by itsacraze

Kennedy - Clean

Bare feet against cold tile. Kennedy crosses her arms over her bare chest and shivers, water droplets running down her forehead and into her eyes. She looks up and into the mirror. Her face has a long cut down the left side. It slashed angry red down her temple, stopped at her eye, then continued down her cheek. There is a bruise bisected with a small cut on her jaw. She lets her arms drop and tilts her head, studying the rest of her reflection. Bruises mar the skin at her throat and her collarbone is probably fractured. She blinks more rainwater out of her eyes. Rainwater tinted red. Her blood, Amanda's blood, Buffy's blood. She runs a hand through her hair, wincing as pain shoots through her midsection. Broken ribs.

She turns on the water in the bath tub until it's scalding hot, then turns on the shower. She holds her breath and steps under the spray, but she gasps at the heat anyway. The water runs off red, and dirt goes down the drain, off her arms and feet. Her ribs are throbbing and she feels like she's about to faint under the pressure and heat of the water. The soap is hard to hold onto but she gets some of it onto a washcloth and scrubs away at the dirt, at the blood that's caking under her nails, on her skin, in her hair. Kennedy tries to scrub away their faces.

Amanda with her thin face and wide, innocent eyes, crumpled at the base of some headstone in some sick parody of mourning, her hair tangled and covered with dirt and blood. Eve with her pretty face so mangled, so covered in blood and bruises she's hardly recognizable. Buffy, so still...but still alive, her eyes are open, she's trying to say something and Dawn is kneeling by her. And Chloe...hanging, swinging, maybe she had the right idea...

She scrubs until it hurts, then stands, leaning against the wall of the shower for support. She takes in air in gasps and gulps, her own tears hotter than the shower spray as her body shakes with sobs and her ribs are jarred over and over.

Kennedy gets her breathing under some sort of control and turns off the water. She forces herself to step out of the shower before she can slide down the wall and into a ball in the tub.

She dries off slowly, her skin tender from the water and the scrubbing. She wraps her ribs in gauze she finds in the cabinet-- Slayer's house, of course it's well stocked--and changes into her clothes. She can hear the rain still falling outside, having started as Buffy's body fell from some invisible grip. The end of one generation, the beginning of another. Kennedy's generation, apparently. She opens the door, hits the lights, and heads downstairs.

And welcomes herself to her brand new life.


Willow - Baking

"Is...anyone hungry? I made cookies. Chocolate chip. Ummm...I also made oatmeal raisin and peanut butter. And there's fudge chunk in the oven right now. Xander? Anya? Anyone?"

Shaken heads, a soft sob, and removal of glasses to be cleaned for the hundreth time in the last hour are her answers. Willow sighs and takes a deep breath, smelling cookies and smoke and death. It's hour 29 since...well, since. Anya is leaning on Xander and Xander looks like he wants to lean on someone but there's no one to lean on. Giles is quiet, a glass of brandy at his elbow. His glasses are back in their rightful place and the glare on the lenses makes it hard to see his eyes. Dawn is missing, having left the room somewhere shy of hour 13.

Willow goes back into the kitchen and pulls the tray of chocolate fudge chunk out and puts in another tray. She sits at the kitchen table and rests her head in her hands. She sits for a long time. Hours. Minutes before she can imagine hands on her shoulders, a voice in her ear. "You couldn't have done anything, sweetie. It's not your fault."

You're very wrong, Tara. Willow thinks This time I could have done so much. I just...I didn't.

And it's not until she hears another voice, a real voice, that she realizes she's said the last part out loud.

"You're not at fault."

Willow turns and sees Kennedy, clean of blood, badly bruised, ribs wrapped in gauze that shows underneath her tank top. "I should have..."

"Willow, you couldn't. Even if you could have done a spell, performed some ritual, it wouldn't have saved her. Them." Kennedy's eyes are ringed with dark purple, and the haunted look in her dark irises makes her look like what Willow remembers seeing in her history textbook. Holocaust victim. Nuclear bomb survivor. War-torn girl.

She's the only one left, which logically makes her the next slayer. Willow looks away from her.

"Have a cookie, Kennedy."

"I'm not hungry. Cookies won't fix things."

"What..will?" Willow chokes, tears spilling down her cheeks as her head falls back into her hands, "I can't bring her back again, I can't bring them back. I want it to be...fixed. Kennedy--"

And there are hands on her shoulders, different hands, but good. Comforting. The cookies are burning, but she doesn't care as someone leans down and whispers, "It wasn't your fault, Willow."


