9.Knocking On Heavens Door.
“So, what do I do now?” Goldman asked his platoon sergeant the following morning as they stood together on the crest of the ridge over looking the valley they'd just fought their way out of.
After the battle with the Martian, Goldman had called Sergeant Anderson down to take a look at the beast. The two men had looked from the monster to Buffy and back again. They were both asking themselves the same question; how could a tiny woman like Buffy kill a creature that was nearly twice her height and probably weighed three or four times what she did? They got around this question by not asking it, they got around the question of what to do with the monster in a much more spectacular way.
Using a couple of white phosphorous grenades and some C4 explosive they blew the creature and all its equipment to kingdom come. While the fireworks caused by the Martian's final destruction was pretty breath taking it had also probably alerted every VC or NVA in the valley to their presence, it was time to move on.
Getting back to the platoon position, Buffy noticed several things; first off Myron, Sergeant Anderson and the three soldiers who'd seen her and the monster weren't talking about it. In fact the story was being put out that they'd been attacked by the VC. Secondly, Myron kept giving her 'odd' looks, the sort of looks that said he'd seen more than he was letting on. Thirdly and finally, somehow Bunny, Bella and Betty had slept right through the 'VC attack' and were in fact still sleeping like the dead under their borrowed poncho.
After several attempts and having almost been reduced to kicking the girls awake, Buffy finally got them on their feet and moving. After getting them to eat the C-rations she'd been given the previous night and drinking some water, she'd had them roll up the ponchos and carry them. Of course in the time it had taken her to get the girls moving the rest of the platoon was up, packed and ready to go.
Moving through the dark forest, Buffy was alive to the possible threats all around her. Like; could there be another of those things out there? Could the VC be lying in wait for them just around the next bend in the track? Was she in deep trouble and maybe the time had come for her to disappear into the jungle never to be seen again? This last looked pretty good to Buffy, she wouldn't have to explain who or what she was, particularly when people who knew the real 'Buffy Summers' from this time and reality found out she wasn't who she said she was. As it turned out Buffy never had to answer any of these questions, thanks in the main to the VC.
Walking along the trail, somewhere in the middle of the column, Buffy started to get the strongest of feelings that the platoon were walking into a trap. Telling her girls to stay where they were, Buffy made her way to the front of the long line of men to where Myron walked. Taping him on the shoulder Buffy smiled once again as the poor guy almost jumped out on his skin at her touch. Telling herself that if she expected to get him to take her on a date she'd have to stop making him jump like that, it probably wasn't doing his heart any good.
“Myron,” Buffy said in a loud whisper; she'd never been very good at this 'covert' stuff the military went in for, yeah she could be sneaky but this covert crap, not so much.
“Buffy!” Myron made a great effort not to shout her name out loud, “what are doing up here? I told you to...”
“Yeah, right, whatever,” Buffy replied dismissing Myron's concerns with a wave of her hand, “don't ask me how I know, but we're walking into an ambush.”
“An ambush?” Myron asked; he was just about to ask her how she knew when he remembered she'd asked him not to, next he remembered seeing Buffy sitting astride the dead alien, covered in its blood and with his bayonet clutched in her small hands. “okay,” Myron asked slowly, “where?”
After telling Sergeant Anderson to take command of the rest of the platoon, Goldman took his first squad on a wide out flanking move that fifteen or twenty minutes later found them behind the VC ambush. There was a short, vicious and thankfully one sided firefight that left half a dozen VC dead and another four or five running for their lives through the bush.0=0=0=0
“So what do I do?” Myron repeated as he and Anderson looked out over the valley that looked so peaceful under its covering of trees, blue sky and fluffy white clouds.
“Do about what, L-t?” Anderson asked innocently, “I mean you led the platoon out of trouble when we were cut off. We rescued those dancers and killed a lot of VC, I'm thinking you should be in for some sort of citation...”
