Prologue to Life/I Know You by Slaymesoftly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: A response to a challenge at the Bloodshedverse where Buffy is returned to her season II body with all her post Season VII memories. She is there due to a spell Willow performs to try to help Buffy get over mourning for Spike.

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Chapter 1

A Prologue to Life (Prologue to “I Know You”)

She held it together until they were in the motel. It wasn’t much of a motel, just a little roadside collection of cabins and rooms, but it had enough vacancies to fit everyone in, and it was only a few miles from the hospital where they’d left the wounded slayers and Robin.

Buffy and Dawn had a cabin to themselves and they flipped a coin to see who would shower first. Dawn won the toss, and while she was showering off the airborne dust from the crater that had replaced their home, Buffy just lay on the bed, staring blindly at the cracked ceiling. She idly noticed that there were flyspecks all over it and wondered where all the flies had gone.

(Maybe Spike sucked them down into hell with the rest of Sunnydale,) she mused. (Maybe it created such a big vacuum that all the little teeny things got whooshed into the hellmouth. I think I’ll ask him if that’s what happened...)

Without warning, the full impact of the morning’s events hit, and she could no longer pretend not to know that she would never be able to ask Spike anything, ever again. Full awareness of what she had lost hit with a physical shock and when Dawn emerged from the bathroom she found her sister curled into a miserable ball in the middle of the bed, keening softly and rocking herself from side to side.

Dawn silently slipped onto the bed behind her sister’s much smaller body and wrapped her arms around her. With her own tears sliding down her face, Dawn rocked with Buffy, knowing that as bad as she felt for letting Spike go without healing the rift between them, it was nothing compared to what her sister was feeling.

Dawn thought about Spike’s defense of the Slayer when everyone, including her own younger sister, had ejected her from her own house. She remembered hearing Buffy giving Spike credit for enabling her to find the courage and strength to confront Caleb and retrieve the scythe.

In spite of the anger she’d felt toward the vampire when Xander had told her he tried to rape her sister, she knew that he’d been the one constant in Buffy’s life for years. His love for her sister never wavered, and no matter what happened between them, he was always there for her when she needed him. And she had needed him a lot this past year. Right up until the bitter end, when he allowed his newly restored soul to immolate him to save the world.

Choking back her own sobs, Dawn stroked Buffy’s hair and made soothing noises until the high pitched keening tapered off. Eventually, Buffy stopped rocking and appeared to have drifted into an exhausted sleep. Dawn quietly unwound herself and went out to join the others for a meal.

When she reached the nearby cafe, Giles gestured for her to join him at the table with Willow, Kennedy, Xander, and Andrew. Faith had stayed at the hospital to be near Robin

“Where’s Buffy?” Willow asked, looking around with concern. Even though the apparently mortal wound that the Slayer sustained during the fight had miraculously closed up by the time Buffy made it out of the cavern, her exhaustion had been evident and they were all concerned about her.

“It just hit her,” Dawn said quietly.

“What just hit her? That we won? I’d think she’d be wanting to celebrate. There should be singing and dancing and...”Xander’s voice trailed off as he remembered why he wasn’t singing and dancing. “Oh,” he said quietly.

“What, oh?” Kennedy asked with her usual disregard of anyone else’s feelings. “We SHOULD be singing and dancing. We beat the bad guy and we’re all still here to talk about it.”

Xander’s fists clenched under the table and Dawn gasped at the new slayer’s lack of empathy. Everyone at the table, except Xander who was staring intently at his plate and fighting back unmanly tears, turned to stare at her.

Willow struggled to make excuses for her new girl friend’s lack of tact, telling herself that Kennedy hadn’t been part of the group long enough to know how much the others had been through together before the potentials began filling Buffy’s house with noise and hormones. But she cringed in spite of herself to think that she was falling love with someone so inconsiderate. (Tara would never have been that thoughtless,) she couldn’t help thinking. She poked Kennedy hard in the side and hissed angrily, “We’re not exactly all still here, Kennedy.”

The newly called Slayer actually had to think for a few seconds before she remembered that Xander had lost an ex-fiancée and that the vampire that had lived in the basement since before she arrived was also gone.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry, guys,” she looked apologetically at Xander and Dawn. “I forgot for a minute.”

Dawn looked as though she was planning to come across the table and test Kennedy’s newly found powers until Giles put a restraining hand on her arm.

“Do you think she will be joining us for dinner, Dawn?” he asked gently. His heart ached for his surrogate daughter, knowing that their estrangement this year was entirely his fault. He was too old and experienced in the ways of the world to allow himself to wallow in guilt, but he accepted without hesitation that his willingness to help Robin kill Spike meant that his sympathy would not be welcomed at this time.

Dawn shook her head “no” emphatically. “She fell asleep, finally, and I don’t intend to wake her up until she’s ready.” She felt her own eyes fill with tears again as she said softly, “He promised he would never leave us...that he would always be there to...” She smothered a sob and got up abruptly. “I don’t think I’m all that hungry, guys. I’ll see you all tomorrow morning.”

