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Seasons of Wither: Chapter Ten

Title: Seasons of Wither
Author(s): lady_yashka
Artist: lightthesparks
Crossover: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Disclaimer: I do not own either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural.
Type: Het
Word Count: 19,565
Characters/Pairings: Buffy/Michael, Dean, Sam, Castiel, Bobby, Gabriel, Zachariah, Lucifer, Willow, Dawn, Faith, Xander, and Giles
Warnings: Character death
Spoilers: Spoilers through My Bloody Valentine. Some dialogue from various episodes is also used.
Summary:The war is over, and with the help of the slayers, the world is safe once more. Now, three months later the man Buffy only knew as the archangel Michael, is waking up.
Author’s Notes:First off I'd like to thank both moragmacpherson and aj_hofacre for all their help. Any mistakes left are all mine. I'd also like to thank lightthesparks for her wonderful artwork. And finally, I'd like to thank the mods of sncross_bigbang for hosting this challenge.



Buffy was sitting on her bed in their motel room. They had holed up in an abandoned motel just outside of downtown Detroit. There was no TV for her to surf and no lights because the demons had taken out the power lines. Candles scattered around the room caused shadows to dance along the off white walls. A walkie-talkie crackled on the cheap wood table, picking up signals from near and far. The city was nearly empty, though Buffy had no idea what had happened to most of the residences. A storm raged outside, wind driving rain against the building. Lightning flared behind the closed curtains. Crackling thunder followed a second later. The other slayers, forced to bunk up, two to a room, were under orders to stay in until told otherwise.

“He’s no good for you, ya know.” Gabriel’s voice caused Buffy to jump. He was lounging on the other bed, quietly eating from a bowl of what looked like caramel popcorn. Buffy frowned, and then rolled her eyes and went back cleaning her weapons. “But then, you’d know all about doomed romances. Seems you can’t just settle for a nice normal guy. There has to be some kind of forbidden love tragedy tied to the whole thing. You were, what, intimate with two demons before you decided to upgrade and fall for my brother?” Sitting up, Gabriel set the bowl down beside him, and leveled an amused look her way. “You do know Romeo and Juliet were complete morons, right? Not to mention teenagers?”

“Shut up,” Buffy growled, picking up a dagger. At Gabriel’s thoughtless mention of Angel and Spike, she had flinched in sadness before drawing a breath and shaking it off. Allowing her eyes to rest on the dagger for a moment, she briefly thought about stabbing him with it, but decided not to waste her energy. It wouldn’t do a thing to him and she didn’t want to have to clean it again. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Gabriel snorted. “Ya know, Buffy – Can I call you Buffy? If it wasn’t for those pesky rules about not playing with the slayer, I would have had a field day with you.”

“Excuse me?”

“Hello, archangel,” Gabriel smirked. He wiggled the fingers of both hands around his head. “You are not in our jurisdiction, and the Powers get really pissy if we take notice of you guys.”

“Right.” Buffy gave an unladylike snort. “If that’s true, then why did Michael approach me in the first place?”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Duh! The apocalypse. They don’t want the world to end, so they don’t care if ‘ol Mikey is breaking the rules.”

“Whatever.”

“He’s going to leave when the fight is over,” Gabriel uttered, his tone no longer holding any amusement. Buffy turned, taking in his hard eyes and cold face. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly feeling like a fine layer of sand coated her tongue, and she trembled at the truth in his eyes. “And then you’ll be all alone, just like always.”

Wounded, and unable to understand just what exactly she had done that was so horrible that she had gained the Trumpeter’s ire, something in her mind snapped, and she yelled, “At least we’re trying to save the world! You just sit there on your cloud pigging out while we do all the hard work.”

Gabriel’s face darkened, and Buffy briefly thought maybe she should not have goaded the archangel, but she pushed that aside, holding her head high and let her righteous fury show in her eyes, even as her eyes glistened and her lower lip quivered.

“Don‘t presume to speak to me in such a manner,” Gabriel snarled, his voice matching the violent storm outside. “You haven’t earned the right.” Standing, Gabriel locked his gaze with hers. “You’ll tell my brother that I’ll see him tomorrow.”

With a snap of his fingers, Gabriel was gone, the bowl of popcorn left in the middle of the bed. She was still shaking, more with fury than hurt now, and cleaning a large wad of gum from her hair when Michael returned.

“Your brother is an ass!” Buffy screamed, stabbing Michael in his chest with her finger.

