is that I survived leaving the apartment and making my doctor's visit.
They took blood (and other bodily fluids as expected), told me I'd lost
six pounds since last year (which I could hardly believe) and gave me
my flu shot. Now all there is to do is wait on the results.
In the meantime, here's the next chapter of The Devil's Gift for you to
hopefully enjoy. And yes, of course, as always, please feel free to
Sitting on the bus, Buffy's bravery seemed to have deserted her. Her main goal had been to visit her old home, but she didn't think she could stand it if it wasn't there. Not yet, anyway. Instead, she decided to visit Hemery High School, first. Surely it would be there. She wasn't the only one who went there, so chances were good it would be found.
She didn't try to look around her, or wonder how many of the 'people' around here were demons in disguise. Or oddly, how much better she'd feel if they were. Demons she knew how to deal with.
Nobody set off her tinglies in the slightest. Plus, day. Even if there were vampires here, they wouldn't be on the bus in broad daylight.
Instead there were people looking at their phones, or wearing headphones, intent on trying to avoid contact with anyone. A guy in the back corner who looked like he wore everything he owned and was probably homeless. Two kids carrying backpacks and talking about something called spinners, and some guy in a raincoat who vaguely gave her the wiggins… she didn’t even want to know what he was up to.
Outside of the prevalence of cell phones, she could almost fool herself into thinking she’d gone back in time. The last time she’d been in Los Angeles was when she’d run away from Sunnydale after sending Angel to hell. Only this time, there wasn't Giles looking for her, or a soul-stealing waitress job she had to get to… not even a bunch of monsters to kill to get out of her funk. Last but not least, she didn’t have a bus ticket that would get her back home whenever she was ready for it.
So, she rode alone in silence, willing herself to be unseen. Her nerves had begun to grow, along with the traffic, so she closed her eyes and settled in for more self-reflection. Not her favorite thing, but she had nothing but time on her hands for the moment.
Okay, even further into her LA past. When she’d been going to Hemery High School, she'd been blissfully unaware of anything in the supernatural realm. If she were still young, teenaged Buffy, she would have been one of those girls whose biggest worry was if her hair was too flat, or that some guy would try to hit on her (or even worse… not). But all that had gone out the window the day Merrick had greeted her on the steps of the school.
She'd been shallow, vain, bubble-headed... carefree. She missed it, in a way. Even though being here gave her a bit of a respite, she knew she'd never be right until she was back with her friends and family.
She missed Dawn. She even missed Dawn being annoying, or reading her journal… ok, maybe not that. But she missed her sister with her whole heart.
Hell, she missed demons she could pound on, and vampires she could stake.
She even missed the back and forth sniping with Spike, not to mention totally kicking his ass when he got too close to… too close. His ability to keep up with her witty banter made their fights that much more enjoyable.
Buffy smiled, fondly. Fighting with Spike was fun compared to sparring with Angel, even though that chip kept him from going all out. There was less baggage there for one thing, what with not having a failed relationship with him. And she had to admit, when it came down to it, she could trust Spike to be honest with her. Even when his insights were more cutting than his fists, he always told the truth.
Angel preferred to work with her on forms; it was good for her - physically and mentally, he claimed. The problem with that method was, Buffy didn't have the patience to focus on forms for any length of time. Meditating and all that, just not her thing. Yeah, she could practice, but she preferred to stay in motion… to focus on action, instead of on breathing. She was action girl – point and stake. That's what had made fighting with Spike fun. He was inventive in all sorts of circumstances – unlike most every other demon she'd ever fought.
Faith had been the same, until she turned on them all and went to the dark side. Oddly enough, so was Maze. They kept up with her, made her be better.
Oh. My. God! Buffy startled to complete alertness. She couldn't believe she thought Spike was good for her in any sense of the word, even though the last days they’d spent fighting off Glory and protecting Dawn, were more about being helpful than his old bloodlust for her death.
Sometimes she wished Spike could get rid of that chip, and spar with her, full out, now that her death was no longer on the menu. She missed having someone who could match her, physically, and not have to worry about them being badly hurt.
The problem with that sitch is that if he did get rid of the chip, she'd have to stake him, and she didn't want to do that either.
