Angst-athon challenge response from lj-community allthejellies
Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox, the WB, etc own. I don’t. I’m making no money. I’m doing this purely for fun.
Title: Death and Life
Rating : PG
One thing not allowed: sex
Three things wanted: Set during “When She was Bad,” Late night at the library, a dream sequence.
I’m thinking this came out as way more philosophical and interpretive than the challenger wanted it to be. It also sort of fits into the right before and right after the Master smashing section of the episode, so I’m fudging a little on the challenge timeline. This isn’t my normal angst style for when I choose to write it, and it came out a bit off, not really angsty.
Darkness swirled about Buffy as she walked through the graveyard. She could hear the distinct squish of footsteps behind her, but she did not care. She had somewhere to be.
As she walked, Buffy could feel the warmth of the mud as it seeped into her shoes. The ground pulsed around her while she walked, but she didn’t care. She had somewhere to be.
The footsteps behind her drew closer, but Buffy had reached her goal. A tombstone lay in front of her. It was the grave that was supposed to have been hers. But it wasn’t. She had been too much of a coward, and her Watcher had gone in her place.
“You should be dead,” the voice of the walker whispered in her ear, “You’re life will be his end. It will be all their ends.”
“That isn’t true,” Buffy weakly responded.
“It is. It is true. You will kill all of them. You will kill their souls, their dreams, their hopes and their lives. You are nothing but a monster. You don’t protect them, you feed off of them. It makes you feel good to use your friends. You don’t even know what friends are. You let him die for you when you were supposed to go. Once you go bad, there’s no coming back.”
Buffy shot up from her bed. It took her a moment to realize that she was at her father’s place in L.A. Numbly, she pulled her knees up to her chest. A hundred dreams had come and gone, but they all held the same message, she was supposed to be dead. And, she supposed that she was supposed to be dead, and because Xander had pulled her back from the grave, her friends were going to pay the price.
Well, if her friends were going to get their lives sucked away because of her, then she’d just have to suck herself away first. Willow and Xander had been outcast loners before, they’d adjust to life without Buffy. And Giles…
Tears came unbidden to Buffy’s eyes. Giles had been willing to go fight the Master even though he truly barely knew her. He would have died, but he didn’t care. He cared so much for the world and so much for an unruly teenage girl that he was going to go and get his tweed covered self killed.
He would be way better off without her. She could put up some nice little walls to keep him out. He’d just be her Watcher. Find the texts, tell her how to kill the baddie. No muss, no fuss. Same thing would go with Angel. If she was going to be the Slayer, then that meant hating all vamps, even the really good looking, broody, souled ones.
Buffy nodded once to herself. She could be dead so they wouldn’t have to be. Breathing, yes, but alive, no. Dead people didn’t worry about Bronzing or friendship. She could be good at killing. She’d kill herself as far as being Buffy went, and then she’d kill all the bad guys.
Buffy looked into the mirror by her bed. She waved at the image in it. “Bye, bye Buffy.”
Giles smiled as he handed Buffy a cup of tea. “I put extra sugar in it for you. Actually, you might like it. It now has little resemblance to actual tea and tastes quite a bit like soda pop, without the carbonation, of course.”
“And the fact that it’s warm?” Buffy asked skeptically from her perch on the once again righted library table.
“Yes, well, that too.” Giles fidgeted with his cup. “Buffy, you know that as your Watcher, that is to say, as your friend that I am here for you. Should you like to talk, I shan’t disclose any of your confidences.”
“What’s there to disclose? Buffy was mean. Buffy was surly. Buffy had a bad time getting over being dead. It’s no big deal, Giles.”
“Now, I beg to differ. It obviously was very painful for you.”
“And I suppose getting knocked unconscious and being hung upside down wasn’t painful for you?”
“It wasn’t your fault that I was kidnapped.”
“Xander thinks it is.”
“Yes, well Xander isn’t your Watcher, and I should very much enjoy it if you realized that fact.”
“Oh, I realize it; I realize it so much that it hurts. I want to protect you, all of you, so badly, but you won’t let me. You keep getting in the way. How am I supposed to keep you safe when I can’t stop…” Buffy trailed off embarrassed at the tears that started to come. She had thought herself free of them after she had cried an Angel’s shoulder earlier.
“When you can’t stop what?” Giles voice was soft as he questioned her.
“When I can’t stop caring? Giles, I’m going to kill you. One of these days, you’re going to get to close to me, and I’ll kill you.”
“I dare say that your aim isn’t that bad,” Giles said with a small smile.
Buffy chuckled despite herself. “That isn’t what I meant.”
“Then why don’t you tell me what you meant?”
