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Save Me

by Ann
Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don’t own anything except for the plot line and a few characters I made up. I took a few lines from Sarah McLachlan’s song “Fumbling towards Ecstasy”.
Author's Notes: There is no Riley or Dawn or whatever else in season 4, 5 and 6. This is my own wacky timeline.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me write faster. When I don’t get any I tend to retreat to a little place inside my head and depression ensues :P

I’ve held her in my arms for the entire day already. We’re leaning up against a tree, watching the sun go down. This moment seems so familiar, but it hurts when I try to remember things. There are so many unanswered questions, but I couldn’t care less right now. Her touch is the first I’ve felt in years.

I breathe in the girl’s scent. I recognise it from long ago. Things are still muddled. All I remember is her name. Buffy...

I also remember how special she is to me. I’m still not sure why. She shifts slightly in my arms, and I loosen my grasp only slightly so that she can. As soon as she gets comfortable, I resume my tight hold around her. She has her head beneath my chin, and her arm is resting over my stomach.

[ all the fear has left me now. i’m not frightened anymore. it’s my heart that pounds beneath my flesh. it’s my mouth that pushes out this breath. and if i shed a tear i won’t cage it. i won’t fear love ]

I suddenly feel wetness on my chest, and it takes me a moment to realise she’s crying. My heart beats faster as I feel panic begin to rise. Is she crying because she’s upset with me? I push her away slightly so that I can see her face and my hands tremble as I gently push back her strands of golden hair. I expected her to look sad. But she’s smiling at me. Her lips are quivering and her eyes sparkle like stars. She’s so beautiful.

I bring my hand up and wipe away the tears with my thumb. She smiles again as she leans her face into my palm. Her hand comes up and she gently takes my hand into her own. I give her a questioning look but she ignores it and leans forward until we’re so close we’re nearly touching. She tilts her head slightly with her tears still running freely down her face. She looks at me directly in the eyes as she kisses me... so softly. Her hands come up behind my neck as she pulls me closer. This is real. She’s real. And I know by the way she touches me that she will never leave my side.

(In the material world)

Willow shrank back from Tara’s touch as if she were dangerous. The thin sheen of perspiration on her face made it hard for her to focus. Tara looked helplessly at the sight of Willow tearing apart Giles’ home.

“Hostis humani generis! Hostis humani generis!” Screamed Willow as she carried on ripping apart anything she could get her hands on. Tara began shaking as she feared she had somehow destroyed Willow’s mind. Her lover’s mind...

“Giles! What is she saying?!” Tara cried out. Giles, standing a good few metres away from the flailing limbs of Willow, shook his head as he tried to interpret the strange words.

“It’s Latin. Something about humans? Enemy?”

“Hostis humani generis!” Willow shrieked as she threw a heavy book out of one of the windows.

“That’s it! Xander! Try and restrain her!” Xander looked back at Giles as if he were crazy.

“Are you nuts?! If anyone goes near her she flips out!” Xander shouted, cradling his wrist, which he suspected was broken in at least two places.

Suddenly, Willow froze in place, then her eyes rolled back into her head as she collapsed into a heap on the floor. Tara instantly rushed over to her new-found lover and cradled her head gently. Xander and Giles stood a few metres away, not really understanding what had just happened.

The two witches had approached Giles earlier that day, informing him of a spell they had discovered. The ritual had been invented by a Latin sorcerer called Amaratite. The books said that he had discovered the ultimate soul location spell. It was extremely powerful, which is why the wiccans believed it would work.

Knowing that what they were proposing was dangerous, Giles insisted that he be the one to perform the ritual. Willow was quick to say no, saying that it had to be performed by two beings who were reasonably powerful and experienced in the way of the black arts. This ruled the watcher out completely.

Reluctantly, he agreed to let the young women do the ritual. Tara would act as Willow’s anchor, making sure Willow didn’t get sucked into anything dangerous as she searched for the lost slayers, or perhaps, what had abducted them in the first place. It was a long process, and it took the wiccans a few hours to get themselves in the perfect state of mind.