Michael raised an eyebrow at her trembling form.

“Gabriel,” Buffy clarified, turning to stalk back into the bathroom.

“He will be fighting with us then,” Michael remarked thoughtfully, his deep voice reaching Buffy’s ears over the running water. She shut it off soon after.

“What is his problem anyway?” Buffy grumbled as she came out of the bathroom. She had a towel in her hands, rubbing her wet hair dry. She’d wash it later, if the rest of her clothes dried first. Gabriel had made them all wet and they were now hanging all over the bathroom. “It’s not like he has any right to complain.”

Michael had a far off look in his eyes. “He’s upset with me.”

“He needs to get over himself,” Buffy spat, settling down on her bed. “Acting like a twelve year old isn’t helping his case any.”

“He left heaven rather than watch us fight,” Michael replied. “He never wanted this war.”

Buffy’s lower lip instantly protruded. “He’s still a jerky type thing,” she said, sulking, her arms crossed over her chest. She thought, and then ultimately decided not to mention Gabriel’s seeming hatred of her. Michael already looked disappointed enough that Gabriel was angry with him.

“You should rest,” Michael suggested, sitting down at the table. Buffy watched as he pulled one of Giles’ books close to him. The writing was in a language most watchers didn’t recognize, but Michael could read it easily. “The battle tomorrow will be intense.”

“Um, Michael,” Buffy began, twisting the towel in her hands. He looked up at her, waiting for her to continue. “I just… well...” Buffy trailed off. Taking a deep breath, she leaned forward. Her lips met his in a brief, innocent kiss. His lips were soft, and he smelled like a rain-washed summer’s day. The raw power running through him sent goose bumps trailing along her skin. When she broke the kiss, the look in his eyes had Buffy nearly spinning in embarrassment. Turning away, and with a quiet ‘goodnight’, she climbed into her bed and kept her back to the archangel.

“Buffy.” His voice was softer than she had ever heard it. She felt the mattress dip as he seated himself carefully on the bed. His hand on her arm had her anxious gaze meeting his steady one. He cocked his head to the side, before a soft smile slowly found its way across his lips. It made him finally look... human. His hand trailed down her cheek. Leaning forward, he kissed her just as briefly as she had him.

“Goodnight.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next day they walked through deserted streets, angels and slayers following behind them. Willow, her bright, red hair streaked with white, walked on Buffy’s left, while Michael walked along on her right. Illyria and Gabriel followed on the other side of Michael.

It was eerie, how quiet the city was. No cars roared in the distance, no people walked the streets. Businesses were closed, shut up tight against the brewing storm. Thunder rumbled and the wind began to pick up, bowing trees to lie along the sidewalks and meridians. Buffy’s hair lashed at her face, attempting to break free from the tie holding it back. Lightning flickered intermittently overhead while massive storm clouds swirled, slowly going from grey to green, and then finally black. They seemed to crawl closer to the earth somehow, while the center began to churn, looking as if a funnel would appear at any moment. The pressure in the air made Buffy’s ears pop. Heavy drops of rain began to fall, and thunder shook the ground.

The gleaming tower of steel, concrete and glass that made up GM World Headquarters rose up, proud but desolate, on Buffy’s left. On her right, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan building held sentry. Ahead of them stood a man with his light blonde hair cut short, the clothes he wore were similar to Michael’s. His skin was cracked and peeling and open wounds that were sluggishly oozing blood dotted his face and arms. The sight of him made the hair on the back of Buffy’s neck stand on end. Black-eyed demons fanned out behind him, while the slimier variety roared, eager to begin their destructive campaign. They stopped a few yards a part, though Michael, Gabriel, and the other man walked several steps forward. His smile, gentle and serine, had Buffy gripping her scythe tighter.

“Michael, Gabriel.” His voice was just as soft as his smile.

“Lucy,” Gabriel said, smirk gracing his face. “Not looking so hot there, bro.”

“I didn’t expect to see you here, Gabriel,” Lucifer replied. “I must say, I’m disappointed. I thought you of all our brethren would understand.”

Gabriel shrugged, rocking back on his heels, his hands casually tucked into the pockets of his jeans. “I’m just here to even the score.”

“Still following Michael’s order, I see.”

Gabriel snorted. “Yeah, right. If I could, I’d shiv his ass too. I’m just here to make sure he holds up his end of the bargain.”