Kit - New

She never expected her foray into magic to lead her to helping in what she was told was "the Big Fight",complete with capital letters. That's how Andrew wrote it out, anyway. The one that decided who would win: good or evil? Kit doesn't know which she is. When Dawn had asked her to help...she has said yes without getting the details first. It was Dawn, of course she would help... And then she was part of all these people. Slayers in training, witches, demons, vampires, and the new world of the supernatural is even more new.

Willow said she was a magickal prodigy. ("You're far more advanced than I was at nineteen, let alone sixteen.") And in the Big Fight, she had been useful, helped squelch the big bad. Helped get almost everyone killed. She had collapsed at the important part, drained, dizzy, blacking out slowly until all she could see was bright light and Buffy being lifted, lifted...

She doesn't know what happened next; she woke up in the backseat of Xander's car, Dawn holding a rolled up piece of torn jacket to a gash in her head. No one was talking, and she took the silence to mean that what she could feel was true. Buffy was dead.

"Are you OK back there?" Xander had asked from the driver's seat, his voice rough, choked.

When Dawn didn't speak, Kit tried her own voice, "Good."

It had come out sandpaper-y and hoarse. But then they were parked and she was being helped out of the car and led up the walk to the house. The door hung wide open, and Kit could see the others-- 'others' having dwindled to four besides Kit, Dawn, Xander, and Anya--inside. She ached, and her head was still spinning, and she could bet that her pupils were still dilated from the magicks.

"Do you want some water?" Someone is asking, pulling Kit back to the present. She is sitting, scrunched into the corner of the couch. She doesn't know anyone, and Dawn just disappeared not long after they had gotten in the house hours and hours ago. It's the older man...Giles, that's his name, and he looks concerned for her and Kit forces a smile.

"No. I'm...I'll be fine." She replies and runs a hand through her dyed-black hair. Her hands still shake and there's a dull ache where something hit her in the left temple. There's silence except maybe for a soft sob from...somewhere. Everyone has done their share of crying, tonight. Willow comes in and asks if anyone wants cookies, but no one can speak. Finally, needing to move, to see, to talk, to do...something, Kit gets up and heads upstairs.

On her way up, the only Potential left passes her on the way down but doesn't look up, doesn't say anything. Kit finds Dawn's room empty, then to the next room, Buffy's old room. Empty as well, but the window is open. She walks to it and fins Dawn sitting on the part of the roof that hangs over the porch, around the corner of the house. She must have climbed onto the tree then the roof.

Kit swallows, and climbs out the window, into the tree, and closes her eyes as she carefully crosses to the roof. A sigh of relief, then she gathers herself and sits next to Dawn who has become her friend the past few months and more recently her closest. Kit sits down, bringing her knees up to her chest, noticing for the first time how dirty and ripped her skirt is, and she doesn't say anything. It's a new kind of silence and a new kind of hurt on the roof.

Dawn looks at her, then away. And there is silence heavier than what she left downstairs, and suddenly breathing is a little harder and her head hurts a little less and...she notices that the rain has stopped.


Dawn - Memory

She is sitting there, alone, arms wrapped around herself. Thinking. Third time's the charm, she thinks to herself, this time she's not coming back from wherever she is. And she can remember the times before, the second very clear, the first slightly fuzzy and only from what she was told in her false memories. But she can remember Buffy coming home in her dress. The dress Dawn had wanted to touch so badly when she had first seen it hanging in the closet. "We can't tell Buffy about it, it's a secret" her mother had said when they bought the dress. Pretty white, satin and fluttery chiffon. And Buffy came home and she was all wet and her dress was dirty, but she was smiling and the dress was still beautiful. Dawn wouldn't know for years what had happened that night.

And then there was the second time. She had been there for that. Watched as Buffy fell, fell, fell, and Dawn was bleeding and she climbed down alone and Spike was crying and...howling...Tonight, for the third time, he didn't howl, he ran. Dawn hadn't seen him, and oddly, she didn't care. Not now.

She feels, rather than sees, Kit come out through the window. She didn't turn around, just bit out:

"I don't want to talk."


Dawn looks over at Kit, her eyes dark and shuttered "I mean it."

"Me too."

Dawn looks away again, her teeth biting down on her tongue, then "Whatever."

"I...feel...I mean, I'm sorry..." (It starts out cold...)

