Things are in a bit of a flux with me - levels are higher than they
should be in some things. Pretty much expected it, what with not
exactly watching my diet.
Only good news was I lost some weight, where I expected to have gained.
Ah well, here's the latest chapter for you to read and hopefully enjoy.
Again, as always, comments are most welcome.
Walking into Chloe’s apartment, Buffy toed off her shoes, tossed the keys and phone onto the dining room table, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and threw herself down on the sofa. She pulled the afghan up to her chin and huddled as small as she could into the cushions.
She really wasn’t happy with herself right now. She’d let herself be overcome with panic. In Sunnydale, panic could kill her. Here, whatever reality ‘this’ was, she’d run back to the only ‘home’ she knew, and hid like a scared little girl with her tail between her legs.
Her vaunted strength had vanished. Right now, she could (almost wanted to) stay right where she was and never leave the apartment again.
Buffy picked up the remote and rapidly clicked through the channels, hoping for something that she could hold onto. Something that she could remember. No such luck, however. Even though the number of channels was staggering, not a single movie or television show was familiar. And she sure as hell wasn’t in the mood for current news.
She felt like a fish out of water, and was trying hard not to gasp for breath.
The thought to call Dr. Linda crossed her mind. It nudged and nagged, until it was interrupted by the arrival of Chloe and Trixie.
“Buffy!” the little girl called out happily. “You’re home! How was your adventure? Did you find anything exciting?”
Oh god, Buffy thought. Dawn, Junior. Always with the hardest questions first.
“Trixie!” Chloe exclaimed, gently nudging her daughter away from Buffy. “Don’t crowd our guest now. And one question at a time would be a better approach.” The smile on her face belied even her gentle chiding.
“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry, Buffy,” Trixie said, not upset in the slightest. “Tell me about what you did, please?” Trixie’s warm, earnest smile melted some of the cold, icy panic Buffy still carried with her.
Taking a deep breath, she began, “Well, today I went back to my old neighborhood. I wanted to see my old school and where I used to live.”
“Was it as big as you remembered?” Trixie asked, eyes wide with excitement. “When I visited my old kindergarten room, everything looked way smaller than I remembered!”
Buffy smiled. There was nothing so touching as the innocence of a child. Now how to explain… “Well, I couldn’t find my old school. I guess they tore it down to make way for a bunch of houses and some stores.”
“The whole school was gone?”
“Vanished,” Buffy agreed. “Like it had never been there in the first place.”
“Wow!” Trixie looked as if she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around a school being gone. “Oh! Did you go to see your old house, then?” she asked, not forgetting what Buffy had told her.
“Actually, no. I decided I couldn’t handle the chance that it was painted another color, or see the new family living there,” Buffy managed. The fact that the house might possibly not exist freaked her out beyond the telling, and she didn’t want to upset the sweet child with her fears.
“It was a long time ago,” Buffy added, smiling to reassure Trixie. “I’d moved away from there a long time ago, so I decided not to bother.”
Chloe was giving her the side-eye, as if she knew there was more to the story than Buffy was letting on, but the woman held her tongue, and let Buffy tell what she was comfortable with.
“Are you gonna stay with us, then?” Trixie asked, eyes hopeful.
She’s a relentless little thing, isn’t she?
Buffy was confounded. She’d never given a micro-second’s thought to actually staying here for good. Where she had nobody but the new friends she’d made. She liked these people (and apparently, demons). She liked them very much, but they still didn’t hold a candle to the folks she had left behind.
Her sister – the uppermost person in her heart and mind. The girl she jumped off that tower for. Sacrificed her life for – although that hadn’t quite turned out like she’d expected, now had it?
And Giles – the closest thing she had to a father figure. He was always there for her, even when he was disappointed in her choices. Trying to be both father and mother to her with absolutely no experience in the actual raising of a daughter – just what he’d learned from the Council on the “care” of a Slayer.
Last, but not least… her friends. Willow and Xander, and of course by extension, Tara and Anya. Now they could be way too judgmental, but they always had her back – continually putting themselves in the line of fire by accompanying her on patrol and into the apocalypse du jour.
No, there was no way she was going to leave them behind. She had to get home. It was time to push Lucifer and Ella for help in getting back. Before everyone gave up on her.
