Interlude One: Fathers
Since this is my first story, I decided to post the next chapter right away to get you all interested ;)Disclaimer:
Some of the dialogue used in this chapter is from SPN and is not mine. Nothing you recognize is mine.
~~~~~Buffy would have screamed, but what was the point? She had spent the last hundred and twenty two years, four months, two weeks, and three days screaming. Either that or crying. It was a miracle her vocal chords hadn’t simply shredded after the first decade or two. Now, so many years later, why should she even bother? Her world had become pain; she was used to it, it was all she knew these days. The screaming was just a formality now. There was no need for it. She had gotten so accustomed to hurting, that if it stopped she wouldn’t know what to do. Pain was the center of her universe.
The routine of it, the sheer predictability of the torture Alastair put her through was the only thing that kept her sane. Her memories of her life had faded long ago. Alastair was all she knew now. He was her family, her friend, her life, her world. Alastair was everything to her.
In the back of her mind, there were flashes of the past. Every now and then, something would creep out of the darkest recesses of her brain and she would hold onto it, cherish it, for as long as she could, until Alastair managed to beat it out of her again, leaving him as the only thing she had once again.
There was a flash of red hair. A sister that wasn’t. Pumpkin belly? She remembered the cleaning of glasses. Bad puns, maybe? Books and dust. “Hello, cutie.” Who said that? White hair and fangs. Fangs? That couldn’t be right. But it was, wasn’t it? Maybe. Chosen One. She who hangs out in cemeteries. Had she said that to someone once? Toy soldier? Did she tell toy soldier her secrets? “Beg to differ.” A hell god. No, Alastair was the only hell god she knew. A cursed soul. No, her soul was the only cursed one she could think of. “Live for me.”
The teeth of Alastair’s hounds bit into her back, slicing through tendon and muscle, cutting down to her spine. The pain washed over her and she welcomed it as an old friend as it banished her half-remembered memories back to the corners of her mind that they’d come from. She felt blood flood down her back and the backs of her legs, but it was cold, not warm like it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be warm, wasn’t it? She could only ever remember it being cold as ice.
“Now, Buffy, darling, I know that look on your face. I’ve seen it before. You get it when you’re starting to remember things, remember your life. We can’t have that. I spent the first fifty years you were here working my ass off to bury those memories. You know, the first few times they started to come back, I didn’t realize because, you know, it had never happened before. I know the look now, but in those days everything was shiny and new.
“The first few times, I just let it happen and you would get things back. You would scream for weeks for your precious Angel or your dear, sweet sister. My favorites were the times you cried and cried for your mommy. You know, sometimes you would even beg for Spike. Beg and beg and beg me to let you see him, him or anyone. Anyone not me. I couldn’t stop it those times, but I can stop it now.
“Because, see, when you remember it’s not good for anyone. You know your old life and it hurts you to not have it anymore and then I have to spend time and energy whipping the skin from your bones over and over and over again for weeks to make you forget again. It’s just a bad deal all around, so how about you just try and forget about it all for good?”
As he spoke, Alastair settled himself into a large, comfy-looking chair that had appeared out of nowhere in front of Buffy. He set one foot on the opposite knee and rested his elbows on the arms of the chair, his fingers steepling together in front of his face. His face, today, was not his true face, which Buffy was thankful for. Instead, it was a kind, grandfatherly face with a large grey beard. He was dressed in an expensive-looking, pin striped, black suit with a black shirt and a crimson tie, which matched the stripes of his suit. He lifted the fedora he wore off of his head and gave it a light toss, landing it perfectly on her blond and blood stained hair. Then he watched in satisfied silence as his hellhounds ate the Slayer alive, like they had many, many times before.
“Two hundred years?” Dean asked, staring at the woman above him in utter shock.
She gave a sharp nod. “Two hundred and forty nine years, three months, one week, six days,” she told him, stuttering a little over the words, refusing to look at him as she spoke. Her eyes flicked up and met his again and she admitted softly, “I counted.”
Dean ran a hand roughly over his face and got unsteadily to his feet, swaying with the effort. It was the most he had moved in four months.
Her hand shot out to catch him as he started to fall and she pulled him upright. “Steady there, Dean,” she cautioned, seeming to have shaken off the gloom the talk of hell had brought to her.
“So,” he said when he had gotten his feet under him. “What happens now?”
She brushed her dirty hands on her even dirtier jeans as she considered his question. “Now,” she began slowly, “we go see your family. We’ll start with Bobby, I think, and then go find your brother. First, have some water.” She dug a bottle of water out of a duffel bag at her feet that he hadn’t noticed before.
He gulped the water down greedily when she handed it to him, letting the cool liquid soothe his tired throat and rejuvenate his aching body, and then dumped the remaining water over his head.
One corner of the woman’s mouth turned up in a small smile. “Come on, let’s get to the car.” She paused, giving him a considering look before she said, “My name is Buffy, by the way. Buffy Summers.”
Buffy zipped down the highway in her sporty little Miata that the Council had bought for her as a company car. Dean was in the passenger seat with his eyes closed as though he was asleep, but Buffy knew better. He drummed his fingers on his knee and sighed occasionally.
So she didn’t bother to worry if he was listening when she said, “Dean, you should call Bobby before we turn up on his doorstep. At least give him a heads up. We’ll be there in ten, so it won’t be much of a heads up, but it’s something.”
She tossed him her cell phone and watched as he quickly punched in a number he clearly knew by heart. She watched the road and listened to Dean’s side of the conversation. “Bobby? … It’s me … Dean.” He set the phone down and sighed. “He hung up on me,” he told her.
Buffy wasn’t surprised and told him so. “Call him again,” she instructed.
Dean did as she said and again she listened as he spoke to Bobby. “Bobby, listen to me,” Dean implored.
Buffy vaguely made out a gruff voice replying, “This ain’t funny. Call again, I’ll kill ya.” Dean gave her phone back to her, looking troubled.
“Don’t sweat it, buddy,” she reassured him. “What do you expect? A warm welcome? It’s gonna be tough to convince him that you’re you, even when you’re staring him in the face.” She shot him a sunny smile and said, “I hope you’re ready. We’re here.”