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grief.

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Summary: Buffy gets a phone call.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > General(Recent Donor)LunaFR712,0340101,45530 Dec 1130 Dec 11Yes
A/N
Title: grief.
Summary: Buffy gets a phone call.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Congrats Joss, they’re all your babies (I’m just the concerned social worker who takes them away from you since you’re abusive and places them in a new home ;)

Dedication: To my dog, Lucky. Today my dad finally took her to the vet because her wounds weren’t healing. I expected a thorough cleaning and antibiotics…but then got a call saying she has terminal skin cancer (that’s why the wounds weren’t healing – that is a symptom). She had to be immediately euthanized. Today was one of the worst days of my life. Lucky was 9 years old and has been in my life since I was 17. One of the friendliest & most loving dogs you had ever met. A beautiful white German Shepherd mix. She literally glowed with love and could always make a regular day into a wonderful day. I will miss her terribly :(

This story came about because today got me thinking about death and grief, and the ways people manage.
Or try to manage.
Or don’t.



The overhead florescent light shone fiercely on Buffy’s tired eyes. Wearily, she blinked and hung up her brown pea coat near the door to her office. Sidling into her chair, she clicked the mouse to awaken her computer and promptly clocked-in for the day; clearly she was salaried but Giles repeatedly reminded them that it was only proper to keep track of the number of hours each of them worked.

In the old days her hours were 24/7, but with a hearty batch of baby slayers Buffy was more or less retired. On most days she came in to teach or lead field maneuvers, but today she was supposed to work on a training manual. It was dry and dull work but when she tried to get out of it Giles had manipulatively murmured “Well, I supposed we could to use the old Watcher Council’s Slayer Handbook…”

Buffy would be damned if the book that Kendra had once touted would wind up in the hands of her protégés.

For a moment she paused and silently repeated the name of her kindred spirit. Kendra. She had not thought of her in a long time. Then again, thinking of the dead was never a pleasant pastime.

As the hours dragged on, Buffy’s fingers hit the keyboard at inconsistent rates – one moment she would be focused and another she would be faced with distraction.

She wasn’t quite sure what was distracting her…there was a tense feeling in her chest like tangible apprehension but she had no reason to be worried about anything. It was right after Christmas and no Big Bads were on the scene. All of the bite-sized slayers were mostly visiting family and all staff at the Council Headquarters were in full-on administrative mode.

Still, she couldn’t quite shake it. Finally, she shrugged off the feeling as exhaustion because she probably could have gone to bed earlier than two a.m. – but some habits are harder to break than others. Just because Buffy didn’t stroll through cemeteries as often did not mean she went to bed any earlier.

A dance song began to play and Buffy eyed her cell phone with disdain. An unfamiliar number blinked up at her and she began to reach for it…but then set her fingers back on the keys. Her chapter on “Recommended Martial Art Styles” was almost complete and Buffy knew it was best to ignore random distractions.

Two minutes later her phone beeped. A quick glance told her she had a voice message. Giving into her curiosity – and yes, perhaps that strange feeling of anxiety plaguing her stomach – Buffy pressed play.

“Please enter your pass code.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy punched in her four-digit pass code.

Farrah, one of the administrative assistants, walked into Buffy’s office to bring her the mail. Buffy waved.

A voice drifted over the phone.

“Buffy…it’s Xander.”

Buffy sat straight up and evaded Farrah’s curious eyes. Xander’s voice was soft and there was something about it that made her stomach clench in trepidation.

“I’m at the Cleveland Clinic. Willow just…she came in to get her appendix out, remember? It…something happened, Buff.”

Xander’s voice caught with emotion and Buffy clenched the edge of her desk. Farrah, sensing the tension, wisely left and shut the door behind her.

“It was her heart…they tried…” Xander’s voice wavered and she knew he was struggling to finish what he needed to say.

“They didn’t know. Her heart…I don’t know…was it weak from all the magic? Did Willow take on too much?” Xander paused and his voice hollowed. “She’s dead. I…my cell…I don’t know where it is…just call the hospital…or…come….come here, Buff. Please.”

The line clicked and the automated voice came on, asking her to delete or save the message. She chose neither, and instead turned the phone off. Soon enough she would be making more choices than she cared to, and if possible she wanted to avoid even the simplest of decisions.

Struggling to control her emotions, Buffy took a deep breath and reached for her blue leather purse under her desk. Keys, she needed her keys. Tears brushed tentatively against the corner of her eyes, but Buffy thrust them back.

No, not now. No tears. She had to be strong. She was the caretaker. She needed to go to the hospital and call Giles and Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg, and, oh god, she had to tell Dawnie.

Dawnie, poor Dawnie. Another mother figure lost again.

A single tear leaked out.

Watery eyes searched through the depths of her purse but there were no keys. Why, why did she had such a big purse? Who carried these things? Why couldn’t she be a grown-up and carry something more mature instead of this floppy bag?

A small, animal-like mewling sound left Buffy’s throat.

Then she looked over by the door in a flash of inspiration. Coat! Yes, the keys were in the coat, Buffy realized.

