Author’s Note: I’m going by fanon here in having Buffy be a nickname for Elizabeth.
The Gift of Death, Part 6
A week later, Buffy stood in the glade surrounded by the Fellowship and a goodly number of Lorien elves. She’d been so excited at the prospect of her sister joining her in Middle-Earth that she had hardly stopped hugging whoever she could get her arms on—it was only when she’d nearly cracked Boromir’s ribs that she started restraining herself.
“Is it time yet?” she asked for the tenth time.
Galadriel patiently replied, “Not yet, Dagnir.”
Buffy clasped her hands tightly before her. She’d worn her nicest gown, of coral-pink silk with silver embroidery, and her hair had been woven with tiny white flowers. Haldir’s admiring expression told her she looked very nice indeed, but her palms were still very nervous and sweaty.
She refrained from wiping them on her skirts. “Is it time yet?” she asked again, her voice piteous, and Galadriel sighed.
“Yes, I suppose now is as good a time as any.”
Buffy bent so eagerly over the mirror that some of the flowers in her hair fell into the water.
“Careful,” Haldir warned, plucking the blossoms out. “You will drown yourself.”
Buffy let her vision fuzz and immediately saw Skip in his usual place.
“Hi, Buffy!” he called. “Today’s the big day, huh?”
“Dawn, please,” she said crisply, and he laughed, waving his hand, and then there was Dawn. She stood in the lobby of the Hyperion in Los Angeles, and she was surrounded by people. There was Spike, and… Buffy stuffed her fist into her mouth to stifle a sob.
They were all there—Dawn, Spike, Giles, Xander, Willow, Anya, Tara, Cordelia, Wesley. Even Oz was there. Also present were some people that Buffy didn’t recognize, but she figured it was normal for others to join up over the years. There was one person noticeably absent, however…
“Dawn?” she asked, and was shocked to see the whole group jump. “You can all hear me?”
“Buffy!” Dawn exclaimed. “I can hear you, can the rest of you?” she asked the others. They all nodded dumbly.
“Oh, God…. guys, it’s so good to see you again. I’ve missed you so much. Giles, Xander, Willow…” Buffy burst into tears. “You all look… so old!”
They laughed. Willow was weeping openly, and Xander’s and Giles’ eyes were suspiciously bright. “What, and you haven’t aged a day?” Xander asked with fake belligerence.
“Actually, no,” Buffy told him. “I’m still the perky-bosomed twenty-year-old you knew back when.”
“Not fair!” declared Cordelia, clapping her hands to her chest. “I’ll have you know that these things fed three children. These were working breasts!”
They all laughed, and Buffy squinted harder at them, wondering if she was simply not seeing him. Nope, he wasn’t there. “Guys, where’s Angel?”
The smiles melted from their faces, and they all glanced at each other before Dawn closed her eyes for a long moment. Opening them again, she said quietly, “Buffy, Angel… is dead. Permanently dead.”
“No,” Buffy whispered. “That can’t be. He can’t be.” She sagged, and Haldir wrapped an arm around her waist to hold her up. “He can’t be dead.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy,” Dawn said. “We all are.”
“Um…” Dawn hedged before continuing, “How about I tell you when I get there?”
“You’re coming? You’re really coming?” demanded Buffy, grateful Haldir was there to keep her upright as she felt her legs weaken once more, this time in relief. “Oh, God, I was so scared you wouldn’t.”
“You must hurry now,” said Galadriel in Buffy’s head.
“We don’t have much time, Dawnie,” she said to her sister. “But… oh, guys, I love you all so much, I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. There are friends here, good people. I’m safe no matter what, and I’ll keep Dawn safe. I promise.”
Dawn hugged and kissed everyone. “What happens now, Buffy?” Dawn’s voice was tremulous, scared but excited.
“Tell her to draw some blood from her hand. The demon and I will do the rest,” Galadriel instructed, and Buffy relayed the message. Dawn took the knife Spike handed her and swiftly drew it over her palm. As the crimson fluid coursed from her, the air where it fell began to glow green. At the same time, a pinpoint of green appeared in the glade, and expanded. In its centre grew a flat area that shimmered, and slowly Buffy was able to look into it and see her friends as if looking through a door, for that is what it was.