Xander had slipped in quietly as soon as the wiccans had reached their trance-like state. He was fully decked in commando gear as he hadn’t had the chance to change from his slaying uniform to his civilian clothing. Giles nodded his greeting as they both sat and watched the ritual take place.

The watcher rubbed his temples as he tried to remember when exactly that the ritual took such a terrible dive down. First of all, Tara began to show signs of stress, even twitches which indicated her desire to break the spell. Willow however, had a face full of determination, holding tightly onto Tara’s hand. Then suddenly it happened. A blast of light appeared from within Willow herself and it all went completely quiet. Tara was the first to break the worrying silence when she pulled away from Willow in fear. Then Willow started throwing the fit. Screaming those words in Latin.

Shaking himself out his reverie, Giles still couldn’t understand what had happened. He noticed Xander had already assisted Tara in lifting Willow onto the couch. Repeating the words Willow had screamed in his head, Giles headed towards his private collection of occult books.

Xander meanwhile tried to calm down Tara, who began crying nearly hysterically.

“It was horrible... S...so evil!”

“Shh, Tara... Calm down. What did you see?” He stroked her head softly, trying to force some sort of calming influence on her. It appeared to work as she took in deep breaths and tried to steady her shaking hands. She nervously kept looking towards Willow then back at the spell pattern on the floor. “...Tara?”

“We...saw what did this. Who took Buffy and Faith... We saw them!” She began to shake again and Xander tried his best to keep her still, fearing she might do something stupid.

“What were they Tara?”

“They were...I can’t remember the name...”

“Enemy of The Human Race.” Giles announced from the bookshelf. Xander screwed up his face.

“The who?”

“Hostis humani generis... Translated means ‘The Enemy of The Human Race’.”

“Damn, that sounds like a new nasty. That’s what took the slayers away from our dimension?”

“Yes...and no. It’s not ‘a new nasty’. It’s been around for a very...long...time. But what I don’t understand is how it finally found its way back to our dimension. The books dictate that this great evil was banished by...” The watcher looked down at the volume in his hands. “Aha, a priest called ‘Silas’, from the dimension ‘Pylea’. Apparently, he wasn’t exactly on the side of justice either. It says that he was losing control and was commanded by...er...it doesn’t say. But he was commanded to rid this dimension of the ‘Hostis humani generis’. Which he eventually did when imbued with the power of his lords. For the ‘Hostis humani generis’ to return, well, it would have had to be freed somehow. But I can’t think what would have the power or the resolution to do such a thing from this dimension.” Giles and Xander both took the moment to sigh, exasperated.

“That’s a great story Giles. But it still doesn’t tell us where Buffy and Faith are.”

“Yes, but at least we have an idea of what kind of powers are involved.”

“Right. Look, I can’t even remember half of the names you just read out, and Willow and Tara are kinda out of commission for now. How exactly do you expect to solve this one Mr. Watcher?”

“I’m sure Angel will be skilled enough for the tasks at hand,” Giles mumbled while turning back towards the shelf. In turning away, he missed the hurt look Xander expressed.

“Yeah... yeah. Angel can do it. I mean, I got no shot right?” Xander’s voice wasn’t bitter, it was just sad. Giles turned around and looked him in the eye. “I mean, no matter how hard I train... It -- it’s never good enough...”

“Xander... You’re a perfectly able young man, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you would be the one to rescue them if you had half the chance. But Angel has experience in these matters, not to mention his immortality. You don’t. And there’s no way I would ever put you or anyone here in such danger.”

“Right, Giles. Sorry, but I got to get outta here. Tell Will... tell her to stay strong okay?”

“Xander..?” But without casting a glance back at the room, the young man walked out of the house. Giles shook his head in defeat. “Xander...no.” One by one, they were giving up.

// This isn’t happening... //

*****

Deacon Matthews sat on the small red bus stop seat. The N16 bus was nowhere in sight and he was supposed to be meeting up with his associate in less than an hour.

He took a drag from his cigarette and coughed as he took it down the wrong pipe. His whole body was soaked with rain and Deacon began to shiver slightly. And it wasn’t just the rain which was giving him the chills.