"Kit..." A deep breathe, "Don't, alright?"

Dawn pulls in deep breaths. The air has that wet, cold, post-rain feel. And she smells blood and dirt...evil on the wind, and it's not over by a longshot. She feels Kit shift closer, then "Dawn, please--"

"Look." She snaps, and God she doesn't want to hurt Kit, but, "I don't want to hear your apologies and your platitudes, OK? She's dead, they're dead, it's over, alright? I've done this before, Kit, I know the drill. Just, don't do the all apologies thing."

"I meant, I'm sorry I didn't, that I couldn't..." (The days are strange, stranger than I've known)

Dawn looks over at her. Kit, whose makeup is gone, who looks like a vulnerable girl all curled up on the roof, who is crying with her entire body, but no tears are on her face. And it clicks in Dawn's head. She blames herself. (bring me to the end, then softly back again).


"I'm really sorry." (Tell me that you need something I can give)

And Dawn looks down at her hands, then out at the view. She can hear car doors slamming down the street and people talking downstairs. Willow's voice, then silence. If it were any other day, maybe if it was still summer, and she was still learning, and Buffy was downstairs after their training was finished for the night, she would be hearing Buffy yelling at her to come down for dinner. Or maybe, if it were even further back, maybe a year, she would hear Tara and Willow laughing at a joke Xander had made. Even further, she would hear her mother making dinner or arguing with Buffy. And suddenly Dawn sees it in her mind. She is on the steps and peeking through the supports of the banister. Her mother is talking to a handsome man with shiny hair and then, suddenly, Buffy is there and they are all three talking ("Have you tried not being the slayer?") But then, Kit speaks and Dawn is brought out of her flashback of what is sadly better times.



"Do you think it'll come back? There's so much left to you think it will come back"

"No." Dawn is very still, the only movement her hair being lifted by the breeze. "But you're right. There's a lot left to fight. But...I don't wanna fight it. I don't want to just, live my life like this forever. I need to get out, I need to end this."

"Dawn you aren't gonna--"

"Kill myself? No. I'm going to run. Wanna come?"


It surprises her, the quick, one-word answer. Dawn stares at Kit, wondering where they'll go, if they go at all. Because somewhere inside she knows she won't run. She can't, because that would mean leaving everyone else to die. And Kit won't do that, and Dawn won't make her, and she won't leave without her. So, for now, Dawn leans over and kisses her on the corner of the mouth, then on the lips as Kit turns and leans into her. Dawn's hands curl around the tattered fabric of Kit's skirt and pulls slowly back from the kiss. (Your face will stay as long as I can breathe)

"Let's go downstairs." Kit says, and she grabs Dawn's hand and holds, tight.

Dawn nods and climbs after her through the window. When their feet hit the floor she stops and looks around. Striped wallpaper, posters, furniture, closet. She lets go of Kit's hand and crosses to the closet, pulling the door open. Her hand reaches out and she runs her fingers over satin, and she pulls the skirt of the dress out so she can see. Bright white, dry-cleaned to it's original perfectness. But she can feel it; dust and dirt and blood ingrained into the threads, and she can still smell Buffy.


"I'm coming." She whispers, and let's the dress drop from her fingers before closing to door.

As she leaves her sister's old room with Kit, she remembers watching from a crack in the door as her sister packed to run away to Los Angeles.

Buffy had run. Dawn would stay. (Bring me to the end, then softly back again. Make the night as safe as you can. Tell me that you need something I can give.)


Anya - Years

Five years ago, she was a demon. Four years ago, she wasn't. Three years ago, she fell in love. Two years ago, someone she knew died, then another. A year ago, she got her heart broken, someone else died, and another nearly killed them all. This year she won't count it all because it hurts. It hurts and Xander can't make it go away and she can't handle it now.

One thousand, one hundred years ago she was human. Then she wasn't. Being human is different the second time around. She cares too much, loves too much, wants too much. People die. Because of her, or not, who knew her, or not. Halfrek, Buffy, Joyce, Tara, the slayers, hundreds and thousands of nameless men she eviscerated during her brief stint as a new-and-less-than-improved vengeance demon.

She wants vengeance, right now. On someone. Anyone, really. The First is supposedly gone, but she wants to find it and kill it again.

Four years ago, her power was ripped away. Three years ago, she accepted it. Interlocking human parts and the smell of bleach on whites day in the basement. A year ago, it was all she wanted. The human dream. A pretty white dress and flowers and money spent on a day she wanted more, needed more than she had ever needed anything else. A year ago, she lost that.

