Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy owns them. I'm just playing.
by Raine Wynd
Sometimes, when she least expects it, she hears a song from all those years ago when the world seemed like it was going to end every spring, and it takes her back. With a single line from the chorus, she slips into yesterday, and the memory is bittersweet. She breathes deeply, willing the past into its place with the aching knowledge that if she doesn't, she will spend tonight dreaming of nightmarish what-ifs that never happened, choices she never made.
She walks quickly now, past the vehicle blaring an oldies station, down the street towards where home now is. She is vividly aware that she never expected to live this long, to have a life that wasn't filled with demons and vampires and magic, that she'd long ago lived past her expiration date, and it makes her hurry a bit more. If she lingers too long in the past, she might get caught in it again, and break down in public in place where no one's ever heard of a Slayer. It's happened before, and the last time, the social worker was talking about sending her to a psychiatrist for her delusions.
Buffy does not need a psychiatrist to know that the past is playing itself out in post-traumatic stress syndrome, and that the world does not know how many times it was nearly destroyed. Too many years have gone by for anyone to remember what happened, exactly, to a small town in Southern California that, even by California standards, was this side of strange. Even Buffy has trouble remembering sometimes, and those that do remember — the ones who are still alive — don't like to linger in the past.
Her lover now does not know what she is, thinks that the reason she doesn't have to work is because she retired early and has a good portfolio. There is truth in that, but the things Buffy is best at are skills that the world no longer needs. There are younger Slayers, better-trained Watchers, a Council that understands that a Slayer cannot succeed alone or without resources, and she is an old woman by anyone's standards.
Her lover greets her now, takes the groceries from her, fusses over the state of the bread and the bananas, but says nothing. Instead, he takes her into his arms, and holds her, and she weeps for the things she cannot say, the nightmares she cannot explain. She tried it once, with someone else, but she found dismissal, rejection, and misunderstanding instead, and so she keeps these things to herself. After a long while, he releases her, and starts talking about a movie he'd like to see. With an effort, she forces herself to focus on his needs, on the present.
Sometimes, she thinks about dying and the glimpse of heaven she'd gotten, years ago. She wonders if being the oldest Slayer will still get her there: she hasn't fought a demon or a vampire or saved the world in decades. What if she happened to accidentally on purpose die, would she still get there? She wearies of living, of facing her past in moments like this; of knowing she has no further purpose in life. Her daughter hates her for reasons Buffy no longer understands; her husband left her for a younger, less mentally troubled woman. What little career Buffy had once the power of the Slayers had been spread were a series of dead ends, burning out what hope she had, until all that was left is who is she now, a shell waiting for the end.
In her less rational moments, she fears that someone will come along and resurrect her yet again, and so she does not take the knife or the overdose and end it. She remembers too vividly feeling her body come to life so many times, and so she waits, hoping that this time, this last time, will be peaceful.
©7.23.03 Raine Wynd