of my family… much more so than the kin I have left.

 

She’s trying so hard, but she can’t keep the tears from her eyes. I lean forward enough to press my lips to her too warm forehead. And then we get back to our tasks; me finishing Buffy’s hair while Willow continues fixing her nails.

 

Like me, Willow’s thoughts are on taking care of Dawn and helping her through this. I try to assure her. Dawn has a great support group around her; far more than some people will ever know. We’ll all work together and we’ll make it through this. I’m just worried about how we’ll be able to incorporate the Buffy robot into the process. Every time Dawn sees it, every time it smiles, it’ll be like a little dagger stabbing her. But we need it. We need to keep up the illusion that Buffy is here and the Hellmouth remains under her watchful eye. Not that her presence always kept the bad guys from coming, anyway, but there’s been a lot less ‘open the door to Hell’ plots recently, so I think the word must be getting out not to mess around with her.

 

We talk about Spike and I’m glad that Willow is supportive of Xander. I know that when she came out to her friends and family, it wasn’t easy on her. Now take that and add the fact that Xan’s idea of a boyfriend is a blood-sucking creature of the night (and I use the term affectionately) and you can see that he needs our acceptance. And, I’m not sure of course, but I think it’s harder on men, maybe, to overlook the same-gender thing. Xander seems to be fine, though, so that’s good.

 

It was some time later when Dawn joined us downstairs. We were really already done and were just sitting and reminiscing between laughter and tears about Buffy. Mostly the way I was always so shy around her and the other Scoobs and how silly it was. Buffy was great when she found out about Will and I. She was always great… and I will miss her very much.

 

In Dawn’s hands were a simple black dress and a pair of black pumps. “Anya helped me pick it out,” Dawn said. “It’s alright, isn’t it?”

 

We both assured her that it would be fine. It was… uncomfortable… to have to dress Buffy, but we struggled through it with Dawn. It seemed important to give Dawn a sense that she was helping her sister one time; some small thing for all that her sister had done for her.

 

I am very proud of Dawn for the way she handled it when Buffy was placed in the casket that Giles had gotten from somewhere. She’d helped drive the nails into the lid to seal it and she was, well… so adult. I think there is far more to her than meets the eye, and I’m not talking about her being a ball of energy. I think we’ve always seen her as someone that needed to be coddled, but maybe that’s part of the monk’s spell to make us protect her. It makes me feel proud though to see her holding herself together under these painful circumstances.

 

We left the house with Buffy’s coffin tied to the top of Xander’s car. Willow and I performed a glamour that made it invisible to anyone on the street. The most worrying part was when we reached the park we had to cross to reach the clearing where we placed her plot. It would have looked very strange to any police officer on patrol to see a group of older kids and a middle aged man pantomiming (from their perspective) carrying a box in the middle of the night across a darkened park. Thankfully, we didn’t need to deal with that.

 

The coffin was so heavy and it was such a nightmare getting it through the thicket we needed to go through. I tried to help with a few natural castings, asking the plants to make a path for us, but it was still rough going. None of us asked for a break though… and no one complained. Nothing was too much to go through for our friend and sister.

 

Xander had apparently called Carole and Rick to attend this clandestine burial and Willow helped them find us with one of Aradia’s light pointers. I’m not sure I agree with his calling them without consulting the rest of us, especially Giles and Dawn. I mean, I guess it was okay for them to have come, considering we need them to cooperate with us in the future, but still….

 

Anyway, we got through that with a little bit of magic and a little bit of prayer and a lot of work by Spike, Xander and Mr. Giles. The only part when I had a little trouble staying composed was when Dawn called Buffy a hero, because it was so true. She really was a hero in ways other than her killing demons. She went out there night after night doing what she was called to do, no matter how dangerous or lonely. We should all count ourselves lucky if we have one tenth of her courage.

 

Well… anyway… we had a small, quiet ceremony and blessed the ground she was placed in. I’m glad I’ve finally been able to use one of the blessing spells that I’ve been working on since before Dracula came to town. It feels good to use the holy water for something defensive rather than as undead acid.

 

So, we’re heading back to Buffy’s home now. Willow and I will be sleeping in Joyce’s old room. I know that Giles is going back to his apartment, despite the fact that we’ve told him he shouldn’t be alone and to stay with us at the house. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be drinking himself to sleep tonight, and who can blame him?

 

Anya and Xander are going to crash at their apartment. I thought that Spike would go with Xander, or maybe find something to kill. He is a vampire, after all, and I know that killing other more evil demons is sort of a stress reliever for him. I don’t have any illusions about Spike, but I try to remember that when it comes to us, there’s nothing to fear.

 

He’s decided to come back to the house with us, though. He wants to stay close to Dawn overnight, which may be a good idea. Dawn takes strength from him in ways I don’t fully understand, but approve of. It’s like he’s the rakish, sort of black-sheep Uncle or maybe the bad-boy, cool cousin. However Dawn sees him, she relies on him when she feels weak and scared and will probably be depending on him a lot in the coming months until the full loss of Buffy is realized and accepted by her.

 

I’ll keep an eye on her as well, of course. We all will.

 

But, Goddess, do I dread tomorrow’s sunrise.

 

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End Story

 

Spanderverse Series:

BTVS seasons 1-4.

Spanderverse: After 314

Spanderverse: Spike

Spanderverse: Dracula

Spanderverse: Burial

BTVS: Real Me

Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Preludes

Tensions

Old Friends

Hospital Visits

The Risks of Glory

Hunting Our Needs

The Family We Choose

Falling Apart

Sunnydale Antics

Feints and Counter-Feints

Pathways

BTVS: The Body

Coming Together

Songs of Pain and Comfort

Battling with a God

Spanderverse: Points of View One

Spanderverse: Points of View Two

Spanderverse: Points of View Three

Spanderverse: Points of View Four

Tags: btvs, buffy, fanfiction, harsens-rob, points of view, spander, spanderverse
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