She bolted from the cafe and ran back to the cabin, an unreasonable fear making her gasp for air as she ran. She burst in the door and looked immediately at the bed, but there was no sign of her sister.

Terror worse than anything she’d felt that morning seized Dawn’s body and she gasped for breath that wouldn’t come. She had no idea why she was suddenly so frightened, she just knew she should be.

The sound of water running in the bathroom brought her to the door and she cautiously pushed it open to find her sister, still dressed, standing under the shower and staring at the knife she held over her left wrist.

Dawn’s strangled sob didn’t so much disturb Buffy as it distracted her for a moment. She looked up slowly with eyes that chilled Dawn with their blankness.

“B...Buffy?” the girl’s voice was a trembling whisper. “What are you doing, Buffy?”

Her sister continued to stare at her expressionlessly, then she looked back down at her wrist and the knife blade just touching it.

“I don’t have to do this anymore, Dawn,” she said as though explaining something self-evident. “I’m not The One anymore. I can rest again.”

“You’re going to leave me alone? You too?” Too late, she realized that adding to Buffy’s guilt wasn’t going to get her the result she wanted and she immediately changed her approach, moving a little further into the small bathroom.

“Buffy, he wouldn’t want you to do this. You know he wouldn’t. He wants you to enjoy not being the One anymore. He died so that you could have the life you wanted.”

“He died to save the world, not me.” Even as she said that, she knew it wasn’t true. She knew that he’d expected her to be part of that world. That he’d made her leave the cavern so that she could continue to live.

“It hurts, Dawnie. It hurts so much...” she spoke in a whisper, still staring at her wrist and watching the water run down the blade of the knife and onto her skin.

“I know it does, Buffy. It hurts me too. But he doesn’t want us to hurt. You know he doesn’t. He loved us too much to want us to be unhappy. He wanted us to live and enjoy the world he saved. Shouldn’t we try to do what he wanted, Buffy? Shouldn’t we do that for him?” Dawn’s voice was soft and pleading as she edged closer to the bathtub.

“I don’t care what he wants! I want the hurt to stop. If he wanted me to be happy, he shouldn’t have died. He shouldn’t have left me.”

Once again clutching her sides as if she could contain the anguish by just squeezing hard enough, Buffy collapsed into the bottom of the tub, letting the knife fall unnoticed into the water. Dawn quickly snatched it up and threw it out of the room as she climbed into the rapidly cooling water still pouring out of the shower to hold her sobbing sister.

When they were both shivering from the now icy water coming from the shower, the younger sister pulled her unresisting sibling out of the tub and wrapped her in a towel while she shut off the stream of cold water. Buffy offered no resistance, nor did she offer any help, as Dawn got her dried off and into dry clothes.

Morning found the Slayer and the Key huddled together on the bed, exhausted, but filled with the calm acceptance that comes from having grieved as much as it was humanly possible to do at one time. The morning sun washed their tear-stained faces with warm, golden light, inviting them to get up and go out into the newly saved and welcoming world.
Chapter One

“Buffy, do you know where my green sweater is?” Dawn’s voice echoed down the hall of the large Victorian that Giles had bought with Council money. It was a more or less permanent home for both himself and the younger people he had come to think of as his children.

Buffy and Dawn had moved in with him at his urging, ostensibly so that Dawn could attend a “good” school in London, but also so that he could watch Buffy and track her mental health. In his stiff, British way, he had apologized to her for his treatment of Spike – and by extension, his treatment of her for supporting the vampire. He willingly admitted that he had misjudged both the man and the situation and, without actually going down on his knees, he had begged for her forgiveness.

Her easy acceptance of his apology bothered him more than he cared to admit. The Buffy he knew, while generous and forgiving with the people she loved, was also volatile and capable of great anger. He was confident that until she had expressed that anger fully, she would not be able to truly forgive him. The fact that he couldn’t see that righteous anger anywhere in her demeanor worried him enough that he confided in Dawn.

The teenager had grown up so much in past year or more that he found nothing strange about talking to her as another adult. He wasn’t surprised when she agreed completely that Buffy’s apathy was a negative sign, not a positive one.

“She doesn’t even cry anymore, Giles. It’s like she’s just waiting for something to happen and nothing that goes on while she waits is important enough to get excited about. She won’t talk about him, but she won’t try to meet anybody else. If you say “Angel” to her, she just looks blank and shrugs like she’s not sure who that is. The only time I saw her show any emotion was when we went past a soc- sorry, football, stadium and she saw the sign for Manchester United. For some reason, she started laughing and then crying, but she wouldn’t tell me why. She just muttered something about ‘happy meals on legs’ and ‘stupid vampire’.”

“Perhaps when Willow arrives in a few weeks, she will be able to reach her. I’m quite concerned about her mental health, I just don’t know what to do about it.”

“Well, you know Willow,” Dawn snarked. “She’ll just want to do a spell to ‘fix it’.”