She walked over to the coat rack by the door and thrust her hand into the side pock. Receipt…mint…gloves…dammit. Other pocket. Yes! She had them!

Rubbing the tears out of the corner of her eyes, Buffy grabbed her purse and locked her office door. She was located near the front of the office building, a brief excursion to her car. Except, this time, every echoing step felt like an hour, not a second. The overhead lights gave her no mercy and she rubbed her temple to somewhat block the bright light. The tears were falling silently now (no noise, she couldn’t make noise, not yet) and she yanked the hair band out of her hair. Buffy’s blond locks fell around her ears and she cleverly pushed her hair closer to the front of her face, blocking her features, hiding her.

Willow’s dead.

The sob exited quietly from her throat.

Someone came down the hall; a watcher from Detroit named Henry. Lanky with brilliant white teeth, Henry gave her a friendly smile, but then his eyes caught the wet sheen of tears in her eyes, and his look turned concerned.

“Buffy?”

She ignored him. If she talked, she would break. She needed a moment alone.

‘Get to the car, get to the car,’ was the silent mantra repeating in her head.

Guisselle, the receptionist saw Buffy enter the front foyer. “Hi Buffy! Don’t forget, the Mayor is coming at two!”

Fuck. The Mayor. (No, he wasn’t evil. They checked. And double and triple-checked).

Buffy halted her steps and turned to Guisselle. “I…I can’t. Please reschedule.”

Why did her voice sound so weak? Buffy swallowed heavily. She would need to speak. She had to calm herself. People depended on her.

Guisselle’s warm brown eyes widened in worry. “Oh, Buffy,” she sighed in a comforting tone; one typical of the motherly woman who oversaw the administrative functions of the office. “What happened?”

Buffy went to speak but her body was stripped of the ability to form words. She just…could not say it. A forceful hand rose up in the air, as if Buffy could push back the questions. “L-later,” her voice quavered.

Pivoting, she turned towards the doors and continued the long journey to her car.

The wintry day was overcast but patches of sun peeked past the clouds, like prisoners trying to catch a glimpse of the outside world. It…felt wrong to Buffy. There shouldn’t be sunshine. Not today.

Willow would never see sunshine again.

At that thought, an unbearable sob tore through Buffy’s throat. Willow. Willow, Willow, Willow. Images of her best friend flickered through her mind’s eye and suddenly Buffy realized she was leaning against the car, gasping for breath.

It felt like an unrelentless demon was yanking each sob out of her throat; but there were no demons here. Not today. Nothing she could protect Willow from.

The metal of the car, made cold by the December air, brought relief to Buffy as she laid her hands against it. Her eyes burned with tears, her sobs made her chest hurt, and suddenly she couldn’t breathe. Lips parting to suck in huge mouthfuls of air, Buffy found herself breathing in a little but immediately gasping for more. She…she couldn’t control it. She couldn’t control herself.

She pressed her hands harder against the car, embracing the feel of the cold against her exposed hands and the freezing wind striking her body (why did she forget to put her coat on?). Buffy wasn’t sure how long her panic attack lasted…it could have lasted all day but she finally, finally, claimed control.

Breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth; that’s what meditation had taught her.

Her breath still shook but she no longer was gasping for air; Buffy unlocked her car door and slid in. Key in the ignition, she turned it and then peered at her reflection in the mirror.

Buffy’s eyes looked like liquid surrounded by fire; tears still shone in her eyes and her face was red from grief. Chapped lips were pulled into a frown and she noted in annoyance that the winter wind had dried her face – she needed moisturizer.

God! What was she thinking? Moisturizer? Stupid Valley Girl Buffy. At the core of it all she really was self-centered, wasn’t she?

A quiet mental voice immediately rebuked that statement and Buffy gave her mirror image a grim look. She needed to Calm. Down.

It was then that she realized her Florence + the Machine cd was in the car. The music was playing softly and she idly wondered which song was on. Stiff fingers adjusted the volume as she waited for her car to warm up.


“My boy builds coffins with hammers and nails,
He doesn’t make ships, he has no use for sails.”


Her eyes clenched shut. ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ was the name of the song – and one of Buffy’s favorites.

But now all she could think about was how Willow needed a coffin now.

Buffy’s hands trembled and she took in a gasping breath; it misted in the freezing air. Again, she sought for control. It took several minutes, but she claimed it. Finally, teary-eyed and exhausted with her mental battles, Buffy put the car into drive and headed towards the Cleveland Clinic.



A/N



References:
** Recommended Martial Art Styles – Selected this chapter title thanks to a current Forum topic - http://forum.tthfanfic.org/index.php?topic=7198.0;topicseen
** Why Willow’s heart? Well, imo I put her in the same league as Cordy – Cordelia wasn’t able to properly handle the visions from PTB because she was human. With Willow doing all that black magic in s6 and then that major world-changing spell in s7, there have to be consequences on her body.
**Cleveland Clinic – major hospital in Cleveland (aka home to the ‘Hellmouth’)
**Florence + the Machine – Wonderful group with hauntingly beautiful music. The song ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ is from the album ‘Lungs’. You can YouTube it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lAZ4dKvlFY

The End

You have reached the end of "grief.". This story is complete.

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