Almost everyone in the school turned up to the funeral. Willow had been genuinely amazed at the number of people who had offered her their condolences over the past few days, saying that even though they didn't know Buffy that well, they knew that she had helped a lot of people over the past few years, saved them from the 'something else's' that lurked in the town.
She was only dimly aware of the scores of people that surrounded her now, as she watched the coffin being lowered into the ground as the priest recited a passage from Gibran.
"...For what is to die, but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered.
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then shall you begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you live.
The day of parting shall be the day of gathering.
And it shall be said - Her eve was indeed her dawn.
She goes, a boundless drop, to a boundless ocean."
She shivered, despite the bright sunlight that beat down upon them, as though the earth was rejoicing at being able to reclaim one of the most amazing people that anyone could ever meet, drawing her into itself forever. Oz entwined his fingers with hers as the coffin slowly sank out of view; as Buffy was slowly pulled out of their lives. Willow felt two, fat tears roll down her cheeks as she started sobbing silently, hopelessly trying to shut out her surroundings. She suddenly understood what Buffy had said about not wanting to face the world. To lose Giles had been bad enough. To lose Buffy as well was one the worst things she'd ever had to face. But for Buffy to be lost at the hands of Giles? That was more than she could bear.
The dim sound of the wooden box hitting the floor found its way into
Looking around at her friends,
As the earth started being shoveled on top of Buffy, the crowds started to disperse. The Scooby-gang began to come together and started to make a move toward Hank and Joyce.
"Are you kids okay?" Joyce asked, trying to control her tears for a time, for the children's sake.
"We will be," Xander said.
"Actually, we were all going to go and get something to eat, you're welcome to join us if you want,"
Joyce shook her head. "Thanks, but we're just gonna head straight off. I think the sooner I get out of here the better."
"You too. I'll give you a call when I get back."
She reached over and caught
After the Summers left, the four friends began to walk somberly from the burial place.
"Um, you guys go on ahead, I'll catch up with you," she told her friends.
"Faith," she began, as she approached the dark haired girl. The Slayer turned to look at her. "Are you okay?"
"Not really. It's just weird, y'know? I mean, B and I had only just started talking again when she..." she trailed off and wrapped her arms tightly around her chest. "It's just kinda weird, y'know?"
"Yeah, I know. I woke up this morning and I realised that my best friend is dead. I-I don't have a best friend anymore." She felt the tears well up in her eyes again and she clenched them shut to try and hide it.
"Hey..." Faith reached her hand out and gently stroked
"Thanks, Faith," she whispered.
* * * * *
There was no moon this night. Black clouds scudded across the velvet blackness of the January sky, studded with the distant sparks of stars, harsh and far away. The wind moaned and whispered in the bare tree branches like the shades of the dead, sending the dead husks of autumn leaves scurrying across the wintry grass, and across the patch of bare earth, dignified by a single marker of black stone. Gold writing etched deep into the cold granite, simple words.
BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS
1981 - 1999
The graveyard was silent. No patrol this night, no Slayer, no Watcher, no easy banter between two people who couldn't see the truth between them. The graveyard belonged to the night, and the wind, and the starlight.
A faint scratching sound, gone almost before it was heard. Then again, more pronounced this time. The wind faltered, died, as though even the night was holding its breath.
The earth heaved. Buffy Summers pulled her way up from the freezing earth, standing in puzzlement as she looked around at the bleak night, unconsciously brushing the dirt from her clothes. Then she froze as she spotted the grave stone in front of her. For a second she just stood and read it, before raising trembling hands to her face, encountering strange ridges.
Libera me, Domine, de morta aeterna,
in die illa tremenda.
Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal,
in that dreadful day.
* * * * *
The night was almost over, and Buffy knew that within a matter of minutes the eastern sky would be awash with the benign lambency of dawn. A light which she now feared would be fatal.
Confusion reigned supreme in her mind as she walked the dull, deserted streets of Sunnydale. She could feel the almost hypothermic chill of her own skin, yet she was not shivering. No matter where she searched on her neck, chest or wrist, she could feel no evidence of a heartbeat, yet somehow she was walking around, seemingly alive and well. She could feel her lungs opening and contracting, letting in the air, yet no light relief came from the intake of a deep, soothing breath.
She had no idea how long she had been buried. There had been no-one there to greet her and so she didn't know where she was supposed to go, what she was supposed to do. She just felt so...so...
God she was hungry! Abandoning all other thoughts or worries, she quickly escaped from the harsh light of oncoming dawn and hurried to the only place she could think of where she could satisfy her bloodlust.
* * * * *
"Hey Willy," Buffy said, as she entered the bar.
"Oh, hey Buffy," Willy said, glancing up nonchalantly. "Buffy!" he exclaimed suddenly. "You're...well, you're..."