The new head of the Council of Watchers shook his head and smiled.

“Now, Dawn, you know that all the time Willow has spent with the coven has cured her of wanting to use magic to solve everything. That was really quite unfair.”

“Uh huh,” was the only response as the teenager left the room. “Whatever you say, Giles.”



Willow’s arrival was a very low-key affair. The witch arrived with a minimum of baggage and fan fair. The fact that Kennedy was not with her didn’t upset the residents of the house as the brash slayer was not terribly popular with anyone except her girlfriend.

Buffy’s greeting was warm, but restrained. As she did with everyone, she expressed a polite interest in Willow’s well-being, but soon distanced herself from the conversation. The redhead frowned briefly when her best friend didn’t even ask about Kennedy, but attributed it to her not wanting to embarrass Willow in public. When she still didn’t ask while Willow was unpacking, the witch finally asked, “So, aren’t you curious about why I’m by myself?”

Buffy gave a guilty start, shocked out of her self-absorbed misery for a few seconds by the pain in Willow’s voice.

“Oh, god, Wills, I’m so sorry. Of course I am. Where’s Kennedy? Has something happened to her?”

Willow looked at her friend with sad eyes and answered slowly, “No, nothing happened to her. We just decided...well, I decided, that we needed a little break. Some time to think about...things.”

“Things?”

Willow sighed and sat on the bed. Buffy got up on the other side and they sat cross legged, facing each other just as they had so many times when they were in high school.

“I know it’s wrong to compare her to...to Tara. I know that. She’s not Tara, she’s Kennedy and that’s not a bad thing to be. But...”

“But?”

“But I keep finding myself thinking, ‘Tara wouldn’t do that,’ or ‘Tara would never have said that,’ and I realized that those things that Tara wouldn’t do or say...they were things I valued about her. They were reasons why I loved her so much. And...even though I am attracted to Kennedy, and very grateful to her for showing me that I could live and love again, she’s not who I want to spend my life with.”

The redhead fiddled with the bedspread as she talked. “I just want to find someone to love again. Someone who makes me complete the way Tara did. And I’m willing to wait until that person comes along. Do you know what I mean, Buffy?”

“I know exactly what you mean, Willow. Believe me, I’m the queen of waiting for someone else who completes me.”

The two friends were silent for a few minutes, each lost in her thoughts. Finally Willow took Buffy’s hand in hers and asked, “So, you’re still with the missage, huh?”

Buffy nodded her head and allowed a tear to trickle down her cheek. “Every minute of every day. The only time I don’t miss him is when I’m asleep and I’m dreaming that he’s here with me. Then I wake up and...”

Willow nodded, but couldn’t help saying, “You know he wouldn’t have wanted you to mourn this long, don’t you? All Spike every wanted was for you to let him love you and be happy. As much as he was glad to get you back, he would have given you up in a minute if he’d been sure you were ready to go back to Heaven.”

“I know that, Will. And, I want to be happy again. I do. I’m just not sure I remember how to do it. From the time I sent Angel to hell, my life has been pretty much one big suck fest after another. I’d love to go back to perky, cheerful Buffy. I just don’t know where she is, you know?”

Willow reached out to hug her friend, a thoughtful look on her face.

Several conversations with Giles and Dawn, as well as more time spent with Buffy, and the red haired witch was determined to do something about her friend’s unhappiness.

(If she wants to go back to being happy, Buffy, I just need to find a spell that will bring back that feeling. To make her feel the way she did before being a Slayer interfered with her life so much. A way to make her feel like sixteen-year-old Buffy. How hard can it be?)

More conversations with Giles and Dawn and Willow was more than convinced that a spell was the way to go. She would find one that allowed Buffy to keep all her adult memories, but push the years of pain into the back of her mind and let the innate perkiness she’d had as a sixteen-year-old resurface.

Knowing they would not approve of what she was planning, she didn’t talk to either the watcher or Buffy’s sister about her idea. She found time alone in which to research exactly what kind of spell was needed and to collect the materials she would need, and then she waited for an opportune time.

The night Giles went out to a late meeting, and Dawn was spending the night with one of her new friends, Willow decided that the time was ripe. She remembered how Buffy said the only time she was not unhappy was when she was asleep and dreaming about Spike. That seemed to Willow to be a good time to do a happiness spell – when the recipient was already in a happy place.

Checking briefly to be sure Buffy was still asleep and not having a nightmare, Willow quickly set up her spell and began to cast. The candles flickered as she muttered her incantations in Latin and English. When she was almost finished, she waved her hand through the herbal smoke and whispered.

“Let this spell bring forth the happy person inside this one; and let her find her true happiness. So might it be.”

With that final sentence, the candles blew out and Willow got up to put her things away, pleased with herself. She decided to wait until morning to see how it turned out, figuring a Buffy interrupted in the middle of dreaming about Spike was not going to be a happy Buffy, spell or no spell.

She got into bed and drifted off the sleep herself, secure in the knowledge that she had improved Buffy’s life for her.

Next


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