“All I’m going to do is bring death. I’m supposed to be dead, and because I’m not, everything around me is going to die, one way or another. That’s what a Slayer is isn’t it? Some girl that walks among the undead and kills things. I think Buffy is already dead. I’m just some thing walking around in her body. How else can I explain what I’ve done?”
“You could be human.”
“Buffy, you almost died. There are bound to be repercussions from that. I can’t blame you for acting out.”
“I was not acting out.”
“What would you call it then? You clearly were suppressing all emotion and that sort of thing is bound to erupt somewhere. You can’t just shut down. It isn’t healthy.”
“No, you know what isn’t healthy? A middle aged man running around with a girl who is called to battle creatures the rest of the world denies even exist and is going to die before she even makes twenty. That is what I call unhealthy.”
“For one thing, you’ve already died before you made twenty. I think that that changes things a bit, and for another, it is my own bloody business if I should choose to be with you,” Giles shot back.
Buffy looked like he slapped her. “I can’t believe that you just said that.”
“Buffy, I know that it isn’t a subject that you wanted to face, but you did die, and not talking about it isn’t going to help.”
“No, I mean, you just told me to mind my own business. Giles, my business is going to get you killed.”
“And my business is keeping you alive.”
“You wouldn’t be in Sunnydale if I didn’t exist. I’m ruining your life, and I’m going to ruin Willow and Xander’s lives too, and probably Angel’s and Cordelia’s and Ms. Calendar’s and Snyder’s. Although, that last one might not be so bad.”
Giles sipped his tea. “You don’t have the right to tell me how to live my life.”
“I’m not trying to tell you how to live it. I’m just trying to get you to live it. I’m trying to get you and Xander and Willow to live your lives and the only way that is going to happen is without me.”
“Buffy, it may have escaped your attention, but I am not just your Watcher. Whether you live or die, I am still called. I still must protect the world from the evil out there. So, you see, my life is really not in any additional danger for you being my Slayer.”
“Except that you’re on a Hellmouth thanks to me,” Buffy laughed bitterly.
“Do you think that I would leave should you die? I daresay that you don’t know me very well if you do.”
“No, no I don’t. It’s another of Buffy’s bad habits. When she was alive, she had a lot of them. After she died, she had a lot more,” Buffy said as she stared into her teacup.
“Buffy isn’t dead,” Giles spoke softly.
“Isn’t she? I was dead. Something in me died.”
“And something inside of you came right back to life. In nature when a plant dies, another plant eventually takes its place. I think that you need to choose whether you are going to grow something good there or something bad.”
Buffy’s nose wrinkled. “Did you just tell me to decompose my insides so I could grow a beautiful flowering Buffy?”
“Obviously, it was not your sense of humor that died. And, yes, I suppose that I am telling you to let it go. It will take sometime, but then all things worth doing do. Grow a beautiful woman where the beautiful girl was.”
“What if I can’t grow things? I mean, what if I’m Sahara Desert Buffy? I mean, the dreams about the Master coming back started to come true, what if the other ones do?”
Giles cocked his head to one side. “What other dreams?”
“The bad kind, the kind where I end up causing the deaths of all my friends. The kind where you die for me.”
“Were I ever to die for you Buffy, it would be because I chose to do so. Do not take that choice from me. Let me stay beside you.”
“You really want that? I mean the whole willing to die part, not the flowering Buffy part. Which, by the way, is strangely interpretive and touching coming from the man with perfect posture and pressed tweed.”
Giles smiled slightly at her jibe towards him. “I do mean to stay by you Buffy, and I believe that Willow and Xander would also wish to stand beside you. We are your friends. Quite frankly, it is our choice.”
Buffy sighed. “I guess I was just pushing this whole thing out of proportion.”
“Actually, I’d say that you were not giving it enough space. You denied what you were feeling and it all came out in the worst way. Which, I might add, I said at the beginning of this conversation.”
“Well, that’s just tough because I’m your Slayer, and you have to live with my short attention span.”
“My Slayer? How about my friend?”
“Well, that depends,” Buffy said mischievously.
“Whether I’m still your favorite or not.”
“You will always be my favorite. Just don’t tell the others.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “I can’t, I mean, aren’t father figures supposed to not have favorites?”
“Ah, but I am your Watcher, not your father. I am therefore entitled to have favorites. Now, I suggest that you get home before your mother notices you are missing. If I’m not mistaken, you have class in a few hours.”
Buffy’s eyes widened at the sight of the clock. “I can’t believe what time it is. I gotta go.”
“Would you like a ride?” Giles offered as he followed after her locking the school doors after they left.
“Nah, I think I can walk home faster than you can drive.”
Giles simply sighed the sigh of the martyred. “I shall see you tomorrow then?”
“Count on it. I think I might need a little flowering Buffy pep talk before I see Willow and Xander.”
“It would be my pleasure.”
And with that, they said goodnight.
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