He hadn’t been contacted by the council in 3 days, at all. Nothing. No orders. No demands for status reports. And more importantly, no pay. It’s like they had conveniently forgotten about him. A frown formed on his face. After all he had done for them, they couldn’t even bother to keep him in the loop. He put his life in danger for those old men. He was the one who made contact with that psycho slayer for God’s sake. The bitch had robbed him of his wallet and now he was reduced to waiting for a bus under a decrepit bus shelter.

He clenched his hands into fists as he tried to work out what he did to deserve this.

His partner and associate Marshall Abram, was kind enough to get in touch with Deacon by telephone earlier that day.

“Hello?”

“Deacon, it’s me, Marshall.”

“Marshall? Where the hell have you been? I’ve been trying to get in contact with you for days.”

“I know, I haven’t been in the country. I would have told you but...”

“...But what?”

“...I’ve been told I can’t communicate with you in any way.”

“Why not?!”

“I can’t explain right now. There’s very little time. The bastards probably have this line tapped right now. Listen, meet me at Hyde Park station tomorrow at 11. I’ll explain everything there.”

He shook his head in confusion. What was going on? What were those idiots playing at? He gripped the bus pass in his hands tightly. The council had a lot to answer for.

*****

The creature on the throne sighed. He didn’t anticipate this at all. All that was supposed to happen was that the slayers were doomed to live out their immortal lives here. Alone, and eventually going mad. They would be kept alive, thus preventing any new slayers being called. He suddenly understood why these slayers were so hated, they always found a way to win. No matter what you did to them. You could steal their souls and stick them in a realm of eternal night, and they would make it day. How did they do such things?

A horrible thought suddenly struck him. He had totally forgotten the deal he had made with the Earth council, or at least their new head of management. He shuddered as he thought of the sheer scale of that creature’s power. He prayed that he would fix this somehow before that ‘thing’ found out.

Resolve showing on his face, he lifted himself off his ancient throne and sent out the order of ‘search and destroy’. He knew he couldn’t kill them, but he could weaken them, and that’s exactly what he was going to do.

*****

“Buffy..?” I still can’t get used to the sound of my own voice. It sounds so strange; I haven’t heard it in an eternity. She looks up at me expectantly. I want to tell her we have to leave but... I can’t remember how. My mouth opens but I can’t produce a sound. I snap it shut in frustration. Angry, steaming tears run down my face. Why does it have to be so hard?!

She understands and puts her hand on my cheek. She’s trying to calm me down.

Compassion.

I had forgotten.

She then looks at me in such a way. She’s staring right into me. Concentrating so hard her forehead scrunches up and I can see the perspiration on her face. I look at her in confusion. I think she might be playing some kind of game with me, but she looks so serious. Suddenly I hear a pounding in my skull and I pull away from her in pain. She’s still got that look in her eyes and I wonder why she is doing this to me. I hiss as I drive my head into the ground, trying to get away from the noise she is making me hear. It’s so overpowering. I can’t take it anymore as I pound my fists into the mud, trying to let her know that I don’t like this game and she should stop. But she doesn’t.

I can see her kneeling beside me although my vision is clouded over. She’s still looking at me like that. It angers me so much that she doesn’t stop, but I don’t do anything about it. She’s causing me so much pain, but I could never hurt her. Even if she threatened to drive a sword through my immortal heart, I wouldn’t try and stop her. I love her too much.

More tears run down my face as I cry out and clutch onto my pounding skull. I think that this is it. I look at her for what I think is the last time. And then suddenly, I hear her voice, but her mouth doesn’t move.

“Faith...”

The pounding in my head suddenly stops and I don’t feel a single trace of pain in my skull. I stare at her lips as I hear her voice again.

“Faith... Can you hear me?”

Again, her mouth doesn’t move. I think I’m going insane. All these words in my head. It’s so strange. I shake my head in confusion. It’s too loud. It’s too much...

“Faith it’s okay. Talk to me. I’m sorry I hurt you. But I had to see if this would work. Please Faith, say something.”

“Buffy?” I try, but she shakes her head.

“No, not like that. Faith, use your mind to tell me what you want me to hear...”

I close my eyes. I don’t really know what she wants me to do. But I try.