This year, Buffy died again. This year, Anya is left bare and void of purpose. No store, no fiancee, no Slayer, no vengeance. No power. She doesn't want anymore years so that in three hundred and sixty-five days she can look back and say 'A year ago, Buffy died. And Eve, and Chloe, and Amanda, and Kendall, and' slayer after slayer after slayer after slayer...

A year ago she got drunk and had sex with Spike. There's an interesting one.

For the first time, Anya really looks around the room. Spike is missing. She racks her brain, picturing the battle, or the end of it, in her head. Dawn kneeling, Kennedy stumbling, and Spike...running...

I should have run, she thinks, and next year I would have said

A year ago, I left it all behind.


Childhood - Xander

Summer, 1989. Jesse, Willow, and Xander perched on park benches, ice cream cones melting all over their hands, having the deep, important conversations eight-year-olds have.

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a superhero."

Jesse and Willow look at Xander, their eyes showing the doubtful support best friends are required to give a clueless best friend. Willow smiles her Willow-smile that she'll have for the rest of her life, "That's good, Xan. Who will you save?"

"You, of course."

"What about me?" Jesses demands, a kid unaware of how short his life's going to be. He'll never grow up to become a superhero like Xander. He'll become the thing the superhero kills. And Xander isn't the superhero, but he gets to do the honors.

"You can be my partner." Xander replies, "We can both be superheros."

"Why can't I be one?"

Now the doubtful-supportive eyes are on her and Jesse speaks up, "You're a girl."


Xander shrugs, "So all the girl superheroes are lame."

"Superwoman is NOT lame!...I like Superwoman."

"Well..." Jesse searches for something to say, then, "Xander, are you awake? Xander?"

He wakes up with a start, and nearly hits Giles in the head with a flying arm. "Wh--wha?"

March, 2003. Xander Harris is sleeping the sleep of a twenty two year old man who is older than he should be, and feels even older than that. He blinks up at Giles, "What?"

"Do you need anything? I'm getting up."


Xander watches Giles. Father figure extraordinaire. Broken father figure, the favored child is gone again. Xander almost feels bad for thinking that bitter thought, but chases away the guilt with another. I wonder if he sticks around this time.

But then again, will Xander stick around this time? Will he really stay in the town of his fractured childhood now that it's half destroyed? Four deaths in three years is a bit much. And when he counts up all the deaths that have ammounted in seven...well.

Anya isn't leaning on him, anymore, he notices. He fights the urge to reach out, touch her hand, something, because he's not letting himself be comforted today. A sick game he plays with himself, has played since he was little, maybe eight or nine years old. Let's see how long Xander can suffer in silence.

1988-95, how long can Xander listent the the screaming outside his bedroom before her calls Willow and runs to the Rosenberg home to escape his parents' drunken fighting that will eventually be channeled on him?

1995-97, how long can Xander be the expendable donut boy? Can her survive one night alone and pathetic without running into certain dark-haired Slayers whose motel room suddenly becomes a new fantasy setting? Apparently not.

1997-2002, can Xander deal without letting anyone see, without punching in a perfectly good wall, without letting Anya see him cry?

And now, he's determined. He can do this. He's a grown up now...right?


If - Spike

He stops somewhere on the outskirts, and he's finally run himself ragged. If he breathed, which he doesn't, his lungs would probably have burst by now. If he was human, which he isn't, he may have dropped dead miles ago. And if he had looked back, which he hasn't, he might have turned back long before he even left the graveyard.

Spike lets himself drop to the ground, and he holds for a moment, pauses his marathon out of Sunnydale. His clothes are bloodstained and dirty, and his hands aren't much better. If anyone had stopped him, which they hadn't, they would have thought him a murdered. Which, of course, he was...way back when.

If he knew where he was going, which he doesn't, he would still be running. L.A., maybe pay a visit to the sire. Or, maybe back to the east coast. New York. And he suddenly remembers his coat. Leather duster, nabbed it off a dead slayer. Nikki, if he remembered correctly. Her son, the cocky annoying principal. Dead. Dead, dead. Deader than dead. Gone. Like everyone else. And Spike staggers to his feet. Or maybe he'll just run until the sun comes up. Just run, until it burns and he bursts. Literally.

Yeah. Maybe.