A dark look passed over Michael’s face briefly, before he turned his attention back to Lucifer. “Back down.” Michael’s voice rumbled heavily along with the thunder. “There is no reason we should do this.”

“This one speaks with the serpent’s tongue,” Illyria intoned, her icy blue gaze sweeping over Lucifer and his cadre with disdain as she came to stand next to Gabriel and Michael. “He wishes to take what was never his. I will not allow this.”

“Why are you helping them?” Lucifer asked her, genuinely curious. “Humans, this world, they are all beneath you.”

“It is you who are beneath me,” Illyria spat, holding her head up regally. “And I will fight to save the world my Wesley died for.”

Lucifer sighed. “Have it your way.”

An ululating wail cut through the storm as demons rushed forward. Buffy swung her scythe, cleaving demons in half while other slayers fought their way through the mob. Spinning, Buffy took off the head of one demon, stabbed another, and suddenly came face to face with a grinning black eyed six year old. Cringing, Buffy barely missed the swipe of the demon’s knife. She hefted her scythe, but before she could retaliate, Gabriel appeared behind the demon. With a quick stab of his sword, the demon died, the child going with it. Buffy brought hard eyes to the angel’s cold ones.

“Keep fighting,” Gabriel ordered before Buffy could speak, then turned and disappeared into the crowd and out of her sight.

Buffy spun, running towards a group of demons who had one of her slayers pinned. She reached a short scaly brown demon first, and quickly thrust the stake end through the demon’s head. Back to back, Buffy and the other slayer cleared out the group, leaving a mess of demon body parts in their wake. Giving the girl a nod, Buffy ran towards where she had seen Michael last.

Hail started pelting the ground, tiny stinging missiles at first, then exploding to golf ball-sized moments later. Buffy ducked and dodged, fighting her way to a side street connecting the building to a covered parking garage. Settling against the wet concrete, Buffy scanned the area, nearly jumping out of her skin when a shotgun blast heralded the arrival of a middle-aged black man. He was dressed in soaking jeans, and a button up shirt. His heavy boots thudded against the road. The shotgun in his hands was obviously illegal, but the way he used it, cocking it with easy and shooting any demon stupid enough to follow, told her he was no amateur out for a thrill. He stood next to her, back angled away from her, eyes going from her soaked form to the scythe in her hands.

“Slayer, huh?” he asked, voice harsh over the howling winds.

“Yeah!” Buffy called back, nearly screaming to be heard. “You?”

“Hunter,” the man replied. “Name’s Rufus. Keep an eye out for the others. There’s more than a few of us in this fight.”

“I’m Buffy. I’ll warn my girls,” Buffy agreed, receiving a quick nod from Rufus. “You guys just make sure to stay out of our way.”

“Not a problem,” Rufus relied. Aiming, he fired again before taking off down the street. Buffy looked behind her, watching him turn left at the end of the road, before taking off herself, and turning right.

A loud crash caused Buffy to jump. She looked up wide-eyed as Illyria tossed another demon into the glass side of the building. Panels cracked, lines spider-webbing from the center of impact. The demon slid down the glass, leaving a gory streak behind. Illyria walked over, placed one foot on the demon’s chest before bending down, and grabbing the demon’s head. She pulled viciously upwards and the head separated from the body, blood gushing and splattering the ground. Veins hung like torn streamers from the neck, and a bit of white bone peaked out from the jagged meat. She dropped the head and silently moved on to her next target. Buffy tore her gaze away, only just barely bringing her scythe up in time to stop the claws of a red-skinned demon.

Before Buffy could follow through, the ground shook, glass exploded from windows, and the wind whipped hail, rain, and debris across the area. For every ground-quaking explosion racking the earth, lightning and thunder answered it ten-fold. Buffy managed to keep her feet, but the red-skinned demon wasn’t so lucky. A piece of glass had ended up imbedded in its head, dark blue blood oozing around the object. The rain made the tiny scrapes on Buffy’s skin sting, but she kept fighting, pushing the discomfort away to be dealt with at a another time. She found Gabriel again several moments later, bloodied sword in hand. He wasn’t breathing hard, nor did he appear to be tired at all. Blood in hues of every different color created a tie-dyed pattern on his clothes, his face streaked with soot. When a Fyarl demon charged them he simply smirked, raised his hand, and snapped his fingers. The demon stopped dead, its eyes bugging out of its head before it started to expand. Buffy yelped and ducked, just in time to miss being splattered in the face with Fyarl innards.

