I'm fragmented, being pulled in a thousand different directions, up and away towards the green trees and the cool wind, and I can't seem to go there. There's something holding me back, and I look down and Rupert's there, holding me and crying, and I go back to see what's wrong.
I'd forgotten that.
He's sobbing, tears running down his cheeks and onto my face, and his hands are running through my hair and I'm so close to him but I can't seem to connect.
*Rupert,* I say, holding my hand out and watching it pass through his shoulder. He can't see me, can't hear me; it's nothing like the spell that turned Willow into a ghost at Samhain. I look over my shoulder and see Her beckoning to me, but I can't go, so I turn away. It's all right. She'll be there when I'm ready. The Goddess is ever-patient, and I think She understands the need for closure. For vengeance.
The blood of my ancestors is strong in me, and my thirst for vengeance is, apparently, as great as theirs. Funny the things you learn when you die. They will be less than pleased, my clan, at the death of another of theirs at the hands of Angelus. Not a favored daughter, but still theirs, always theirs no matter how much I fought against it.
*Oh, Rupert,* I say again, watching him lay me gently on the bed and close my sightless eyes. He calls the police and they come, sirens flashing and nary a question why the oddest events in Sunnydale seem to center on the same few people.
*I can see you.* I hear a voice calling, so I walk downstairs and out--through--the door, and there she is. *You're right there.* She points at me, the vampire queen of Sunnydale and her crippled lover.
*I don't see a thing, Dru,* says Spike, obviously humoring her.
*I wasn't talking to you, dear,* she says. *There's a bad little teacher standing right in front of the door and she's staring right at me.* Why is it my fate to have the only clairvoyant in Sunnydale to recognize me be the one that's my sworn enemy?
*Hello,* I said. *You'll forgive me if I don't greet you properly, but it's rather disconcerting being dead.*
*You do get used to it,* she said, smiling at me. A chill wound its way up my spine, and I shivered. *It's a lovely feeling, being dead. All cold and comforting.*
*I'm the one who's dead,* I say, crossing my arms and staring at her. *You're not quite there yet. Yet.*
*And you're the one who'll bury me in the deep dark ground?* She laughs, a high, tinkling, insane sound, and pets the dog she's carrying. *My mummy buried me in the dark ground right next to her and I dug myself out and got covered with the pretty dirt.* The puppy squirms, yaps, and licks her face.
I turn away and begin walking, ignoring the screaming that comes from her, and later, the screaming that comes from the dog. With a sudden blast of air, I'm across town and in the police station, and there's Rupert and Willow, who looks up for a moment when I whisper her name but then looks away an instant later.
The orb is smashed, the computer's destroyed, and the printout is burned to ash. The disk has fallen behind the desk, and I can't tell a soul, because the only one that would hear is Drusilla, who has no soul to hear.
The funeral's lovely. No flowers, no remembrances, but the people in their somber black. Rupert taking off his glasses so he doesn't have to look at me, and Xander holding Willow as she sobs. The ceremony's held at noon, they've taken off school to come. I don't like being dead, but if I'm going to be dead, then at least they managed to remember me well.
Suddenly it's night and I don't know how it happened. Things are strange for the newly-dead, I imagine, but I can't ask anyone. There are no other ghosts in Sunnydale, which strikes me as strange considering the incredible number of fatalities here, but that's how it goes.
The cool wind blows again, and I turn to see Her smiling gently at me. Tears fill my eyes, but I hold myself back from going to Her. I have to see Rupert again, I have to make everything right.
I have to kill Angelus.
They track him down and I follow them, the Slayer, the Watcher, and the others. The fighting is fierce; I can't predict the outcome, can't help them or alter it in any way. The tide is theirs, Spike dead, the bitch-queen wounded and nearly dead, and the only one still whole and fighting is my murderer.
He knocks the Slayer down, leans over her, and the others have been trapped by the nameless vampires that infest Sunnydale like a plague of rats, and She's there, in Her role as Destroyer, handing me a sword and touching my forehead, telling me to go, for a few moments, and be with them. I run, suddenly visible, judging from the cries of surprise I hear from Rupert, Willow, and the others, raising the sword and bringing it down again, quickly, hearing the sick thunk of his head as it bounces on the ground. The sword drops from my hands, and I walk numbly over to Rupert, who is free, all the vampires having fled.
*I'll see you in a few years,* I say. *I'll be waiting,* I add. He nods, numbly, and I kiss him on the forehead, tears streaming down my face. I hug Willow, and Cordelia, and even Xander, and then turn to Buffy, who's sobbing over the corpse of her erstwhile lover. I lean down and touch her on the shoulder, and she turns to me, sobbing and hugging me and telling me that she's sorry and I smooth her hair back and whisper that it's all right, that things will get better, and I'll see her on the other side.
I stand, regretfully, and walk backwards slowly, holding Rupert's eyes with mine until the light swallows me up and I see...
...Dave, telling me about a wonderful new program he's written, and Fritz, standing sullenly off to the side, and the only clue he's glad to see me are the smiles he keeps hidden in his eyes. Emily's dancing in a glade and Morgan's working on a paper, and Bob's even there, smiling happily and playing with his pig.
I let Dave lead me off and look around wistfully. There's so much to show them all when they finally came home.
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