"You're alive. I mean of course that goes without saying, it's just that I'd heard on the grapevine that you were, well, dead. Which you're obviously not. And may I say how happy I am to see that."
Buffy stopped concentrating on Willy's nervous ramblings when she spotted the multi-coloured remains of a party-popper on the floor.
"Big night tonight?" she asked. "Some demon celebrating his millennium?"
"Well, not exactly," Willy began.
Buffy spotted a crumpled up piece of paper on one of the blood-stained tables. She picked it up and read the bold print. "'DING DONG THE SLAYER'S DEAD! Party 2nite, Willy's Place. Be there or be square!' You let the vampires have a party to celebrate my death?" she accused.
"Now, you see 'let the vampires' is an interesting phrase. And perhaps not the one that I would choose. Plus, it was mostly demons. The vampire's have kinda been locked into a pattern of jumping only when this new master guy tells them to jump."
<Giles,> she thought. <He did this to me.>
Her train of thought was interrupted by the overwhelming scent of dry blood on the table ahead of her.
"Is that real blood, Willy?" she asked, desperately trying to keep her game face from surfacing.
"It's pig's blood," Willy said. "I have a strict policy of no human sacrifices on the premises. Virgin or otherwise."
"Do you have any more of that blood?" Buffy asked, hardly believing that these words were coming out of her own mouth. She couldn't be a vampire! She couldn't be.
"Yeah sure, I got loads. Why?"
"Can I...see some of that blood?"
"Okaaaaay," Willy replied, tentatively, before slipping into the back room of his bar. He emerged a moment later carrying a pint glass full of bright crimson blood. Buffy licked her lips hungrily. "What's up?" Willy asked. "Someone accusing the blood of being poisoned? 'Cos I can assure you it's not," he said, handing Buffy the glass. Her eyes widened hungrily and she licked her lips. The contents of the glass were calling out to her, until she could stand it no longer. Her game face emerged with a deep growl and she downed the entire pint in one. When she was done, she threw it aside in a hazy rage, tears streaming down her face as the reality of what she had become hit her.
"Dammit!" she exclaimed. "I can't be a vampire, I can't be a vampire! Do I look like a vampire to you?"
Willy took one look at her deformed brow and blood-stained mouth and ran screaming to the other side of the bar.
"Willy, I'm not gonna hurt you!" Buffy yelled. Then the realisation of what she had just said hit her. "I'm really not gonna hurt you. I...I have absolutely no desire to kill...anyone.
Now she was really confused. In fact, confused didn’t cover it. More like utterly bewildered…Nope, that fell short, too. Was this how it worked? Whenever she staked a freshly risen vampire, they always seemed so…well, evil. So how come she wasn’t? There was only one thing to do.
"I have to find my friends," Buffy said, bolting through the door.
A moment later, Willy heard a small gasp of pain, soon followed by Buffy’s slightly smoky form reappearing in his entrance.
"Trap door in the back leads to the sewers," he indicated.
* * * * *
Under normal circumstances, Xander hated chemistry homework, but right now he was glad for the distraction. He may not have understood a word of it, but at least it meant he didn’t have to think about Buffy.
Both of them were back at school now, following Buffy’s funeral three days after her death, but all the teachers knew that their minds weren’t really on task, and were making allowances for them. The students were just avoiding them even more than normal.
"Got the hang of covalent bonds yet?"
"Sorry," he said, once he’d recovered. "And, um, yeah. Hanging on those bonds. Thanks."
They looked away from each other, and as their eyes traveled down to their work, both of them caught sight of a photo on
They looked at each other again. At the same time that Xander reached out his arm to wrap around
*Tap, tap, tap*
The hush was broken by the soft, tentative rapping on the French windows. With a puzzled look etched on her face,
"…Buffy?" she whispered, so soft it was barely audible.
"What?" She heard Xander behind her getting up and coming next to her. "Oh my-" But he couldn’t finish his sentence. They both stood there, gazing, open mouthed at their friend. Was this a dream? A ghost, maybe?
"Hey guys," Buffy murmured. God, that sounded so stupid! ‘Hey guys’ - as though nothing had happened. She’d spent all day in the tunnels, waiting for darkness, and still she hadn’t figured out what on earth she should say.
None of them moved. None of them were brave enough to.
"This is impossible," Xander said.
"I know," Buffy said.
"You were dead,"
"I still am. But I need you guys to understand. I’m gonna tell you something and I need you not to freak…Can I come in?" she asked.
"Why are you-"
"Will, please, it’s not what you think. Just calm down-"
"How is it okay?" Xander cried.
"I don’t know what’s going on, but I promise you I’m not here to hurt you."
"No." Buffy shrugged. "I don’t understand what’s going on."
"Let me try," Xander said. "You’re a-"
"A vampire?" Buffy finished. Then she nodded. "That’s right. But…I’m not. I mean, I *am*… but I’m not…evil."
"Why should we believe you?"