She remembered her first battles with Spike... he held nothing back, and she genuinely feared for her life. This sparring they did now was a pale imitation of it. The only thing that stayed constant was his ability to run his mouth.
Buffy opened her eyes, and realized she was only about two stops away from the school. This is it. Time to face the music. She stood, and headed towards the doors in the back of the bus.
She had expected the familiar sight of Hemery. Even now, close to half a decade since her earliest classes when Mom had driven her, she remembered getting off at this bus stop, almost every day for a year. The building had always loomed large to her younger self.
Buffy sat on a public bench, her mind numb. There was no Hemery High. There had never been a Hemery High. Nothing but houses and strip malls.
And maybe a location that was much more integrated than she was used to
She walked the streets up and around in a daze, sure she would find some confirmation that her old school existed, but found nothing. She felt her skin twitch, as if she were being watched. She took a closer look at the people around her and found she was, indeed, being stared at.
Did she have something on her face? Was her clothing not up to the day's standards?
It took a few moments before she realized what it must be. The crowds of people she passed were predominantly Black and Hispanic. Sunnydale had lacked a mix of ethnicities, not that she had ever really paid attention, but here, it was obvious that she was the different one.
She remembered the last time she'd been in LA, after she'd killed Angel, but even then, the differences hadn’t been this big.
She wondered if this is how Kendra must have felt when she arrived in Sunnydale.
She sat down on a bench, feeling utterly lost, unsure where to go, or how to get there. She missed home; she missed her Mom. She just wanted to go back home, even though Mom wouldn’t be there, but at least she had been there. Here, it was like she never even existed.
The lack of her old high school was concrete proof that she didn't belong here. Her determination wavered, but she pulled herself together through sheer force of stubborn will and headed back to the bus stop. She had to get back to Chloe, Lucifer and Maze. They had to find a way to get her back home.
This might be LA, but it wasn't her LA
Buffy’s feet tapped out a tattoo on the sidewalk as she sat, stiff and uncomfortable on the bench. Her arms thrummed with nervous energy, and she wished (very silently, thank you) for a ravening hoard of vampires to appear out of nowhere so she could get her slay on.
Her eyes darted back and forth, as if something was waiting to pounce on her, to devour her without warning. Alarm bells were going off. NOT SAFE! NOT SAFE! they screamed in her head.
She leapt up from her seat, needing to move; needing to leave where she was. Buffy headed to the corner of the block then made a left turn. She didn’t know where she was going, but something would speak to her. Something had to be familiar.
Her whole experience since she awoke in the desert felt like a nightmare – one she couldn’t awaken from. Her surroundings looked totally mundane – nothing out of the ordinary – except nobody she knew existed here. There was no Sunnydale. No Scoobys, no Giles, no Dawn… not even her mother’s grave.
No tall, dark, brooding vampires hiding in Los Angeles like a coward. No cocky, loud-mouthed, extremely inciteful vampires waiting to join her on patrol.
Buffy rounded the next corner and kept on going. She knew people were looking at her. Who was that crazy chick practically running like a madwoman around their homes? What did they have to fear from her?
And yet, she couldn’t stop. She was on her third circuit of the area when she heard a voice call out.
Buffy stopped, spotting a young mother with a trio of children in tow coming her way.
“Are you all right?” she asked, her lightly accented voice had Buffy needing to focus in order to understand her as her own panic escalated. “Are you lost? Do you need help?”
“I’m… I’m…” Buffy was at a loss for words for how she was feeling at the moment. The panic that had her moving earlier had started to subside, but not altogether.
“Are you in trouble?” the woman continued. “Is someone malo – bad – after you?”
“N-no,” Buffy stammered. “I’m just… lost,” she said, for lack of better words.
“Do you want me to get the policia?” The woman wouldn’t leave her alone.
“Mama, Mama, Mama.” The smallest of the woman’s three children pulled on his mother’s blouse. “Quiero helado! Helado de chocolate!”
“Hush, Miguel,” the woman scolded. “Pronto, mi hijo.”
“Please don’t let me keep you,” Buffy begged off, making to continue her journey. “I’ll be fine,” she insisted. “I just need to go home.”
“If you are sure.” The woman looked doubtful, but let her child continue to pull her on their way.
Buffy quickly made her way back to the bus stop to check the schedule for the next bus to take her back to Chloe’s.