Author’s Notes: Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Special thanks to my beta-reader, who sometimes goes by the name Huntress Tiger.I love reviews so if you give this a read please let me know what you think.:)
Buffy stepped out of the shop and back into the London drizzle already feeling ridiculous about her purchase. She even considered returning it on the spot; she could make up some excuse, tell the salesclerk that she had just realized that she already had it. Even as the inner debate waged she knew she wouldn’t. She held the slim brown bag to her chest and quickly made her way along the damp sidewalks to the small townhouse she currently called home.
She ran up the steps, slid her key in the door and stepped into the front hall. Closing the heavy door behind her she blocked out the sounds of the busy street and took a moment to appreciate the silence. It was why she was here, the quietness and the solitude acting as a balm. She’d runaway again and felt guilty about it. Such a typically dumb Buffy move, to wallow in her loss instead of focusing on what she still had, she thought. She knew that it would have been healthier to turn to her friends, to let them in, to share her feelings. Oh well, she thought, it’s not like anyone could really still think she was the poster child for mental health at this point anyway. Besides, she argued, they knew where she was this time, which was progress, right?
She’d gone to Giles when it happened, when she’d heard, and told him that she needed to leave. He’d tried for a moment to convince her to stay, that her place was there in Scotland setting up and helping the new slayers, but he’d quickly realized that she was going to leave either way and had changed his tactics. He’d instead set her up with this place in London and asked that she call once a week to let them know she was safe. She’d accepted only because it seemed easier to than not to.
That was almost five weeks ago. For the first week she just cried, with no one around to be strong for she had sobbed until her body ached and her eyes had stung. Since then she had settled in to a nice quiet routine. She watched soap operas and cooking shows, took long walks and naps in the middle of the day, and she made her weekly call to let everyone know she still loved them, but that she wasn’t coming home yet.
Buffy hung her jacket on the wooden rack by the door and carried her purchase into the living room. She placed the bag on a table by the couch and starred at it for a moment. Stupid, she thought, and shook her head once before turning away.
She walked into the kitchen, filled the tea kettle with water and set in on the stove. “Days like today call for hot cocoa”. She said it out loud even though she was alone and leaned back against the counter to wait. Of course I don’t make it as well as Mom used to, she thought, accepting the wave of sorrow that washed over her along with the sudden memory that the thought had brought on. It had happened more than once, she had come home to find her mom and Spike chatting cozily while sipping tea or cocoa. It had made her angry at the time, furious even, with both of them. Now it was just another reason she missed them, another one of the quirks that make the people you love into the people you love.
The kettle’s whistle interrupted her thoughts and she poured the water into a large clay mug. She dumped a generous amount of chocolate powder in to the water and, holding the now hot mug with both hands, she walked back to the living room. Buffy enjoyed the slight pain where her fingers met the heated clay. Sometimes it seemed like pain was the only thing she could feel anymore, but she refused to let her thoughts settle on that. She placed the mug on the table, careful not to drip any cocoa on the bag and once again allowed her eyes to settle on the brown paper. Stupid, she thought again, it’s not even my style.
She lifted the mug up to her lips and took a sip. Still too hot, she thought making a face, and it would probably be better if she’d mixed it more. She shrugged and took another sip before returning the mug to the table.
Finally she reached for the bag and pulled out the CD she knew she’d probably never listen too. Her eyes teared up once again looking at the cover. That’s why she’d bought it; when her eyes got teary, as they so often were these days, the picture blurred and it almost looked like someone else. Dumb reason to buy a CD, she acknowledged shaking her head. She placed it back on the table. She’d been doing better before today, she thought, and then she went and did this.
She closed her eyes, hugged her knees up to her chest and rested her forehead upon them. She wouldn’t let herself cry again, but the effort not to was exhausting.
Actually, she’d felt tired, really tired, ever since she’d heard. It was just too much, too many people dead, too soon after Sunnydale, too soon after losing her mother, too soon after being yanked out of heaven and having to learn how to live again. How much was one girl expected to take? Apparently a lot if that girl is me, she thought bitterly.
She hadn’t talked to Angel that last year, hadn’t bothered to listen to his reasoning; she’d been so full of self-righteousness. She couldn’t help but regret that now. She should have been willing to listen; she should have realized that she didn’t have forever. She knew that now, now that it was too late, now that he was gone. She’d still been reeling from that, from finding out that Angel and all the good people he’d had helping him were gone when Andrew had broken the news. She hadn’t known he was back, but she’d lost him again just the same. Spike had died trying to save the world again.
And so she was mourning again, mourning both of them for a second time. The moment that she’d realized that, that this was the second time she’d lost him, both of the hims, she’d actually laughed. The stares she’d gotten when she’d let that bitter and hollow sound escape her mouth was what had convinced her that she needed to leave. How many girls could actually say they’d mourned the death of the man they loved four times when they’d only loved two men?
She took one deep breath and another before lifting her head up. She had already said goodbye to Spike. She had stood there on the Hellmouth with the world falling around them and known that he was going to give his life to make sure that the rest of them got out. She’d held his hand and she’d told him that she loved him and then she’d run. And when she had finished running, when the work was done and everyone was safe, she had cried. She had cried for him, and for herself, and for the chance that they hadn’t had. But when she’d stopped crying she was done. She had moved on. He was gone and she hoped he was at peace, but it was done. It was done until Andrew told her the truth. He hadn’t been gone. He’d come back, just not back to her.