He's running again, and if he had any plan of seeking shelter, which he doesn't, he would have looked by now. And it's getting lighter in the sky, the cloud cover from the rain storm that has him soaked lifting. He's running and his muscles burn and his head is turned off. And the sun isn't far away and it's...beautiful. Yellow, orange, pink. And he can't remember the last time he just watched the sun rise, not covered by a blanket, not from a dark-draped window. Just, like this, outside. Maybe one hundred, two hundred years, eternity.

And if Spike had changed his mind at the last minute, which he hadn't, it would have been too late. Because as the burn set in and his skin sizzled, he stopped running. He stood, and he closed his eyes, and he didn't scream.

And then he was just...gone.


Thank you - Faith

On a bus to Sunnydale. Headphones on, foot tapping, hands drumming silently on denim knees. Eyes closed, lips singing along without sound, head moving ever so slightly to the beat. Faith is a free woman today, and she owes it all to Buffy.

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

But she won't think about that right now. She listens to her CD and follows along with ehr foot and hands and her head. And she blocks out thoughts of Buffy and Slayers in training. Term numero uno of being let out of prison by some Council jerk: Deal with the "situation" in L.A. Angelus, vampires wreaking, havoc, apocalypse and all that. Sort of important. Well, that was done with. Term number two: After dealing with "situation" Kennedy.

Slayer number two, version 1.5. Faith tries not to be glad about being prime Slayer now...because how did she become prime Slayer?

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

The song is over, and Faith hits the repeat button and it starts over again. She doesn't really know what the Council guy expects from her. Maybe she's a watcher now that the rest of them were blown to smithereens by Bringers or whoever. He didn't give specifics. He hardly told her Buffy was dead. It was like an afterthought. "You're out of prison, go avert the apocalypse. Ooh, by the way. Buffy's dead."

Well...maybe not quite like that.

But he had been like any other watcher she had ever met. British, bland, dignified, and utterly business-like. All he cared about right now was getting the job done. He had looked a little rabbit-y, too. Jumpy, twitchy, scared-like. Then again, his compadres had just been blown up and he was one of the very few left. So, maybe twitchiness was in order. Any road, he had given Faith her clothes back, and here she was with a new (purchased, not stolen) discman and a Jane's Addiction CD.

Thank you, B, for getting your skinny ass killed.

The song ends, she hits repeat. Prison, out. Life, in. Faith's road to redemption had been curvy and void of helpful signs that pointed out rest areas and tourist attractions. Angel had visited on and off, disappearing for months at a time ("Big box, bottom of the ocean Long story." "Oh."), but more or less teaching her the ways of the good and the pure. That had made her job--either kill Angelus or restore him to Angel again--a little more difficult. The thought of staking her redemptor...well. But, lucky for Faith...

Gotta love those last-minute soul-restoring spells. Come in handy in a clinch.

So, for the past, what, three? Yes. Three years. For the past three years, Faith had been rehabilitating herself, until she was as close to better as a former homicidal maniac with serious Daddy issues could get. Lucky for the world, Faith is now Faith, version sane. And it is going to be a hell of a ride...but she was ready for it. Or, at least she hoped.

Thank you, B, for living long enough.

While the song repeats itself again, Faith bends down and picks up her bag. She moves some things around and comes up with a tattered and torn peice of paper. Her one letter from Sunnydale over three years in prison.

Dear Faith,

Come see me when you're out...We can talk.


Faith asked Angel about it and he said he hadn't talked to Buffy, that last he'd heard she still figured Faith as a complete maniac. A lost cause. But, obviously not.

The bus pulls into the station, Faith gets off with her stuff, and hits repeat on the CD player yet again. Her walk isn't all that long, she knows exactly which cemetary, and it wasn't far from the bus depot. She weaves her way through headstones, looking for the tree Willow told her about on the phone. And what a conversation that had been...The things you miss when you're locked in a cell. Faith finds the tree, the headstone, and she hits the stop button. She reads the inscription: "Buffy Anne Summers. 1981-2003. She saved the world. Alot. Again. "

Well, that's as truthful as you get.

Faith drops to her knees and says, "Well. I'm out, I came to see you. Let's talk." Silence. "Um..."

She stares at the stone until her eyes blur and she blinks, and the wetness of tears on her face shocks her. She reaches up and wipes at one cheek, then looks at her fingers before wiping the tears on her jeans. It's a long while before she speaks again.

"Thank you, B."


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