My note: I don't own the characters of concepts. I just like them. I wanted to write something depressing. I'm not sure I hit the mark. Let me know?Graveside Comfort
It was sunny out. It shouldn't have been. It should've been rainy, and sombre, and grey.
Instead, it was a nice day. It didn't feel appropriate to her. It shouldn't have been nice.
The weather was the least of Buffy's concerns though. She looked around.
There were a number of people here, some she recognised, some she didn't. Her friends were here too, supporting her, supporting Dawn. She didn't know what she'd do without them.
"We commend to almighty God our sister, Joyce Summers and we commit her body to the ground," the minister intoned solemnly. "Earth to earth... ashes to ashes... and dust to dust. The Lord bless her and keep her. The Lord makes his face to shine upon her and be gracious to her. The Lord lift up his countenance upon her... and give her peace."
His words rang hollow in her ears. With everything she'd seen, everything she'd done, everything that'd happened to her, Buffy found it hard to believe in a benevolent god, especially today.
The service ended, but she hardly seemed to notice.
As the group broke up, Tara moved over to Buffy, tapping her gently on the shoulder, bringing her back to reality.
"Hey, um, Dawn's kind of ready to go," Tara said, her voice quiet, a little hesitant. "Can we take her with us?"
"Yeah," Buffy said quietly. She heard her own voice. It seemed so distant. "She should probably get out of here."
"What about you?" Tara asked, concerned. "We can wait if you want."
Buffy forced a smile. Tara really was a good friend. "I'm fine. Thank you."
Tara looked doubtful, but she rejoined the others. She whispered something to Willow and Dawn and they turned to leave.
A few of the other mourners stopped to offer her words of condolence, of sympathy. She thanked them as politely as she could, with a nod, a word of thanks, a forced smile, never turning away from her mother's grave.
And then she was alone.
"She wouldn't want you to be sad, would she?"
Buffy looked up, startled, to see a young guy, standing there, not ten feet away. He looked like he was in his late twenties, maybe twenty-nine. He had short brown hair, a warm tan face, and warm blue eyes. He was dressed simply, in a cream-coloured sweater and jeans.
Buffy shook her head. She hadn't heard him arrive. "Huh?"
"Your mother," the guy clarified.
Buffy was only half paying attention. Her thoughts were elsewhere, the immediate future, and beyond. "What?"
"Your mother wouldn't want you to be sad," the guy said. His voice was quiet, calm, soothing even.
"Oh," Buffy said. She shook her head. "Well, I can't help it."
She hadn't really let it sink in yet. She'd been keeping herself busy, knowing that when she finally stopped, it'd hit her like an angry hellgod.
She really didn't want to talk to this guy, so why was she? Maybe because he reminded her of her mom. It was something in his eyes, something Buffy couldn't quite put her finger on.
"My name is Orlin," said the guy.
"Buffy," Buffy responded quietly.
Again they lapsed into silence. Buffy studied Orlin. It was definitely something in his eyes that reminded her of her mother. "How did you know her?"
Orlin smiled slightly. "We used to live on the same plane of existence. For millions of years."
Buffy shook her head. There was no way she heard that right. "Come again?"
"She was an ascended being," Orlin said, "like me."
"A-ascended being?" Buffy asked, confused. She looked around. Was this guy for real? Was he at the right funeral? This had to be some kind of sick joke! "Did the Powers That Be send you?" Buffy asked angrily. Tears were welling up in her eyes. She could feel them, threatening to spill out over her cheeks. "Are you some kind of messenger, come to tell me it's all part of some grand plan? A destiny thing?"
Orlin tilted his head, frowning, confused. "I came here because I thought you'd want to know what kind of person your mother was," he said, not bothered by her anger. "I'm not sure I understand. What are these powers that you spoke of?"
"Y-you really don't know?"
"We're not supposed to interfere in corporeal things," Orlin said by way of explanation.
Buffy looked away, her anger evaporating. She felt empty again, helpless again, alone. He was telling the truth. Some part of her knew that.
"What was she like? When she was like you, I mean?"
Orlin smiled at the question. His eyes became distant for a moment. "She didn't call herself Joyce then, but it's been so long I've forgotten what her real name was," he said. He smiled again, fondly. "She was strong, compassionate, a true friend. She didn't really change much when she retook human form."
"Retook? Then she was...?"
Orlin nodded. "Before she ascended, your mother was a lot like you are now."
Buffy smiled weakly at that. She wondered if he knew what she was. The slayer. It didn't matter. "Why didn't she tell me?"
"Maybe she didn't want to burden you with that knowledge," Orlin offered.
"I guess," Buffy answered, non-committal. It did sound like her mom. She'd hidden her possible cancer until the night she'd gone in for testing, not wanting to worry her girls.
"Did she ever tell you how she met your father?" Orlin asked.
"Yeah," Buffy said, nodding. "They met at the Prom, or something."
Buffy gave Orlin a searching look. He was in love with her mom, she realised suddenly. He was here to mourn as much as she was. "It was love at first sight, she said. She loved him very much."
"It wasn't enough for him, though, was it?" Buffy asked bitterly. She hadn't even been able to get a hold of her father for the funeral.
"She loved you more," Orlin said. "She stayed human because she loved you."
"Right," Buffy said. Why would anyone choose to stay like this if they had something better? "She really chose to stay this way, sick and all?"
"She did," Orlin said, nodding. "I offered to help her ascend again, but she didn't want to leave you alone."
"I-is that supposed to make me feel better?" Buffy asked.
"It's only supposed to remind you of how much Joyce loved you, how much you meant to her," he said, smiling slightly, sadly. He looked at her, then turned his attention to the grave. "She wouldn't want you to be sad, Buffy."
Buffy looked at the grave too. Her mother's final resting place. They hadn't even got a headstone yet. That was supposed to come later on.
He'd given her a lot to think about. Her mom was some kind of, of higher being? She wasn't sure why, but Buffy knew it was true.
And she gave it up for her?
Orlin was right. Her mom wouldn't want her to be sad, wouldn't want her destroying herself with grief. She still had issues she had to figure out, but it didn't seem quite so impossible now.
She looked up to thank Orlin, but he was gone, vanished into thin air.
A moment later, she felt a strong arm wrap around her in comfort. Angel.