: Letting GoRating
: 13, so pretty much safe for everyone.Pairings
: None, yet.Disclaimer
: Anything you recognize is owned by someone other than me. Whedon and Rowling own the characters borrowed.Summary
: After killing Angel at the end of Season 2, Buffy chooses a Council safe house instead of Los Angeles, only to find herself in a war-torn section of England and a family that has already seen too much loss.Spoilers
: Complete and total spoilers for DEATHLY HALLOWS
. Buffy, through Season 2 and ‘Becoming’.Note
: The last thing I needed was another ficlet, but this idea refused to get out of my head. Timelines are relatively the same, as well… June 1998.
- - - - -
She was so tired.
Even after a long flight, a drive, a train ride and then a cab to the middle of nowhere, all she wanted to do was put her head down. Her body was cold, numb… she couldn’t feel anything. She couldn’t even remember what day it was…
All she remembered was an offer. A letter stuck to the bottom of her weapon’s chest. A letter that offered her a future, a chance… because there was nothing left here.If you walk out that door, don’t even think about coming back.
“Sorry, mom,” Buffy murmured under her breath as she closed the door to the cab and stared at the house for a moment before her head tipped to the side.
She hadn’t been able to tell anyone that she was running. She just opened up the small kit that had been buried and pulled out a name and a wad of bills. The money had come in handy, especially after she took in the name written on the card.
The man sounded like he belonged to a grunge rock band, not a Council member, and certainly not someone she could trust at a time like this. But she wasn’t exactly thinking too clearly. She searched her mind for anything Giles might have said about Ted Tonks, but found nothing.
He was probably someone that worked for the Watcher’s Council, some unknown three-piece-suited man that strolled back and forth, ticking off checkpoints on a metal clipboard. Pip pip, and all that British stiff upper lippy stuff. But she didn’t care. This kit had to mean something. There had to be some reason this crap was in there.
She didn’t have much time to think about it. It was mainly to find the name and then to use the number on the opposite side, which gave her an address.
Now, fourteen hours later… starving, shaking, in desperate need of a change of clothes and a good shower with her bag growing steadily heavy on her shoulders, Buffy slowly approached the walk, her hands trembling as she shoved them deep into pockets of pants that seemed to stick to her body in all the wrong places. It just seemed so uncomfortable to be standing here in a house with an actual yard, garden and flowers and expecting to find something.
What was she looking for?
Her friends would say she was running away. They wouldn’t understand, nor could she expect them to. They didn’t know that, at the last second, Angel’s soul had been restored. They didn’t know that she had tearfully kissed him goodbye before driving the sword into his body and watching as Acathla sucked him off to hell. They didn’t know anything.
Maybe that’s the reason she needed to be here. Because they couldn’t know. Whoever this Ted Tonks was, he didn’t know. She was all right with that.
The mental checklist before she left Sunnydale as the sun rose was clear: passport, check. Money that some nice mysterious person left her in an emergency kit, check. Name of the guy that could potentially offer her something away from all of this pain, check. Every single belonging that she didn’t want donated to the Salvation Army, including four pairs of high-heeled boots, check.
The strap slipped off her shoulder and she let the bag fall to the ground before she approached the front gate, staring curiously at the house. It looked like any other normal house.
The note she had left her mother had been a painful note. Dear mom… sorry I had to disappoint you, but I’ll follow your wishes and I’ll stay away. Don’t worry about me because I had just a fight to the death with my lover who happened to also kill one of my friends.
Painful? Oh, yeah.
Clearing her throat, Buffy Summers moved up the walk and onto the front stoop. She heard the unmistakable sounds of life inside. The warmth she felt on the other side of the door caused such a deep ache inside of her that she teared up again. She had been crying so much in the past day.
She had stepped in on her mother before she’d left. Joyce Summers was sound asleep, her curled hair falling across her face as she slept, ignorant of her daughter’s internal battles and of the anguish that seemed to spill into the rest of the world. The others would wake up to find the world unaltered and completely normal. She had stayed through the night to find the world forever changed, as though she had lost. Big time.
She had kissed Joyce’s forehead, whispering, “I love you, mom,” before tiptoeing out. She had taken the long walk downstairs. She had taken the short trek out the front door, down the street and across Sunnydale to the bus station. The bus station had delivered her to the airport. Three hours later, she was in the air, in tears, and feeling like she had made the most insane decision of her life.
The card had been given to her for a reason. Was it Kendra’s? She didn’t know. She had no idea where the card had come from. But the ‘use in case you need to’ message on it was clear. She was using it because she needed to. She had no school. No family left. No friends as they would never understand this pain… all she had was a faded yellow card, an address and, apparently, a view of one of the strangest houses she had ever seen.
Without further ado, she knocked on the door.
Inside, she heard the wails of a baby and she winced, inwardly. Or otherwise Ted Tonks could be a young dad with a baby, his hands already full. He could be a proud father with a half dozen little kids running around with no time for her…
It didn’t matter. She just wanted to breathe again.
She raised her hand to knock again when the front door swung open. The figure that stepped out was a woman. Her blue eyes searched Buffy’s face and moved to the bag on the ground at her feet and the faded yellow card in her hand.
“Can I help you?”
“Ted…I…” Composing herself, Buffy tried again. “I’m trying to find Ted Tonks?”
The woman continued to search her face again before she shook her head, ever so slightly. “I’m sorry,” the woman murmured. “My husband is dead.”
Again, everything was stripped away. She felt her shoulders tense and her face scrunched up, showing off the emotion as she rolled her eyes to the side, desperate to hide the single tear weaving its way down a pale cheek. A moment later, she lifted a hand to her eyes, embarrassed to cry in front of a total stranger, but feeling foolish that she had come all this way for nothing.
The woman glanced behind her and came forward, the door shutting softly behind her. “Are you alright?”
Buffy shook her head, unable to stop herself. The tears had stopped, but she couldn’t stop shaking. Wordlessly, she held the card out to the woman, who glanced at it and frowned.
“Who are you?”
Buffy shook her head, letting her hand fall aside. “Nobody,” she whispered in a deadened voice. “I’m nobody.”
The woman gazed at her again, and for the first time Buffy could see the woman’s eyes. She wasn’t just anyone who had opened the door. This was someone that knew what she was going through. There was darkness there, a haunting chill that didn’t fade no matter how many times she could blink it away. Underlying it all was a deep pain.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” she continued, reaching down and numbly taking her bag. “I’ll be going now.” To where, she did not know.
“Don’t go,” the woman said after a moment, after the small blonde had turned away and walked towards the front gate. “Please, don’t go.”
Buffy turned around.
“I’m Andromeda, Ted’s wife. Did you know him?” Buffy shook her head despondently. “Would you like to come in for some tea?”
Buffy nodded and moved towards the door as Andromeda stared at her bag. “Are you from…?”
Buffy nodded again, giving the woman a pained look.
“Come in,” she said, pushing open the door and holding it there. Inside, Buffy could hear the sounds of a gurgling infant. Once the small blonde had disappeared inside, Andromeda gently shut the rest of the world out.