The Witch SlayerRated:
Every family has secrets. Buffy just did realize how big her mother’s were until she has to go live with her Uncle Lucius.Disclaimer:
I own nothing. Joss owns all things Buffy. Everything H.P. goes to J.K.AN:
Answer to a challenge. Thought I’d give it a whirl as I try to work through some writers block for my other stories.
Some people found it rather odd, but Joyce had always liked moving about at night. She wasn’t sure when it had started, but she must have been very young. There were many nights she could remember sneaking out of her childhood home just so she could lay in the garden and stare up at the stars. Her father had finally caught her when she was seven; but instead of punishing her like she had expected, he had simply laughed and started to point out the different stars and constellations. Those nights were some of the best memories she had of him, and she preferred to remember him that way instead of the angry, disappointed looks he gave her the last time she saw him.
Sitting under a red light, Joyce glanced up at the darken sky but of course couldn’t see any stars. There wasn’t really such a thing a night in a city like Los Angeles. The sky might darken and the sun might disappear for hours, but the artificial light put off by the buildings and street lamps always gave the city an unnatural glow; particularly the further downtown that one got.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Hank steal a glance at her as he readjusted his grip on the steering wheel as car flew through the busy intersection. The oppressiveness of the SUV was only disrupted by the hum of the engine, an absurdly upbeat song playing lowly on the radio, and the faintest trace of cheap, overly sweet perfume that clung to her husband’s jacket. He pressed and licked his lips and then opened his mouth as if he were about to say something before he thought better of it. That was for the best because Joyce could honestly think of nothing she wanted to say to him at the moment.
Joyce absently watched as one of the shop owners turned off the lights to his store. He pulled down the cage front that protected the windows and fumbled with his keys to lock it as people walked past him seemingly not seeing him. In five minutes, she wouldn’t remember seeing him either.
This whole day had been nothing but one long disaster beginning with Buffy springing her ‘forgotten’ report card on them this morning over breakfast. Joyce repressed the unladylike desire to snort. If she had those sort of marks, she would have forgotten about it as well.
Work that day had been just as bad. Her assistant had purposely hung up on an important client (not that Joyce blamed the girl after what he had called her, but it was still another mess she was now going to have to cleanup). Also, her latest shipment African art was now held up in customs due to some oversight that Joyce still wasn’t clear on.
By the time she had come home, every instinct was telling her that she needed to not go to the retirement party at Hank’s office, but she had not listened. Still, Joyce would have never imagined that he would…For God’s sake, she had been right down the hall in a room full of people, yet he had still brazenly gone off with his secretary. Then he had to go get caught by not only her, but also by Frank Mullen, the vice-president of his firm! Joyce had never been so humiliated.
After everything she had done for him -- given up for him -- and he goes and does something like this? How could he? How could he do this to her?
Hank jumped as the radio cracked loudly and sparks flew from the dash.
“Joyce!” he yelped as one of the sparks landed on his jacket sleeve.
She turned so fast on him that she was surprised that she hadn’t given herself whiplash.
“Don’t,” Joyce hissed. “Don’t even try. Just take me home.”
Outside, the light switched from red to green. Though Hank had fixed her with a hard stare, Joyce closed her eyes and laid her head back against the headrest.
“When we get home, I want you to get your stuff and leave.”
She could almost hear him frowning. “What we going to tell Buffy?”
The car behind them honked loudly, and then Joyce felt Hank start to move the car.
“I’ll think -.”
The impact came sharp and fast and neither Hank nor Joyce had seen the 18-wheeler coming.
Later on, when the police arrived and statements were being given, a shop owner who had just closed up would tell them that he thought that the light had still be green. This was contradicted by the man driving the car behind them who insisted that they had had the right of way. No one had seemed real sure who was in the right at the time, but the mangled SUV had made that hardly seem to matter.
Months later when the investigation was done, they would determine that there had been a short in stoplight sequence. It was just a terrible accident that had left two people dead. Something people shook their heads about and said that it was such a terrible waste, but soon forgot about when the next ‘terrible thing’ occurred. There was a surprising lack of lasting empathy in the people who lived in the City of Angels, even towards the fourteen-year-old girl who had been left orphaned because of this. Surely she had other family, they said. Surely someone will take care of her. They were right, of course, on both accounts, but the life of Buffy Summers was never going to be quite right after that night.