When it was gone, Buffy groaned and shuddered in disgust. “Was that really necessary?” she asked, daintily wiping pieces of torn flesh from her shoulders.

Gabriel snorted. “Give me some credit for showmanship!” he called, stabbing another demon and burning a black eyed one from its host. Turning back to her, he said, “They’re heading towards the Ambassador Bridge.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and plunged into the demon mosh pit, Gabriel at her side. They cleaved arms, tentacles, and heads from various shaped bodies and when they made it through the other side, Gabriel grinned and snapped his fingers again.

When the world stopped rolling beneath her feet, Buffy looked up to see the large bridge looming before her. She ran, heading towards the center of it all and killing any demon that stood in her way. She darted under the first tower with little trouble. She could see Michael and Lucifer up ahead now, swords drawn, energy and fire crackling around them. The Detroit River rolled and churned beneath them, wind whipping the waves into an angry froth. Rain drilled into Buffy’s skin, while hail struck with brute force. A waterspout spun over the waterway, more or less holding its position for the moment as its landlocked cousin slowly lowered the meet the ground.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Zachariah’s harsh voice came from behind her and Buffy felt blood pool in her mouth as her organs tried to carve themselves to pieces. Minutes seemed to crawl on for miles while the world shook apart around her. Rain-washed away her blood in tiny pink rivers and when she finally lifted her head, Zachariah was standing before her, silver blade held in one hand. He casually kicked the scythe out of her hands and it clattered to a stop by the edge of the bridge. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you to interfere.”

Buffy tried to push herself to her feet, fury burning in her gaze. Zachariah smiled and kicked her in the side. She lost what ground she’d gained and slid along the wet concrete, leaving tiny bits of skin in her wake.

“Why are you doing this?” Buffy growled out, teeth clenched as more blood dribbled down her chin. Zachariah laughed and the bridge shook beneath her again.

“I can’t let you ruin this for me,” he said. She tried to stand again, and with a click of his fingers Buffy felt the bones in her legs snap. She couldn’t stop the cry that flew past her lips. “And don’t bother calling for Michael.” The bridge bucked and swayed and some of the suspension cables snapped. “He’s a little busy right now.”

“I’m not.” Illyria’s cold voice preceded her fist connecting with the angel’s head. The hit sent Zachariah crashing into the guardrail, denting it. “It has been too long since I’ve battled your kind, angel.” Illyria paused with one hand on Zachariah’s chest. “You shall do nicely.”

“Old One,” Zachariah ground out as he shoved Illyria back and gained his feet. He swung, arm bringing up the long dagger. Illyria jumped back, missing the sharp point. Her hand shot out, and the force of her hit knocked the weapon from his hand. It sailed over the railing, lost in the violent waters below.

“Hey, Zach,” Gabriel’s snarky singsong voice startled the other angel, and Illyria took the opportunity to strike again. “I’m home.”

Zachariah shuffled back, mouth hanging open in shock. “Gabriel?”

Gabriel smiled and twirled his blade. He lunged forward fist connecting with Zachariah’s cheek. The other angel flew back landing in Illyria’s grasp. Gabriel followed a second later and sunk his sword into Zachariah’s chest. Bright light erupted and Buffy clenched her eyes closed. When it faded, Zachariah was sprawled at Illyria’s feet, the dark impression of wings burnt into the street. Illyria let out a feral howl and charged the demons coming up behind them. Gabriel stood quietly, head down.

Kneeling down, he gently closed Zachariah’s eyes. “I never wanted it to come to this.” Looking up, his face blank, Gabriel snapped his fingers, and suddenly the pain Buffy was in vanished. Standing she gave him a small nod and left him to grieve.

More of the suspension cables snapping as the bridge buckled had Buffy running. Soon she caught the sight of Michael and Lucifer standing a few feet apart. The two archangels charged each other, swords clashing. An explosion of lightning flared as their swords met, arcing out and into the sky. The bridge shook, tossing Buffy from her feet. She could see the outline of their wings rising from their backs, steady and strong in the savage storm.

Lucifer knocked Michael back a few steps. The one they called the Morning Star looked tired to Buffy’s eyes, his body seemingly unable to hold its own weight. Michael raised his hand and power that caused the air to shimmer forced the other angel from his feet.

