One Day After Acathla
“If you go out that door, don’t bother coming back,” Joyce muttered to herself, paraphrasing her words to her daughter only a day before.
And she hadn’t come back.
They weren’t supposed to exist and yet, Buffy was this Chosen One, the Slayer destined to fight them.
“Dammit! She was supposed to be normal!” she cried to herself. “She wasn’t supposed to live this kind of life!”
She slumped back in her chair. She was still there, hours later, when the phone rang. Hoping it was Buffy, she sprang up and pulled it off the receiver.
“Buffy?” she asked, only to slump in disappointment as she discovered it was a male voice asking for her daughter.
“No, rather, I was hoping to reach her,” the cultured, English voice answered.
“She, no, she never came back,” Joyce said. There was a long moment of pained silence. Joyce finally broke it with a puzzled question. “Who are you?”
“Rupert Giles,” he answered. “I’m the librarian at Buffy’s school. There was an attack and-“
“I know, the police were looking for her,” Joyce said. “Are you the one? Are you the one who got her into this? Because if you are…”
“Er-this?” the man asked, poorly disguising his surprise at the question.
“You are, aren’t you?”
“I, er, I don’t know what you are referring to, Mrs. Summers, but-“
“That’s it,” she snarled. “Where are you?”
“Sunnydale Memorial --“
“Stay there,” she commanded. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“How can this be?” Joyce demanded angrily after arriving at the hospital.
“You have to understand Mrs. Summers,” Giles began. “Buffy has little choice in this. If she tries to ignore her destiny, the demons will simply seek her out and attack her in her ignorance. As a Watcher, it is my responsibility to make sure she knows what she needs to, in the hopes that she will survive as best and as long as she can.”
“None of this is supposed to be real!” Joyce said, running her fingers through her hair in her distress. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this when we came here. She was supposed to be normal.”
“I -- I’m sorry,” Giles said from his hospital bed. “How is she?”
“I don’t know,” Joyce replied grimly. The librarian’s eyes widened with fear.
“But she --“ Giles said, cutting himself off. “We’re still here… She might well be in pain.”
“We had words when this came out,” Joyce admitted, half to Giles and half to herself. “Hearing what that thing had to say -- I didn’t take it well. I think she ran off.”
Giles looked into her eyes for a long moment until he was sure he had her attention. “Mrs. Summers – Joyce -- I swear that I will do whatever I can to find her and bring her back.”
“You had better,” Joyce said in a voice that could have sent even the most stalwart master vampire running for the hills.
“I will,” he swore again. Joyce looked at him for a silent moment, nodded, and walked out of the hospital without another word.
Even knowing the danger, she walked through the night. Through the streets, through the warehouse district and down to the beach, where the moon reflected off the waves. She heard the quiet steady noise of the water slapping against the shore like a heartbeat of the earth.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said to the emptiness. “I had everything planned out. A fresh start. A new place to live for me and my baby girl.”
She reached inside her shirt and pulled out a necklace. It was large, golden colored crystals framing a diamond shaped gem that was the blue of a clear sky in July. The blonde woman flipped it over and gazed at it thoughtfully as she ran her thumb over the familiar symbol inscribed on the back.
With a bit of extra effort, she pulled at the symbol, letting the blue gemstone slide from its setting.
She juggled it lightly in one hand, as if to judge its weight, and then she pulled her arm back and threw it with all her might into the ocean.
Three years later:
“How is your mother?” Giles asked at the Magic Box.
“She’s still sick,” Buffy said quietly.
“Is she seeing a doctor?”
“Oh, we’ve got a whole team of doctors to do lots of tests and tell us diddly,” Buffy confirmed. “She’s been ditching me and Dawn and going without us. She hasn’t told us, but I think the gallery is going bust, too.”
“Oh,” Giles said. “Still, time and patience will reveal all soon enough.”
“Sure hope so, cuz this dodging Buffy routine is getting old,” the Slayer moped. There was a little more spent bonding as Buffy complained heartily about Dawn and Joyce’s relationship, before Willow arrived and reminded the Slayer that Dawn wasn’t just the youngest, she was the baby.
Buffy still wasn’t satisfied.
Buffy felt the blonde’s fist impact her chest again and knock her backwards through the air.
After having been in so many fights over the last six years, Buffy knew full well that this “Glory” person was pulling her punches. She wanted Buffy to talk and Buffy couldn’t do that if she was unconscious. Even so, it hurt like a son of a bitch.
“Where is my KEY?” the superpowered bimbo demanded, plowing Buffy through a concrete support column with a right jab. Buffy, hurting, but far from out of the fight, pretended to be more hurt than she appeared.
She gave a couple of good kicks, but Glory just laughed.
“So, you’ve got superpowers,” taunted the creature. “Can you fly?” she jibed as she casually tossed Buffy towards a wall.
Buffy bent forward to protect her head and neck, but never impacted the concrete.
Instead, familiar hands caught her and gently set her down on the ground.
“Yes,” said Joyce Summers.
Buffy looked up to find her mother dressed in royal blue silk pajamas with a crimson robe over her shoulders that flowed out behind her like a cape. She was also hovering about four feet off the floor.
“Yes, I can.”