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End of ďThe GiftĒ and a few minutes beyond.

What if Buffy was wrong? What if Dawn was the only key?

6 survivorís POVs

Rated PG

Itís Not Always Blood

Bodies keep falling from the sky. First Spike. Seems he should fall more gracefully than that. Then Buffy runs up there. Then the guy who was up there with Dawn falls off. He screamed all the way down. Doc, Xander calls him. The portal opens and things start flying out of it. I watch for more bodies, but see stones falling. Xanderís in the way! Ow. Why did I do that? Cause I love Xander, and anything that happened to him would hurt me worse thatís why. He picks me up and I look first to him, then to the sky again. Now, Buffy falls. I wonder why she fell? A swan dive collapses into a tumble of limp limbs as she passes through the vortex. I watch for Dawn but see only a flash of green light which causes the portal to suck closed. The demons and dragons vanish. Itís sun rise. Heh. Itís Dawn. Xanderís still holding me. He doesnít know yet. He turns and I feel the shock go through his body, his soul. He is drawn to Buffyís broken body like the others. His love for her was deep and complex. I can respect that. She was a brave warrior. I havenít had many chances to hang out with those in my long years. Iíll miss her. Oh, good, Giles is taking control of the situation.

Anya. Sheís hurt. She pushed me aside and took the damage for herself. I scoop her up, hold her close like I know she loves, like I love to hold her. I look for shelter, a place to hide from the demons and dragons. Ha. Sounds like a role playing session. But no, this time itís real. This time no saving throws, no take backs. Weíll run and live in sewers and eat what we find in vending machines until a demon or nuclear winter takes us. Weíll head south to where itís warmer. Then there is a sudden silence. The screams and howls have stopped. The wind has eased. The sun shines through and makes bright patches in the rubble. Confused, I look back to my loveís face. She is looking over my shoulder. I turn. Oh God, Buffy. I look around for Dawn. I scan the tower, hoping to see her climbing down. She is gone. The vortex is gone. Buffy is gone. The others are here. Iím even glad to see Spike stumble his feet. But Buffy and Dawn are gone. Giles is suddenly here, taking Anya from me and thus allowing my body to notice itís own pains. My ankle feels twisted.

 

It worked. Tara is back. I do what I can to help in the fight. But I am spent so soon. We can only watch and take shelter. A body falls. Black leather flapping like wings trying to gain purchase in the air. Spike. No sign of his opponent. Thereís Buffy, running upwards. Damn, I smellÖ strong magic. The portal is open. Tara and I find shelter, there is nothing more we can do. I found her, I brought her back. I donít want to see the world end. I just want to look into my loveís eyes. Maybe some spell to keep us here, safe and together. A motion, from above. Buffy? She tried to close the portal herself? It didnít work. I am glad I can not see her land. Moments later the sky flashes green. I feel my ears need to pop from the sudden change. The portal is gone. The world is saved. But what the cost to us? Buffy. She deserves a better brier than a pile of bricks and mortar. Before I met her, I was nothing. Through her I found my strength and my calling. Now sheís gone. Dawn! Dawn is gone, too. From nothing to nothing. She saved the world. Buffy tried, I think, but in the end it had to be Dawn. I canít take it. Tara. I found you, now find me.

 

Buffy. My brave Slayer. The daughter I will never have. She tried so hard to save her sister. To save the world. But in the end, she was wrong. Dawn was the only key. It shall haunt me all my days. I wonder if I was the only one watching. First her small white-clad body plummeted out of the vortex to land and break on the stones. I think she was dead before she hit, by the way gravity moved her. Then minutes passed. I donít know how many. The sky lit up with a glow of green. It flashed from the center out. And it was all gone. The portal, the lightening, the demons. Another apocalypse averted. Iím not sure why she jumped. Maybe she was thrown. My only theory is blood. Perhaps the genetic key they shared would have worked. That is so thin an idea, I did not mention it to anyone. Buffy may have come upon it on her own. Buffy was wrong, there was no other way to save the world. I have to act. Do something. I want to get her and us out of here. The minions have disappeared, but the poor crazies are still here and may be a danger. And the authorities will come soon. I did kill a man. I call out to the others, taking control as best I can. Spike is suddenly there, bloody and broken from his own fall from the tower, kneeling beside me, ducking sunbeams. ďPlease,Ē he says, his voice rough, ďI beg one minute, then Iíll be gone.Ē I look into his eyes and see the human he once was. With a start I realize his face is streaked with tears where my own is almost dry. I can only give the man his due. He loves Buffy and fought well. I nod, I turn away to help the living.