“Buffy, you look beautiful,” Willow said tearfully. Her red hair was cut in a short, angular bob and she was dressed, as usual, in a funky outfit of weird colours, improbably paired together. Beside curvacious, womanly Tara and the perennially unkempt Oz, she looked avante-guarde and not a little exotic.
Cordelia smirked. “Who’s the hottie with his arm around you?”
Buffy laughed and looked back at Haldir. “This is Haldir, he’s an old friend.”
Spike quirked a brow, but said nothing while the women murmured in appreciation. Haldir merely sighed. Buffy reached her hand through the portal, and immediately the others rushed to her, touching her hand, assuring themselves she really was there, was really still alive.
“This is extraordinary,” Giles murmured, his grasp warm on her cold fingers. “I never thought to see you again, I thought you were gone, that it was over for you, that you’d found peace.”
“It’s never really over, Giles,” Buffy replied, weeping openly. “Death is never the end.” She turned to venture a shy smile at Galadriel and Celeborn. “Peace comes in all sorts of forms, I’m learning.”
“Dawn told us there were elves, Buffster,” Xander said. His dark eyes were as dark and loving as ever as they roamed eagerly over her. “I’m guessing these aren’t the ones who live in trees and bake cookies?”
“They live in trees, Xander, but not really big with the cookie-making, no,” she replied with a shaky laugh.
“Never mind the cookies,” Anya said briskly. “How are they with the sex?” She peered past Buffy to Haldir. “That one looks like he knows how to give a woman many orgasms.”
Around Buffy, the faint murmurings of all who watched ended abruptly, replaced with the dead silence of a few dozen elves wondering, Did she actually say that?
Buffy flushed bright pink and tried to stammer some sort of response but Haldir merely smirked through the portal at Anya and bowed. “I have yet to receive a complaint,” he told her, voice pitched an octave lower than usual, then smirked again when she swallowed hard, eyes wide.
“Xander, I’ve thought of a new sex-game we can play. You’ll need a long blond wig, and some Spock ears…” Anya’s voice trailed off as she dragged her husband away, much to the amusement of the others ranged around them.
“Demon-girl still knows how to suck all the air out of a room,” Spike commented dryly, sharing an amused glance with Giles. Buffy thought it looked weird to see the two men so companionable, but reminded herself that they had had almost twenty years to get past their differences.
Galadriel shot Buffy a ‘hurry up’ sort of look then. “Are you ready, Dawnie?” Her sister nodded and picked up the dufflebag on the ground. “Then step through.”
Dawn lifted a foot, then dropped it with a cry and turned back to Spike, flinging herself in his arms. “I love you,” she sobbed. “I love you so much, Spike. You’re my brother, you’ll always be my best friend. Never forget me, please?”
“Oh, Niblet,” he rasped, crying shamelessly. “How could I ever forget a Summers woman?” He turned her loose. “Now, get going.”
She turned and picked up the dufflebag again, then squared her shoulders and stepped into the portal without looking back. She seemed to hang there for a moment, frozen, and then the portal convulsed and spat her forcibly from it, flinging her to her hands and knees on the leafy floor by the mirror. With a flash of green light, it shrunk and disappeared in a split second.
“Buffy?” she asked, lifting her head and squinting through the tangle of hair over her face.
Buffy dropped to her knees. “Yeah, Dawnie, I’m here,” she whispered, and pulled her sister into her arms. Dazedly, Dawn hugged Buffy back, and they rocked back and forth, weeping.
When they calmed down a bit, Dawn sat back on her heels and looked around. “Wow, elves!” she exclaimed, eyes huge as she looked around. “Elves and really big trees.”
“I told you there were elves,” Buffy said, very much the big sister again. “Didn’t you believe me?”
“I thought you were just saying that to make me come to you,” Dawn replied, standing and brushing dirt from her knees. “That’s a great dress. And your hair! You’re like Crystal Gayle, Slayer-style.”
Haldir rolled his eyes. “You did not tell me your sister was as silly as you are, Slayer,” he rumbled, arms crossed over his chest.
Dawn took a very hard look at him for a long moment, then lifted her nose into the air and turned pointedly away to face Buffy. “So, what do we do now? Do we leave on this quest thingy right away, or what?”
