“Thanks, people. Make sure you read chapters 1 and 2 for Monday.” The short, skinny woman called out as the students filed out of the room.
Buffy let herself sit back on the chair for a couple more seconds before she started packing her things.
“Hey!” A cheerful feminine voice snapped her out of her thoughts.
“Hey.” Buffy replied a little less enthusiastically turning to see the redhead standing by the doorway just as the last student left the classroom.
“How was your first day as a freshman?” Willow asked as Buffy came down the steps and joined her on her way out.
“Incomprehensible.” The blonde sighed, hugging her books against her chest as the two walked down the crowded hall. “I never thought anyone could say so many words without actually forming a logical sentence. My brain hurts!” She pouted.
“I’m sure it’ll get better.” Willow tried to reassure her.
“I really hope so. I don’t think it can get any worse.” She sighed. “Are you done for the day?”
“Yep.” The redhead replied bringing her hands together for a loud clap.
“You’re very cheery today. What happened?” Buffy questioned with a slight frown.
“It’s just the whole college vibe. I feel so grown-up.” She giggled. “Moving into the dorms, living on my own. Well, on my own as in without parental guidance anyway.” She corrected. “I can’t wait to meet my roommate. The RA said she’s was going to move in tonight.”
“I hope you have better luck than I’ve had.” Buffy grumbled and earned a sympathetic smile from her friend. “I can’t believe I forgot to sign up for housing.” She growled.
“You had a lot of stuff on your mind. Your mom and all.” Willow reminded her. After a short silence she managed to gather the courage to ask: “How is she doing?”
“She’s ok. She’s scheduled for an MRI today. I’m going with her.” Buffy explained.
“An MRI? Do they think she still has the tumour?” Willow asked a bit afraid.
“No. The doctor says it’s usual procedure to check if they really got the whole thing.”
“Oh.” The redhead sounded relieved.
It had been a very hard summer.
What started as mild headaches had rapidly grown into full-blown migraines. Joyce Summers had tried to ignore them initially, but as the pain became dilacerating she decided to go to the doctor. After a CAT scan and MRI, a small tumour, growing on the right hemisphere of her brain, was identified. From that moment onward everything seemed to snowball around Buffy. Suddenly, her mother was in the hospital being prepared for surgery and she was left alone at home, looking after her younger sister, Dawn.
She still shuddered when she thought of those days. Living in terror, with the threat of losing her mother hanging over her head while she had to look calm and in control in front of her sister had eaten at her from the inside. She had felt a momentary relief when the doctor had told her the surgery had been successful. But, seeing her mother lying on the hospital bed, her head wrapped up in gauze, partially smiling, barely able to speak, was one of the memories she would never forget. That night she had crawled into her bed and cried herself to sleep as she finally let the pent-up fear surface.
The days after the surgery were nerve-racking and distressing as they waited for the histological results. When they finally came the doctor greeted her with a smile:
“Thankfully, the histological analysis revealed that it was a relatively benign tumour and that it has been removed with a considerable safety margin.” He had told her.
To Buffy, the words that came from the strange man’s mouth made absolutely no sense. She didn’t really care to understand any of it anyway; she just wanted to know if her mother would be ok. Her confused frown told him that she didn’t understand.
“She’s going to be alright, Miss Summers. It’s going to take a few weeks for your mother to recover, but I’m sure that she’ll have little if any repercussions from the surgery.
From that point onward she stopped hearing what he was saying. She watched blindly as the man in the white coat moved his lips, but she didn’t seem to comprehend any of it – Something about monitoring her mother for six months; she didn’t care. Her mother was going to be alright, that was all she wanted to hear. All her worries had been lifted off her shoulders in an instant and she felt her entire body relax and go instantly numb.
Between worrying over her mother’s health and watching over Dawn she had completely forgotten about signing up for a dorm room. When classes had finally started she had found out it was too late to get one. She had decided to stay at home and simply commute everyday to college but her mother had been absolutely against it. Not only was the campus two hours away, but she also believed that college was about growing up, moving on and learning how to live on your own. As a result, Buffy found herself scanning the paper for apartment rental ads. She had spent the last two weeks looking at everything from fancy, too-expensive-to-afford to sleazy and shady, wouldn’t-live-here-if-they-paid-her apartments. She was growing increasingly frustrated.
“Buffy?” Willow’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts as they entered the coffee shop.
“Huh? Sorry, Willow. What were you saying?” She asked, shaking her head slightly.
“Any luck on the apartment hunt?”
“No.” Buffy pouted, taking her seat at the bar. “Yesterday, I thought I’d found one that worked. I was actually going make a deal with the landlord when all of a sudden the police burst in.”
“What?!” Willow exclaimed.
“Yep. Turns out that my potential landlord is a peeping Tom.” At the redhead’s confused look, she raised her eyebrow and added: “Had a bunch of secret cameras installed all around the house.”
Willow let her jaw fall.
“Yeah. You should have seen my face when the cop came out of the bathroom with a tiny camera in his hand.”
Buffy rested her elbows on the table and held her head in her hands.
“I *have* to find an apartment soon.” She sighed.
“Going hunting today too?”
“Sorry I can’t come with. Gotta be at the dorm to meet my roomie.” Willow apologised.
“It’s ok. I have one last hope.” Buffy took out a small cut-out as she spoke and handed it to Willow.
“This sounds good. It’s only ten minutes away from here.” She noted, handing the piece of newspaper back to her.
“Yeah, but with my luck it’s probably going to be a rat infested dump.” Buffy grumbled picking up her backpack. “I better get going. I said I’d go by at four.”
“Good luck.” Willow wished as she watched her friend walk out of the coffee shop.
“I’m gonna need it.” Buffy shouted back.
She fumbled with the paper between her hands as she walked the small distance. She checked the black ink when she reached her destination.
“Apartment 9A.” She read out loud.
She walked up the two front steps and pressed one of the small black buttons.
“Yeah?” A high-pitch voice was heard through the intercom.
“I’m here for the room for rent.” Buffy replied.
After a second there was a buzzing sound and the door unlocked. Buffy pushed it open and waited the elevator.
“God, I hope the apartment is ok. Please, let it be ok.” She muttered to herself, unconsciously crossing her fingers.
She was actually succeeding in coaxing herself into a positive state of mind as she rang the doorbell. That was until the front door was opened to reveal an overly cheerful blonde on the other side.
“Oh, my God! Buffy?”
“Harmony? What are-”
She wasn’t able to finish her sentence as she found herself suddenly engulfed in a suffocating embrace.