Today, Buffy decided, she was willing to veg on the couch and take comfort with the people here. Tomorrow, she’d call Dr. Linda, and see if she could spare some time to help her to get her act together. Today’s little ‘adventure’ had been too unsettling.
And then, Lucifer and Ella, and the actual mechanics in getting her life back.
“Hey there, Buffy,” Linda greeted with a small wave. “You’re lucky I had an early cancellation this morning.”
“I really appreciate you making the time for me,” Buffy said, nervously twisting her hands in her lap. “Yesterday was not one of my top ten – or even top fifty – favorites.”
“Okay, then. What is it that has you so unsettled?”
“I don’t belong here.”
“You’re not the first person to feel that your life is ill-fitting,” Linda said quietly. “Although your situation is a bit different than most, I have to admit.”
Buffy let slip an uncomfortable little laugh. “I get that, Linda. I really, really do. I mean, for so many years all I wanted to be was a normal teenager, with normal teenage worries. After I was called as the Slayer, nothing fit my expectations.”
She paused for a moment, looking deep in thought. “I once told my mother that being the Slayer meant the fighting doesn’t stop. It *never* stops! Do you think I chose to be like this, I asked her. Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would *love* to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or... God, even studying! But I have to save the world... again.”
After taking a deep breath, Buffy continued with a killer punchline. “And then she told me if I left the house, I shouldn’t even think about coming back.”
Linda was stunned. Parent/teenage relations were often fraught, but mostly interactions like that were just word – letting off steam. In this case, Linda was afraid Buffy came to the wrong conclusion. Her fears were born out when Buffy continued.
“I left then, of course. I had to save the world by killing my vampire boyfriend. And then I left town, and went back to Los Angeles… the whole waitress and living in a dump thing we discussed before. Trust me when I say I haven’t felt comfortable in my own skin for years now.
“However, I always knew I belonged. I knew my friends and family were there, even if they were out of reach for the time being. I knew where my home was, where my school was…there were indications of the life I had led everywhere. Here…” she paused yet again, gathering herself for the reveal, “here I have nothing and no one.”
“You do have us, you know,” Linda said, trying to gauge how her remarks landed. “I’m always here for you. Chloe and Maze like you. Lucifer is fascinated by you and your ‘arrival’ here. Maze tells me that Trixie adores you.”
“I’m very grateful for meeting all of you,” Buffy acknowledged. “But honestly, yesterday drove home how very much I don’t belong here. I went to look at my old school, and then I was gonna go check out my old home. My school doesn’t exist here. It never existed here – which means I didn’t exist here before I popped up in the desert.
“The area surrounding the school was different, too. Even taking into consideration that I’m sixteen years out of date here. I was afraid to go look for my old house. I panicked,” Buffy fretted. “I felt like I could disappear at any time. There was nothing holding me here, yet I couldn’t get back to where I belong.”
“So you went back to Chloe’s place, yes?” Linda prodded. She knew there was more to come. She could feel it in her professional bones.
“Back where I belong,” Buffy repeated in a whisper. “Back where I threw myself off a tower. Sacrificing my life for my sister and friends. And the rest of the world. I was ready to die and I acted on it.”
And there it was.
“Do you still want to end your life?”
“N-no,” Buffy said slowly, as if coming to a realization. “I think if I were back where I belonged, I would feel better about staying alive. Maybe I could lean on my friends more… let them help me. But I have to get back there! Being here feels like dying. I’m sure people are worried about me back home.”
“I’m sure Lucifer and Amenadiel are doing their best to make that possible,” Linda said slowly. “We all want the best for you, Buffy. And until we can accomplish your return, you should know you’ll have a place to feel safe in.”
“And I’m grateful for it,” Buffy said. “I don’t know what I would do without you all. But I feel like an added burden to everyone. I have no money or clothes of my own. I have to depend on you all for everything, and I can’t give anything in return. It’s not a good way to live.”
“I get that. Who we are is definitely tied to those around us. I’m sure the loss of all things familiar was unsettling enough, but the loss of everyone you knew and loved was a particularly devastating blow.”
Buffy nodded in agreement. “I even find myself missing those people I thought of as pains in my ass. They made my world bigger, just by being there. Sometimes I actually looked forward to fighting with them,” she confided.
Linda had to laugh at that. “Better the hell you know, eh?”
“Literally, in my case,” Buffy replied.