Its All Coming Back to Me Now
Reminder: this story has been disclaimed, and all characters belong to whoever they belong to.
It's been altogether too long since I updated. This episode brings to a close "What Is Sacrificed for Joy." There will be other stories detailing Immortal Buffy's interactions with the Scoobies, now that she knows what's up. Keep your eyes open! I won't make you wait quite so long this time.
It was like watching a movie on fast forward. Time rushed by in a blur. Entire civilizations rose and collapsed around a single point which never changed. She stood still in time, the unaffected viewer. Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome before the fall, Greece, Britain - all ran around her in a stream.
Without comprehending, she integrated.
The past that remembered, Eshe, opened itself, herself, to Buffy. No… Buffy was claimed by Eshe. Or neither. Or both. She wasn’t sure. She was both completely, because Buffy had always been
Eshe. Subconsciously, she had always known what her conscious mind had been forbidden to remember.
Suddenly the “dream” took a turn for the surreal. Her mother – no! her daughter! – was born, grew, married… Hank! And then she… not Buffy, but the same… she met Merrick, but… it hadn’t been with friends at the mall, the way she remem- no, the way she thought
she remembered. It was in a parking lot. And she’d had a horrible time trying to keep her identity as “Beth” separate from “Buffy,” who was only known to Merrick and Joy-ce.
Her heart ached. Once, Joyce had known about the Slayer, had helped
the Slayer part of her. How differently things happened after…
A hundred things exploded in her mind: she and Merrick and Lothos – all dead. Her somewhat less dead than the others.
And then her memories turned fuzzy, and a movie in a movie showed the sudden appearance of Dawn in the house. And with Dawn came the push toward Sunnydale, the sudden manifestation of marital stress where before there had only been familial bliss.
Hank and Joyce… Their marriage had been as close to perfect as two people could achieve. But Hank was… unnecessary. The Powers needed him gone in order to “better” influence “the Slayer.” A wonderful man – her daughter
’s life-mate – gone, just because the Powers needed greater access to “the Slayer,” needed her to have fewer protective factors in her new life.
A wonderful man had been forced away from his family, unable to come to his wife’s funeral. And Joyce died thinking Hank had turned his back on their family. Joyce died, not knowing the truth. Joyce… Rejoice
was dead, un-mourned.
The little girl in a sundress who danced with her uncle Darius on his birthday had died un-mourned.
She opened her eyes. They felt gritty. When she reached up to rub the sleep sand out, she found that her cheeks were wet with fresh tears. So the dreams… but they weren’t dreams. She lay there as her conscious mind accepted and integrated the information provided by her subconscious.
“I am Eshe,” she whispered in her long dead mother tongue. “Eshe, who walks alone. I am oldest, the only one of my kind.”
She climbed out of bed and walked over to the mirror.
“I choose,” she told her reflection, “to be Buffy. I am Eshe forever, but today… for this life,” she switched to English, “I am Buffy.”
The dream faded in her mind until it felt more like memory. Less overwhelming. Time regained meaning. She was Eshe and Buffy, just as she had once been Eshe and Dido, Eshe and Siobhan, Eshe and Betsy. An incarnation of a woman too old, too large for life.
She knew that it was only her experience integrating the lives of Slayers that kept her sane. The fact that she had no clear memories from the Slayers told her that she was in for another exciting night soon. Hopefully her subconscious would hold off until she had more time…
She stared at her reflection critically. Her body was, of course, unchanged. Her eyes were old – far older than they had been last night – but there was a spark there that had been missing for thousands of years. Or maybe it was the braided pigtails. She snorted. Trust a demon to braid her hair for bed.
She could hear someone moving downstairs, and the distinctive aroma of peanut butter and banana pancakes wafted up the stairs. She glanced at the clock. Dawn was up early. 10,000 years in a night… and she was up at 8:30, fully rested.
Maybe she should have spell therapy more often.
Buffy rifled through her closet, trying to find something to wear. She found a knee length pink skirt and a soft white sweater. White pumps and pearls had her feeling like a real person. She brushed out the braids and pulled her golden curls into a tight bun. She smiled at her reflection. She was still Buffy, but she was herself as she should be, now. She went downstairs.
Dawn turned to smile over her shoulder and froze in surprise. “Er… is something up? Like… a PTA meeting you forgot to tell me about? Or another meeting with the social worker? Please tell me there’s no meeting with the social worker!”
Dawn turned all the way around in her anxiety. She bounced slightly, clutching the spatula to her breast.
“Your pancakes are burning,” said Buffy.
“Oh!” Dawn turned back to rescue her breakfast. “I made funny shapes,” she added, momentarily distracted from Buffy’s outfit. “You know, as a thank you for the other night.”
“Er, what for?” asked Buffy, whose memory of the last week might as well have been from a lifetime or three ago.
“For taking me patrolling. For…distracting me. For being a good sister.” Dawn went quiet at the end. Her head dipped, hair covering her face.
“I love you too,” said Buffy, smiling fondly. She reached over and tucked Dawn’s hair behind her ear.
Dawn smiled and looked over at her again.
“But really Buffy – what’s up with the Super-Mom outfit?”
“Super-Mom?” Buffy squeaked, eyes going wide.
“Yeah. Even if you do have grownup errands to run today, you look freakishly mom-ish. And not our mom-ish. Like Leave it to Beaver mom.”
Buffy spun on her heels and hurried to the hallway mirror. She scrutinized herself. She couldn’t see anything wrong with the outfit! She looked like she always did – Mrs Betsy Da… Oh. Buffy deflated.
“Maybe the pearls were
a little much,” she conceded.