Buffy quietly made her way through the streets of LA, hugging her coat around her even in the warm night. Trying to find some protection from the memories that constantly assailed her. All around, the hustle and bustle of city life continued unobserved by the figure making her way wearily through the dark streets.
She was finding it almost impossible to find even badly paid jobs as a waitress available in the locality of her apartment, and had recently been walking further and further each day in search of work. Her money would hold out for another month on a dull diet of canned foods, but she needed to find work soon.
Passing by a dark side street, which ironically was the same one in which she had retrieved her property from the thief, she felt a strong pull on her arm and stumbled, off balance into the alley. Catching herself on a dumpster, she looked around for the cause of her fall, when behind her she felt a familiar presence.
“My, aren’t you a pretty little thing?” The vampire looked her up and down hungrily, the lust in his expression not entirely for her blood. Buffy appraised her adversary pityingly; considering the strength and skill of the last vampire she had fought this one was small fry.
As the guilt and despair that hit each time she let her thoughts slip to him made her lose her concentration on her foe, he struck; pinning one arm against her side and the other above her head as he forced her into the wall, lowering his head in for the kill. Buffy kneed him in the groin, and then stamped on his foot. It wasn't exactly a move encouraged in slayer training, but the skills from women’s self defence classes worked just as well against hungry vamps as they did rapists. Well, they did if you have slayer strength to put behind them.
“Bitch.” He hissed through his teeth groaning in pain, and accidentally releasing his hold on her. Quickly recovering, he lunged at her; determined to make her pay for her attack. “Who do you think you are?”
Buffy didn’t even register the question; the repressed energy that had been building up inside her in the past few weeks without patrolling finally being given a means of escape. Muttering angrily as she hit the vampire again and again, pushing him back against the wall with her powerful blows.
“I just wanted to be left alone.” She hit him on his jaw, snapping his head around, “To leave it behind.” Her kick connected with the back of his knee, making him crumple to the ground, “But no, you had to pick me for your meal tonight…”
She paused, finally noticing what she had done to her opponent. His face bloodied and bruised from the hits that had connected. Blood was seeping out onto his shirt where one of the many ribs she had felt break under her blows had pierced the skin, and the angle of his leg proved that she had completely smashed the knee joint with her kick.
Shuddering at the pain her power had caused once again, she staggered back from the battered form. The desire to kill flowed through her along with the strength that being a slayer provided. She repressed that drive, forcing down the adrenaline and need which had flooded through her body at the first sign of danger, feeding on her anguish to make her lash out. She wasn’t the slayer anymore. That had been left behind, her belief in what she had been fighting for as shattered as her heart.
“You’ll never do it, you know.” She heard the balance demon’s voice behind her, and turned to find Whistler leaning against the wall at the mouth of the alley. He must have been there for a while, watching her thrash the vampire that was now a bloody heap of broken bones.
Buffy ignored him and returned her attention to the vampire making low moans on the floor. Reaching into her pocket, she was momentarily surprised to find it empty before she remembered. She hadn’t bought a stake with her, hadn't been going to slay; had never been planning to do so again. She started scanning the alleyway for anything wooden that she could use to put the vampire out of its misery.
Whistler lazily pushed himself up off the wall and kicked a half destroyed wooden crate towards her. It hit into the vampires mangled leg causing a loud groan to escape from its mouth. “The slaying; you can’t leave it behind.” He continued responding to the unvoiced question that hung in the air.
“Watch me.” Buffy thrust a slat broken off the crate into the vampire’s chest, trying to ignore the sense of rightness, of freedom, of animalistic joy at the defeat of a trespasser in her territory as he crumbled into dust.
She stood slowly, trying to convince the inner slayer that this was enough, that she didn’t need to hunt…. She shook her head trying to clear her thoughts; not hunt, patrol. Buffy crushed the wishes of the slayer until they could be hidden away in an untidy corner of her mind, suppressing that feral power in every way she could, and started to move past the demon onto the street.
“They’ll keep on finding you, they can sense you in the same way you can them. They see you and hunger for your blood, your power; even if they don’t understand why.”
Buffy stared at him for a moment with concern, then her face hardened and she rejected his words. “Just leave me alone.”
“You don’t understand; there’s more to come. You can’t stop it. You have to be ready.” Whistlers’ normally impassive face actually began to look slightly worried as he stepped towards the slayer, blocking her escape.
Anger flashed across her face “Like you made me ready to send the man I love into hell?” She questioned mockingly “Stay away from me, or I’ll make good on my warning.”
She hit out at him, forcing her anger into the movement, meaning perhaps to knock him down, to give herself a chance to leave. Hopefully to at least make the demon be quiet or even go away. That was what her anger fed into, what was in her mind as her arm swung towards his face; make him leave me alone. Before she even made contact, the demon was flying backwards across the street.
Her guilt over Angel’s death, the pain she had caused her friends. The anger at whomever had chosen her for this cursed life; the beings that had decided she was worthy of the pain, loneliness and short lifespan that came with being the slayer. All her anguish had gone behind that one gesture.
Whistler hit into the wall of the building opposite with a resounding thud, narrowly missing the shops windows. Buffy relaxed slightly, not having even noticed her muscles tense as the demon started to fly. No one would come to investigate the sound of a beating, but the smash of a shop window being broken into would bring the whole neighbourhood out in the hopes of some looting, as well as the shop owner to protect his interests.
The stonework gave way to the force of the blow and crumbled, sending up clouds of dust into the air as Whistler landed on the ground. He stood up and attempted to clean his garish outfit, sending an angry glance Buffy’s way when he gave up ridding himself of the dust.
“Do you know how much this costs to dry-clean?” Buffy ignored his irritable question and crossed the street, grabbing him by the throat and pushing him up against the dent his impact had made in the shops wall, counteracting his previous efforts.
“Stay away from me.”
Whistler smiled pityingly down at her, his feet handing a few centimetres off the ground as she held him. “It doesn’t matter.” She dropped him, exasperated at his refusal to stop. “You can’t escape it now.” he continued as, ignoring the demon’s infuriatingly cryptic words, she turned and started walking to her apartment.
He shouted out after her, “It’s only a matter of time before they find you.” He sighed as the door slammed behind her and continued in a murmur, “I just hope she’s ready for it.”
~ ~ ~
Buffy took a deep breath and slowly let it out as she leant her back against the doorway to her unappealing concrete stairwell. Was there going to be no escape from them? Hadn’t she done enough; sacrificing herself and her lover to keep the world out of hell.
There was always another vampire lurking around the next corner, another apocalypse. It never stopped. She forced herself up the stairs and let herself into the apartment, collapsing fully clothed onto her bed and falling into a blissfully dreamless sleep.