“No I mean that Martian, or whatever it was,” Myron searched the sky to the south and west, the choppers would be here soon; Horn, his RTO, had managed to get through to Firebase Ladybird and help was on its way.
“What Martian?” Anderson shrugged, “I didn't see no Martian and neither did Johnson, Taylor or Percell and neither did anyone else in the platoon.”
“What?” Goldman held his voice down to normal levels even though he wanted to shout the question out loud.
“Seems to me, you and the guys tracked down a VC sapper squad and took them out,” Anderson smiled conspiratorially at his officer, “why spoil a good after action report with tails about Martians? You know as well as I do that stories like that can cause no end of grief for up and coming Lieutenants and their long suffering platoon sergeants.”
“Yeah,” Goldman agreed after a moments thought, “I wouldn't want to make my platoon sergeant's life any harder than it is...but...”
“What do I say about Buffy's part in all this?” Goldman glanced over to where Buffy sat with her girls.
“Personally Sir, if you were to ask me...”
“I'm asking Sergeant,” Goldman said with a half smile.
“I'd say Miss Summers held it together under extremely trying circumstances,” Anderson almost sounded like he was actually reading Lt Goldman's after action report, “she kept her girls moving and showed unexpected leadership qualities while keeping up the moral of the platoon by her selfless actions...”
“Selfless actions?” Goldman asked.
“Hey L-t,” Anderson shrugged, “you know the sort of thing to say...like, she spotted that VC ambush before we walked into because she'd been in the Girl Scouts or something and seen something outta place...come on L-t use your imagination.”
“Lie you mean?” Goldman quieried.
“I wouldn't say 'lie' so much as bend the truth,” Anderson looked hopefully at Goldman willing him to make the decision that would have them all coming out of this, if not smelling of roses, then at least smelling a lot better than they did at the moment.
“Okay,” Goldman nodded, “you make sure the guys have got their stories straight, right?”
“No problem there, L-t.”
“...and I'll talk to Buffy.”0=0=0=0
“Miss Summers?” Goldman called as he walked over to where Buffy sat on the ground with her three surviving dancers.
“Oh crap,” Buffy sighed as she climbed to her feet, “this sounds bad and I'd just got you to call me Buffy.”
“We need to talk,” Goldman led Buffy out of ear shot of her friends.
“Okay, tell me how much trouble I'm in,” Buffy sighed and started to wish she'd quietly disappeared the night before.
“Who...” Myron struggled to find the right words, “...what are you?”
“Just a girl,” was it only a couple of days ago she'd been asked the self same question by a vamp and she'd given him the self same answer?
“No,” Myron shook his head, “I saw what you did to that thing, you really wailed on that...that...whatever it was, so who are you?”
“Y'know how in all the horror films the monster chases after the pretty, blonde, girl and cuts her up into little pieces?” Buffy asked resignedly.
“Uh-huh,” Myron nodded, all the time wondering where Buffy was going with this.
“Well,” Buffy sighed heavily, “I'm the pretty...you do think I'm pretty, right?” Myron nodded, “Okay, whatever, I'm the pretty, blonde girl that the monsters
run away from...”
“Really?” Myron said slowly as he eyed the girl in front of him and wondered if she was telling him the truth, after only a few seconds he decided that it might be fun finding out. “Okay, this is what really happened...”
“Huh?” Buffy had really expected more questions, but this was good.
“I'm going to write a glowing report about you,” Myron explained, “how you held it together and how you were an asset to the platoon, but...”
“But?” here it comes thought Buffy.
“There was no 'Martians' or monsters that you didn't kill because they weren't there for you to kill, you got that?”
“I-I think so,” Buffy replied slightly puzzled, perhaps things would turn out for the best after all.
“When we get back to Ladybird...” Myron began but was interrupted by a soft giggle from Buffy.
“Whatever,” Myron continued, “when we get there you and your guys will be sent on up the line pretty quickly and we won't get much of a chance to talk again. So, just keep your story to the bare minimum, right?” Myron waited for Buffy to nod her head before continuing, “How you got shot down, how we found you and so on...”
