Steel is HeatedDisclaimer:
Still don’t own either of them.
Buffy lay awake that night, after a long tear filled talk with her mother, thinking. In her delusion Xander would tell her not to do that, it’d get her hurt one day and she’d laugh. Here... Xander Harris had been dead for five years, killed by a werehyena who was put down by the clan it came from. The Oba of the clan had offered an apology for the actions of the rogue member of her pack but the friend of Buffy’s, who had been a friend for years even before the asylum, was dead.
Buffy got up off her bed then and started pacing her room. She couldn’t forget what happened in her delusion, even if she knew all of it was fake. Imprints of what happened there stayed even though some memories were hard to bring up. For instance, she knew how to use every blade in the house, even the letter opener in her mother’s desk, as a lethal weapon. She hadn’t known that before. She didn’t have this... instinctual knowledge of how to fight, and how to kill.
It might have scared her if she didn’t know that somehow it was from the delusion. That even monsters have something they’re afraid of, a boogeyman, and she was it... at least, she was in the delusion. She knew it wasn’t the truth but her brain still knew eight ways to kill a person with the pocketknife in her drawer.
Dismissing the morbid thoughts from her mind Buffy shook her head and laid back down, finally sleeping.
Buffy snapped out of her slumber with an instant awareness she once again attributed to her seven years in the hospital. ‘No reason to worry about it I suppose,’ Buffy mused as she got up, walking down the stairs smelling bacon, the smell making her salivate. Mmm Bacon.
“Hello honey. Have a good night?” Joyce’s asked from the stove as Buffy slid into a chair at the table.
“Sat up thinking for a while, but I slept ok.” Buffy responded with a smile the subject bringing her back to how the knife her mom was using to chop up onions could be used to kill a vampire with a flick of her wrist.
Joyce, unaware of the images flowing through her daughter’s head, smiled gently and asked “What about?”
Buffy sat there for a moment, silently thinking. “What do you know about the world I was trapped in for the past seven years?”
Joyce thought for a moment, though Buffy could tell it was faked difficulty in remembrance. “You thought you were some kind of chosen warrior right? Destined to fight vampires and werewolves and the like.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. In this both delusion and reality were the same. Associating werewolves and their problems with other supernatural creatures. “Not werewolves. Werewolves were just people with a crappy lot in life. It was a curse, not a virus like here in real life.”
Joyce appeared worried, “Why are you asking honey? You don’t-”
Cutting her mother off Buffy shook her head. Best to clear that up right now. “I don’t think it’s real? No. I know it was just a coping mechanism to help my mind heal... thing is. I think it might’ve worked a little too well.”
“What do you mean?” Joyce asked, her face contorting in confusion, though she never stopped paying attention to the food.
Buffy sighed, time to bring up the flaming pink elephant in the corner. “Mom... you’ve known I’m a werelion haven’t you. Since before I was hospitalized.”
Joyce hung her head. “I did. I figured it out that morning you said you were “So hungry I could eat a gazel- deer”.” Buffy blushed, that had been right after the first full moon she’d turned, “It was almost funny. I never talked about it though because...”
“You were ashamed,” Buffy interrupted again, raising a hand to stall objections. “It’s ok mom. I was ashamed at the time too. I was terrified of what dad would think, what the kids at school would think.”
Joyce nearly growled in anger, despite her still being very human, at the memory of what Hank’s reaction had
been. “That man is no dad of yours! I made the apparently wise decision to tell him what you were when you were in the hospital... the bastard called you a monster. You! His precious little princess. He loved you, then on the spur of the moment the bastard decides that because you got clawed up that you’re a man killing monster.” Joyce took a shuddering breath.
Buffy stared at her mother, the depth’s of her mom’s rage at Hank’s betrayal hadn’t been known to her last night. Then again, they hadn’t talked about him at all last night, maybe this was why.
“I’m sorry dear. It’s just that everytime I think about what that bastard pulled... Anyway, you were talking about your being a werelion?”
“Well, you probably know that I can bench-press your volvo fairly easily, like in my delusion... but well... I wasn’t the most responsible of teens. Nor the most knowledgeable about how to defend myself without killing someone. The Rex of my pride was going to have one of his bodyguards teach me, so I’d be safe, before the vampire called my beast,” Buffy started, trying to figure out how to tell her mom she was now a lethal killing machine without outright saying it. “Now that I’m out... I need to follow through with those plans.”
“Are you sure sweetie? You don’t have to learn how to fight you know.”
“No mom. I do have to learn. It isn’t just about knowing how to fight,” Buffy denied, shaking her head. Indeed, what did she need to learn for? She already knew how to fight. “It’s about control... If I lose control at the wrong time, that strength that can pick up a volvo with relative ease could easily break someone’s neck and kill them. There’s a shifter gym, or was anyway, a couple blocks over. The Celestial Gymnasium. They can help me.”
Joyce nodded slowly. “It’s still there. After... after The Bastard left, some of the members of your pride came by to comfort me. They said they’d heard from a shifter neighbor of ours that I supported you, in spite of your disease, and that they wanted to know how much they appreciated it, and how much you would appreciate it when you woke up. When I asked why they were so sure that you would wake up one of them said “Buffy is young, but she has a strong mind. I have no doubt that she will come back to the land of the living all the better for her ordeal”.”
Buffy smiled, “That sounds like Marco alright. He was the Rex’s second, and he owns Celestial Gymnasium.”
Joyce raised an eyebrow, finishing cooking and serving it onto two plates Buffy’s plate being stacked high with bacon and eggs, much higher than her own. Sitting down she mused aloud, “That’s odd isn’t it? He introduced himself as the Rex.”
Buffy took a moment to finish the piece of bacon in her hand, buying time to think of how to explain it to her mother. “First thing you should understand is that as a whole... lycans are almost more animal than human. We’re very instinctual, and because of that, very likely to organize into groups similar to our regular animal counterparts. If Marco introduced himself as the Rex. Then that’s what he is. He either left his old pride and challenged a different Rex for leadership, or he challenged Lamont, the lion who had been Rex before Lethe called my beast.”
“Honey, you talk about what happened so calmly, are you sure you’re ok?” Joyce asked, she knew her daughter had been put through a horrible trauma, bad enough to make her catatonic for seven years, and it worried her that Buffy was able to talk about it so calmly.
“Mom, I remember it clearly now and yes, it was horrible. It broke my mind for seven years but one of the things those seven years taught me. Pain is temporary. It is how we react to it that defines us. I won’t let one night’s pain ruin my life. I am stronger than I was before mom. Mentally and spiritually. I’m not the same bratty spoiled californian princess who needed to grow. I’m sorry it happened all in my head and you’ll never get your little girl back but... I’m not sorry that I grew up,” Buffy spoke, steel flashing behind her eyes, her conviction echoing through her voice, the utter surety of her words calming Joyce immediately. If her daughter was so sure of her own state, no one
had any right, nor reason, to question it.
Joyce looked at her watch. “Well... I have to get to the gallery, those artists aren’t going to book themselves. Are you going to go to the gym today?”
Buffy nodded, too busy eating all of the bacon, mmm bacon, to answer her mother.
Joyce laughed. “I’ll never get over the fact that you can eat your weight in bacon, and now can do it without gaining an ounce.”
Buffy gave a smartass grin as Joyce stood up and readied to leave. Five minutes later she was done eating and heading out the door herself. Time to tell the pride she was back.