Buffy locked eyes with her friend. "Because I’m your best friend and I would never hurt you."
There was a long moment as the two girls stared each other out; Buffy imploring
"Come in," she said plainly.
The mystical barrier lifted, Buffy walked inside
"It’s really true?"
"I wish I knew," Buffy replied.
* * * * *
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE WASN’T THERE?"
Daniel quivered in terror as Ripper threw him across the room, headfirst into the hard stone wall.
"I’m sorry, Master, it wasn’t my fault. I went to her grave, like you said, but she’d already risen and she wasn’t there-Aaaahh!"
Ripper grabbed Daniel by the scruff of the neck. "I’ve been failed before, but you…" He stopped momentarily to grab the leg of a nearby chair and break off one of the legs. He ignored it as it toppled over. "You’re so pathetic and useless, I can’t even be bothered to torture you."
Then he rammed the stake home and Daniel disappeared in a fog of dust and ash. Ripper didn’t even blink. He stood up purposefully and strode over to where Jenny was still strung up (Kelly had been drunk in celebration of his killing Buffy). He grabbed the crown of her skull in one hand.
"Sorry, Jenny," he said. "You’re cute, but I need a few good mindless kills to get my anger out." Then, with disturbingly little effort, he twisted her neck and she was dead in an instant.
But it wasn’t enough. With an almighty roar, Ripper hurled his entire fist through the table behind him. Then he ripped Jenny’s body away from the wall, tore her head roughly from her neck and smashed it into the fragments of the table.
"Well, that’s helped a little," he announced, before turning to the rest of his minions. "I suggest the rest of you get out of my sight right away before I kill every single one of you." He grabbed his jacket off the floor and shrugged it on. "I’m going to find her," he declared, striding out into the night.
* * * * *
"This is just unbelievable," Faith said, staring at Buffy. After the initial shock with Willow and Xander, Willow had phoned Faith and Angel (Oz was at Devon’s making sure the singer didn’t electrocute himself as he tried to fix one of the amps) and told the Slayer and the vampire what had occurred. "I just…how did this happen?"
"I wish I knew," Buffy said. "I got killed, I woke up as a vampire, but…"
"You’re not evil," Faith finished. "Weird."
"I just can’t believe Giles turned you into a vampire,"
"I know! What an asshole," Faith declared.
"I think I know what’s going on," Angel said, suddenly. He had been silent ever since he saw Buffy, so the others knew this must be important. "I knew these vampires, a long time ago, before I met Dru even," he said. "They were a couple - the guy was bragging to me about a Slayer that he’d killed about six months before. He was incredibly arrogant, but he and his girlfriend had had an argument the night before and she was really annoyed with him, so she told me the real story - that he’d turned the girl into a vampire. The idea was that she’d be extra strong and she could help them, but it backfired. When the girl rose she was still trying to kill him - she was still the Slayer she had been before - so they dusted her. We figured it was just a case of ‘You can take the girl out of slaying, but you can’t take slaying out of the girl.’ But it wasn’t - she’d kept her soul. I never realised it ‘till now, but…if the soul of a Slayer is still in the body during the exchange of blood, then it obviously stays there."
"To carry on fighting against the demon,"
"That’s pretty neat," Faith said, so quietly it was almost to herself.
"So…you’re not evil?" Xander asked, his voice high with apprehensive wonder.
"Nope," Buffy replied.
"And you’re not going to turn evil?"
"I don’t think so."
"Oooh! This is a natural thing! There’s no happiness clause for you!"
"So, I’m not the only vampire with a soul anymore, huh?" Angel said.
Buffy broke away from her hug with her friends and moved into one with Angel. At
"This is great, huh?" he said, grinning.
Buffy raised her eyebrows. "Not exactly the phrase I would use. In fact, it kinda sucks."
"No, I mean you and I," Angel explained. "Now that you’re…you know…we can be together."
The eyebrows went even higher. "We can?" Angel nodded, his enthusiasm unfading. "That’s interesting," Buffy continued, "cause I seem to remember a few weeks ago we agreed that you and I can never have a proper relationship. Now, all of sudden, you want us to not have a proper relationship for all eternity? That’s…selfish!"
"What?" Angel exclaimed. This was not going the way he’d planned.
"You still have a happiness clause; I don’t. Angel, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that you and I can’t be together, okay? Don’t complicate it."
"But everything’s changed. You and I are the same now."
"No we’re not! We’ll never be the same and it’ll never work. I don’t how you can say this."
Angel shook his head. "I don’t know what’s happened to you these past few weeks. Next thing I know you’re probably gonna tell me that Giles did this to you because he loves you!"
"And maybe I’d be right if I did!" As she said it, she realised it was true. In his own, twisted way, turning her into a vampire was Giles’ way of showing affection. Of showing how much he loved her. "Leave me alone," she said, coldly, then turned to yank the door open. Xander,