“Buffy? I... What is this?” Her face lights up. I guess she heard me.

“It worked! We can talk to each other like this now Faith. With our minds!”

“How did you know this was possible?” She looks thoughtful for a moment.

“I think I just knew. Like, I saw it in a dream or something. I’m not sure.” She pauses and I give her a questioning look. Suddenly she looks at me shyly, with an adorable look on her face. “I like hearing your voice.” I blush and avert my eyes from her.

“I like hearing you as well.” Her face breaks out into a full grin and I can’t help but copy her. I can’t remember the last time I felt like this. On second thought, I can’t remember much of anything. “Buffy, what do you remember? I mean, I know there’s something...there. But I just can’t...” She pouts as she thinks and I think it’s as cute as hell. Then suddenly I get conscious of the fact that she can probably hear my thoughts. I keep quiet as she replies.

“No. There’s nothing. I mean, I know I - - we haven’t been here forever. But I can’t remember anything before then. It’s just a blank nothingness. And whenever I go there I get afraid I might get swallowed up into its abyss. It’s scary.” Her expression changes and I’m sorry I brought it up. It almost causes me physical pain to believe that I was the one to stir up such feelings in her. I hate myself for it.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to - -”

“No it’s okay. I’m fine. Really.” I still feel bad. These feelings are so strong. I don’t even know this girl very well, I mean I know her, but I don’t really *know* her. It’s kinda scary that this stranger can make me feel this way.

*****

“Faith! Faith!” I try to wake her, and I get angry that I can’t say anything more than her name when I speak out loud. But if I spoke to her using my mind I know she wouldn’t hear me while she’s sleeping.

My blood feels like it’s vibrating beneath my finger tips. The hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand on end. I can feel it. Something horrible is coming towards us. Faith still hasn’t woken up. I nudge her again, more harder this time. It keeps coming closer. We need to leave!

She finally starts to stir. Her eyes flutter open slowly. She sees me looking at her and I can see the beginnings of a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. But I see the panic wash over her face when she feels it too. I’m becoming scared now. It’s loud, and it keeps on coming closer. Faith gently lifts me off her and walks towards the entrance of my home. I pause at this thought, and feel the sudden urge to laugh. My home... This old cave is my home. This cave which I have been living in for the past - - I, I don’t know. It seems like I’ve been here forever. Was I born here?

My thoughts are interrupted as I watch Faith pause at the entrance and lower herself to the soil. She rests her head sideways onto the dirt, and listens. I hold my breath for her as she closes her eyes and concentrates on the approaching sound of danger alone.

The sun has completely set. We’ve barely spent a day together.

A day...?

Time...

The sun has begun to rise and fall. Indicating a day... I can’t help but feel relieved to have some sort of natural order in my life. And to see the sun after so long...

I suddenly feel a burning sensation in my eyes, and there’s a small ‘swish’ sound as my pupils take on their ‘night form’ once more. I close my eyes for a moment to get used to the adjustment when I hear Faith get up and walk over to me. I open my eyes and see that hers have changed like mine. She doesn’t say anything when she sees me. But there is a sadness in her which I notice. She doesn’t enjoy being changed like this. My guess is that it freaks her out. I can’t say I blame her. This place changes you. And you have no power over that.

I can hear that thing approaching again, even though I’m right at the back of the cave. I feel my chest begin to tighten. No, it’s happening again...

I stare at the entrance of my home. My vision begins to blur. I hate it here. I thought I was strong. But I’m not. It was all a lie. I’m weak. And these things are coming after us. I don’t know what to do...

“Buffy.” I quickly look up at her and she looks concerned and she kneels down and takes my hand. She’s so beautiful. If I got lost in those eyes, I don’t think I’d ever want to find my way back.

She rubs my hand softly and soothingly, trying to calm me. It works, but I can still feel the fear in me becoming stronger. “Buffy we need to hide. The thing that’s coming is strong, and big. And I don’t think we can overpower it. It will hurt us if we stay here. Do you know a place where we can hide?”

