Her mother was dead. She’d died of an aneurism. Buffy couldn’t even spell aneurism. She’d tried working it out in her journal before finally looking it up. Even having the correct spelling of the thing that killed her mother was no comfort to her. Didn’t even give her a sense of accomplishment that she’d learned something new. All it left was an empty feeling in her. And then of course she feared she’d one day get that thing that made your brain go ‘pop’ and your body just stop. Since she’d gotten the call from Spike – the last person she’d ever think to hear from – every headache she’d gotten, she thought Well, this is it.
Except it wasn’t it. She had to live. To trooper on and bear it. Unfortunately. Now she really had barely a family. Well, unless she counted the father that dropped her once he deemed her ‘of no use to him’, and Spike, who…yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. The day she considered him as anything but the pain in the ass that had driven the wedge in her family, would be the day the sky would turn orange and frogs would start dropping from the sky. And he was the person she had to see back in Sunnydale. He was the person she hoped didn’t kick her out of the house once the funeral was over because hell, she didn’t have a home anymore. She’d used last month’s rent to charter the plane out for her mother’s funeral. She was broke now, only able to swindle a hundred out of her father, and she had gotten the distinct impression he only gave that to her so she’d just go. Anything to get her out of his sight faster. She had no place to stay, no money to pay for a place to stay and no way to get back to her job that didn’t pay well to begin with.
Buffy Summers was stuck and in the worst possible way. Closing her eyes, she thought back to her life and how it’d all unraveled as she settled in for the last leg of her flight from Boston to Sunnydale, California.
Buffy arrived at her childhood home at the time her mother had requested her to arrive. Joyce Summers had been secretive on the phone and yet bubbly. Something was up all right and Buffy could only hope it had to do with her father, her poor father Hank, who had been trying his hardest to get back in Joyce’s good graces for some time now. He was out of rehab, going to regular AA meetings, had given up his womanizing on the side ways, and wanted his family back.
Buffy had put the good word in for him and Joyce had flat out told her it wasn’t going to happen. That didn’t stop Buffy from trying though. This was her father. This was her family. She had to fight for them. She had to make the things right that had gone so incredibly wrong.
It wasn’t as if Buffy suffered the delusion that she’d somehow made her family fall apart. She certainly didn’t make Hank drink or tell him to cheat on her mother, but she saw how he tried, saw the pain behind his eyes that told her he was a changed man and he was sorry for what he’d done, so desperately sorry. And now that he’d gone from not even being a presence in her life to someone that encouraged her and wanted to be there for her, Buffy felt she had to help him.
She just wished her mother wouldn’t be so damn difficult about it.
Hoping that her mother was going to tell her that she was going to give her father a chance, Buffy rang the doorbell.
Buffy stared back at the slender man with the bleached blond hair and stepped back, looking up. Yep, this was her house.
The man chuckled, his blue eyes full of merriment, his smile broad. “Hi, you must be Buffy. Your mother told me you had quite a sense of humor.”
He was British, she noted. “Who are you?” she asked, having a funny feeling suddenly about why she was invited over, who this guy was, and why Joyce sounded so happy on the phone. She could be quite perceptive when she wanted to be.
“Honey, you’ve come!” Joyce came to the door then, placing a hand on the guy’s arm and beaming at him for a minute before focusing her brilliant smile on her.
Joyce appeared years younger. It was amazing what a smile could do for a person. The right smile at least—a real smile. Her wavy, shoulder length hair even seemed a lighter brown, she was wearing makeup, and her clothes were more stylish than usual. She seemed twenty years younger to her thirty-eight.
“Hi,” the guy said, extending his hand. “I’m Spike.”
“Spike?” Buffy repeated back, finding that something a person named their dog, not their child.
His smile faltered a bit. “It’s a nickname. My real name is William Pratt.”
Buffy thought perhaps she could ask where he got the nickname Spike, but decided she really didn’t give a shit as she took his hand daintily and shook it.
She stepped in the house and the scent of pot roast wafted to her. Her favorite. This did not bode well.
“So, who exactly are you?” Buffy questioned Spike, not even bothering to settle herself in.
“I work with your mother at the gallery. Would you like me to take your jacket?”
“I still technically live here, even if I dorm at the University.” Buffy told him. “I know where the closet is and you know what? My room is still upstairs when I come home from school for holidays.”
Spike shut his mouth and Buffy turned to Joyce. “What’s going on?” She knew she was being a bitch and until someone told her that what she thought was going on wasn’t, she was going to continue to be one. Her visions of a happy family were starting to disintegrate before her eyes.
“Buffy, why don’t you sit, dear,” Joyce tried calmly. “You’re being very rude and I think maybe if you just relaxed a bit–”
“Just tell me what’s going on, Mom,” Buffy said, sighing.
“Spike and I are getting married.”
“How old are you?” Buffy demanded of Spike.
“He’s twenty-eight, Buffy,” Joyce answered for him.
“Jesus Christ!” Buffy exclaimed and her mother admonished her for her language. “What about dad?”
“Buffy, you knew that was never going to happen.”
“What could you possibly have in common with him. He has a dogs name for fuck’s sake!” Buffy shouted, tears streaming down her face. Hank was going to be so upset…
What followed was a series of accusations and insults that were said in malice and in response to a little girls dreams falling apart at the seams right before her very eyes. Buffy and her mother had barely spoken after that. When Joyce asked her to be her maid of honor, Buffy told her she wasn’t even going to be attending the wedding. And she hadn’t. Instead, she’d followed a heartbroken Hank to Boston, transferring her credits from Sunnydale University in which she was a sophomore, to Boston University and finishing out school there.
She had soon learned what a mistake it was to follow Hank. He didn’t want much to do with her after Joyce had gotten married. He claimed that she reminded him too much of his “Joycey” and the family they once had been. He made it seem like her fault, as if she had failed him, them, and instead of looking to her mother for comfort from a father who no longer wanted her, Buffy became embittered toward her instead and it would be four years and eleven months before she would begin to talk with her mother.
One month later, Joyce died at forty-three, Spike became a widower at thirty-three and Buffy became motherless at twenty-five.