 

I was so lost. Once in a while I could glimpse my world. I tried to fight my way back. The pieces were missing from my mind. None of the ones left would fit. Then, suddenly, I was back. Willow holding me. Pain, my hand was crushed, I remember. There was fighting all around us. Willowís strength shines on me. She is drained form bringing me back, but still she does what she can. She uses a sighting spell to see Dawn and some other up on the tower. She reaches out a hand, I give her the power she needs to help Spike get up there. More fighting, but we are out of the mix, drained. Spike falls. I pray he survives. The portal opens and the world is ending. Willow and I crouch under a beam, seeking shelter from the energy bolts which hit all around. I see only her face. I want it to be the last thing I see. Then it is suddenly so still. The dark and the devils have gone and the sun shines through the fence. I take roll as we emerge from shelter. Xander scoops up Anya, holding her with great tenderness. Giles stumbles toward a clearing where a white-clad figure lies thrown on a pile of bricks. Buffy. Spike pulls himself up from where he landed. Dawn. No Dawn. Willow is sobbing. My love, my sweet one. I must be her strength now. I can hear another sobbing. Spike. His aura, always bright, is now spikes and flares of grief and agony like the sunís corona. The rest of us are made up of muddy swirls of loss and pain. Our coronas will blossom later, after the shock is gone. Only Anya seems calm. I forget sometimes how very old she is and how much she has seen. She rests in Xanderís arms. He holds her like heís forgotten her weight. Giles tries to galvanize us to motion, on to healing. Spike darts forward, crouching at Gilesí feet to avoid the morning sun. He says something too quiet for me to hear. Giles nods and turns away. Spike crawls forward. No doubt wounded from his own fall. He looks into her face, which is turned away from me. I have seen Spikeís love for Buffy. The rest dismiss it and think it wrong. But it is a pure, honest love for all the bearer is a vampire. I wonder if he will kiss her, like he never could in life. Willow suddenly collapses in my arms and I turn my attention to her. We sit in a heap on the cold ground. I see Spike over her shoulder, his arms wrapped around himself, staggering away to find shelter from the sun.

 

The earth tries to swallow me. I roll over, wanting to see this cursed gateway. Dragons, lightening, earthquakes. Yep, it's the end of the world. There's a white motion at the top of the tower. Buffyís small body appears through the vortex. Oddly, the lightening never touches it. I cannot watch the end of her flight. But I do hear her land. Even over the wind and the screams and the thunder. I hear her hit. I'll never forget he sound.  My eyes are locked on the sky. I want to see how it ends. Maybe two minutes pass. I see a small motion. Dawn. She runs down the catwalk and flings herself at the gateway. Not at all like her sisterís graceful swan dive. The key must close the lock. A flash of green and the world repairs itself. Sheís vanished. Theyíre both gone.  Buffy is a broken, bloody husk. Dawn dissipated into green energy and gone with the gate. I donít want to see, but I must. Oh, God. I didnít know her death would strike me this hard. When did the sun come up? What more could I have done? Dimly, I know the others survived. Itís the Watcher who speaks first. ďLetís get her out of here.Ē I donít know why I do what I do. I beg one minuteís time from him. He owes me nothing, yet I ask. He meets my eyes. I know how I feel, I can imagine how I look. He just nods and starts tending to the living members of the gang, turning his back to give me a little space. Her blood trickles through the bricks. Sheís pulped. Yet her face is still beautiful. I spend my precious minute in a silent farewell. I had my say to her when she was on the stairs. I donít want to touch her dead flesh.  One arm is stretched toward me. I reach out, grab, I feel cloth give and I am away, clutching my prize, seeking the dark, seeking the earth. Later, in the coolness of my crypt, I pull the relic from my pocket. A sleeve of white cloth, stained with the blood of a saint. The blood of my lost love. I made a promise to protect the Little Bit, but Dawn is gone so this place has no hold on me now. No more ladies of Summers. I must leave Sunnydale, never to return.

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