“But no monsters,” Buffy suddenly realised that Myron was trying to work this so she wouldn't have to answer any embarrassing questions about herself.
“No monsters,” Myron agreed, “let my report do the talking and we'll both get out of this with our skins intact.”
“Like no answering any questions from people who work for organisations going by the name of, 'The Initiative'.”
“You don't want to know,” Buffy noticed Myron open his mouth to press his question, “no Myron, trust me on this when I say, you don't want to know
“Okay,” Myron seemed to be taking Buffy's suggestion on board because he changed the subject, “so what are going to do once you get back to Saigon, head back to The World?”
“Well,” Buffy shrugged, “I think I've totally had it with the entire dancing gig, far too exciting...I thought maybe I'd stay in Vietnam and get an office job working for the USO, I have some college and if a curtain young Lieutenant were to offer to take a girl out on a dinner date or something...”
“Oh, I'm sure there's a Lieutenant around here somewhere who'd risk taking you out,” Myron laughed.0=0=0=0Saigon, early 1968.
The bed springs squeaked as Buffy rolled over to look at Myron as he lay in the bed next to her.
“I hope you don't think that I'm totally the kinda girl who goes to bed with a guy on the first date?” Buffy asked, “Coz it feels like we've known each other for way longer than just the few days we've actually spent together.”
After returning to Saigon, Buffy had in fact got an office job with USO due in no small way to the report that Myron had written. A couple of months ago she and the other girls had been big news, but that had only lasted until the next big military operation. Bunny, Bella and Betty had all gone back to the States while Buffy had stayed in country so she could stay near to where Myron was stationed.
“I know what you mean,” Myron turned to get a cigarette but stopped when he saw the disapproving look Buffy was giving him, “I hope you don't think I'm the sort of guy who'd take advantage of a girl who's a long way from home.”
“Nah,” Buffy shook her head, “I'd never think that an' anyway you were helpless in my hands, you didn't do anything that I hadn't planed for you to do.”
“I didn't?” Myron raised his head to look down to where Buffy rested her head against his chest, “I'll show you helpless!”
Rolling Buffy on to her back, Myron let his hands roam over her body, the mere sight and smell of her made him want her even more than he'd thought was possible. Close bodily contact with Buffy had long convinced him that she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with; he only hoped that she felt the same way as he did.0=0=0=0Los Angeles, 1980.
“My God!” Buffy exclaimed quietly as she saw her mother sitting reading a magazine on a park bench overlooking the lake, her mother really had had blonde hair!
Using the knowledge she'd long ago got out of her mother, Buffy had managed to track down the young Joyce Summers. After leaving college, she'd married Buffy's dad and gone to work in an art gallery. Not long after starting her career, Joyce'd fallen pregnant with Buffy. Having followed her mother to the park on two or three occasions, Buffy had decided that today was the day that she'd go over and talk to the young woman, who was going to be her mother pretty damn soon!
“Myron Junior,” Buffy looked down at her nine year old son and handed him a Frisbee, “take this and your brother,” James was six, “and go play. Now you two play nice and don't go wondering off.”
Buffy watched as her two boys ran off across the grass and started to throw the Frisbee to each other. Taking a firm grip on the handle of the stroller she pushed it and her three year old daughter, Alice towards the bench where her mother sat.
“Excuse me,” Buffy smiled down at her mother and felt her heart go flip-flop in her chest, “do you mind if I join you?”
“No,” Joyce smiled up at the older woman with her toddler asleep in her stroller, “be my guest.”
“Thanks,” Buffy sat down making sure that Alice's face was in the shade, she gestured at her mother's belly all the while wanting to hug her mom and maybe warn her about the dangers of brain tumours, “Is that your first?”