Lucifer was torn, bloody, and unable to move fast enough. He could only watch as Michael raised his sword; face twisted in a snarl, and rammed it down into Lucifer’s chest. There was a look of shock, betrayal, and heartbreak on the light-bringer’s face, before a blinding beam of luminescent white rose up and exploded out of the angel. Buffy shrank back, closing her eyes and covering her ears. A high pitched scream added to the storm’s fury. She could feel warm blood trickle down her earlobes before a shockwave knocked her from her feet. When she looked back again, ears ringing, Lucifer was dead. Buffy could see the partial impression of massive wings imprinted into the pavement on either side of his body. Standing, she took a few steps closer, the rain now nothing more than a steady down pour. Buffy watched as Michael stood and pulled his sword free.

“Michael...” Buffy whispered her voice as timid and tentative as her steps. He turned, looking at her with impassive eyes. “Michael?”

She later thought she saw something like regret suddenly appear in those eyes, but she couldn’t be sure. Before she could reach him, his eyes rolled up in his head and, sword falling from limp hands, he toppled backwards, hitting the ground with a harsh crunch.

“Michael!” Buffy screamed, running forward. She fell to her knees, her hands fluttering over his body. Gripping his shoulders, she shook, taking no care of her strength. “Michael!”

His head flopped with her movements, but his eyes stayed closed. Letting go of his shoulders, Buffy frantically checked his pulse, breathing a sigh of relief when she found one.

“Buffy?” Willow stood a few yards behind, eyes going from Michael to Buffy.

“We need to get him back to the Council,” Buffy said, voice hard. “Now.”

Willow nodded her eyes wide with worry. Gabriel showed up a second later, expression flat as he looked at Michael’s unconscious form. Before Willow could start her spell, Gabriel snapped his fingers and when the world stopped spinning, Buffy found herself sitting in the Council’s hallway, right outside the medical wing. Michael’s head was still in her lap. His sword was nowhere in sight.

Standing on shaky feet, Buffy awkwardly hefted Michael’s unconscious body in her arms and ran through the doors, startling the staff.

“Help him,” Buffy gasped, just as she lost her own fight with gravity and nearly collapsed.

Doctors and nurses rushed forward and swarmed around them. An orderly brought a stretcher over, and as one, they settled Michael onto the soft surface, nudging Buffy out of the way. They pushed past the frantic Slayer, taking Michael and their flurry of activity through the gray double doors marked Medical Personal Only. As they disappeared from her view, an awkward calm descended around her, and all Buffy could hear was the deafening ringing in her ears. She jerked out of her thoughts when a small hand settled on her shoulder, and her sister’s worried face filled her vision.

“Come on, Buffy,” Dawn said gently, steering Buffy towards the exit. “You need to get cleaned up, and then we can come back and see how he’s doing.”

“How did you…”

“Gabriel told me.”

“But--”

“I’ll stand watch.”

Finally tearing her eyes from the doors Michael had disappeared through, Buffy gave Dawn a grateful smile.

When she returned, Dawn led her to a private room. Monitors beeped in time with his heartbeat, and his chest rose in a steady rhythm. Buffy sat in the chair next to his bed, her small hand grasping his larger one. He looked pale and impossibly small in the hospital bed. An IV was attached to his other hand; a tube ran down his nasal cavity. Fragile was not a word Buffy ever thought she would use to describe Michael, but here he looked as if one touch would shatter him. She didn’t bother looking up when the door opened and closed behind her.

“Well?” she asked her voice hoarse. Gray light filtered in through the window, attesting to the slow crawling hours she had endured waiting.

“He’s perfectly fine,” Giles informed her as he moved to stand at her side.

“Then why…”

“They don’t know,” Giles replied. Buffy turned wide eyes in his direction. “We’ll keep looking.”

“Get Gabriel,” Buffy said, her eyes flat and her voice matching. Giles sighed.

“I don’t think that is a good idea.”

“If you won’t summon him, I will.”

“Buffy--”

“Summon him!”

“No need,” Gabriel intervened. He was leaning against the wall next to the window, eyes focused on Michael. He walked over to the bed, and reached forward, laying a gentle hand on Michael’s shoulder. He drew back a second later, finally raising his eyes to Buffy.

“Fix him,” Buffy pleaded her voice hopeful as she pointed at Michael, arm trembling.

“No.”

“You have to--”

“It’s not up to me,” Gabriel murmured gently. “It’s up to him now.”

Then Gabriel vanished, only the soft fluttering of wings signaling his departure.

Epilogue
Tags: big bang, seasons of wither
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