“Nah, we’re staying here a few weeks to recuperate.” Buffy began to lead Dawn out of the glade, arms around each others’ waists. “It’s been a hard trip so far, someone already died.” Their voices faded in the distance, and the Fellowship glanced at each other with no small amount of trepidation.
“She’s pretty,” declared Merry. “Too tall, and far too skinny, but I daresay a few weeks of eating like a Hobbit would fill her out well enough.”
“Two women,” Boromir said under his breath. “Twice as much to go wrong. This is a disaster.”
“I like the new one,” Gimli announced to no one in particular. “She knows just how to put an elf in his place.”
“A lesson which continues to elude you, Master Dwarf,” taunted Legolas, leaping nimbly out of the way of Gimli’s halfhearted swipe of retribution.
The remainder of the Fellowship’s time in Caras Galadon was spent training Dawn. She was already fairly competent with sword and bow, thanks to Spike’s insistence she be able to defend herself, but she was truly good with a staff and, to all their surprise, spears.
“I prefer a pike, myself,” Dawn said one afternoon, panting as she stuffed her hair into a messy bun. “You can do hella damage with a nice pike.”
“You will likely not have the luxury of room in which to use a pike,” Haldir said sourly from his end of the practice area.
“What’s with tall, blond, and grouchy?” Dawn asked no one in particular, and sipped some cool water. “Is it just me, or does he hate everyone?”
“It is just you,” Haldir told her with a smirk. “I am ever lovable and sweet with others.”
She grinned cheekily. “Somehow I doubt that, Oscar.” He frowned at the nickname, but she did not elaborate. “So, orcs. What are they like?”
“They are big and stupid, very pig-like,” Boromir said, while Gimli offered, “They have a smell to make your eyelids roll up.”
“They’re like Gamorrean demons,” Buffy told her sister. “But without the tusks.”
Dawn nodded wisely, and then clapped her hands excitedly. “Oh! Speaking of pigs!” she cried, and buried her head in her ever-present dufflebag, rummaging through it.
“Were we speaking of pigs?” Legolas quietly asked Aragorn, who shrugged.
Dawn emerged from the bag, a small fuzzy object in her hand.
“Gordo!” shrieked Buffy, reaching for it. “You brought Mr. Gordo!” She hugged Dawn tightly.
“Is that the original Gordo?” Pippin asked.
“Yep!” Buffy fondly petted the stuffed pig’s head. Dawn had brought a veritable treasure-trove of things with her from California: long letters from all their friends, photos from the intervening years, and—best of all—a flat screen into which glittering discs were inserted. Home movies could be watched on the screen, and it was there that the Scoobies and friends spoke their messages to their departed Slayer.
Giles, now in his sixties, had returned to England and had taken over the Watchers’ Council. They’d had their hands full keeping Faith on the straight and narrow, but by the time she’d finally been killed, she’d been well on her way to redeeming her trespasses. It seemed the second Slayer soul was finally getting up to snuff.
Xander and Anya had married and had four children, one of whom was named Elizabeth. Buffy cried when they told her that. They had moved out of the Hellmouth area and settled in Connecticut, where Xander had his own construction company and Anya was a day-trader on the NYSE.
Willow and Tara had broken up but remainedl close friends as well as business partners, running the Magic Box together. Oz had returned years before and he and Willow had gotten married and adopted two disabled children. They all of them looked incredibly happy.
Cordelia had married the tall black guy Buffy had seen in the Hyperion—Charles Gunn-- and they had three beautiful, mocha-skinned children. She was still Queen C, but a much kinder and gentler one. Wesley had hooked up with the fragile-looking woman named Fred, and while they didn’t have children, they had happy lives filled with research and exploration.
Spike had stuck by Dawn’s side, just as he had promised all those years ago, a fact which touched Buffy deeply. The chip had stopped working about ten years previous and began to damage his brain functions, so they’d found someone to remove it. Everyone but Dawn had been sure he’d revert to type, but almost a decade of being a white hat had changed the vampire forever, it seemed.
As for Angel… “He just wasn’t right after you died, Buffy,” Spike told the camera. “He didn’t care about living any more, got sloppy. One night, he just… gave up. Let a Polgara get him.” He slammed his fist on his knee, stared fiercely at the floor. “Stupid ponce.”
