Origin and Season One (Ch. 41)
Character: Buffy Summers
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Word Count: 1331
Setting: Teacher's Pet
A/N: Some borrowed dialogue.
- Nightcap -
Buffy joined the crowd streaming into the Bronze. It was 8ish, and the club was as packed as it always was, though she had long since gotten used to the din. She had actually come to love the place just in part for its noise – such a hard contrast with the quiet of the graveyards and empty side streets. The Slayer was silence and death and the night, but Buffy Summers was a creature of the party scene, and among the loud and the young and the living.
Or, at least, she would be, if she kept telling herself that enough. And if the world ever gave her a break.
She stopped to take a long look at the dance floor, and even though she knew that was where she should go, she instead turned away and headed for the bar. She was just way too tired.
By some miracle, there was an empty seat waiting for her when she reached the counter, and she slid into it smoothly, eyes trained on the little glass dome a foot or two away, and the pie within. She was surrounded by muffins and chocolate and pie and cake, a regular sundry of deliciousness, and as she sat there she realized how hungry she was. She didn't remember eating lunch, and she knew she'd passed dinnertime somewhere down the road without ever having stopped to notice the sign. By the time the barkeeper showed up, her stomach was growling, and she asked for tea and the biggest, fattest, chocolatiest muffin in the case.
When it was placed in front of her, she found that it was the happiest she'd felt all day, and she tore into it with relish.
And then her thoughts started sliding back, to the basement and Xander and the bug lady and the acrid smell of its blood, like vinegar. And then the headless, bloody body on the floor in the corner. Blayne hadn't known who he'd been, though he'd watched him die, and he hadn't had any ID in his torn-up pockets.
Buffy remembered calling Giles over when she'd found it, buried slightly under a pile of egg sacs, and then they'd both just stood there, unsure what to do. They couldn't call the police, what with the dead demon and the eggs and the cages, but they couldn't very well just leave him there. It'd been just like the woman in the alley, only down there it could've been years before anyone found him.
In the end Giles decided to call the Watchers' Council for help. They had some sort of unit that dealt with this sort of stuff – with bodies, human or demon – but Buffy had bowed away before hearing too much more. She didn't want to know. And she really didn't want to know if Merrick had done the same thing after she'd come to him, crying about the woman she'd watched die.
The world felt so hard and stark and sharp and impersonal. She'd killed the thing that had killed the boy, but that hadn't changed anything for him, or for her. She'd lost any faith in justice the night she'd found Merrick dead on the warehouse floor, but it amazed her even now how hollow vengeance felt. What horrified her was how little she'd felt as she'd stared down at that body, how much he'd felt like just another drop in the bucket she bore on her shoulders, to join Merrick and Tisha and Jesse and Dr. Gregory and that woman and everyone else she didn't know about.
She'd been glad when Willow and Xander had left her at the house, though she'd hid it. She'd almost asked them if they resented her, if they wanted out. On some level she knew she hadn't been responsible for Xander's near death tonight, but she'd only barely been in time to prevent it, and it terrified her to think of either of them entering the past tense, of becoming one of the ghosts in her bucket, raking their fingers through her heart.
But her tea was warm and sweet in her hands, and none of her friends were dead. She had to take consolation somewhere, even as she sat there alone, watching the barkeeper serve drinks to groups of careless teenagers with lives and non-worries. The barkeeper noticed her looking after awhile, and he walked over before she realized what she'd done.
“Anything else?” he asked her, taking her plate and wiping away the crumbs with a rag.
“No, thank you,” she said quietly.
He nodded and walked away, and she watched him go before finally turning to gaze blankly into space. She should go home. She shouldn't be around people. And it was still early enough for her to walk in the front door instead of having to scale the roof.
She took a sip of tea. It was warm and hot and comforting.
In fifteen minutes she could be home and snug in bed. And sleep sounded...good...
Her thoughts trailed off as she spotted something in her periphery, and she turned to find...
Just standing there.
In the flesh and everything.
And he was smiling.
Smiling at her.
“I heard a rumor there was one less vampire walking around, making a nuisance of himself,” he said.
She felt something inside her deflate. “There is,” she said. Vampires. All he ever wanted to talk about was vampires. And now a dead vampire at that, or dead-er. “I guess I should thank you for the tip,” she said instead of voicing her thoughts as she tapped her cup, then looked back at him.
How could someone so beautiful only ever want to talk about vampires?
“The pleasure's mine,” he said.
“Of course,” she continued, “it would make things easier if I knew how to get in touch with you.”
He just smiled again. “I'll be around.”
She kept staring at him. “Or who you were.”
Instead of saying something, he started to melt way, like he always did, still giving her nothing but that damn, stupid grin. “Well,” she said to stop him, “anyway, you can have your jacket back.” She didn't want him to go.
He stopped and looked at her for a second. “It looks better on you.”
She became keenly aware of how hard her heart was beating as he walked away, a hard, pulsing lump in her throat. Her mouth was paper dry.
“Oh, boy,” she breathed.
She wanted to know why he couldn't just stay, couldn't just tell her something funny or nice or with words to make this night less long and crappy. She wanted to get up and chase him, ask him his full name and where he lived and how he always knew what was going on, how he always knew where to find her.
Because sitting here so wasn't her, especially if it meant she had to wait for the next catastrophe to see him for another six seconds.
And she didn't want to wait.
So she got up, abandoning her tea. Pulling his jacket tighter over her shoulders, she took off in the direction he'd disappeared, then turned for the exits. Outside, it was as cold and dark as she'd left it, and her only company was a couple necking against the fence opposite the Bronze. He was gone, not that she had really expected otherwise. She wasn't entirely sure what she would've done if she had found him.
But she just kept on standing there.
Because just for a second he'd made her forget all the horror and the death and the darkness. He'd made the world seem bright and loud and wonderful again, like they were the only two in it and the only thing that mattered.
But he was gone, and the night seemed that much emptier for it.
Sighing, she buried her hands in his jacket pocket.