My hands start to shake as I can feel the tears begin to fall. But it’s not really because of my fear. I’m more angry than anything else. It’s my anger that drives me to tears. “No, I don’t remember...” I begin to take in gulps of air as my emotion starts to take over my breathing. I sound like a child. But I can’t help it. I feel so helpless.

“I can’t - - I...”

“Shh, it’s okay. We’ll be okay.” She leans down lower and hugs me tightly. I hold onto her even tighter. I want to make sure she’s real. Please God, let her be real. I don’t want to be afraid anymore...

*****

“Willow, are you alright?” Giles hovered nearby, holding a handful of painkillers.

Willow tentatively felt her head. It felt all big and swollen. “Yeah, I’ll be okay... In about 12 hours.”

“Baby...” Tara leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on her lover’s hand. Willow smiled gratefully. “Are you all back now?”

“Yeah, sorry if I scared anyone. I don’t really remember what happened exactly but I will a little later. I always do.”

“Well, in the meantime...” Giles stepped forward with his selection of pills and made a hopeful smile.

“Yeah, I could do with a few of those.”

*****

I have her by the hand and we’re running through this dark and muddy jungle. I still don’t know this territory very well. Buffy is the only one who can help us out here but she’s been silent since I had to drag her out of her cave. I don’t have a clue as to where we’re going, all I know is that Buffy’s scared and so am I.

Back in that cave, I saw a whole new side to Buffy. For some reason I always pictured her as the perfect warrior, who never got scared. But there she was, shivering with tears and I had no idea what to do. But deep down, I found that I couldn’t blame her. Her whole life she had never been truly alone.

Her whole life...?

Since when do I know what she was like before I met her a day ago? It’s odd. I keep getting these brief flashes of seeing this girl in a room. I’m there as well. We’re fighting. But not really fighting. We’re just... practising. But that’s not the point. The point is that we’re together, in a place other than this.

My thoughts are interrupted as her hand falls away from mine. I turn around and see her in a pit of mud. She slipped or something. We need to get out of here fast.

I backtrack quickly and try to grab hold of her.

“Buffy!” She’s not getting up. What’s wrong with her? She doesn’t look injured or anything. “Buffy?”

“You think it’ll hurt, Faith?” What? What is she talking about?

“What? C’mon Buffy. We gotta go!” She just carries on kneeling there in the mud. But then she looks up at me, and her eyes are just so empty. I feel a chill run down my spine when I look at her.

“You think it’ll hurt when it happens?”

“When what happens?” She pauses and I don’t think I’ll like what’s coming up next.

“... When we die?”

I’m left speechless as I don’t know what to say. Could I lie to her?

Then suddenly, she looks up at me with this fear in her eyes which is burned into my memory.

“I can’t get up, Faith.”

“... W- - What?”

“This mud... I’m sitting in. It’s gonna suck me down. I’ve seen it happen to the beasts around here before. They got pulled in and never came back. Faith! They never came back!”

“Yeah well, they didn’t have me to look out for them.”

She smiles this awesome smile and for a moment I’m stunned as I reach down towards her. But my senses come back as her smile transforms into a look of horror.

“Faith!” I have no time to react as a huge ‘whatever’ slams me away from her outstretched hand. I hit the mud with a heavy thud several yards away. It hit me so hard I think I’ve been paralysed. I try to move but a sudden bolt of pain throughout my entire body makes me hiss with anger. I lie still for a moment as I wait for that creature to come and hit me when I’m down. But there’s nothing as I hear Buffy scream. That bastard is going after her.

Fuck the pain. I get up so fast and before I know it I’m on top of this thing slamming my fists down into its skull. It looks like something from my neighbourhood as the feline features give it away. It’s not the thing that’s been hunting us but it’s still nearly twice and it looks like it has some wicked sharp teeth. But I don’t care. I won’t let it hurt Buffy.

It’s pissed and grabs hold of one of my ankles in its jaw and slams me down into the mud. I cry out in anger as it comes over me and pins my arms into the mud. I can hear Buffy calling out. She’s sunk down right up to her chest now, and I can already see she’s having trouble breathing. I turn back to the huge tiger which looks like it’s getting ready to rip my heart out. With a burst of strength I use both legs to kick it off me and it flies right into the mud pit with Buffy.