“Why yes,” Joyce smiled as she stroked her bulging stomach, she smiled down at Alice as she slept on not knowing the turmoil going on in her mother's mind and heart right at that moment, “Who's the sleeping beauty?”
“That's Alice,” Buffy replied proudly, she'd desperately wanted a girl after having two boys, “and those little monsters,” Buffy pointed to where her son's game of Frisbee had turned in to a rough and tumble fight, “are my boys Myron and James.”
“Myron?” Joyce couldn't help herself from asking.
“Yeah I know,” Buffy shrugged, “but my father-in-law sorta insisted.”
“Forceful kinda guy?” Joyce asked.
“A General,” Buffy admitted.
“Your husband in the military too?” Joyce asked politely.
“Yep, a Lt Colonel in the infantry, we've just come back from three years in Europe,” where Buffy had looked up Giles but hadn't spoken to him.
“Wow, what's it like being an army wife,” Joyce asked, “it must be cool going to all those exotic places.”
“I wouldn't have called West Germany exactly 'exotic',” Buffy laughed, “but it was fun...”
“I'm Joyce Summers by the way,” Joyce turned and offered her hand to Buffy.
“Buffy Goldman,” Buffy replied as she took her mother's hand and wished she could tell her how much she missed her.
“Buffy?” Joyce mused, “That's a pretty name...like that folk singer...” Joyce hesitated, “...I'm thinking on calling my girl Edwina, after my grandmother.”
“Edwina!?” Buffy gasped, not wishing to spend her life being called 'Edwina the Vampire Slayer', she tried to put her mom off the idea.
After twenty minutes or so, Buffy had convinced her mother that 'Edwina' was a bad choice and 'Buffy' was a much better one. Even so Buffy sighed as she realised that she'd just named herself, her life, she decided was just way too complicated.0=0=0=0 2nd October, 2001.
Fifty-three year old Buffy Goldman lay in her hospital bed, surround by her husband her kids and her grand kids. It had been a good life and her only regret was that it could have been a little longer so she could have enjoyed being a grandmother for just a while longer. But, not even being the slayer could help her now, it seemed brain tumours ran on her mother's side of the family. The doctors had cut it out but the damn thing had grown back bigger and better than ever. It was the tumour that had caused her to crash her car and now she was dying; there was nothing anyone could do. With only a few minutes left, Buffy turned to her husband of more than thirty years and smiled.
“Myron honey, I'm tired, I think I should go now,” she said sadly.
“No,” Myron leant towards his wife and squeezed her hand gently in his own, “just a few more minutes.”
“You know a few more minutes would never be enough, we'd always want a few more,” Buffy glanced at the machines that were keeping her alive, “I want you to do it, I haven't got the strength.”
“But...” if Myron was going to say anything more the words stuck in his throat.
Buffy looked away from her husband and over at her children.
“Kids,” her voice was barely above a whisper now, “could you leave your dad an' me alone for a while?”
Once Buffy and Myron were alone Buffy turned back to her husband and gave him a sad smile.
“I wouldn't have wanted to live my life any other way, Myron,” she said weakly, “you gave me 'normal' and I've always loved you for that, so let me go now...please...looks like the last monster finally caught up with me...”
Standing up, Myron bent over his wife and kissed her on her fore head. Out of sight of Buffy his hand searched for the switch that controlled the life support machine, he switched it off. The monitors registered Buffy's decreasing heart rate and vital signs until there was just a long steady beep to mark his wife's passing. He looked down at the face of the woman he'd loved and saw how peaceful, how serene it was, how she still smiled up at him just like she'd always done for the last thirty years.0=0=0=0
Waking up in the dark, at the exact moment that her older self died, Buffy knew with a certainty that couldn’t be denied that she’d died and she’d gone somewhere where she’d been loved. That somehow she was back in her own world and she was lying in her coffin. With a strength born of the slayer added to her panic at being buried ‘alive’, Buffy fought her way out of her coffin and towards the surface; somehow she had to go and find her husband and her children.The End.
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