“He’s at peace now, Buffy,” Spike continued at last. “At peace.” He smiled sadly. “Some people get all the luck, huh, pet?” She could well relate to his frustration.
Buffy watched the recordings over and over until the batteries ran out, then tossed them into the river. They were her past, and she’d finally been able to say goodbye to them, and they to her. Her life was here in Middle-Earth now, however many eons it would last.
Dawn had enjoyed an interesting life, and she regaled all of them with tales of her exploits. She hadn’t bothered to attend college, but split her time between Sunnydale, Los Angeles, and England to become a world-class researcher. She’d married in her twenties, but it had been a disastrous union and it had taken all of her and Giles’ skills of persuasion to keep Spike from killing Dawn’s ex.
Dawn didn’t seem to like the elves much. She’d spent too much time with Spike and Cordelia, she said, and was used to honesty and frankness. Elves were too mysterious and hidden.
“I know,” Buffy replied. “That’s why I like them.” She herself was a private person, and the elves respected that need to keep one’s self hidden.
Gimli, to no one’s surprise, thoroughly enjoyed Dawn’s presence (especially when she was discussing how she didn’t trust elves). “Tis a shame you’re not petite like your sister,” he would sigh. “She’s almost the perfect she-dwarf. If only she had a beard…”
Dawn giggled. “It’s the classic tragic story-- soulmates, thwarted by lack of facial hair. Shakespeare couldn’t write it better.”
Her aversion to elves was ironic, since she was tall, slim, and graceful enough to be one herself. “A little plastic surgery on the ears, and no one would ever know you weren’t born in Imladris,” Buffy teased her sister. “You could be Elrond’s secret daughter.”
“Um, how about no?” Dawn retorted. “Then I might have to be related to Oscar, and I think his bad ‘tude might be hereditary.” She persisted in calling Haldir by that nickname, and yet refused to tell him what it meant. Needless to say, they didn’t get on very well.
She loved the Hobbits, and amused them greatly by cuddling them like children. “Dawn, you do realize they’re all older than you, right?” Buffy asked worriedly one day.
“As long as they don’t get any funny ideas, I don’t care if they’re a hundred,” Dawn declared, ruffling Merry’s hair as they walked down a path between the mellyrn, Frodo on her other side, clasping her hand.
That left Legolas and Boromir. The elf kept his distance from her as he did everyone else, and Dawn didn’t complain, although she did admit to Buffy that he was “the hottest thing she’d ever seen in her entire life”, and that included that one time she’d almost fallen into a glassblowing oven in a factory that housed a nest of vamps. Then she’d laughed slyly when Buffy had agreed fervently.
Boromir… Buffy resolved to watch the two of them closely. More than once she’d caught her sister eyeing the handsome Man, and you didn’t have to be Galadriel to know what was going through Boromir’s mind when he looked at Dawn, his gaze increasingly possessive. His reaction rather surprised her, because he’d always given her the impression of being more concerned with matters of warfare than of romance, but, she reflected with a sigh, when something was meant to be there was no avoiding it.
Finally, the day arrived for the Fellowship to depart. “Not a moment too soon,” Dawn grumbled. “I was getting tired of listening to you and Oscar grunt all night long—“
Buffy clapped her hand over her sister’s mouth, forcing a laugh. “Ha ha ha,” she said as the woman rolled her eyes over the hand. “Such a kidder, Dawn is.” She fooled no one.
All received gifts— Aragorn a sheath for his sword, and belts for Boromir, Merry and Pippin. There was a box of earth and some rope for Sam, a gorgeous new bow for Legolas, and a few strands of Galadriel’s hair for Gimli. Frodo received a flask of starlight, and there was a fine pike for Dawn, who squealed with joy and did a happy dance when Celeborn handed it to her.
Buffy hugged Galadriel tightly. “You’ve given me the best gift of all,” she whispered, her forehead against that of the elf-witch. “I will remember it always.”
“It was my great pleasure, meldisamin,” Galadriel replied, touching Buffy’s cheek gently. “Namarië.”
meldisamin = my friend (fem)
namarië = farewell