It goes head first into the mud and stupidly begins to struggle wildly, making it sink even faster. Buffy stares at it in shock and tries to give it as much room as possible. She’s nearly up to her neck in mud so I try to get over to her as fast as I can. I lean over the edge of the pit and grab her arm. She clings on to me as much as she can but the mud is making it hard for me to get a good grip on her.

I eventually pull her out enough so that only her legs are trapped. And she’s nearly out when suddenly that tiger makes a reappearance. Its arm bursts out of the mud and it sinks its claws into Buffy’s back, and this thing has big claws. She cries out in agony and I’m not sure what to do. If I pull any more the tiger is gonna rip more of her skin off. But if I don’t pull, that thing is going to bring Buffy down with it. I can’t imagine causing Buffy any pain, so I jump into the pit.

--Buffy’s POV--

Oh God, she jumped. She jumped right into the mud. That thing let go of me and I grab the edge and pull myself out a little more. I turn and look at the surface of the mud.

Nothing.

Not even a ripple.

I feel the tears start to run down my face.

“Faith? Can you hear me? Are you there?” There’s no response. No, she can’t be dead. Not after I just found her! “Faith!” No, I can’t hear her voice. I can’t hear her voice in my head. Why won’t she come back up? She needs air!

A full minute passes and there’s no sign of her. I can’t take it anymore.

I pull myself fully out of the pit and I search frantically for a vine long enough. I spot one on the other side of the pit and quickly wrap it around my waist. I don’t think it’s very strong but I don’t care. I take a deep breath dive into the pit head first.

My eyes are shut tight as I try and feel through the mud for her. The vine around my waist is already becoming loose. It’s hard to move in the mud, and I seem to just keep on sinking deeper and deeper. My lungs begin to get tight as I start to suffocate. But I won’t leave, not without her.

Suddenly I feel a hand. Her hand. But it doesn’t hold onto mine when I grab it. I pull her closer to me and I feel behind me for the vine and pull us as fast as I can to the surface.

We emerge above the mud and I suck in a huge gulp of air. But she still doesn’t move. I hear myself sob suddenly as I pull us both over the edge of the pit. I don’t give myself a moment to rest as I crawl over to her. She doesn’t move when I shake her.

“Faith...?”

I shake her harder.

“Faith!”

Please wake up. Don’t leave me here. Don’t you dare die without me!

We’re both completely covered in mud, I can’t even see her face. I scan our surroundings. There should be a lake around here... Yes! There it is. I lift her up under her arms and pull her beside it. The water is clear. I scoop up a handful and wipe her face clean. I think about trying to revive her but I already know it’s too late. She’s gone. Faith’s gone.

*****

Deacon lay in his motel bed, staring at the ceiling. He and his partner had flown back to California that morning using the money from his own account. Marshall had told him the truth about the new ‘boss’ of the watcher’s council. He shivered when he pictured the face of the creature in his mind.

“The Hostis humani generis... We’re all done for.”

A sharp knocking at his door caused Deacon to suddenly pull out his handgun from beneath the pillow and point it towards the entrance.

“Deac? It’s me, Marshall. I got some food.”

Deacon breathed out the breath he realised he was holding and opened the door. Marshall suddenly came falling forward and landed in a broken heap on the carpet.

“Marshall?!”

As he knelt down to see to the crumpled body of his friend, the silhouette of a dark figure came to stand at his doorway. Deacon shrunk back in fear as the creature carried on adopting the voice of his dead partner.

“Come with me.” The thing extended his long, clawed fingers. “The boss would like to have a word with you Mr. Matthews.”

*****

The lone figure in the swamp sat close by to her friend. Her face emotionless as she leaned up against a tree staring into nothingness. Her entire body still coated in mud, except for her hands. She had used her hands to wipe the body of her friend clean of the mud which had killed her. Her fingered still dripped with water and she shivered slightly. It had suddenly become bitterly cold in the swamp. But it didn’t matter. She sat and watched, and waited.

And then finally, the motionless body of her friend arched off of the ground and her limbs began flailing as her heart began pounding in her chest once more.

...continued in Release...

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